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Graphic Design

Konstantina Benaki Chatzispasou

Originally from Athens, Greece, Konstantina Benaki-Chatzispasou moved to London in 2019. She has recently completed an MA in Visual Communication at the Royal College of Art. She previously attained a BA in Graphic Design at the Technological Institute of Athens. Her professional background includes three years of experience in advertising agencies, focusing on art direction and graphic design. 

Konstantina’s main interests revolve around linguistics and site-specific projects. She focuses more on the process rather than the final outcome. Her creative practice involves participatory projects and workshops that can generate discussions around communication systems, semiotics, authorship, and power structures related to dominant narratives, through experimental and performative activities. 


Collaborations

In June 2020, Konstantina collaborated on the PR team with Nayonika Gosh and Aparna Ashok for Typographic Singularity, an annual celebration of typography and language in creative practice. During the Typographic Singularity event, the team designed a roundtable discussion with Adrian Shaughnessy (host), Nadine Chahine and Zach Lieberman (guest speakers).

For the RCA WIP Show 2021, Konstantina designed and facilitated (participated and co-hosted) inSITE, a collaborative 3-day digital event. Together with VisCom fellow students - namely, Anastasia Arjalies, Wing Shan Wong (Pat), Leonidas Anagnostou, Myrna Marianovits, Yan Li, Yimin Qiao, and Lothar Wiessmann - decided to organise inSITE to highlight the spatial and methodological aspects of site-specificity as a feature in one's creative practice. For this event, three artists, Emeric LhuisseDavid Roberts and Anna Hart, were invited to open each day by presenting their work. Following each lecture, different students led short workshops or introduced the audience to their practice, giving rise to extended discussions around those.

During 2020-2021, Konstantina has been working, as a designer-in-residence for Fugitive Voices together with Myrna Marianovits, Maya Gulieva, Louise Gholam, Ruozhu Li, Can Yang, Andrea Siso, Vicky Evans, Phoebe Hayes and, for The Walkative Project, with Nayonika Ghosh.

For the RCA 2021 degree show, Konstantina and Camille Le Flem, Can Yang, and Claudia Battisti will facilitate Interpretive Practices, a 2-day event, a physical workshop, and a digital roundtable with two guest artists, Georgia Lupi and Charlotte Lengersdorf. Participants will be investigating different types of visual languages and interpretive translation mechanisms through this event, celebrating the diversity of methodologies that exist in various creative practises.

RCA Visual Communication 2021 graduates are pleased to introduce TERMINAL, a concept-led final year show taking place at the Ugly Duck between 27- 30 June 2021. Konstantina is part of the Coordination team alongside Louise Gholam and Carmo Pinheiro de Melo, as well as the Catalogue team with Camille Le Flem, Costas Kalogeropoulos, Amir Saidani, Maya Gulieva and Carmo Pinheiro de Melo.

'The language is never anything but a system of forms, and the meaning is a form.'  — Roland Barthes

I've been captivated by asemic writing as a system that hides radical ideas which challenge our accepted and overlooked communication systems. Whilst appearing as writing, asemic writing, at its core, abandons the semantic value of 'words'. Seeing our lives as locked into a language structure, the refusal of meaning, for me, signifies pushing against pre-written, dominant narratives of our society.

I am fascinated by the potential of the incomprehensible, leaving the 'reader' with the agency to translate, explore, interpret — create their own meaning. In a way, I see all my readers as co-creators of the asemic work.  

Notebooks — A screenshot from my notebooks.
Asemic notations — Experimenting and applying the exercise of text abstraction on my notes.
Asemic notation page used as a map — Bringing together the two ideas, 'asemic maps' and 'walking as a communicating process', I asked two friends to try to guide themselves in Victoria Park in London. My instructions to them were to try to interpret the map together as they wanted and document the process with a GoPro camera.
Tortuous Optional Routes, Read Write Walk Workshop — Screen-recording of the reading and notating exercise from Tortuous Optional Routes - a workshop aiming to celebrate every reader's interpretation and question the dominant narratives existing in different spaces (whether this is a page of a book or an urban space), using asemic writing and walking as tools.
Anarchic Writing workshop, day 01 — Screen-recording of collective storytelling exercise from Anarchic Writing workshop, a collaborative 3-day workshop with a VisCom fellow student, Myrna Marianovits. Through creative writing, this workshop aimed to investigate ways of enforcing one's expressive skills and confidence regarding their ability to share a thought or a story, by implementing verbal or alternative narrative tools through collaborative and individual activities.
Publication — I designed this publication in the form of a ring binder book, since I consider my project evolving research. Having a ring binder and holes on the papers is based on the idea of always keeping in mind that things can be added, reordered or detached. I decided to make this publication from scratch. With the help of RCA technicians, I used book-binding techniques for the cover and different printing techniques, such as UV printing, digital printing, riso printing and screen printing for the content inside.
A2 poster (digital printing) — The outcome of the 'Collective Creation of an Abstract Comic' activity from the second day of the Anarchic Writing workshop.
A2 poster (screen printing) — The outcome of the 'Collective Reading & Annotating' activity from the Tortuous Optional Routes Workshop.
Concertina (24-meter long) — An A5 publication of the new narrative that was created in Whatsapp group chat, during the activity of 'Walking & (live)sharing experiences' in the Tortuous Optional Routes Workshop.
Asemic Wanderings website — A digital translation and an extension of my publication. The audience can look at the process and read in further detail my personal research, as well as the three workshops that followed.

My research started with a more profound examination of how I can re-approach my own writing. I applied an exercise of text abstraction and re-engaged the image of my notation marks on my notebooks. The marks turned into traffic signs, suggesting movements and pauses. The idea to look at my notations as a navigation system, prompted me to explore this page with notations as a map. The movement of my thoughts transformed into the movements of my body, using walking as a tool to drift through space.

This 'asemic' map unlocked a new way of exploring a given site and reading the signs around me. Influenced by Debord's notion of dérive, I set out to use asemic writing and walking as tools to examine the narrative that exists, not only in a page of a book, but also in an urban space. 

Since the relationship between the author and the reader was a subject that concerned me, I found the need to share what I am doing with other people by asking them to participate in activities that I was designing. These participatory activities helped me realise that I am interested in building tools and platforms that could disrupt the communication system and create a space for dialogue in its place. Through collective and individual activities like reading, writing, drawing, notating and walking, I want to invite people to question with me the language and power structures that exist around us. 

Socially engaged practices during the Covid-19 crisis were challenging. Interaction and participation were essential to my practice, and I had to find alternative ways to overcome new barriers and re-approach my ideas around collaboration. Thus, I designed and facilitated participatory activities and workshops during this period using digital platforms and tools instead.

These two years at the RCA were a continuous journey that helped me evolve as a Visual Communicator and expand my practice into new territories. Every step was an essential part of this research; and so, I tried to capture this process. I decided to make and design a publication in the form of a ring-binder book, since I consider my project to be research that is still evolving. Observation, critical reflection and documentation helped me create the content of this publication, which includes expanded thoughts on my research, self-reflection and extracts from workshops that I have made so far. In addition, a part of the content was printed in many copies and distributed to the participants of the workshops as a tangible - collective - memory of their experiences, as well as a way to thank them for their participation. 

I would like to invite you to view and read further my research on the Asemic Wanderings website, which takes the form of a digital translation and an extension of my publication.

Visual for Movement Radio (Onassis Foundation) in collaboration with Myrna Marianovits.
Visuals for Ifeanyi Awachie. In collaboration with Maya Gulieva.
Visuals for Hamja Ahsan. In collaboration with Myrna Marianovits.
Visuals for Cevdet Erek. In collaboration with Myrna Marianovits.

Fugitive Voices is a series of conversations dedicated to studying alternative types of knowledge and communication that go beyond a culture founded in the European cogito. Find more

This year (2020-2021), I had the opportunity to be part of the Fugitive Voices design team, meet and collaborate with RCA tutors (Eleni Ikoniadou and Joseph Pochodzaj), and VisCom fellow students from the first and the second MA years (Myrna Marianovits, Maya Gulieva, Louise Gholam, Ruozhu Li, Can Yang, Andrea Siso, Vicky Evans, Phoebe Hayes). Through this experience, I came across fascinating artists' practices that influenced me as a creative practitioner, and delved into their concepts by designing visuals for their upcoming lectures.

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Visuals for ‘Invisible Borders’ and 'Walk-In-Gage' event. — 'Invisible Borders' was a collaborative project with RCA and Fine Art students from Nuremberg. 'Walk-In-Gage' was a 2-day event part of Across RCA 2021.
Visual identity of the physical exhibition 'Invisible Borders' that took place in the Academy of Fine Arts, in Nuremberg.
Visuals for the ‘Open call’.

Through participant and guest-led walks, written and visual documentation, the Walkative Project explores how walking can trigger processes of thinking, researching, collaborating and making. Find more

As Designers-in-Residence (2020-2021), we collaborated with Nayonika Ghosh to develop and create visuals for social media and other digital/physical platforms, to promote events, workshops and talks.

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