BYT Interviews: Deanna Paquette & Kári Emil Helgason on BOS
Megan Burns | May 30, 2013 | 9:00AM |

I recently met Deanna Paquette and Mr. Kári Emil Helgason during a “secret loft show” at their apartment in Bushwick, featuring tunes by Silent Drape Runners and OOFJ. Deanna told me that they’d be participating in this year’s Bushwick Open Studios (a yearly 3-day festival to highlight the art scene in Bushwick) by opening up the 404 (at 385 Troutman Street) to explore the topic of ‘Targeted Market: WARNING CCTV IN OPERATION‘. Apart from swinging by to check it out this Saturday June 1st from 12-7pm (definitely worth it since their building will be full of open doors), YOU can contribute! We’ve discussed all of that (via the magic of email) below, so get a better idea of what you’re in for, and be sure to scope out the rest of the programming that’s happening this year.

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So tell everybody a little bit about yourselves!

Deanna: Hi! Everyone! I’m Deanna, I’m a ‘digital designer’ at Shutterstock and a lover of communication as an art form. I’ve been living in Bushwick for 3 yrs, in a loft, which you will see if you come to  ‘Targeted Market: WARNING CCTV IN OPERATION’ 🙂

Kári: My name is Kári. I’m also a graphic designer. I’m from Iceland originally, have been in New York for about five years and Bushwick for about two and a half.

And a few words to describe Bushwick!

Deanna: UMMMM the Berlin of NYC

Kári: Bushwick is authentically American, unpretentious, vibrant and constantly changing. It’s the best neighborhood I’ve lived in in New York and I’ve been in a few. I’ve moved nine times in the past five years.

Is this your first year participating in BOS?

Deanna: It is! (To be fair, it is also our first year out of school so usually we’d be crazy stressed about final projects and such right now)

Kári: Yes. I know people involved and always meant to be part of if if sooner but life got in the way.

How and/or why did you decide to get involved?

Deanna: We are mostly just trying to avoid the guilt of being the only people in our building who don’t open their doors on BOS. But really—the both of us are nutso design nerds annoyed at how contained the design community is and this is a perfect opportunity to create dialogue.

Kári: We are very interested in the intersection on the Venn diagram of marketing, commerce, design and art. And we’ve been looking for ways to explore that in our work.

Tell me a little bit more about the topic: ‘Targeted Market: WARNING CCTV IN OPERATION’, as well as how you chose it. (I’m assuming you chose it, but maybe it was given to you?)

Deanna: Really this is a perfect example of how Kári and I work together. I approached Kári about doing something participatory and recording the whole thing but I didn’t have a specific topic. Then Kári does something so lovely and concise and suggests that theme is dictated by the process. That and we have both spent the year experimenting with our online presences so OF COURSE this would feed into our concept.

(We are pretty obsessed with process. Our first team design project, MMXII , was promotion for the 2012 FIT Graphic and Advertising Design graduating student exhibition. PRIOR to this, some poor student would be selected to make a pretty poster/invite for everyone to smile at BUT we met as a team to discuss directions and immediately understood that we had to execute this as a team. Ultimately, the ‘thing’ became a ‘project’ that changed according to the environment and the people who participated each day.)

Kári: For me the idea is to kind of explore this whole privacy vs. publicity debate that’s going on. Companies like Facebook have managed to change the way we think about our private lives completely. It’s almost like we’re under surveillance 24/7 but it’s not the police or some security guard that’s watching – it’s our friends, family and of course, some advertisers and market researchers. And we installed the camera ourselves. So yeah, we’re trying to bring the process of this whole thing to a physical experience.

You’ve opened the topic up to the public (or at least Facebook!), so how will you incorporate submissions? Will these be part of the setup this weekend?

Deanna: Everything is very very public. We will have a number of ways of integrating our submission. WE HAVE A CHALK WALL, so there is that. We also have a projector and are working with a place both… to experiment with sound (graphic designers and sound?!?! whaaaaaa)

Kári: I think this may end up being similar in a lot of ways. A lot of themes are similar but we won’t know until the weekend because we are letting this evolve very organically.

In terms of what people submit, will everything be automatically included, or is there any kind of criteria? And it’s kind of like a Rorschach test in terms of encouraging people not to think to hard about what they create, yeah?

Deanna: There is no trick here. As long as the submission contributes to healthy discussion it is in!

Kári: All I’m going to say is that you have to come and see.

And you’ll be recording the events this weekend, right? What will the setup be like?

Deanna: Yes. We will have a very sneaky camera set up ( YOU WILL BE RECORDED) and a place both… will be taking snippets of voices throughout the event. There will be instagrams/tweets/vines. The internet will see/hear you.

Kári: Indeed. The idea here is to create a conversation and it will be between people who aren’t necessarily face-to-face with each other, not necessarily in real-time and not necessarily working from the same context or environment. Kind of like the internet.

What are your hopes for the weekend, if any?

Deanna: Well, selfishly, we want to get enough input/material to produce a *retrospect* of some sort afterwards. But just getting people excited enough to talk about design on a very alternative platform is a pleasure for us as well.

Kári: My hope is that this will be fun, strange and new. I’m also expecting to be surprised by the outcome.

Will you be submitting anything, or just facilitating everything?

Deanna: I think in facilitating this there is no way we cannot participate. It is lovely to do projects that are so organic like this, you can curate and interfere as it goes.

Kári: We’ll definitely chime in. We both have a lot to say. We purposfully haven’t defined our roles in the event too strictly. It’s kind of like when we throw loft parties – we never have a designated sober person like some people do. We deal with things as they happen and react as appropriate. We will be hosts, moderators, participants, curators. All of that and maybe some.

What else are you looking forward to / interested to see unfold during this year’s BOS?

Deanna: Gosh. I don’t think I could even try to come up with an itinerary for BOS. I’m hoping to get a minute to stroll into some weird places and see some weird things. but if you’re makingggggg meeeee name drop something, I love the people over at Parallel Art Space (1717 Troutman)—their BOS exhibition, What I Like About You, “is a continuation of last year’s Alltogethernow project, in which 11 international painters visited Bushwick for BOS 2012, to collaborate with local artists and exhibit those collaborations alongside their own work. ” Which is very on brand for me 🙂

Annnnd I was just recently introduced to my second cousin who is ALSO an artist living in Bushwick (and we both have a thing for Iceland!), I should message him and see what’s up.

Kári: Well, I’m very excitied to see what our neighbors are doing. I know there are a lot of artists and designers among them and many of them participate. It’ll be interesting to get a closer look at what’s happening next door.

So again, make sure to swing by 385 Troutman on Saturday from 12-7pm at #404. AND stick around, because with 600+ shows to check out this weekend, it’s unlikely you won’t find something appealing.

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