Dexter Sinister are a New York based design, editorial and contemporary art collaboration or a Just-In-Time Workshop & Occasional Bookstore.
Dexter Sinister’s design practice considers the conceptual institution of graphic design and print industries. The collaborative design duo publish writing both online and in print and workshop-based publishing projects. Academically, their collaborative projects are often contextualised within a post-fordist economic model of production due to their unique editorial process.
I’m interested to discuss Dexter Sinister’s expanded practices as a new model of publishing production. Tom McDonogue includes Dexter Sinister in his lecture Artists as Typographers, in this essay he explores artists from the last decade in what he believes to be a new critical practice that employees language and it’s representation as a material object. McDonogue speaks specifically of Dexter Sinister, and their adaptation of port-fordist mechanisms into the production of graphic design.
The print on demand model is more than a lean budgeting attempt; it enables the audience to understand the process of publishing from initial editorial conversations with contributors to the final publishing outcome. Through bringing all elements of the publishing cycle into one room it brings noise to the otherwise rigid and systematic process. This rupture in tradition offers a chance for alternative modes of cross-collaboration, making the final publication a representation of the artistic process of actual collaborative production on-site. The Just-in-time system also eliminates waste of resources by only producing consumer needs as they emerge. In addition to this the final print products are available free of charge online through downloadable bulletins.
The project model originated from a proposition to contribute to the Manifesta 6 Biennale in Cyprus. The workshop was intended to model the ‘Just-In-Time’ economy of print production, running counter to the contemporary assembly-line realities of large-scale publishing. This involves avoiding waste by working on-demand, utilizing local cheap machinery, considering alternate distribution strategies, and collapsing distinctions of editing, design, production and distribution into one efficient activity. The workshop designed and produced a number of materials in advance, which demonstrated the proposed working model, including a book; Notes For and Art School’. Unfortunately the biennale fell through, and the original project was never realised but in its absence other opportunities emerged such as the prestigious 2008 Whitney Biennale. In 2006 Dexter Sinister established a workshop and occasional bookstore founded on the same principles in a basement on the Lower East Side in New York City and they still operate there today, alternatively download their free essays online from anywhere in the world.