This website is a loose collection of notes, output, research, process and activities by Anna Cairns.

She is interested in visual language, alphabets and their shapes–history–symbolic meaning, cultural artifacts, materials and techniques, ceramics in particular, process, tools and tooling, diy, production and printing processes, information/knowledge systems and their representations, systems in general, scaffolds and other support structures, repetition, code, generative methods, templating, also drawing, painting, glitches and fragments, photography, retouching, practice(s), movement and meditation.

Based in Berlin, Germany
Graphic Designer at magma design studio
CV and portfolio available on request

14 September 2023

Lill, 2023

c0da Graphic design, code, type design, text production

Last November, artist Katrin Mayer and I launched the website for the artistic research and publishing project c0da, a project which Katrin conceived during a grant by the Berliner Förderprogramm für Künstlerische Forschung. The website shows artistic contributions by different artists and writers that reflect on feminist modes of coding and writing, and it serves as a platform for activities related to its ongoing research and artistic production.

Katrin has invited a group of artists, writers and art historians to develop artistic contributions and correspondences loosely based around figures such as zeros, circles, holes and voids, which tie into concepts of feminist theory and philosophy and also reference the 0’s and 1’s that constitute the binary language of code and computation.

In addition to designing and coding the publication formats I developed a typeface that draws a conceptual and typographic connection between the notions of typing, coding and writing. It connects the complex feminist histories of typewriters and software engineering with the roles and visualities of monospaced and proportionally spaced typefaces that are characteristic for the writing processes associated with typing, coding and writing.

"Group Dynamics – The Blue Rider" catalogue for Lenbachhaus Graphic design, type design

Spreads from the publication for ”Group Dynamics – The Blue Rider“ (March 23, 2021– March 5, 2023) at Lenbachhaus Munich. Visual identity and publication designed together with Flo Gaertner | magma design studio featuring Monotype Old Style alongside our custom typeface LBH Behrens.

Website for Setareh Shahbazi Graphic design, code

Portfolio website for artist Setareh Shahbazi. The idea was to create an image layout on the landing page that would resemble her exhibition hangings. I developed a script that randomly regenerates the image arrangement with each visit, resulting in ever new combinations and visual relations. The website thus also functions as a combinatorial tool for the artist. The simple typographic concept and monochrome design are in deliberate contrast to the visual density and vividness of Shahbazi’s works. The intersection of image and text creates difference superimpositions in reference to her visual language.

16 August 2023

Untitled, 2023

Radio Type design

Typeface in development

Created in the context of the exhibition “Radio-Activity” at Lenbachhaus Munich (February 18–September 13, 2020). The typeface is inspired by Paul Renner’s first sketches of the typeface Futura, where he developed the idea of a variable formal language far ahead of its time. In reference to early modernism and other themes of the exhibition, such as communication, language and technology, the typeface translates strict geometrical shapes into a functional and variable type system from which many variations can be generated, making it suitable for a wide range of text types, such as display and body text.

With Flo Gaertner | magma design studio, Karlsruhe, 2020

27 June 2023

Røsnæs, 2023

Temperatures Graphic design, code, type design

Concept, design and code for a social media graphics generator using a dynamic and flexible visual identity for the online lecture series Temperatures by Bonner Kunstverein, Kunstverein Nürnberg and Kunstverein München. By using a custom web tool that I developed, the curators were able to interactively generate unique social media graphics in several formats for each of their channels.

Featuring my custom designed typeface Temp that solves the problem of colliding ascenders and descenders within the automated text layout.

26 June 2023

Launch of new website. An intentional and mindful deviation from the performative portfolio, widening my perimeter towards a more open-ended collection of things that occupy me creatively.

Some background:

I started making my own websites at the age of 12 with the help of Microsoft FrontPages. I learned how to use Photoshop while designing images and graphics into which I then embedded HTML pages as iframes. With this method, I redesigned my website every few months, going along with the development of my taste and personality. The references changed, the site structure changed, the vibe changed; with each new layout I was trying out a new kind of identity. It was fun and unwittingly became an early creative practice that accompanied me for many years. The website mainly housed my diary and photography. I had a little clique of online friends who would do the same thing, making "personal sites" as we called them ("blog" was a new and very strange sounding word), and it was the way we reflected and communicated our interests and inner development during our teenage years. My website to me was always a mirror and a playground, a self-created platform on which I shared my creative output freely. It felt safe and sheltered because I only shared the URL with my online friends and had merely a vague awareness of how public the internet actually was; I can still clearly remember how very shocked and exposed I felt the first time an "offline" friend found my website.

In the years since it has become more difficult to cultivate an intimate space online. The landscape of the web, our online behaviours and search algorithms all have changed. Also, I started being self-employed, meaning I have become a little more known to a few more people that will look online for what I do. It only made sense to turn my website into a portfolio that represents me professionally. I became very conscious of how my name would show up online. However, with this awareness of exposure and some form of marketing/positioning sense-making coming in, the inspiration, personal identification and freedom I usually felt by expressing myself through the medium of my website slowly came to a halt.

Fast forward to now. I have started to work with dear long-time collaborators magma design studio and no longer feel the need to maintain a polished portfolio website. This space now feels a little more open. I of course still want to show my work and what I do, but more of it, different things that maybe somehow don't (yet) fit neatly into a curated slideshow. Little reflections like this, maybe things I read, pictures I take, pieces I make... It can be difficult to hold all the disparate elements of oneself together and my website has always been a tool for me to collect and reflect those pieces back at myself, maybe seeing more in the whole than in each part individually, maybe even seeing a direction rather than just the status quo.

Created using most minimal hand-written code. It will grow and develop experimentally from here.