Starting out as a plan to get cheap T-shirts, IORI was a placeholder name for any sort of creative output. The term comes from a combination of the words apriori and aposteriori, two Latin words that mean knowledge from self and knowledge from experience. Common to both are the letters ‘iori’ which can be read as ‘I (the self) or eye (sense experience)’, summarising the difference between the two words. The dichotomy of these terms is found in the mind-body problem as well as the nature vs nurture debate but is not limited to them; as we approach the singularity a code of ethics for artificial intelligence may become a real concern of ours.
However, it doesn’t have to be that deep. The question of whether artistic expression is something common to all humans or dependent on individual experience is an interesting one in the modern global music scene. As Grime and UK drill spread to America, Brazil, and Sudan, it’s clear that both are true; art forms can be channelled in different ways to suit different contexts and as long as they are genuine, they are all equally valid. Techno as a form of protest music, moving from Chicago to Berlin to Crimea, shows that art is something that can link humans together, regardless of their specific circumstances. Hence, the IORI World was born.
Running through this, the role of technology as a topic of art, an auxiliary for the communication of art, or as an auxiliary of art as a communicative endeavour in itself, is an interesting one in the modern world.
The 30s saw pulp science fiction react to the rise of the atomic, shifting between utopian and dystopian predictions depending on optimism or pessimism. Before that, romanticism rebelled against the ideals of industrialisation with an emphasis on nature and agrarian lifestyles.
Now we have the internet and social media. If technology is a means to an end, what is the end we’re aiming for? The internet has given artists an unprecedented ability to share their art with the world but it has also given governments an unprecedented ability to censor, frame, and control the information available through it.
Is online communication authentic? Are we heading towards an internet utopia? Have we already entered the twilight zone? Find out next week on: IORI World
Just like any annoying tv show, a cliffhanger should always be followed by an origin story. Communication, whether it’s through speech, a printing press or tik tok dance, serves the purpose of transferring an idea from one person to another. If your aim in a conversation doesn’t involve trying to understand what the speaker intended to mean, you’re not really interested in communication, you’re interested in what you can do with the sounds or shapes a person makes.
We can apply this idea to art. In the example of Tyga’s ‘rack city’, if we wanted to interpret “rack city bitch rack rack city bitch” as a description of a place with lots of drying racks, it’s not an entirely baseless interpretation; It would most likely still include drip. However, we can utilise other information from the rapper such as music videos and previous lyrics to infer that Tyga was probably referring to money. If you prefer this latter interpretation, it is likely that you are at least somewhat trying to understand what the artist intended to mean.
The intersection of art and communication is not always a simple one but, throughout history, people have used artistic techniques to help convey ideas and influence people. ‘Nausea’ (19__) invites us into the mind of a Parisian going through a existential crisis and, despite being fiction, gives a good account of contingency, one that is also more digestible than the accounts found in Satre’s non-fiction works. In __BC Plato sketched his idea for a utopia through dialogue between characters in his book ‘The Republic’. He used allegory to explain concepts in a more understandable way, creating a fictional version of the truth that aids learning.
Some see scripture and religious stories in the same way, namely as an allegorical version of an idea delivered as a lesson to guide individuals on a path. In this conception, whether this is a righteous path or not depends on the divine truth of the idea that is being fictionalised in work. However, this poses problems as even if the scripture one follows is related to the divine truth, claiming that something included in it is fictional is, to some, claiming that a prophet spoke falsehoods.
A religious debate doesn’t seem to have much relevance to a clothing brand (I can confirm that IORI does not have the answers) but an argument put forward by the 12th century Islamic scholar, Ibn Rushd, was able to overcome this problem and, eventually, inspire the concept of IORI as a metaphysical link between an artefact and some form of knowledge.
He puts forward a teleological account of the epistemic, whereby if something brings you on the path towards knowledge, it has some epistemic value. The term teleological relates to a purpose or an end goal and the word epistemic relates to knowledge or degrees of validation. Using this, he claims that if something (in his case the Quran) leads you towards knowledge (in his case the divine truth), then it has some degree of valid knowledge in itself, even if it’s form is fictional or allegorical, and thus cannot constitute a lie.
Applying this ‘end goal’ approach to fiction, one can make the claim that fables and educational stories are not completely devoid of truth if they relate to some form of knowledge in the artists mind. The artwork is thus seen as a vehicle of communication and a stepping stone towards the idea that the artist is attempting to communicate.
This argument for an educational role of art is easy to see when the medium uses words because fictional words and non-fictional words both bear propositions. The propositions relating to something real in the world (in the case of non-fiction) doesn’t change our ability to understand fictional propositions which refer to something imaginary. This is same reason why we can still be emotionally moved by fictional works and the death of a beloved character; we apply the fictional emotion to our real lives, replacing the imaginary referent with something we can relate to, or could relate to.
When the artistic medium does not use words, however, the case becomes harder to make. Despite this, from depictions of Plato’s cave or the vast examples of Christian symbolic art in the renaissance, we can see that ideas can be transferred without words, and still influence people’s understanding of an idea. The question arises of whether we would have this increased understanding without a pre-existing form of knowledge delivered through words (through a sermon perhaps) but it remains the case that symbolic depictions such as woodcuts have had huge political and social effects (see the peasants revolt).
An interesting position in this conversation is hypergraphics, where text is merged with more visual ways of communication such as painting or illustration and due to this cannot be reduced to a purely written or verbal form. This is seen in logo making and graphic design, where the style of a word or series of words adds meaning or context to the word(s).
IORI is taking the idea of a ‘teleological account of the epistemic’ a step further by applying this ‘end goal’ approach not just to stories, analogies, and fables but to visual works and logos: If words and paintings can convey meaning, can a logo? And if it can, how does it do this?
It is easy to see how an artwork can symbolise a clear idea or story in a visual format as this is often their main purpose. Cave paintings on walls could have been used to teach people hunting techniques and many portraits are aimed at pleasing wealthy patrons, exaggerating positive qualities and reinforcing their ego through the work. Not all logos represent an idea and instead are simply using a word to name a brand but many examples such as the FedEx logo and the Amazon logo contain hyper graphics that relate to the company’s identity. The arrow found in the negative space of the FedEx logo symbolises the speed and directness of the companies delivery service and the arrow linking the ‘a’ and ‘z’ of the Amazon logo the wide range of products (from A-Z) that Amazon stocks.
If these logos use design to communicate some sort of knowledge that goes beyond the words themselves through its reference to a wider idea or identity, what about logos that do not have a specific style? It is hard (and potentially impossible) to find a logo that has not been designed with any particular aesthetic; every font on Microsoft Word has a different vibe. However, if we look abstractly at a logo, designating it to be only the placeholder name for a brand or company, does it not still relate to some wider idea?
It most definitely does, a brand name (and its visual representation) are what define a brand or company. It brings all actions of the organisation under one umbrella term. If you see a design you like, or see someone you like wearing a design, you might look into the brand and inadvertently learn about the other stuff the company does. In the case of Nike or Apple, this could be sweatshops and child labour or in the case of a brand like Eott, it could be using music to raise awareness of mental health. The design, logo, or brand name acts as a gateway for an audience to engage with a company’s practices and aims.
Some may not accept this argument, claiming that a design is a design and that a piece of clothing isn’t what brings you on this ‘teleological’ path towards knowledge of a company’s identity. Instead, in this view, it is our own actions that bring us on this path of knowledge and it is very possible to just enjoy the design and not ask any more questions. Others may accept that a piece of clothing is a gateway to a company’s identity but think that it’s so obvious that it’s boring and pointless to talk about. We aren’t going to pretend that there isn’t credibility in both responses but as a company that wants to express ideas and bring people into our world (the IORI World), we want to illustrate the way in which we aim to communicate.
The teleological account of the epistemic, when applied to logos, is a metaphysical link between some physical artifact (e.g some waterproof trousers) and an idea or form of knowledge (e.g an essay uploaded on our website). It exists as a path that individuals can follow if they engage with the artifact and want to know more about the brand. This metaphysical link, to be honest, is pretty tenuous and maybe even boring. However, it got us thinking about how we can link our ideas to our products and gave us an opportunity to explore how technology frames communication in the modern world.
We decided to put a QR code in the label of our new clothing drop which, when scanned, takes you to our website, iori.world. When you compare this technological link between our clothes and website content to the metaphysical one outlined above, it seems a lot stronger; a digital link to our written ideas is literally woven into the fabric of our clothing. To return to the beginning of this essay/about page/ whatever this ramble is, we can see that, in this instance, technology has been a successful auxiliary for the use of art (if a zipped hoodie can be called art) as a communicative endeavour. Every one of our garments is more than a piece of clothing, and instead is a physical embodiment of our reading lists and articles. Our clothing can therefore be justified as containing some epistemic value without having to use a 12th century metaphysical argument, take that Ibn Rushd (jk you did bits).
This sounds like an argument for the positive effects of technology which, in this case,88i I guess it is. Don’t worry though, things are about to get very dystopian. Stay tuned.