why the 'a'?

theory topics


the helvetica medium a


Mitsubishi Pajero


A working drawing for the Helvetica Medium 'a' on a 2007 SWB Mitsubishi Pajero. Seen on roof parking at Woolworths Collingwood, 2014.


Meaning or shape?


The 'a' is a shape


It is a beautiful marriage of curves and straights, of figure and ground, of form and void. It's shape is a journey. A transition. It is male and female. Yin and yang. Helvetica shapes our world. Helvetica mirrors life. Helvetica is business. Helvetica is art. Art is business and business is life. Helvetica is solid.


This is not an 'a'.


In every context (except a couple) I have placed the a with a part missing. I have cropped it. Therefore it is not an a. It is a shape. View it as a shape. It has no meaning. Shape isn't language. its not an a.


This is an 'a'.


'a' is the beginning of the alphabet. It is language. It is meaning. This a represents all we know and learn. It is literature. It is the left brain world. Why is that 'a' on your car? What does it mean? What does it stand for? It stands for knowledge and wisdom. The hardware man in Warragul thinks it stands for artist, arsehole or Australia. He is wrong. It stands for me.


Meaning is constructed from shape


A contract has meaning. The meaning is not meaning. The meaning is usually constructed from black powder on paper. Life and death are formed with black powder. The shape of powder has no meaning.




The 'a' is placed on cars in the same way markings are placed on foreign planes and tanks. They are positioned in good, effective places. We don't know what they mean. We like them because we don't know what they mean. They look official. Crosses and circles on coloured backgrounds look like they mean something important. They must. They work with power, guns and official structures.




Plumbers identify themselves with logos and websites on their vans. It makes the car have purpose. My car has purpose too.


Pencil cases


Young kids put stickers on their pencil cases and their skate boards. They do it because they can. I put stickers on my car because I can. I like to challenge the accepted convention that because a car costs thousands of dollars we can't do things to it. I can. Sometimes I paint things on my car.


Why the 'a'?


This 'a' was brought to me by my artist friend Giuseppe Romeo in about 1978. He found it in Italy. A single a is used on trucks to identify that they are carrying the dangerous cargo of asbestos. My car isn't carrying asbestos. The first a we used was 'a' Letraset Letrasign cut out lower case Helvetica medium 'a'. You can't buy them now.


I have used the as in many artworks over the years.


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'a' frame


'a' 1985, House in Brunswick. This is the same 'a' as used in Mallacoota below.


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The 'a' in use 1984 to present


The first use of the 'a' was in Mallacoota Inlet, Christmas 1984. I put it up really early in the morning before the wind picked up.
From a distance. The effect I was after was as if I had stuck a paper letter onto a printed picture.
Close up of the structure.
1984, Drawing for application of 'a' on 1969 ex-army Landrover.
1985, 'a' as applied to the rear of Series III V8 Landrover station wagon. Contact and paint. Barunga NT.
2009, 'a +' and 'comdotcom.com.au' artificial web address on 2003 V8 Landcruiser, Warragul Vic.


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