The Italian philosopher Vico had this theory that time moves more in a spiral than it does in a line. He believes that’s why we repeat ourselves, including our tragedies, and that if we are more faithful to this movement, we can move away from the epicenter through distance and time, but we have to confront it every time. I’ve been thinking about trauma—how it’s repetitive, and how we recreate it, and how memory is fashioned by creation. Every time we remember, we create new neurons, which is why memory is so unreliable. I thought, “Well if the Greek root for ‘poet’ is ‘creator,’ then to remember is to create, and, therefore, to remember is to be a poet.” I thought it was so neat. Everyone’s a poet, as long as they remember.
In terms of spirals, we wrote a poem with the line, “But, what’s a circle without hands or time? Is that you?” Which later was adapted into the title of a video as, “A spiral is a circle without hands or time.” Something that I’ve realized recently is that in each project that we do, I feel like there’s always either a visual or a geometric or a spatial form that serves as a skeleton for the practice at that time. Sometimes it’ll be a spiral or sometimes it’ll be a barrier. Recently we did this project in Oslo where it was a mobius strip. We often rely on these simple geometric forms to serve as skeletons for what are later character dynamics or narrative structures.
Laurel Schwulst was the inaugural Creative Director of this very website, The Creative Independent. Currently, she teaches interactive design at Yale University and maintains Beautiful Company, a design practice. Previously, she worked at the New York-based design studio Linked by Air. Her book Perfume Area (Ambient Works, 2015), coauthored with Sydney Shen, contemplates thirty-six designer fragrances.