Sackner Archive

Man Aging Direct Or

In the photo on this page, a blue engraved plexiglass desk nameplate says
A blue engraved plexiglass desk nameplate says "Man Aging Direct Or," a play on the job title "managing director."

Richard Tipping, Man Aging Direct Or, 1984. Sign (plexiglass, engraved), inscribed on rear (For the Sackners). Special Collections, University of Iowa Libraries.

We all know what signs are, or do we? Australian artist Richard Tipping has been playing with signs and meaning through a long career as poet, visual poet, and sculptor. He experimented early on with the materiality of words and the possibilities of the typewriter to turn the page into a canvas. His work in concrete poetry led in the 1970’s to discoveries of unusual public signs published in the book, Signs of Australia (1982). Tipping began creating signs of his own (REDUCE NEED, WRONG DAY GO BACK) that exhibit a deep sense of humor and irony; changing just one word or letter of a familiar sign transforms its meaning. Tipping explores the authority embodied in signs, subverting it and replacing it with playful anarchy.

Man Aging Direct Or is a small, unassuming desk nameplate. The work divides “Managing Director,” a title of authority and control, into chunks of text forming new words and meaning. The new text undercuts the old and presents a connection between “Managing Director” and an aging man, a perspective on authority with interesting possibilities of interpretation.

– Peter Balestrieri, Curator, Science Fiction and Popular Culture​ Collections