Joshua is a researcher, publisher and educator. For over twenty years, he has worked collaboratively with Yvan Martinez to make work that explores publishing as a mode of social enquiry, cultural intervention and public engagement.
Josh studied New Genres (MFA, 1999), an expanded sculpture programme encompassing performance, video, installation and publishing at the San Francisco Art Institute. His thesis project questioned distinctions between archivists, curators and editors through active participation in zine culture. Upon graduation, Josh and Yvan Martinez co-published Math, an owner’s manual for the penis. They sent a copy to Rudy VanderLans, editor of Emigre magazine. Rudy responded with an invitation to guest design Emigre #59 (2001), reaching 36,000 readers internationally.
From 1995 to 1997 Josh was a co-founding member of the performance art collective CCSIS (Creative Community Seriously I Swear) based in San Francisco, Mexico City and Caracas.
Between 1999 and 2009 Josh practiced under the name Fake I.D. in partnership with Yvan Martinez. Their work has been exhibited and published widely and is part of the permanent collections of Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, Denver Art Museum, Design Museum, MoMA and SFMOMA. Commissions include Arkitip, Edwin, Emigre, The Face, Giorgio Camuffo, GLBT Historical Society, MTV, Nike, Urban Outfitters and Wieden+Kennedy.
At a macro level, Josh’s practice-led research is about models and counter-models of pedagogy and practice in the expanded field of Visual Communication. At microlevel, his research is about publishing as a transformative act.
Key to studying both foci is the study of experimentation itself. Has ‘experimental’ become an ambiguous word for suggesting both artistic risk and scientific rigour without delivering much of either? How, when, where and why do we experiment? What are we experimenting for?
Joshua runs New Genres, an interest group for the advancement of experimental, contextual and public practices across vanguard cultures. He also co-organises Common Market (2018), an annual publishing fair and symposium celebrating the free movement of ideas.
Joshua is co-founder of Books From The Future, a London-based imprint/school that conducts experiments in learning, reading and publishing in collaboration with leading artists, designer and educators. Recent titles include Performance Society (2017), Model and Countermodel (2016) and Thought Experiments in Graphic Design Education (2013).
(2012) White Square Teaching Awards, UAL Students’ Union
(2010) Best book that’s probably not a book, Best British Books: A Proposal
(2008) Artist in Residence, ARE Holland
Current and recent projects
Open Source Art School (2018–present)
This research aims to develop an open source model of art and design education for the twenty-first century.
Queer Space (2018–present)
This research explores the paradox of ‘queer space’ after the post-digital sexual revolution.
Books From The Future (2012–present)
This research tests experimental models of learning, reading and publishing across two programmes: BFTF Summer School (conducted independently) and BFTF Workshops (conducted within universities and colleges). Outcomes are published and distributed internationally.
Practices of Enquiry (2016–17)
For UAL’s first public exhibition of teaching, this research repositioned the lecture as a mode of enquiry, resulting in a series of lecture performances and a reader of texts on radical enquiry. Outcomes were published in Model and Countermodel (Books From The Future, 2016) and exhibited in Practices of Enquiry, Cookhouse Gallery, Chelsea College of Arts (2016) and UAL Showroom (2017).
Publications, exhibitions, other outcomes
Martinez, Y. and Trees, J. (eds) (2017) Performance Society, London: Books From The Future.
Martinez, Y. and Trees, J. (eds) (2016) Model and Countermodel, London: Books From The Future.Martinez, Y. and Trees, J. (2016) in Paim, N. (ed) Taking a Line for a Walk: Assignments in Design Education, Leipzig: Spector Books
Martinez, Y., Raven, D. and Trees, J. (2015) ‘Authentic assessment using think-tanks in assessing Design’ in Brown, S. (ed) Learning, teaching and assessment in higher education: global perspectives, New York: Palgrave MacMillan
Martinez, Y. and Trees, J. (2010) in VanderLans, R. Emigre No. 70: The Look Back Issue, Berkeley: Gingko Press
Martinez, Y. and Trees, J. (eds) (2015) The Multiple Lives of a Blank Book, London: Books From The Future
Martinez, Y. and Trees, J. (eds) (2014) Flatland, see Flatland, London: Books From The Future
Martinez, Y. and Trees, J. (eds) (2013) Thought Experiments in Graphic Design Education, London: Books From The Future
Martinez, Y. and Trees, J. (eds) (2012) Jaime Gili: Repetition, London: Books From The Future
Selected Talks, Keynotes and Panels
Trees, J. (2018) ‘Aesthetics After Dark’, invited talk for Distributed symposium, Royal College of Art, London
Trees, J. (2015) ‘Bad Art, Pseudoscience and other experiments...’, invited talk, Chelsea College of Arts, London
Trees, J. (2014) ‘Thought Experiments in Graphic Design Education’, keynote, Graphic Design Educators’ Network: Formative 3, Design Council, London
Trees, J. (2013) ‘100% Ghetto’, invited talk for the launch of Arab Spring and Aaron Winter: The Work of 75B, Fons Welters Gallery, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Trees, J. (2012) ‘Design: ideas, ideals and messages’, panel moderator for discussion between Paulus Dreibholz and Chris Wainwright, Chelsea College of Arts, London
Trees, J. (2011) ‘Positioning’, panel moderator for a discussion between Jaime Gili, Patrick Lacey (Åbäke) and Yuri Suzuki, London College of Communication, London
Martinez, Y. and Trees, J. (2008), ‘Three Studies, Three Schools, Three Cities’, co-presented paper, New Views 2: Conversations and Dialogues in Graphic Design, London College of Communication, London
(2017) The Typographic Singularity, Hockney Gallery, Royal College of Art, London
(2016) Practices of Enquiry, Cookhouse Gallery, Chelsea College of Arts, London
(2016) Design Research, London Design Festival at LCC, Lower Gallery, London College of Communication, London
(2015) Bookness: 14 Observations, Books and the Human: AHRC 10th Anniversary Debate, Window Gallery, Central Saint Martins, London
(2014) Taking a Line for a Walk, 26th International Biennial of Graphic Design, Morovian Gallery, Brno, Czech Republic
(2012) T/here, Youkobo Art Space, Tokyo
External collaborations and activities
Alongside his teaching and research at the RCA, Josh is currently also Associate Lecturer at Camberwell College of Arts (2018–present) and Visiting Practitioner at Chelsea College of Arts (2015–present).
Josh is a member of the Graphic Design Educators’ Network based in the UK.