Q: Can design make a difference?
How and to what extent can design change, or influence the world around us? There have never been times like these: technology, politics, environmental challenges, and social unrest are colliding with remarkable force, shaking the earth and its inhabitants to the core. Can designers make a difference in this complicated world, and if so how? We often hear about design as a tool for change. This Unit asks you to question this premise, to look closely at the world around you, at both large and small-scale issues, and identify areas where design has made change.
For Mon. Nov. 14th
Define the area of design activity (what the project refers to, e.g. improving visual communication of public transport system, discrimination, freedom of speech in the academic units, helping the homeless, hate speech in politics, revitalization of town districts, activating the local community, recycling & environment). Where do you want to have impact? Research into existing solutions (what requires improvement/intervention).
Fill a table with your research. Use the table as your platform to demonstrate the problem.
– learning to think critically
– learn to work with unconventional media to create heightened experiences for audiences and users
– develop a critical outlook within the discipline of graphic design
– learn to critically investigate socially involved graphic design (ideology/propaganda/activism)
– define areas where graphic design directly affects users awareness
– paying attention to how design activates social awareness
– consider how to intervene or subvert daily routines in order to communicate a new angle on an existing problem
For Wed. Nov. 16th
Developing three initial concept/solutions designs (sketches, descriptions), including a proper strategy for possible intervention. Print results (any format) and fill a wall surface with your proposals.
For Mon. Nov. 28th in-class
Preparing a presentation (keynote/pdf) of selected initial concept. The presentation should include:
For Wed. Nov. 30th small groups/brief walk about
Prototype the preliminary design of the implementation strategy/action
For Mon. Dec. 5th/rotate teachers
Presentation of documentations from intervention/action.
For Wed. Dec. 7th/final crit
Walk about / project presentation
Presentation of project’s documentation.
Reading: “Research and Destroy” by Daniel van der Velden
Unit 13 / Narrative persuasion / Hammett Nurosi
In this Unit we are asking you to consider your visual world: one filled with clickable, interactive, time based, and temporal digital information, stories, opinions, and persuasions.
Students will begin to see possibilities in their own work as they practice being persuasive and effective communicators and manipulators of visual language.
Protocol / Schedule
Work in groups of 3 (ideally). Work together, and through discussion and analysis develop an understanding of the formal and thematic language of Adam Curtis’s film HyperNormalisation and present your point of view to the whole class in 212 in one week.
DUE OCT 31 MONDAY
Using the film as provocation and/or inspiration, each team will create a five-minute screen-based viewing experience to share with the whole class that establishes an argument and point-of-view (pov) around a particular issue drawn out of the film. (you may use video, keynote, pdf, browser/html etc.)
Consider how your presentation is a provocation — and how your team might employ such techniques as seen in the film, framing, collage, mise-en-scène, sequence, juxtaposition, timing and sound, etc., in order to persuade your audience (us) around a particular issue that you want to address?
Deliverable: Each team will have exactly five minutes to perform their presentations. Among other approaches, we encourage you to consider using screen-based media. Present to the entire class in 212 on Monday, October 31 at 1:10pm.
Persuade [Week 2-3]
Begin Monday Oct 31
Due Monday Nov 14 Nov.
Final project: 2 min (max) screen-based narrative.
The team activity was essentially a group effort of analyzing and comprehending the context: in this case Adam Curtis’s film.
The design from here shifts to students working individually to develop their own content stemming from phase one.
— Consider HyperNormalisation as a system of sign and symbols
Where those elements can be adapted to your ideas and concepts or
Even your design can be built and constructed around sign and symbols.
— Consider at the very basic level HyperNormalisation’s questions while at the same time pointing out the systematic relation between economic, politics and technology.
—Consider the idea of the film’s plot (events in the narrative) and the point of view and style in which the story is told, prior to proceeding with your concepts.
— Start by identifying different elements of group finding and where your own personal interest is and how can interact with it or not.
— Writ, sketch and storyboard your concepts, ideas and study can go further with the notion of screen based media (even as the simplest form of the slides presentations where images follows successively each other with a beginning and ending in real time.
— If you chose to combine or add sound to your image(s) consider the influence and role that (sound) can play and add to the overall impact of your design and movie,
— Consider the fundamental difference of 2D design (print media) with 3D and the presence of movement (even with slides presentation).
— Consider in your design is there a need to use Type and typography, with images and how they can work with each other?
— Your individual project can take a small component from the film (such as a series of sequential still shots, a brief clip, or a collection of curated shots) and create a new “content” and new work that tells a story and express your own point of view and narrative. Also with the ”Hypernormalisation” experience it could
move to a new and different direction that has less relevance to it.
— Your final projects should illustrate a personal point of view. Create a narrative that is more appropriate to your interpretation.
HyperNormalistion (MP4 file)
Reviews of HyperNormalisation
The films of Errol Morris
Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art
Novel by Scott McCloud
Visible Signs (Second Edition): An Introduction to Semiotics
in the Visual Arts by David Crow
Additional Inspiration / References
Michael Wallin, 1988 Decodings
Perception Management (wikipedia)
The Sprawl (Metahaven)
Holly Herndon, Home (Metahaven)
Unit 2 Launch: Monday Oct 3 2016
How can designers map?
How does mapping lead to new ways of seeing?
This Unit is about exploring the visual language of maps and as a way to express interests, opinions, observations, or points of view about a physical site and its attending associations, stories, qualities, and intersections.
“Maps can lie, wield power and even start wars. But Mapping, which describes the process of selecting and plotting information spatially, suggests a way of looking beyond the finished artefact, thereby eluding the charges leveled against the map. In recent discourse, mapping emerges from the ashes of the imperial map in a blaze of hopeful rhetoric: it is participatory, generative, revealing, enabling, performative.”
In the simplest terms, maps are print- or screen-based images that represent land, boundaries, location, or geography. They are produced by cartographers and work to simplify and reduce physical reality into useful and useable 2-dimensional tools.
But some maps describe political, social, artistic, even personal data; they can be factual or fictional; they can be subversive and persuasive. Maps can help to make arguments, point out problems, express quantity, and identify detail. Maps can aggregate one kind of information while omitting another altogether. Maps can act like a lens on a place or frame a point of view.
To experience both the craft of making —— and the task of communicating —— with reductive visual elements such as the kind often used in the world of maps and mapping.
To develop a sensitivity to place and space
To practice research methods
To learn to read a site
To transform observations into data, and data into stories
To learn to mine a place for message, idea, story, opinion
To practice abstraction: the act of translating information into readable, abbreviated, and condensed form.
To develop a visual language that can be understood by others.
To become aware of the kinds of work (theoretical, practical, or art-based) that is being produced in the world of mapping, and to see how it might impact a designer’s practice.
In this project you will choose a location — a “site” — to map (ideally near RISD). You will study your site and working from the materials you gather in your analysis, you will explore the possibilities that lie within the language of mapping. The goal will be to design a collection of maps based on the information you uncover and observe about your site, and the stories that might emerge from your observation.
For Mon Oct 3 / First phase
Choose a public site:
Select a site that is meaningful to you in some way.
If possible, it should be a short walking distance of the Design Center.
The site can be an important, interesting, or banal location. It can be a place that is politically or emotionally significant to you, or visually & sensorily compelling. It should be a place where people gather or pass through, such as parks, squares, memorials, monuments, plazas, street corners, etc.
It can be heavily or sparsely populated, but it must be a public space in which people gather or move through with some frequency.
It should not be so big that you can’t visually take it in at once.
Make a quick analysis of your chosen site:
Make note of each of the following 15 aspects / characteristics / qualities (make notes, keywords, photos, sketches). Visit your site at least twice, day and night. Feel free to identify other characteristics not listed here, but include at least these 15:
Categories of Observation (aka Domains)
Unit 12 Schedule — Maps and Mapping
Due for Wed. Oct 5 Dig Deeper and Start Mapping
Choose 8 of the 15 categories of observation and do further research and ideation. Show visual evidence of any and all research accomplished. Begin your 8 mappings (size: 10 x 10 in.) one for each category of observation; show drafts/beginnings for 4 mappings.
Due for Mon Oct. 10
Show 8 mappings, on the wall. Show any supportive research.
Consider: layers and strata in your methodology. Consider the relationship between visual mode and meaning. Consider what to show and what to remove
Digging deeper and starting mapping
As you commit to 8 (out of 15) categories of observation, be comprehensive as you learn more about your site and begin to develop a position, a statement, or a point of view. The depth of your research should help you determine what (and how) you want to say with your maps.
You are graphic designers exploring and innovating around the visual language of maps and mapping. Make 8 visual mappings/maps based on each of eight chosen categories. Your maps should be square —— 10×10 in. (or bigger) and while they can be quick and relatively simple, you should pay close attention to the method you use to visualize your content. How are you controlling your presentation of the information you are expressing. What kind of line, type, image, message. Is a key or legend needed to understand your visual grammar or symbology. How are choosing to simplify, condense, communicate?
Your maps/mappings can be expressive or unconventional but should be legible in some way. They should communicate, and consider appropriate methods and intended message. Develop, and experiment with, different modes of visual language and mapping expressions. You are reducing, simplifying, editing, highlighting, quantifying and locating certain elements. What visual forms make sense for your point of view?
Your 8 maps should attempt to simplify, signify, communicate:
Use the following visualization modes. Choose methods for expressing or delineating your information appropriately:
There will be two more phases;
Then the project culminates on Oct 19
and will end with an exhibit in the GD Commons.
Due for Wed, Oct 12
— Show your 8 mappings, refined, and show /proposals/beginning drafts for a 9th more open “map” (This time the dimension and media and form and message are completely open and the focus becomes a more editorial voice, an opinion or point of view). This 9th mapping is the edit. This 9th mapping is the story. It represents what you want to say having done the work of the first 8 mappings, which were your search and research. This final mapping can either utilize aspects from your previous 8 maps or present a new form altogether. How do you stage and frame the story? Consider the installation of your work and the role of typography/language to communicate your project.
Due for Mon Oct 17
9th “map” (new work) show iterations, versions
Due for Wed Oct 19
All 8 maps plus new 9th “map.” Also consider introducing the work back into the site and documenting the site.
Meet in the COMMONS to install the work in an exhibit.
Monday Oct 24 Unit 12 Crit in Commons.
The 9th map
Media for this final “map” is open. This new work should tell a story about the site, or about some component of the site, and should emerge from the first 8 rounds of exploration. It can use elements designed in the first 8 maps, or begin a whole new approach.
A final (optional) step: introduce your “map” to the site!!
Bring an element of your map(s) back into the site itself.
Consider the hows and whys of this / discuss in class–
Media is up to you. Document the final work.
Final install / exhibit in GD Commons Oct 19
Crit in Commons Oct 24
From “Between the Map and the Territory”
A thesis by C. Fisher Schwartz
“The map is demonstrative of a basic human impulse, the desire to understand our surroundings and our position within the world. Through the activity of mapmaking, we aspire to comprehend comprehensively, but the very nature of the map allows for only partial understanding. Despite this objective for total knowledge, the blank space of a map is a necessity; in order for a map to be useful it must leave some aspects out. This blank space, along with other blanks in visual representation, is an active silence, and holds meaning in its absence.
While the map attempts to represent a territory, the two become conflated as the map shapes our perception of the space it depicts. As mapping conventions become normalized, the map appears to be an authoritative depiction of a physical space. However, it presents not only what is sensed in the world, but an accumulation of knowledge constructed by society. The map can never reproduce the terrain, but rather combines the real with the representational scheme, the natural with the ideological. We do not simply traverse the physical world but an architecture constructed by the lines of the map.
If exploration is the act of forming a world, then un-discovery is the act of taking it apart, akin to the fracturing of post-modernism. However, in the dissemblance of uncertain times, there is an opportunity to visualize new, alternate spaces, to reconstruct through imagination.” — Carla Lacey Fisher Schwartz
“The city is a living entity, [it is] something far more than a clever configuration of lines. The city changes every day, every hour of the day. It is constantly modifying itself. And it is fully alive in the way it reacts and responds to our actions. It is endlessly fascinating in the same way humans are. They can be exhausting, they can be destructive. But they contain endless possibilities too.” — Rafael Schacter, curator, A(by)P
Links and Resources
(feel free to add more links)
And then right after watch this (risd alum) Nick Felton:
Note the way data becomes simplified and mapped to various and multiple categories. How is it persuasive? How is it not?
https://vimeo.com/117036240 Banjamin Bratton on Stacks
Data.gov / US gov’s open source data library, searchable by place (tons of resources for Providence!)
Open Street Map / an open source map resource
Stamen / cartography firm in Boston
NYT election story / excellent example of a clear story told through mapped data
Transit Maps / good blog focused on evolution of transit maps
his ‘signs’ map (PDF)
https://persuasivemaps.library.cornell.edu/ (thank you Michelle Devlin!)
http://thisiscolossal.com/?s=typography (that crazy site where you can find a dizzying amount of too much cool stuff )
http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2010/11/hand-cut-typography/ (a lovely thoughtful project)
http://www.tm-research-archive.ch/ (beautiful archive of swiss typographic covers for a type magazine series from the 70s/80s)
http://www.edruscha.com/featured-works/ (world famous painter/artist lover of words)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m86ae_e_ptU (OK-Go music video; if you dont like their music just turn the volume down)
http://www.ok-rm.co.uk/project/the-billboard-book-project-jonathan-monk (great UK studio project: about scale, proportion, type)
http://balladora.blogspot.com/ a very well curated typography blog with a deep archive.
also look up HN Werkman, and also enjoy this
https://www.are.na/share/GMgWhBK (From JC)
We saw evidence of excellent work and a good variety of visual explorations on the wall. Well done! You put lots of basic design principles to work in your explorations: form, color, material, context/subversion, language (type), color, quantity variations! Also photography, framing, perspective, cropping, scale, order. All Good.
Now you have the task of re-presenting what you did in a new form. You must frame, or re-frame, the record of the event(s).
This is what this field is largely about: Visual Communication, pure and simple.
Breaking it down:
You performed some interventions on various sites. You used form, material, language, color, quantity, context. You created many different environments and moments in space: strange experiments; bold interventions; quiet visual poetry; surreal and surprising landscapes; and so on. In some cases you created narrative. In some cases you made purely aesthetic or formal moves.
Now you need to decide what it was you did, and you need to look at the records of these events, and work out how to tell others about them.
Will you approach your next step as a sorting/organizing system? Or some other method? Will you use a narrative approach? Will you develop a gathering or archive or collection? Will you create some sort of installation or wall system? Or make a book or a video to sort or reframe the work? Will you edit your material and foreground just one of your interventions? Or try to show all of them? Or create some hierarchy in a single collection? How will (can) your audience share in what happened? What methods can you employ to put your “documentation” to work to communicate to others?
Only YOU can answer these questions.
Andy Goldsworthy, Storm King Sculpture Park
I suspect no landscape, vernacular or otherwise, can be comprehended
unless we perceive it as an organization of space; unless we ask ourselves
who owns or uses the spaces, how they were created, and how they change.
—John Brinkerhoff Jackson
Although graphic design exists in a multitude of spaces, places, and surfaces, it is too often seen as a two-dimensional enterprise. But in fact our work is entirely multi-dimensional. Not only do we design places, wayfinding systems, and exhibits, we also design information environments, complex digital networks, and social interfaces. Moreover, what we produce exists in real time, and real space, used by real people in all dimensions. Designers are experts at reading signs and signals within any situation, large or small. We analyze and record given characteristics, and intervene to change or improve upon circumstances. Design is nearly always engaged with altering, or re-organizing, or improving upon, a given circumstance or set of circumstances, whether at a macro or micro scale.
Humans are hard-wired to read signs and signals in any given situation. As we move through our environments, we intuitively and unconsciously look for comfort, safety, and elements that are of value or pertain to us. We avoid danger and discomfort. We are egocentric, but we are also intelligent and quick to read our surroundings. We “read” all manner of spatial form, color, tone, temperature, sensation, sounds, and any number of other characteristics of a place almost instantaneously. We are extremely perceptive and are inclined to find meaning in most things. In this Unit, we will be looking at how we “read” spaces and places, and we will explore how we might intervene upon existing spaces. Our interventions will be a form of discovery — a process for understanding contrasts, narrative, form, and the human desire to form interpretations. As we work for the next two weeks, we will discuss in our sections how we define place; how a place relates to its surroundings; how we embrace the culture of a place, large or small, or how we might subvert its histories and realities.
Jessica Greenfield, RISD MFA alum
-How can you truly “know” a place?
-By altering a site, can you create a new narrative read of the site?
-How does the way you approach the alteration, and the way you frame your documentation of the intervention, affect the “read” of your site.
-How can you document, sequence, and explain your site interventions to create a narrative out of the documentation?
A designed sequence/presentation (media is open) of your documentation that explains your sites and your alterations to a public audience (us).
1) Getting to know your city and environs.
2) Develop a consciousness about how we define space, place, site, landscape, culture, audience, community
3) Exploration of how formal elements work together, whether in contrast or concord; harmony or discord.
4) Developing resourcefulness around finding unusual and surprising materials or objects to bring to a site for the creation of a new or alternative “read.”
5) Developing an awareness of the power of the artifact/after-the-fact documentation. “How to tell a story for those who werent there.”
Pay attention to how you frame your recordings/images. How you light or edit your images. How will your technique affect the way an audience might understand your site’s inherent narrative. Show us how you want us to see the site. Show us how the site communicates.
Before the next class meeting you must alter your two spaces in the following ways, and create carefully considered documentary images and recordings:
Transform or intervene upon an existing, built, urban space/place
1) Intervene with color (material is open)
2) Intervene with multiples (more than 25)
3) Intervene with something singular
4) Intervene with language / text / type
Transform or intervene upon a natural space/place:
1) Intervene with language or color or multiples or other items you bring to the place
2) Intervene only with things that you find at the site
RECORD EVERYTHING (photo, video, sound, drawing)
Design your Documentation
Bring to class a multitude of images and evidentiary records/documents and begin building a sequential narrative that can communicate to those who were not there exactly what took place; what they might find there if they could be there. Media is open but the sequence of your narrative and how you show a visual flow is to be considered.
Bring in refined presentations of your interventions in a narrative sequence of images and texts as needed. These need to resonate with your audience (all of us) in a public viewing, and help us understand the whole sequence of your space alterations.