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5 Outline

í Unit 6: Overview & Assignment

Question: How does form shape content? 

Unit summary: We will interpret an object by looking at it 13 different ways, thinking deeply about how its form shapes its meaning and content, and consider how form IS content in its own right. We will use Thomas McEvilley’s “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” as the basis for exploring objects from different formal perspectives.

One Week portion:
Read Thomas McEvilley’s “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.” Then go to the RISD Museum and pick one object on display. Using the 13 points in the essay as a basis, you will create 13 interpretations of this object in graphic form (graphic form is left deliberately open, and could mean posters, stamps, words on paper, marks on paper, video, photos, etc…). Each interpretation should be its own short quick project. Each interpretation should highlight that specific “way of looking” at each object.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at an object in the RISD Museum:

  1. Content that arises from the aspect of the artwork that is understood as representational
  2. Content arising from verbal supplements supplied by the artist, designer, curator or institution
  3. Content arising from the genre or medium of the artwork
  4. Content arising from the material of which the artwork is made
  5. Content arising from the scale of the artwork
  6. Content arising from the temporal duration of the artwork
  7. Content arising from the context of the work
  8. Content arising from the work’s relationship with art history
  9. Content that accrues to the work as it progressively reveals its destiny through persisting in time
  10. Content arising from participation in a specific iconographic tradition
  11. Content arising directly from the formal properties of the work
  12. Content arising from attitudinal gestures (wit, irony, parody, and so on) that may appear as qualifiers of any of the categories already mentioned
  13. Content rooted in biological or physiological responses, or in cognitive awareness of them


Additional Readings:
Michael Rock, Designer as author
Michael Rock, Fuck Content


Learning Objectives:
– develop ways of looking deeply at the world and objects within it
– develop a more complex understanding of the relations between form and content
– develop complex ways of looking at and interpreting content
– develop habits of iteration
create a shared formal language
– create ways to approach the critique of work

Extended Portion
You will create a single work that communicates basic information (title, author, date, medium, dimension, any text available, etc…) about your selected object, along with at least two of your ways of looking. Use your one week explorations as the basis for your continued investigation, thinking about how some of these different explorations may be synthesized. Also think of what information you are communicating explicitly, and what aspects of the object you are communicating implicitly through your choice of form, typography, medium, distribution.

Week 1: Produce 3 different versions. Bring all three versions to class.
Week 2: Choose one version and refine it
Week 3: Final

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The band They Might Be Giants has some highly conceptual and interesting videos in their “Dial-a-song” series. Below is a playlist, be sure to look through them all:

Michel Gondry’s music videos have a lot structure:

Totally overdesigned website promo video (a DP trailer):

Fake commercial promoting a Broadway Hypnotist show

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í Unit 5: Overview & Assignment

How can a minute be defined by the designer and clearly understood by the viewing audience?

TIME is one of the fundamental constructs of human experience. As designers, it is an essential in shaping both our processes and our products. We communicate by creating hierarchies — how a viewer encounters a sequence of events, how long it takes the eye to scan a fixed two dimensional surface (an image, text, diagram, etc.), the pacing and order in which our designs are viewed—all of these considerations are the foundation for constructing creative and dynamic visual communication.

The role of time in Graphic Design continues to expand and contract in all sorts of ways. There is more to comprehend, less time to spend on each encounter, greater networks to span, and larger audiences to reach.

Learning objectives:
– Perception: To develop a critical awareness of how time affects the reading of a design.
– Framing: To understand how framing (composition, in particular) affects meaning.
– Editing: To play with sequencing as a critical component to narrative
– Production: To be subjected to and practice with movie editing software

How can a minute be defined by the designer and clearly understood by the viewing audience? Make a video that lasts anywhere between 45 seconds and 1 minute and 30 seconds; QuickTime FORMAT (.MOV; H.264; 720p)
Movies should ideally be less than 100MB, with dimensions no larger than 1280×720.
Movies larger than 250MB will be rejected.
Movies should follow this naming convention: instructorlastname_yourusername.mov (ex: wedell_jpark01.mov)
Your name and instructor’s name should also appear at the beginning of your film.
Kickoff: November 17th
First Review: November 24th in section
Final presentations: December 1st
NOTE: Deliver videos to John Sunderland (3rd floor Type Shop) by 1PM MONDAY NOVEMBER 30th

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William Kentridge

Un Homme Qui Dort
The Man Who Sleeps – Bernard Queysanne

Christian Marclay

Time in terms of “timing” of sound an image (abstraction)
1935-1937 Len Lye – “Kaleidoscope”

A Colour Box – hand painted film

Trade Tattoo

An Optical Poem – produced by Oskar Fischinger 1938

John Whitney

Walter Ruttmann – Lichtspiel Opus 1,2,3,4 -The first abstract film screened publicly – 27 April 1921

Symphonie Diagonale Viking Eggeling

Hans Richter – Rhythm.21

“Ballet mecanique” (1924)

Time as in sequencing (complex sequencing / Spacial relationships)

Maya Deren – ritual in transfigured time

(should be watched with no sound)

“Meshes of the Afternoon” (1943) Short Film

Witch’s cradle (Maya Deren , M. Duchamp – 1943)

Corti surrealisti Man Ray Fernand Leger & Marcel Duchamp, 1923 1929

Early animation + Linking image with sound

Silly Symphony (was the beginning of animation/ disney + where they were able to link up the image with the sound for the first time)

Gertie the Dinosaur

First Silent FilmThe Lumiere Brothers – “Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat” – First silent documentary film – (1896)

Timing based on Actor in a Scene
Harold Lloyd’s “Safety Last”- 1923

Films That Rely on timing but are empty

Structuralist film

Wavelength (Michael Snow, 1967)

Andy Warhol’s Empire

Warhol eating a burger

Contemporary Artists video:

David Lynch

Bill Viola

Nam June Paik

Ann Hamilton

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B Unit 5: Required Readings

Essay on the Importance of Time,” M. Sanjeeta

Notes on the Poetics of Time from: Temporality in Life as Seen Through Literature,”
Lawrence Kimmel

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w Unit 4: Lecture
October 28, 2015

í Unit 4: Overview & Assignment


How can collaboration be a catalyst for making?


Collaboration is important across many fields of creative work and the discoveries made through it can be invaluable. This unit promotes methods that emphasize teamwork, spontaneity and responsiveness. You will see how methods of shared creativity can produce a form of knowledge that is experiential and intuitive.

Students will develop a discrete visual vocabulary and system. These systems will then be shared with all DS1 students to create a shared lexicon that may be mined endlessly. We will recontextualize, synthesize, transform and conspire, working in and on top of each other’s work. We will build on remix practices, which blur distinctions between invented and borrowed work.



After introducing this unit each student is given a word. Use this word as a starting point for inspiration and media to be explored.

Next build a complex set of visual parts (total: 50) to share with all students in DS1.

Use this assignment as an opportunity to develop a language of personal symbolism.

Use any available resource found and/or self-authored: photos, scans, drawings, video, etc. Your visual vocabulary will include but not be limited to: shape, perspective, color, line weight, scale, foreground/background, level of abstraction, etc.

This unit is structured to provide an opportunity to collaborate and extend the process of design from self to collective.

You will design 2 posters that are due week one of this unit. (printed or pdf)

  1. Highlights and applies all 50 visual parts that you created.
  2. Create a hybrid that borrows/appropriates visual parts from the collective. Use any module of your choosing.


Determine methods, techniques, media, etc. you plan to work with. Explore and perform studies using a variety of 2D and 3D materials and processes. Look at ways of hybridization and translating one medium into another. (Physical and Digital)

  • – Create a set of visual parts. (possibly interchangeable)
  • – Explore a variety of tools and processes. (at least 5)
  • – Explore (at least 10) different form factors. (refer to posted list)
  • – Be exhaustive, create multiples, aim for quantity and variety.
  • – Carefully consider contrast, figure/ground, composition and gestalt principles.
  • – Be economical with the combination of elements. Reduce to basic elements.
  • – They should work together as a system (similar scale, level of detail, grid, etc.)
  • – Screen grabs and stills may be taken from video and motion work.


You will receive an invitation via email to a shared Google Drive. Save your set of parts to the Google Drive in preparation to share with classmates by Noon on Saturday, October 31st, 2015.

  • – Group all vectors into one Illustrator file.
  • – Save images as individual jpg files. Scale should be at least 4 x 4 inches, 300 dpi.
  • – Use this format for naming and numbering of files: email username_1.jpg
  • – Present (2) 30 x 42 inch designed posters
  • – Display at the beginning of class on Tuesday, November 3rd


For this part of the assignment you will work in pairs.

Create a poster diptych that is a response and reinterpretation of your partners work. Expand it through analysis and experimentation. Recontextualize, synthesize, transform and conspire, refine the system, work in and on top of each other’s work. This process can shift your thinking and may uncover unforeseen relationships.

  • – Consider exploring methods of sorting, adding and subtracting.
  • – Look at ways to connect seemly-unrelated ideas.
  • – Visual responses during this phase of the assignment may totally transform.
  • – 2 posters (diptych) 30 x 42 inch due: Tuesday, November 10th

Working together in section:

  1. Dissect week one’s outcome. What themes emerged?
  2. What methods and mediums were most successful?
  3. Does your partner’s work contrast or compliment yours?
  4. What methods of your own devising will you continue to employ? Can you achieve a successful hybrid?
  5. Will you enhance or destroy?
  6. Look for relationships between things to see what emerges. What are the commonalities?
  7. How can you creatively combine and connect totally disparate elements? Taking something out of a context and placing it into another, demonstrates how meaning is fixed and how meaning is unfixed when location is changed. What does it mean in its new situation?
  8. Analyze outcomes, transform, hybridize, change parameters, explore in depth.
  9. How does working collaboratively alter your approach?

Week Two Critique in Section:

  1. How were your original intentions interrupted?
  2. How was work transformed by the conversation?
  3. Do you feel ownership of something that was not originally yours?
  4. Take note of benefits and pitfalls.
  5. Were your results consistent or were there pivotal moments?


Martin Venezky, Sol Lewitt, Stephen Wolfram, Karel Martens, Barry McGee, Miranda July






Collaborative working methods, Flexibility, Intuition, Spontaneity, Respect and Trust, Working with Constraints, Fragmentation, Gestalt, Abstraction, Appropriation, Conveying ideas through minimal means, Explore processes and media, Hybridization/working across platforms, Representation and Meaning

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