Activity 3: Journal Research

Assessment 1: Activity 3: Journal Research

There is quite an unclear definition of what design activism essentially is and what it can achieve. For the most part, design activism promotes social change, but it is the aesthetics of the design that directly affect society. Designing for social change is a major task, that should not be taken on lightly; an extensive amount of planning should be involved, as well as research and so on.

In the article, The Disruptive Aesthetics of Design Activism (Markussen, 2013), Thomas Markussen (2013) gives an intriguing and compelling argument of what design activism truly is and focuses on the two components, art and politics, that hold the discipline together and their “interrelation between aesthetics and the political” (Markussen, 2013, p.39). Markussen (2013) argues that the focus within design activism is on the “effect evoked in the people” (Markussen, 2013, p.50) not the techniques of the design. This article was written with a clear precise language, which made it quite persuasive and engaging. Markussen (2013) made his argument convincing as he presented his insights, with a diagram to show and prove his point, that design activism cannot be defined as just political, because aesthetics are the central discipline (Markussen, 2013, p.41).

In contrast to Markussen (2013), Bauke Steenhuisen’s (2013) article shifted from the focus of design activism and gave insight into the process, the technique, of designing for social change. In his article, How to Design for Social Change (Steenhuisen, 2013), Steenhuisen designs a template that is quite informative, yet easy to follow, which breaks down each stage within the design process and gives his advise on each step. Steenhuisen (2013) is an assistant professor at Delf University and considers ‘design for social change’ the core of his discipline. What was most intriguing about his article, is his commitment to his students and his passion to feed them the knowledge he believes they need in order to be successful designers. The arguments Steenhuisen puts forward are convincing, as he uses real life examples to back up his statements, using examples from his students in this case such as “each year, students want to convince me that they lack a more structured step-by-step approach to account for social complexity in design thinking” (Steenhuisen, 2013, p.303). Steenhuisen’s aim, in comparison with Markussen (2013) is to make the complex clearer and better comprehended.

References:

Markussen, T. (2013). The Disruptive Aesthetics of Design Activism: enacting design between art and politics. Design Issues, 29(1), 38-50. Retrieved from http://web.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.lib.swin.edu.au/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=c3cf1686-98ae-4cb5-9130-965ac57f4ef7%40sessionmgr115&vid=1&hid=110

Steenhuisen, B. (2013). How to Design for Social Change: a template. Journal of Design Research, 11(4), 301-316. doi: 10.1504/JDR.2013.057758

Assessment 2: Task 2: Design Language

A city’s graphic identity can communicate many ideas about that particular city, its location, its people and their culture, a past or future time. A city should not be defined by its man-made architecture, unless it is recognised by it, otherwise it should be defined by the land, people and culture that makes it unique from other cities.

To cities familiar to me are Hobart, the city I grew up in, and Adelaide, the city where I was born. The graphic identities of these two cities are quite contrasting, but similar in the way that they both aim to communicate to the public something significant about that particular city.

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 12.56.07 pm               Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 12.56.25 pm
            Adelaide graphic identity (n.d.)                              Hobart graphic identity (2015)

Hobart is known for its location, its shoreline, beaches and cool climate and this is clearly portrayed in the ‘H.’ Blue and Green coloured lines are woven through each other to make the formation of the city’s first letter, while also creating the contrast between land and sea. There are two typefaces used for this logo, Baskerville and Arial, both very contrasting typefaces as one is a sans-serif and the other a serif. I think this places a confusion upon the design and does not necessarily make it legible. Serif fonts are associated with past times; where the use of unnecessary decorative elements on letters is old-fashioned.

In contrast to Hobart, Adelaide is well known for its many churches and this is the main focus of its graphic identity. The ‘A’ in Adelaide takes the form of a facade of a church, the arch. The typeface used is the uniform-like letters of Helvetica and this helps to make the words readable and clear. The circles in the logo seems to represent people. This in a sense represents a culture of religion, purity, community, connectedness and reconciliation and the two white coloured circles within the “church” signify this. Churches are quite historic and quite compelling, but Adelaide “cannot depend on material productivity as a measure of economic success,” (Glickfeld, 2010, p. 32) it needs to revisit its people and culture. Although Adelaide is the city of churches, this identity seems dated and disconnected from its people and its location.

In contrast to Adelaide, Hobart’s graphic identity has captured the beautiful alignment of land and water, which does not represent a past or future time, but rather the relationship the city has with nature. This visual aspect conveys Hobart’s “unique soul” (Glickfeld, 2010, p. 30 ) which is important when designing an identity. The culture of the city can also be seen through the imagery in the logo, where the people and the culture appear laid back and calm; it isn’t busy, because the lines that form the ‘H’ flow together, giving it that easy feel. The only downside to the imagery chosen is that it also takes the form of a bandage/band-aid, which could communicate the idea that Hobart needs to be patched up, that they are delicate and need help.

References

Glickfeld, E. (2010). On Logophobia. Meanjin, 69(3). Retrieved from http://onlineres.swin.edu.au.ezproxy.lib.swin.edu.au/522077.pdf

Activity 2: Design Activism – Using APA 6th Edition Referencing

Food Connect Imagine
Food Connect. (n.d.) Food Connect poster [image]. Retrieved 24/07/15 from http://inkahoots.com.au/projects/food-connect/~i-200

Food Connect (Inkahoots, n.d.) is a community shared agricultural model, that fosters real relationships between farmers and those who eat their food. Food Connect’s (Inkahoots, n.d.) poster embraces the negativity placed upon local produce due to profit driven food supply systems in supermarket companies. This negativity corresponds with Thorpe’s (2011) criterion four “Excluded and Neglected Groups” (Thorpe, 2011, p.12). From the poster we can identify how the produce is being marginalised, If we look beyond the poster it is evident that the farmers of this produce are the one’s being excluded from society due to their “dirty, rough, imperfect, unruly” (Inkahoots n.d.) yield.

Thorpe’s (2011) criterion three “Claim for Change” (Thorpe, 2011, p.11) is shown in Food Connect’s (Inkahoots, n.d.) project by advocating the need to support local farmers and their produce, via prints upon vehicles, pamphlets and posters.

Food Connect (Inkahoots n.d.) disrupts the perception or the public opinion of what real local and organic Australian produce looks like. This corresponds with Thorpe’s (2011) criterion one “Disruption” (Thorpe, 2011, p.9). Many supermarkets have misguided society into believing that big, bright and perfectly shaped produce is the best produce, this misconception is the root of the problem for local farmers.

Thorpe’s (2011) criterion two “Framing a Problem” (Thorpe, 2011, p.10) is highlighted in Food Connect’s (Inkahoots, n.d.) project, where they have identified the problem local farmers are facing and structured it into a easily digestible concept to raise awareness. It is difficult for these farmers to connect with locals as all their funds go towards their produce rather than advertising and branding, which is the key factor in connecting consumers to suppliers.

References:

Thorpe, A. (2011). Defining Design as Activism. retrieved 23/07/15 from http://designactivism.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Thorpe-definingdesignactivism.pdf

Inkahoots. n.d. Food Connect. retrieved 22/07/15 from http://inkahoots.com.au/projects/food-connect/~details

Food Connect. (n.d.) Food Connect poster [image]. Retrieved 24/07/15 from http://inkahoots.com.au/projects/food-connect/~i-200

Assessment 2, Task 1: Data Visualisation

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Lozano-Hemmer, R. (2013). Zero Noon Clock [image]. retrieved 17/07/15 from http://www.lozano-hemmer.com/zero_noon.php

Data visualisation is an effective way of communication. It enables our minds to view, interpret and understand certain information in a different light, in contrast to how we have done in the past. Data visualisation means as the term suggests, that is, data displayed in a visual way, but there are many techniques and methods behind the process of designing an appropriate form for a set of data. For example, data visualisation can be presented in a time-series visual, where data collected over a period of time is compressed into one single image, so that change is able to be witnessed and more easily understood. In contrast, network visuals display a web of connections, such train stations within a train network. (Reas & McWilliams, 2010) This visual technique can be used to identify relationships that are sometimes invisible and the important connections that some may take for granted or overlook. These two techniques show just how powerful data visualisation can be when it is presented properly.

Understanding the data is the first step in creating the form of that data, as appropriateness is important. The visual technique to be used, strongly depends on the data that it is going to represent. For example it would not be appropriate to display the connections in a train network using the technique of a time-series visual, because time is not being measured. Nor would it make sense to display the rise in sea water levels over a period of time using the technique of a network visual, as the data could not be interpreted properly.

The visual image is a very useful and effective way to present information, but I don’t believe it is “a better way.” I think that, instead, images are “needed,” but to say that they could in fact replace words is unfeasible. Words are just as powerful as images. For example, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s “Zero Noon” (2013) digital, interactive clock. The clock (Lozano-Hemmer, 2013) shows time according to eccentric metrics, where statistics choose what time it is and how fast the clock ticks, which I find to be a very powerful concept. Noon Zero (Lozano-Hemmer, 2013) shows how many babies are being born, how much plastic is being produced and how many tobacco related deaths there have been since noon. I find this clock a reality-check for humanity, it gives us a chance to witness just how fast, or slow, things such as death, birth, heartbeats are occurring without us knowing. This clock is not just an image, it is a series of numbers, which represent statistics, and words, which explain what the statistic represents. The clock is the image that represents time in a way that most of us have never considered, but the numbers and words give it meaning, otherwise it is just a regular clock. Words are needed, just as much as images, no matter how long, short, small or large, they are just like a piece to a puzzle, images can’t work alone. Sometimes, people need more than an image, they want to understand further, and words, as well as figures and speech, can help with this. I believe images and words must work in unison together to be most effective.

References:

Reas, C. & McWilliams, C. (2010). Form + Code in Design, Art, and Architecture. New York: Princeton Architectural Press. Retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com.ezproxy.lib.swin.edu.au/lib/swin/reader.action?ppg=118&docID=10453751&tm=1429151430391

Lozano-Hemmer, R. (2013). Zero Noon Clock [Online image]. retrieved 17/07/15 from http://www.lozano-hemmer.com/zero_noon.php

Activity 1: First Things First Manifesto 2000 &’Ten Footnotes to a Manifesto’

The First Things First Manifesto 2000 (Emigre 51, 1999) raises many important points about the shifted view and role of the designer, such as the graphic designer, where commercial power and marketing has become the priority. I believe the First Things First manifesto (1999) draws attention to what it really means to be a designer and more significantly creates awareness and an opening for discussion and debate, as we are all contributing now. I agree that marketing and commercial work is now bigger than ever, it is all around us, and has very much become a part of our society. The manifesto (1999) describes advertisements as “dog biscuits,” (Emigre 51, 1999) which I find quite clever in the way that it depicts the usefulness of these advertisements. A dog does not need a biscuit to live, it is merely a treat, something to crave; it is a want. Designers should not be wasting their skill, their talents or their minds on designing “dog biscuits” (Emigre 51, 1999) which, according to the manifesto (1999), are short-term, “inessential” and unsustainable things that offers no real improvements to society. I understand the arguments the manifesto (1999) puts forward and appreciate the awareness it draws but commercial work is also an effective form of communication and in this day and age it is a useful and popular method used to send all kinds of messages to society.

Bierut’s (Philizot, 2007) criticisms of the manifesto I found to be quite fair and insightful, such as designers having the right to say no. However I fount Bierut’s (2007) point about designers having the right to refuse to work for a client if that does not have the same goals. People disagree with each other each day and for designers who rely on work for an income usually push their differences aside, in order to make a living. Although Bierut (2007) states that a designer should never be in a situation that leaves them making a decision purely based on money, I still think that a designer should try and work with a client, to understand the basis of their goals, instead of rejecting them; an open mind is important in the design world.

References:

Emigre 51. (1999). First things first manifesto 2000. Retrieved from http://www.emigre.com/Editorial.php?sect=1&id=14. Viewed 7/07/15.

Philizot, V. (2007). Graphic design and metamorphoses: A few footnotes to ten footnotes to a manifesto, Graphisme en France. Retrieved from http://www.academia.edu/7825774/Graphic_Design_and_Metamorphoses_of_the_spectacle._A_few_footnotes_to_Ten_Footnotes_to_a_Manifesto. Viewed 7/07/15