Thursday, 23 October 2014

OUGD401 - Study Task 02 - Modernism vs Post Modernism

Today we had our second context of practice seminar investigating modernism and post modernism within the world of visual communication and art and design. 

Modernism  can be simply defined as a style or movement in the arts that aims to depart significantly from classical and traditional forms. Modernists say that form must follow function. Post modernism refers to a late 20th-century style and concept in the arts, architecture, and criticism, which represents a departure from modernism and is characterized by the self-conscious use of earlier styles and conventions, a mixing of different artistic styles and media, and a general distrust of theories.
We were asked to find one piece of work that we find interesting and unusual from each design period to discuss. Coming from a fine art background I am going to discuss two pieces of art that fall into the two categories of modernism and post modernism and then discuss two pieces of graphic design which do the same:

Image One: 
Pablo Picasso 'Les Demoiselles d'Avignon ('The Young Ladies of Avignon', and originally titled T'he Brothel of Avignon') 1907 - Oil on Canvas
Picasso is widely recognised as one of the worlds most successful modernists, and one of the worlds pioneers of abstraction. He is one of my artistic hero's. Abstract art uses form, colour and line to create a composition which exists outside of visual reality. From the Renaissance up to the middle of the 19th century, Western art had been based on the logic of perspective and was generally an attempt to reproduce an illusion of visible reality.
But by the end of the 19th century many Western artists felt a need to create a new kind of art that reflected the fundamental changes taking place in technology, science and philosophy. The sources from which these artists drew their inspiration were variously different — they reflected the social and intellectual concerns in all areas of Western culture at that time. 

The ideals of modernism are visible Picasso's paintings, however, the tension between form and content is not simplistic or one-sided. Significantly, his paintings were never completely abstract; they always contained references, however obscure, to the material world. Many modernist artists and art historians conceived of a notion of modern art as concerning form rather than the representation of a material subject, but Picasso does not conform to conventions. The dialectic between 'spiritual' abstract painting and the 'materialist' representational painting of the Western tradition was crucial in the construction of an ideal of what modernist painting should be. Picasso's style at the time was revolutionary and radical, and to me still is. 
Image Two:
Rober Rauschenberg 'Pledge1968 - Lithograph on paper
One of the most influential artists of the 20th century, Rauschenberg  was an American painter and graphic artist whose early works anticipated the pop art movement. Rauschenberg is well known for his "Combines" of the 1950s, in which non-traditional materials and objects were employed in innovative combinations. Rauschenberg was both a painter and a sculptor and the Combines are a combination of both, but he also worked with photographyprintmakingpaper making, and performance. His work can be described as post modernist. Post modernists sought to contradict some aspects of modernism through experimentation and deconstruction of pre-existing values and ideologies. In general, artistic movements such as Installation art, Conceptual Art and Multimedia, particularly involving video are described as post modern. Rauschenberg was a multimedia artist, pushing ideas in many fields, constantly changing the rules when it came to collage, painting, photography and collage. The above piece of work 'Pledge' is neither traditional nor abstract, to me it is experimental and is commenting on the time in which it was created. 

Graphic Image One:
Josef Müller-BrockmannMusica Viva Rosbaud, 1959
J. M. Brockmann was a Swiss graphic designer and teacher. In 1936 he opened his Zurich studio specialising in graphic design, exhibition design and photography. From 1951 he produced concert posters for the Tonhalle in Zurich. In 1958 he became a founding editor of New Graphic Design. He is recognised for his simple designs and his clean use of typography, shape, colour and minimalist layout and composition. Brockmann is the father of the iconic typeface Akzindenz Grotesk, which in turn inspired the creation of Helvetica and also influenced many later neo-grotesque typefaces after 1950. Musica Viva Rosbaud is a shining example of Brockmanns' ability to create stunningly simplistic pieces of design. There is almost no visual information contained in this image, yet the subtle use of geometry and colour suggest subtle messages. The spaced out 'dots' could be representing musical notes on a page, or a fragmented sound wave. You can read what you want into minimalism, and that is what I enjoy most about it. Brockmann has also employed a crisp sans serif font, a weapon used by all modernist designers. There is a clear grid in use here, another concept that is associated with modernism. However Brockmann has radically altered the grid and slanted it on an angle. This poster was created towards the end of the 'Modernist' era, just before the chaos of post modernism descended on the world, yet you wouldn't know it. It is confident, stylish and bold and reminiscent of early Bauhaus design. 

Graphic Image Two: 
David Carson's Grunge Typography and Layout, 1990s
David Carson is best known for his innovative magazine design, and his experimental typography. The art director for Ray Gun, Carson was perhaps the most influential graphic designer of the nineties. You could describe his work as being post post modernist. His use of widely-imitated aesthetics defined the so-called "grunge" era of the 1990s. He disregards the grid that modernist designers favour so much, instead his work has a more home made, art student, collaged feel. Carson became interested in a new school of typography and photography-based graphic design and is largely responsible for popularizing the style. He inspired many young designers of the 90s, and he has been one of the greatest influences on modern graphic design in the last twenty five years.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

OUGD401 - Study Task 01 - Comparative Analysis

Image Comparison:

'The Uncle Sam Range' Advertising graphic image by Schumacher & Ettlinger, New York, 1876
'Daddy, what did you do in The Great War?' Poster by Savile Lumley, Britain, 1915
Here are two images that are both very unusual pieces of Graphic Design. Image one is a blatantly patriotic advertisement for 'The Uncle Sam Range' produced in 1876, whereas image two is a wartime poster produced in 1915 designed to recruit men to aid the war effort. Both are aimed at a predominately male audience yet their intentions differ.

Image ones' purpose is to advertise, yet image two serves to create feelings of guilt in the audience. Both images seem dated to modern eyes thanks to their use of propaganda in various forms. For example, image one uses a cooking range to personify the American Dream. The advert was designed to celebrate 100 years of American independence. In basic terms this is an advert for a range cooker, but in actual fact it is much more a representation of American ideology. The image depicts a celebratory dinner in Centenary Hall, Philadelphia (the old capital of the US), with the now iconic figure of 'Uncle Sam' sitting in the centre.  He is surrounded by symbolism; a bald eagle perched on his shoulder, fireworks in the distance celebrating independence and plenty of red, white and blue stars on the carpet. What we see is the early self promotion of America. The advert is demonstrating how far it claims to have come in one hundred years. The image is exporting a lifestyle through a product and speaks directly to upper -middle class Americans. It is saying 'America can now lead the world thanks to this brilliant new piece of technology'.  Interestingly, the cooking range is relegated to the side of the image, along with a young black slave, suggesting that the product that is being sold  it is merely an object, what is really being sold is an ideology. The advert depicts a 'buffoonish' globe, holding a long menu of stereotyped foods of other countries, for example bird nests' in China and potatoes in Ireland. The ad suggests that the Uncle Sam Range can cook anything, portraying America as a far more culturally advanced nation than the others. The designer has used a 'Saloon Bar' style Slab Serif typeface to represent the brand, paying homage to the Wild West, another example of Americana. They have opted for upper-case lettering, giving it commanding status.

Image two was made one year after the war began, yet it speaks to the audience as if the war happened a while ago and that the father figure is reminiscing. The image shows a boy playing with toy soldiers, glorifying the war, and his sister sat on the father's lap presumably reading a book about it. The fact that the designer has opted to call it 'The Great War' a year after its start is a bold statement to make. It suggests the war was successful, celebrating its the glory. It raises the point that every man, no matter what his background should contribute to the war effort in some way. In 1915, considerable social pressure was brought to bear on men to volunteer, and those who did not risked ridicule. For many men, however, awareness of their responsibilities towards their families as wage earners proved a compelling disincentive to volunteer.  Posters like this used that powerful sense of duty to family, but instead suggested that, in the future, children would hold their fathers to account on the service that they performed for their country rather than the social protection that they ensured for their immediate family. This poster shows a sophisticated use of art and imagery in provoking a powerful emotional response, unlike image one which is somewhat emotionally detached.

For me, the biggest difference between the images is the cultural tone. Image one is incredibly nationalistic and garish, the use of American symbolism and colour shows this well, where as image two is far more subdued and subtle in its delivery of message. I feel image two is far more successful in speaking to its intended audience.

Monday, 6 October 2014

OUGD401 - COP Briefing

We had our first Context of Practice briefing. The work has to be completed by 5/5/15. 

Over the course of the year we will attend lectures, seminars and workshops based around 5 different themes that run within the general field of visual communication. Multiple pathways including graphic design, animation, advertising and illustration will complete the same work. I will need to choose one topic to research in depth and produce a 3,000 word essay. The topic areas are:

  • ModernismTo what extent have Modernist design principles influenced contemporary Graphic Design?”
  • Post-modernismHow did Post-modernism impact Graphic Design practice?
  • Gender representationTo what extent does advertising construct our ideas of gender?
  • Social/politicalDiscuss the role that Graphic Design has played in Political and/or social change in a specific period in history.
  • ConsumerismWhat is the relationship between branding and The Consumer Self
I find each topic intriguing, but I already have an idea of which topic I want to explore and this will most likely be modernism as I am fascinated with this movement in art and design and have never written an in depth piece of writing about it.