Tuesday, 29 December 2015

OUGD501 - Research - Interesting Analysis of Trends

2016 is almost upon us and most of us are starting to think about the year ahead. The trends that will most affect our practice aren't just about whatever colour Pantone has picked to symbolise the year ahead - but the cultural, business and technological changes that affect what our work means, what our clients want and what the possibilities are to make, display and let people engage with it.
It’s that time of year when every news source from the Daily Mail to Pigeon Fancier’s Monthly asks prominent people in their field to tell them about what’s to come. But here at Digital Arts, we want to do it slightly differently – and better – than the rest.
Rather than asking the creative industries for clairvoyance about the future, we wanted to know what they hope will happen – and what they fear might – how their own practice will change over the next year, and what the drivers behind these are.
We've asked some of the smartest people across graphic, digital and immersive design, illustration, creative direction, advertising, photography, VFX to tell us what they think - and you can help but be inspired by what they say.
Craig Ward
Designer and art director, wordsarepictures.co.uk

What changes would you like to see happen in 2016?
"I guess the same thing that I’d like to see every year - more original thinking and less reliance on styles and trends."

What from 2015 would you most like to see the back of?
"I’m going to be honest. I kind of try and keep my head down and not really pay attention to what everyone else is up to these days. A little bored of the grid-less, chaotic, cool kid typography that I see so much of around though. And wobbly underlines."

Aesthetically, how will your work in 2016 be different from that in 2015?
"I have literally no idea what’s going to happen next year. This year has finished on such a high - three huge projects back to back - that it’s kind of left me with some thinking to do over Christmas. Not sure how I can top it. I would imagine it will become more abstract. I’ve pushed some personal boundaries this year in that respect and it seems I can’t get away with it so let’s see."

How will it be different in form and function?
"I’m hoping to move into interiors and to see if my process driven approach and love of unusual materials will translate into usable spaces. I’m aware that I can't just announce myself as an interior designer so I’ve actually enrolled in a course starting in January so I can learn from the ground up.

"Also, I’ve been fortunate in that my last two personal projects really resonated with the public and media, I’m feeling a little selfish truth be told, so I’d like to try and work on something more worthy and try and divert that attention to a cause."

Monday, 30 November 2015

OUGD501 - COP Session - Primary Research Considerations

Observing the situation to consider cause and effect, trends, habits - can be quite limiting and biased, it still has value but observation is only effective when it happens multiple times.

Market research:
habits, opinions, tastes, perceptions of consumers in a specific target market -  you can conduct questionnaires, surveys, focus groups, opinions polls, interviews

Quantitative and Qualitative research
Questionnaires are a very effective way of gathering decent primary research, used to establish the 'needs' of the target audience, or used to assess the effectiveness of the design work on the desired users/consumers

What do you need to know and what do you want to learn?

-consider aims carefully
-identify population and sample size
-easy to interpret question styles (consider how long it will take to fill out the questionnaire)
-open or closed questions...multiple choice?
-avoid using leading questions
-go from the general to the particular
-go from factual to abstract questions

Questionnaires - should be completed by as many people as you find possible, the more the better. Getting a wider range of people to answer the questions will give you a broader scope on the issues that you need answering.

Focus groups - very beneficial, can be tricky because the members of the group can be easily influenced by the tone of voice, body language etc of the person hosting the group and asking the questions

Interviews - in-depth, focused and refined discussion/Q&A with individuals
based around preplanned question structures, but can also develop around impromptu questions and open discussion

User/Audience testing - in order to assess the effectiveness of your design work it may be pertinent to test your work on members of the specified target market
-consider testing perception, readability, aesthetic appreciation, perception of quality and so on - all of this feedback is invaluable and can benefit the development of a body of work greatly

Ethical considerations - should be made when dealing with members of the public, especially if the topic is regarded as sensitive - should the date be kept anonymous? should participants be made aware of the research focus? should participants have the right to withdraw|? Asking people if they wish to remain anonymous is important for a number of reasons, always better to ask than to regret not asking at a later date.

Task: Consider carefully whether primary research can help your COP project - identify research aims, research methods, population and sample sizes. Consider the relevance of primary research in relation to the themes, topics and issues you are focusing on in the essay

The concepts and themes that I am tackling in my essay are in some ways highly abstract and philosophical, asking people questions to do with these themes may be challenging because the majority of people probably haven't come into contact with terms such as simulacrum or pastiche in much depth.

Representational images - how it stands for its original meaning and in fact there is no original meaning.

What primary research could I do? Do I really need to do any primary research? I don't think its really 100% necessary for me to do primary research for my investigation this year in COP

A questionnaire? An interview?

Practical work: consider the mechanisms of what makes a piece of work 'hyper real' the experiences and meanings associated with images come from images. Decoding hyper reality

OUGD501 - Study Task 06 - Primary Research

For my practical work, I am going to be creating branding/identity for a fictional exhibition which would be held at a prestigious London art gallery. I am not creating a product as such, more of an aesthetic that can be identified and recognised easily and linked with the content of the show. Therefore, primary research will be very limited, if I decide to undertake any in the first place.

Primary research that I could undertake could include:

  • Surveys
  • Questionnaires
  • Formal/Informal critique sessions
  • Exhibition practices

If I were to conduct surveys or questionnaires, the main intention would be to ask people what they want to see or value the most in exhibition branding/identity, because at the end of the day, everything I am designing must be relevant and appeal to the masses. I could do a mix of written and visual surveys to test my designs as they come along, this would be more feedback and critique rather than primary research, but none the less, it would be valuable and beneficial to the project.

At this stage in the development of the work, I don't really see the need to undertake any research of this nature, because I am still generating ideas and concepts. When I start designing, I may consider running a few surveys to make sure my work is striking an appropriate tone of voice and is considering the product, range and its distribution thoroughly.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

OUGD501 - Study Task 05 - Establishing an Essay Question/Structure Planning

Essay Map

This essay map should include a sentence which states your thesis, and how it will be addressed. It should also include FOUR sentences, each outlining a different element of your central argument.
You should also refer to how this essay map links to the key sources that you have highlighted and the example(s) of Graphic Design practice.


"To what extent is pastiche unavoidable in contemporary graphic design practice?"

How will it be addressed? I will begin by making a clear distinction between the terms parody and pastiche to clarify the main focus of the writing. I will go onto discuss postmodern design principles and theories in a broad sense

Central Ideas:
  • The rise of pastiche in the field of visual communication: How and why is pastiche such a integral part of contemporary graphic design?
  •  Have we reached a simulacrum, or have we still got a while to go before we arrive at a rather depressing state of stagnancy?
  • Is pastiche necessarily a bad thing in terms of aesthetic? What’s so wrong about being on trend? Questioning originality and individual styles (complication/counter argument)
  • Discuss an example or several examples of contemporary design and relate back to the essay question. A hipster publication of some description that demonstrates well self referential systems that are at play within contemporary visual culture, representing a subculture that isn't a subculture
  • Discuss what the future may hold in terms of pastiche and simulacrum
  • Conclusion 
Academic Sources to reference:

·         McLuhan. M (Originally published 1967) Penguin Classics, The Medium is the Message: An Inventory of Effects
·         Levinson.P (2001) Routledge; New Ed edition, Digital McLuhan: A Guide to the Information Millennium
·         Hoesterey. I (2001) Penn State University Press, Pastiche: Cultural Memory in Art, Film, Literature
·         Greiman. A (1990) Watson-Guptill Publishing, Hybrid Imagery: The Fusion of Technology and Graphic Design
·         Pittman. R.K, McDonald. D, Baird. R.N (1993) Harcourt College Publishing, Graphics of Communication: Methods, Media & Technology
·         Duncombe. S (2008) Microcosm Publishing; Second Edition, Notes from Underground: Zines and the Politics of Alternative Culture
·         Klanten. R (2011) Die Gestalten Verlag, Behind the Zines: Self Publishing Culture
·         Nealon. J.T (2012) Stanford University Press, Post-Postmodernism: Or, the Cultural Logic of Just-in-Time Capitalism

Monday, 2 November 2015

OUGD501 - Study Task 04 - Practical Investigation Requirement

This week you are being asked to consider what the requirements are for your practical investigation. Consider the following aspects of practice/research in relation to your chosen theme/question:

Theme / Content:
TECHNIQUE - digitally designing a range of promotional materials for a fictional exhibition. These can then be translated into printed collateral or further digital platforms

CONTENT - The content will need to promote and advertise the exhibition. The copy and its tone of voice will be fundamental to its success 

COMMUNICATION - I am going to use typography as the main form of communication for the exhibition branding, because I want to create a clean, functional aesthetic which has an element of ambiguity to it. 

RESEARCH / ANALYSIS - I will do primary research into exisiting exhibition branding in the UK through visiting shows and gathering physically printed collateral to gain inspiation from

EXPLORATION / EVALUATION - I will use my research to generate my designs and then ask for formal and informal feedback on them. This will allow me to adapt the designs to suit the feedback to make sure they are effective as they can be

TESTING - printing out the designs and asking people to evaluate their effectiveness as pieces of promotional material

1.What is your research question?
To what extent has a simulacrum been reached in contemporary visual culture? My practical work will be complex. The exhibition will contain a manifesto which serves to question the current state that visual culture has arrived at. The work in the exhibition will follow the manifesto and aim to depart from current trends, attitudes and aesthetics. My actual practical design work will be the branding for this fictional exhibition which is underpinned by a written manifesto that I will devise. 

2.Do you have a hypothesis (an assumed conclusion that you will endeavour to prove)?

Not especially. I just want my branding/identity to be effective visually and to make an impact. I want it to be witty and highly conceptual, so I guess that is what I am aiming to prove.

3.What are the contexts of your research interests?

I really enjoy branding and identity, and this is an area of graphic design that I want to work in one day, that is why I have chosen to go down this route for the practical investigation. The context is that I am aiming to create a new movement within visual culture that can pose as a solution/cure to the stagnancy that we are currently experiencing. The branding will fall in line perfectly with this new envisioned aesthetic.

4.Sources of primary/secondary research.

Exisiting and past exhibition branding for major galleries across the world

5.How will your practical work relate to your written work (synthesis)?

My practical work will aim to make a comment on the state that I personally feel we are experiencing. You could say that my practical work will attempt to answer the issues highlighted in the essay, particularly providing a solution to the quite bold conclusion that I going to arrive at. 

It will critically analyse and comment on our contemporary visual culture through the eyes of a contemporary, practising designer. My practical work will act as a proposal, a theoretical cure to this stagnancy. At the centre of the exhibition is the Neuism manifesto. The manifesto will be inspired by radical, avant-garde manifestos written for key art movements from the 20th century. The fictional exhibition would feature examples of work which would be describes as neuisms. A neuism is a piece of visual work which follows four fundamental pillars which are underpinned by key modernist and post-modernist principles. The branding itself should reflect the nature of a manifesto, whilst portraying conceptual aesthetics. The branding will take in inspiration from branding that surrounds me currently, but it will also try to establish its own, quite neutral aesthetic. 

6.What methods will you use to research, develop, create and test your work?

Mainly digital, because I want to keep everything fresh. My manifesto will also promote the use of digital tools and methods, because it believe that this is future for visual communication.

7.Provide a proposed timeline for your work to completion (consider carefully whether you will need access to college facilities).

I aim to have my practical work finished by early April, therefore I can leave time for feedback to make any adjustments in the run up to the submission of the module. I am undecided at this point whether or not I will be printing off any of the work. I may just mock things up and present it in a formal pitch like presentation, this would fit well within the context of exhibition branding.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

OUGD501 - Study Task 03 - Establishing a Research Question


Suggested Research Question:
This can be a topic or theme, but please try to be as precise as possible.
Which Of The Module Resources Does This Question Relate To?
My essay will investigate the broad theme of simulaca in contemporary visual culture. I am intrigued by theories surrounding hyper-realities and how postmodernist techniques and principles are still having an impact on trends and preferences in today's visual culture. I want to examine the extent to which pastiche and parody have created a simulacra, whether or not it was avoidable and what the future may hold in terms of defining aesthetics and movements. I am also interested in looking into analogue production methods and their relevance in contemporary creative industries, I may look into combining these two areas of research together. 

Points of personal interest include:
  • ·         Is print dead? Is printed graphic design still relevant to the digital age? Is analogue just a cool fad, a passing trend or something more?
  • ·         Visual trends with graphic design and the rebirth of printed design– why is when a piece of work is described as being trendy or on trend, its considered ‘bad’ or unoriginal? Is the rebirth of ‘Print’ just another fad, will it disappear? Why has there been resurgence in printed media in recent times? What is the driving force behind it?
  • ·         Technology’s influence and impact of graphic design practice. How has the spread and accessibility of technology impact on individual graphic designers? Methods such as screen printing, letterpress and traditional typesetting, DIY publishing, grunge aesthetic, self published zines etc
  • ·         Technology’s impact on typography and authorship of design work
  • ·         Postmodernists influence of typography and analogue design techniques
  • ·         Is print still relevant in the digital age?
  • ·         How did traditional production methods empower a generation? The politics of print...DIY/Self publishing
  • ·         Print is being reborn, but styles from the 80’s and 90s are replaying. This is blatant pastiche, but why is the past so desirable right now? Analogue techniques are being revisited but so are aesthetics and trends from the past
  • ·         What point did pastiche become unavoidable? At what point was everything done? Jameson The image as a commodity
Which Academic Sources Are Available On The Topic?
Include a Harvard Referenced bibliography of at least 5 sources.
  • ·         McLuhan. M (Originally published 1967) Penguin Classics, The Medium is the Message: An Inventory of Effects
  • ·        Levinson.P (2001) Routledge; New Ed edition, Digital McLuhan: A Guide to the Information Millennium
  • ·        Hoesterey. I (2001) Penn State University Press, Pastiche: Cultural Memory in Art, Film, Literature 
  • ·        Greiman. A (1990) Watson-Guptill Publishing, Hybrid Imagery: The Fusion of Technology and Graphic Design
  • ·        Pittman. R.K, McDonald. D, Baird. R.N (1993) Harcourt College Publishing, Graphics of Communication: Methods, Media & Technology
  • ·        Duncombe. S (2008) Microcosm Publishing; Second Edition, Notes from Underground: Zines and the Politics of Alternative Culture
  • ·        Klanten. R (2011) Die Gestalten Verlag, Behind the Zines: Self Publishing Culture
  • ·        Nealon. J.T (2012) Stanford University Press, Post-Postmodernism: Or, the Cultural Logic of Just-in-Time Capitalism

How Could The Research Question Be Investigated Through Practice?
I would research through actually experimenting with and using the traditional/analogue methods. This is something I am interested in for a number of reasons. By trying my hand at them, I will be able to understand the processes in a much more personal and realised way. I will research the analogue methods in greater detail when I begin my research for the essay, this will then allow me to get a better idea of what sort of practical work I want to actually produce for this module. The research both primary and secondary will directly inform my practical work.  

What Graphic Design would you make in response to this, and why?
I would create a number of pieces of work that examine and implement analogue production methods ranging from screen printing, mono-printing, embossing, foiling, collaging, letterpress and so on. The practical work could take any form, but my strengths lie in poster and editorial design so I think that would be the rough route I see myself taking.

Monday, 26 October 2015

OUGD501 - Study Task 02 - Defining Pastiche and Parody

In today's session, we were introduced to two academic essays both tackling the wide topic of post-modernism in the visual arts. The first text we read was entitled 'The Politics of Postmodernism: Parody & History' by Linda Hutcheon, originally published in 1989. The second; 'Postmodernism or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism' by Fredric Jameson, written in 1991. 

We were given an hour to read the texts thoroughly and consider closely the themes of pastiche and parody and how this can be applied to visual communication, in particular Graphic Design. 

What is parody/pastiche according to each author?
Hutcheon – On the surface, postmodernisms main interest might seem to be in the processes of its own production and reception, as well as in its own parodic relation to the art of the past. Hutcheon wants to argue that it is precisely parody, that seemingly introverted formalism, that paradoxically brings about a direct confrontation with the problem of the relation of the aesthetic to a world of significant external to itself, to a discursive world of socially defined meaning systems (past and present) in other words, to ideology and history.

Postmodernism is fundamentally contradictory enterprise: its art forms and theories use and abuse, install and then subvert convention in parodic ways, self consciously pointing both to their own inherent paradoxes and provisionality and, of course, to their critical or ironic re-reading of the art of the past. Parody is negative; appropriation of historical styles renders them dead and irrelevant.

Jameson – Pastiche is, like parody, the imitation of a peculiar or unique, idiosyncratic style, the wearing of a linguistic mask, speech in a dead language. Pastiche is thus blank parody, a statue with blind eyeballs: it is to parody what the other interesting and historically original modern thing, the practice of a kind of blank irony, is to what Wayne Booth calls the ‘stable ironies’ of the eighteenth century. Pastiche needs to be sharply distinguished from parody. Parody has anterior motives.

How does parody/pastiche relate to postmodernism?
‘Postmodernism signals its contradictory dependence upon and independence from the modernism that both historically preceded it and literally made it possible’

How does Jameson’s tone of voice differ to Hutcheon’s?
Jameson’s style of writing is a lot heavier and jumps topic a lot faster than Hutcheon’s. ‘Speech in a dead language’ indicates a very negative attitude towards the issues being discussed.  Jameson is a Marxist and is therefore overtly critical and negative in relation to the themes discussed.

Hutcheon is somewhat more positive about the themes but has a negative view towards the Marxist opinions discussed in Jameson’s essay. She discusses things in relation to the arts (any cultural output) but chooses to home in on architecture in her essay.

How might these ideas relate to graphic design/visual communication?
Postmodern graphic design is marked by the replaying of visual styles and the recycling of ideologies. Some of the earliest work that can be described as postmodern graphic design actually paid homage to the strict, lifeless rules of modernist graphic design, this is a classic example of pastiche rather than parody. 

Jameson's concept of "pastiche" is usefully contrasted to Linda Hutcheon's understanding of postmodern parody. Whereas Hutcheon sees much to value in postmodern literature's stance of parodic self-reflexivity, seeing an implicit political critique and historical awareness in such parodic works, Jameson characterizes postmodern parody as "blank parody" without any political bite. According to Jameson, parody has, in the postmodern age, been replaced by pastiche. "Pastiche is, like parody, the imitation of a peculiar or unique, idiosyncratic style, the wearing of a linguistic mask, speech in a dead language. But it is a neutral practice of such mimicry, without any of parody's ulterior motives, amputated of the satiric impulse, devoid of laughter"

Defining pastiche:

The dictionary definition of pastiche is very simplistic: 'A pastiche is an artistic work in a style that imitates that of another work, artist, or period' or put even more simply; 'to imitate the style of (an artist or work)'

After reading a segment of Jameson's essay, I would say that he would define it quite differently. His Marxist principles have resulted in him having quite a negative view on pastiche. This is how I imagine he would define pastiche:

'The process of imitating or copying a unique visual style within the realms of visual culture' - "Pastiche is, like parody, the imitation of a peculiar or unique, idiosyncratic style, the wearing of a linguistic mask, speech in a dead language. But it is a neutral practice of such mimicry, without any of parody's ulterior motives, amputated of the satiric impulse, devoid of laughter" Jameson, F. 1991, Postmodernism or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, Verso Books

Hutcheon would define it very differently in my opinion.

'A certain manifestation of parody within the context of the arts. Pastiche is often viewed as being a more neutral, blank form of parody'

 She opposes Jameson's opinion openly in her essay writing. Hutcheon disapproves Jameson's idea of pastiche which is equivalent to 'empty parody', to quote: 'Jameson argues that in postmodernism "parody finds itself without a vocation,"21 replaced by pastiche, which he (bound by a definition of parody as ridiculing imitation) sees as more neutral or blank parody. But the looking to both the aesthetic and historical past in postmodernist architecture is anything but what Jameson describes as pastiche, that is, "the random cannibalization ofall the styles of the past, the play of random stylistic allusion." There is absolutely nothing random or "without principle" in the parodic recall and re-examination of the past by architects like Charles Moore or Ricardo Bofill. To include irony and play is never necessarily to exclude seriousness and purpose in postmodernist art. To misunderstand this is to misunderstand the nature of much contemporary aesthetic production - even if it does make for neater theorizing'

Some nice examples of contemporary graphic design that features pastiche in some way or another:

Monday, 19 October 2015

OUGD501 - Study Task 01 - Study Task - Authorship & Graphic Design

‘The Death of Author’ by Roland Barthes was written at a very poignant time in the history of the arts. His seminal essay ‘Image Music Text’ is often considered a metaphor used to describe the dramatic social, political and cultural alterations that were taking place across Western civilisation in the late 1960’s, notably in Paris. Protests were breaking out all over Europe, mainly led by students and industrial workers. There was a strong sense of revolution in the air. People’s fundamental way of thinking about culture and society was changing. Disillusionment with knowledge hierarchy, class systems and the educational structure of the time was the driving force behind the so called revolution. To quote Barthes: “The birth of the reader is the death or author” This quote is significant as it throws light on the issue of hierarchy within the educational system. This hierarchy system in education involves institutionalized learning and teaching, and ultimately promotes the concept that knowledge grants you superiority over someone who is less advantaged. The system leaves people feeling inferior or inadequate of being on the same intellectual level as say someone with a PHD. The issue of hierarchy is still relevant today, not only in the educational system but in mainstream media. We are taught from a young age to ‘listen’ to those who are of ‘higher statuses, and this unfortunately, has created a divided society, with some dominant and some marginalised as submissive. Barthes fundamentally believes the author should be irrelevant when creating your own interpretation of ‘text’. Instead, he believes we should look to interpret our own meaning derived from personal experiences, knowledge and cultural references. In theory this would create a more free thinking society where we are less reliant on the dominant, hierarchical figures.

Barthes’s philosophy relates massively to the context of contemporary graphic design. Throughout the 80s, 90s, and the early part of 21st century, postmodernisms influence on graphic design led to the ‘reader’ becoming much more independent and free in their thinking. Modernisms ultimate vision was to create a utopian society constructed through a uniform aesthetic. Postmodernism abolished those constraints. Born out disillusionment, the new wave postmodernist designer began to realise the potential of their typography and image composition's to communicate human emotion and expression. Changes in technology gave the postmodernist designer/thinker more power than ever. Cheaper, more accessible pieces of technology such as the desktop computer changed the author/reader relationship forever. It gave the most unlikely figures the power to demolish the hierarchal system. Take David Carson for example. This now world famous designer came from a humble background. Carson was a surfer for many years before turning his hand to visual communication. His signature grunge style which is closely associated with postmodernism uses dirty type and unconventional photographic processes. His work evokes emotion, ultimately allowing the ‘reader’ of the ‘text’ to decide for themselves how to interpret the visual codes. He significantly influenced a generation to embrace typography as an expressive medium. He changed the public face of graphic design forever. A quote from the Barthes essay relates perfectly this. ‘A text’s unity lies not in its origin but in its destination. Yet this destination cannot any longer be personal: the reader is without history” (Barthes, 1977). When this essay was written, this quote would have been more applicable; however, Carson’s unique style has proved that a ‘text’s’ destination certainly has the potential to be highly personal.

“The problem for anyone who yearns to retain older conceptions of authorship or the author function lies in the fact that radical changes in textuality produce radical changes in the author figure derived from that textuality. Lack of textual autonomy, like lack of textual centeredness, immediately reverberates through conceptions of authorship as well. Similarly, the unboundedness of the new textuality disperses the author as well” Landow, G.P. (1992) 'Reconfiguring the Author' in Hypertext: The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology Baltimore, The Johns Hopkins University Press. 

To quote Barthes: and the modern scriptor “born simultaneously with the text, is not way equipped with being preceding or exceeding the writing”. We are living in the information age. People are born into a world now where ‘text’ is ridiculously easy to access. Take webs fonts for example, people like to think they have a grasp on typography because they can select trendy fonts and utilise them well. But for many years before digital computers, having an extensive knowledge of typography wasn’t something that everyone had, in fact it was an exquisite art form and profession, a rare talent to have. Typography has been massively impacted by technology and hand rendered type used to be owned by the ‘author’ however digital font packages have arguably destroyed the relationship between author and audience. 

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

OUGD501 - Study Task 01 - Design & Authorship - Analysis of Text

In today’s COP seminar we were introduced to a seminal text written by the French philosopher Roland Barthes in 1968 entitled ‘The Death of the Author’. In the session, we read through the text with Richard to get a good grasp on the content and a general overview of the issues being discussed. At first, I was a bit overwhelmed by the topics being debated in the text and the formal lexis being used, but after Richard had clarified a few points I was able to get quite a good basic level of understanding of the content. Here are a few interesting things that I took away from reading the article in depth:

·         Barthes is fundamentally a post-structuralist philosopher, which means he rejects ideas laid down by structuralist thinkers. Post-structuralism is defined by its coming after structuralism, an intellectual movement developed in Europe from the early to mid-20th century. It argued that human culture may be understood by means of a structure—modelled on language (i.e., structural linguistics)—that differs from concrete reality and from abstract ideas—a "third order" that mediates between the two. Post-structuralist authors all present different critiques of structuralism, but common themes include the rejection of the self-sufficiency of the structures that structuralism posits and an interrogation of the binary oppositions that constitute those structures.
·         The text was written during a significant point in Western culture. There were lots of revolutions attempting to take off in the late 60’s, especially in France. Students and workers attempted to stand up to the ‘higher powers’. The uprising was unsuccessful, but it paved the way for the sexual revolution in America. The ‘Death of the Author’ is a significant text to come out of this period.

·         Auteur theory - This quite abstract theory aims to explain the relationship between the author/creator of a piece of cultural text and the audience. It suggests that if you can understand the signature style and personal opinions of the director/author/creator then you will be able to understand the central meaning of the specific work. A key example would be Van Gogh's painterly style, which is often interpreted as a reflection of his inner turmoil, angst and utter madness that he experiences within himself and towards the world he saw around him.

We were then asked to analyse the text in greater depth in small groups. My group was allocated the word ‘technology’. Our task was to find key quotations from within the text and analyse them in depth. We also had to find a way of relating the key quotes back to the context of graphic design culture and history. The first significant quote we picked up on is as follows: “The removal of the Author (one could talk here with Brecht of a veritable ‘distancing’, the Author diminishing like a figurine at the far end of the literary stage) is not merely an historical fact or an act of writing; it utterly transforms the modern text (or – which is the same thing – the text is henceforth made and read in such a way that at all its levels the author is absent. The temporality is different.

Summary of technology:

When this text was written in the 1960s, mass media was only just coming into its own. Information in text was still pretty difficult to attain if you didn’t have the means to access it. For example, if you didn’t live near a library or have a book collection of your own, finding information in books was not exactly a straight forward task. Back then you actively had to go out and seek the information. Newspapers and magazines were being printed on larger scales, but even so, if you didn’t have much money or came from a disadvantaged background it was challenging to access the information. Nowadays, information is literally everywhere and is pretty much accessible by everyone. The internet has facilitated this. We are living in the information age, and the quote from Barthes stating ‘the removal of the author is not merely an historical fact or an act of writing; it utterly transforms the modern text’ couldn’t be more relevant or prominent to the current age. Text, image and music found on the internet is always difficult to fully appreciate because you are never 100% sure on who the author truly is. Online journalism for example, should always be viewed in a subjective stance, because as a reader, you have no relationship with the author. The cyber world has warped the concept of an author to a certain extent. The author/reader relationship has fundamentally changed. Take Wikipedia for example. Articles found on this site are more often than not edited by multiple authors, resulting in a body of text that contains mismatching facts and statistics and so on. It is becoming more and more difficult for the ‘reader/consumer’ of the information to have a relationship with the ‘author’

Barthes, R (1968) Image, Music, Text/The Death of the Author, London, Fontana Press, Pages 142-148

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

OUGD501 - Context of Practice 2

Extending on from Context of Practice 1, this module provides an introduction to the various theoretical, philosophical, institutional and critical discourses that surround art, design and the media. Through seminars, lectures and tutorials, students will be introduced to a range of theoretical and philosophical approaches to both their own subject discipline and wider society in general. As well as developing knowledge and academic skills, the assignments within the portfolio also prepare students for the task of producing an extended BA (Hons.) dissertation at Level 6.  It should be understood that work at this level is not the regurgitation of knowledge, but a critical response, citing detailed evidence in defence of detailed arguments.

This brief will give you the opportunity to build-on and apply your contextual knowledge and skills in critical writing; and using practice as a method of research. You will use a variety of theoretical and practical research methods to explore a specific graphic discipline (listed below) through the investigation and resolution of a question or issue of your choosing. Support from tutors will be given through tutorials, crits, seminars and workshops.
There are three deliverable elements to this brief; all of which will demonstrate a synthesized ability to research, critique and examine an issue practically and theoretically.

Develop an online portfolio of critical responses to lectures, seminars, set tasks and independent research activities. Use you Design Context Blog to document and evidence your engagement with, and understanding of contextual, theoretical and critical concepts and ideas that you have been introduced to during the course of the academic year. Your Blog should include; lecture notes, records of activities undertaken in seminars, a collection of short writing tasks completed in response to set tasks and activities. You should also provide notes and visual records of any self-initiated trips, studio visits, galleries and research activities relevant to the development of critical understanding of the context of Graphic Design practice. Your Blog will also become a space to evidence your developing understanding of the connections and relationships between the theoretical and practical contexts of Graphic Design.

Establish a question or issue and write a 3000 word essay AND produce a body of explorative practical work relating to a specified aspect of Graphic Design. Your essay and accompanying practical work should demonstrate a developed understanding of the nature of academic writing and the importance of critical and analytical approaches to your chosen theme.

Your essay should aim to include:
·         The selection of subject matter appropriate to your own interests that will allow you to critically analyse relevant source material.
·         A logical structure that has an introduction, a developed argument that is supported by appropriate references to at least four different academic sources and a conclusion.
·         A bibliography of at least 10 sources presented using the Harvard referencing system & the use of Harvard conventions within the main text of the essay when paraphrasing or quoting from other sources.
Your written and practical work will both approach the same overarching theme and give you the opportunity to consider the interrelated nature of theory and practice.
With support from your tutors you will establish a question or issue which will become the basis for your 3000 word essay and your practical investigation.

Monday, 4 May 2015

OUGD401 – Module Evaluation

OUGD401 – Module Evaluation

Context of Practice has been a long and challenging brief for me, but an exciting one for a lot of reasons. I think considering the difficulties I had at first with the module, I have produced some worthwhile work, and my essay provides a successful critical analysis to the essay question. When we first briefed I was quite unsure of which topic I wanted to pursue, because I had interest in all five of the topic areas. I chose to investigate Postmodernism, because it was something that I hadn’t really looked at in depth before, and I wanted to push myself to dig deep and find out something new about this movement.  I had previously written essays about consumerism and gender within advertising, so I knew that I wanted to stay clear of those. Before coming to the course and before writing the essay, I hadn’t considered myself as a postmodernist, nor did I really recognise it as a movement with the arts and culture. However now, after completing this module, I can safely say that I do consider myself a postmodernist in a certain sense. I relate to and enjoy work that has a postmodern aesthetic, and it is something I am definitely more passionate about now following this module.

Initially, I was slow to make progress with any COP related work, but once I made a start on my essay, my practical work exploded and I did plenty of research and experimentation which I am proud of. I think my practical work is very strong, playful, witty but very well informed thanks to solid research undertook throughout the year.  I did struggle with the essay throughout the year, but I believe my final essay tackles the question effectively and demonstrates well my understanding and new found passion for the movement and its context within graphic design practice. I know there I things that I could have done better in order to improve the work produced. I think I did a reasonable amount of research, both primary and secondary for the essay, but I could have looked for more book based sources of information. When it comes to the practical, I know I did a lot of secondary research; However, I didn’t do enough primary research in to the subject of post-modern graphic design.  I feel that too much of my research was done online and I would have liked to have had tangible research, which would have lead to better informed, more considered practical outcomes. I should have done more research within the class and utilised the creative energy of others.  I also left the referencing for my sources and images to the last minute, which was completely unwise. I have learnt my lesson and will now strive to reference as I go along, and aim to improve my Harvard referencing skills at the same time.

One thing that I am content about is that my practical work reflects current trends in graphic design which have been directly influenced by postmodernisms legacy. This is something I discussed a lot in my essay, and concluded that postmodernism 100% had an impact on graphic design practice. I particularly enjoyed discussing vaporwave aesthetics, and wanted to pay homage to them in my practical work, which I believe I did successfully.  I have learnt a great deal through doing this first COP module, and I know that there are things that I need to improve on to better my academic writing and research skills.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

OUGD401 - Figures Discussed in Essay

OUGD401 - Visual Research for Essay

I tried to look at a large range of postmodern work for the essay and to inform me for the practical element. I looked in depth at some of the most radical movers and shakers that helped to pioneer the movement, such as Rosmari Tissi and the London bassed studio 8vo. I also of course looked at world renowned designers such as David Carson, Wolfgang Weingart, Saul Bass, William Longhauser and Stefan Sagmeister. I then looked to contemporary design for reference and to prove the point that post-modernism completely had an influence over graphic design practice and aesthetic

OUGD401 - Everywhere I Look

After doing the majority of research for my written part of this brief, I began to look around me and notice that all around me, contemporary graphic is directly influenced by post-modern shifts in culture. I look to today's graphic design, and notice visual queues that have obviously been subconsciously soaked into the creative minds of many across the world.


Yale thesis book

The New Public Space silkscreens



Stick Tape

Urban Outfitters Reader


Manifest as a format

Type Plus is a new title and a special exhibition showcasing a wide array of impeccable works created by best-known design practitioners from around the world. Bound together in a 320-page publication is a comprehensive overview of top quality design works produced using a combination of typography and graphic elements as means to increase design effectiveness and visual impact.
With its cover emblazoned nicely with silver type – cleverly designed by Spin – the book not only displays contemporary design artworks but it also takes an insightful look at all kinds of typographic expression and includes exclusives interviews with Non-Format, TwoPoints.net and Erik Brandt. The accompanying exhibition will also provide the foundation to understand the relationship between type and image which is represented by posters selected by Type Plus contributors.