Through conducting extensive primary and secondary research, I discovered that many practitioners operating in the current moment feel as if contemporary graphic design culture is unable or perhaps unwilling to progress into the future. In this ‘speculative time-complex’, there is a kind of suffocation, to the extent that ‘most people have the feeling of not being able to gain traction in the present, to change something, or to have something like a future worthy of its name.’ (Avanessian & Malik, 2016)
In response to these conclusions, I set out to conceptualise or suggest a range of fictitious ‘self-help products’ which would serve to provide a sense of ‘relief’ or ‘respite’ from the contemporary condition in which graphic design practice/culture presently resides. In theory, these products/services would prompt creatives to be more inclined to assume a fundamentally critical, speculative stance within their practice.
For conceptual and deliberately ambiguous reasons, I sought to give the various products contrived names, which make reference to the abundance of ridiculous terms which have recently been coined in attempts to articulate our current moment.
Of course, these self-help ‘products’ are completely imaginary; making conceptual reference the array of recently coined terms such as ‘digi-modernism’ (Kirby, 2009), ‘meta-modernism’ (Turner, 2011), and ‘hyper-modernism’ (Duvall, 2014) which feel contrived and phantasmal. For example, the medication is named 'Contemporaxphan' and the pharmaceutical company is named 'Simulaceuticals Inc.' I wanted to comment on the inaccuracy of these terms through producing a range of advertisements for the products which would visually convey these attitudes.
Indeed I could have designed the advertisements for the ‘Speculative Retreats’ and ‘medications’ completely independently, however, I thought it would be far more appropriate and indeed conceptual to produce the majority of the content using a combination of digital poster generator apps which essentially eradicate the need to employ informed design decisions. In our digital era, applications such as ‘Trend Generator’ (2011) have essentially removed the requirement of the designer. Now, in a matter of seconds, a ‘satisfactory’ composition can be ‘generated’ simply by selecting a combination of pre-defined options.
Our contemporary moment is inescapably defined by the presence of digital technology and the Internet. Here, the presence of ‘design generator’ applications such as ‘Trend Generator’ and ‘Travel Poster Generator’ have essentially eradicated the requirement of the human designer and the critical design skills/knowledge they acquire. Now, in a matter of seconds, a composition can be generated by simply selecting and combining a limited range of pre-defined options.
I decided to utilise this tool to produce an over abundance of material for my practical work, which conceptually links to the conclusions arrived at in my essay. Applications such as Trend Generator contribute to the de-formalisation of the practice through encouraging designers to deconstruct and complicate the aesthetics associated with the binaries of Modernism and Postmodernism.
Ultimately, these outcomes comment on a digitally dominated design culture in which the designer is essentially un-required.