Nadia’s blog

Lecture visualisation 9
14 May, 2008, 2:17 pm
Filed under: HDG402, Lecture visualisations

Lecture 9 was delivered by Keith Robertson and was entitled ‘Shit Design’. Keith embarked on ‘an exploration of the aesthetic in graphic design’ by completing an audit of 28 magazines (mainly those in Australia, but also a few key international magazines).

Keith looked at the differences between high- and low-end magazines (labelling these pro- and anti-aesthetic), noting the differences in price, subject matter and design.

He mainly focused on the differences between ‘That’s Life’ and ‘Vogue Living’.

For example, the use of white space.

Some of the main points Keith touched on included:

  • White space gives value, although it is the most meaningless thing of all, it means so much because we fill it with our imaginations.
  • It is a continuum with pro-aesthetic at one end and anti-aesthetic at the other.
  • Graphic design has to start seeing itself as a universal concept and not just as designing for the elite market.

  • Design, art and communication teaching at universities should become more egalitarian and not just about ‘good taste’
  • Designers should see their discipline as communication, not just marketing

The final visualisation is something I’ve always thought, which relates strongly to Keith’s lecture – that filling space on a page is akin to filling silence.

Lecture visualisation 8
4 May, 2008, 6:17 pm
Filed under: HDG402, Lecture visualisations

In week 8, we had an open question session with Virginia Solomon and Di Lancashire on community. Virginia is a permaculturist and Di has completed a lot of work with some indigenous Australian communities. They each spoke on their experiences and impressions of community.

I’m not going to put up full lecture notes for this one, as it was hard to document. Below are some key points I gleaned from the lecture.

  • Virginia define a community as people gathering around a focus; religion, language, any kind of practice or philosophy, an idea… pretty much anything. Di agreed adding that communities have shared visions, values, aims and senses of problems. They can be supportive and inspiring, however, some communities have a strong sense of their boundaries and can be too exclusive.
  • I found Di’s point about water particularly interesting and poignant; she said, “All the water that will be is” and discussed the idea that most resources are like that. She said that indigenous communities realise that we are all sharing the one planet and the same resources.

    “Please sir, I want some more” is a direct quote from Charles Dickens’s “Oliver Twist”
  • They discussed the preciousness of water: Most of the word’s water is inaccessible to us – saltwater in the sea, ingrained in soild, etc. Di said that 3% of the world’s water is fresh, and only 1% is usable. Virginia spoke about a conference she went to where they discussed “revering water in an almost spiritual way”. In response, Di said it could be better described as “respect” and “attending” to things.
  • Di discussed the dilemma for designers (and others) of how to get important messages across without depressing people – we don’t want to disempower people. Designers must find ways of communicating positive messages.
  • Virginia said we need to act local because global issues are simply too big. Things can be done immediately on a community level, tomorrow or even now. She says we should look at where we live and see the potential.
  • Di discussed the relevance of design research (relating it to her own experience). If you research something you find out things that fundamentally affect our everyday life. Mainstream media doesn’t tell you that. Communities disseminate information well. She also raised the interesting point that a computer is a tool, it doesn’t make you design any more than a pen makes you write.
  • Di spoke about there being thousands of different indigenous Australian communities, each with different issues, whom should not be lumped together – this is what the mass media does. The more each community could communicate their issues, the better it would be. Says the new government acknowledges people and issues better; “acknowledges where people are.”
  • Virginia discussed a future without oil. Melbourne is not a walkable city, future communities based around food gardens will look after themselves naturally when people can’t drive places anymore. She says designers (of all sorts) should design without carbon based fuels and see where it takes us.
  • Both Di and Virginia discussed the idea that we follow the European seasons here and that we expect all produce all of the time. Do we even know what seasons many fruits are from? Virginia offered that if oil is more scarce in the future, given Australia’s remoteness, could food stop being imported from overseas?
  • Virginia discussed the key values of permaculture; it teaches that we have choices, and if we know what the choices are, then we can make ethical decisions. Permaculturists make choices knowing full-well what they mean. She said we need to inform ourselves and find our own truth. Di agreed, saying that all you can do is make yourself aware. She said there are so many vested interests out there, so we have to think critically and make informed choices, even if it is hard to find the facts.
  • Virginia discussed the concept of cradle to grave solutions that could be implemented by manufacturers or sellers of consumer goods.
  • They finished off by saying that there is a design opportunity to be ethical – it is no longer acceptable to not think about ethical issues (eg: thinking about materials used). They said that what you save and don’t use adds up to money you save and that this is not at odds with sound economic theory.