Ideas Marathon Day 5-The Hopscotch of Capitalism

Delayed post due to RCA Halloween party (and a horrible hangover)

My presentation for the Playground typology:

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Playground. It helps children develop physical coordination, strength, flexibility as well as providing recreation and enjoyment, to explore and to recreate.

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For example sandbox, to construct and destroy the world in three dimensions

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I started interpreting the playground games different. For example seesaw

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could mean this
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Or balance
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or justice (Dike, Goddess of Justice)
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or this

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or this

presentation9or the merry-go-round could be associated
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with this

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the swing

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you know when someone is pushing you

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it’s like that friend in the government that is ‘pushing’ you to get a higher position, a promotion, without really deserving it

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So indeed children learn how the world works through the playground

I created a hopscotch:

photo-6The hopscotch is played by throwing a small stone on one of the numbers, you hop to the stone, you collect it and then you return. But the biggest challenge is your stone to reach the biggest number (number 7)  and hop back.

My hopscotch teaches people about the 7 new social classes of the Great Britain, as resulted from The Great British Class Survey by BBC. I asked 1-2 volunteers to play and then I revealed them what they got. They aimed for the biggest number as we everyone in society aims for the highest class. The red colour represents the economic capital each class owns, the yellow the social capital and the blue the cultural capital, according to Pierre Bourdieu’s theory which BBC’s results are based on.DSC_0259 DSC_0261 DSC_0262 DSC_0263 DSC_0264

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And this is the end of Ideas Marathon!

It was a good warm-up for the second year and I hope I will get as decisive I was the last week. Due to the short timescale of each project I had to be very systematic in order to present something at 4pm every day. Some of them were 6-hour outcomes which is very impressive. It was usually some brainstorming at night, research from morningish until lunchtime and then 2-3 hours producing. It was good to see myself in a position where I was setting deadlines to myself, even if it wasn’t the best idea I had until lunchtime, I had to go with it and make the most of it as I didn’t have much time to test it.

Weekend, a bit of relaxing.

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A new punctuation mark

The brief we had for last Wednesday was set by Jonathan Barnbrook, which asked us to create a new punctuation mark for the English language.

The punctuation mark would express an idea or ideology. It can be experimental, serious or humorous. Examples given:

Punctuation mark could express:

  • the feeling of ‘believing in nothing’
  • the idea of the text is part of ‘information overload’
  • commercial text ‘would you like fries with that?’
  • ambivalence, feeling two opposite things at once
  • a pause which has more meaning and truth than the words around it

He also encouraged us to think about:

  • consider how punctuation is used, the new mark will have to be simple, work big and small and in one colour.
  • think about the uses of typefaces and language, things like texting and email have changed the way we see and write language.
  • if it is appropriate or you are feeling particularly eager, you can do more than one punctuation mark.
  • this project sounds quite heavy but it can be taken as lightly or as seriously as you want.
  • choose your subject matter within a specified time limit, otherwise you can spend ages worrying which area to follow.
  • should this punctuation mark have some time factor involved or be completely static. your idea should shape the way it is to be presented.

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First of all punctuation is only seen in writing, it’s something that structures speech but is not actually seen when we speak. It creates a relationship between two sentences.

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It’s also visible that each punctuation mark evolved as some kind of a symbol. For example the full stop for me represents a cycle, like when a sentence finishes, a cycle, a circle finished, hence the shape of it.

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With the question mark, the mark evolved from the word question itself

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Looking at punctuation marks I remembered the Greek polytonic system and how much I hated Ancient Greek at school. SOOO many punctuation marks, too many things to remember. I actually tried to refresh my memory and see if I can learn it now, and surprisingly I could understand it better now. Also the punctuation marks made sense in Ancient Greek when specific letters had different lengths of speech or a slightly different pronunciation.

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Also, the greek question mark is the english semi colon, and an upper-full stop is the semicolon for greek.

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Punctuation marks should be really easy to write, and as I observed they have to be maximum 2 movements of handwriting, otherwise it becomes a smiley or a symbol.

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Talking about movements, I relate to music and different accents and symbols used to ‘colour’ the melody. for example the thick dash you see above means pause, and the dot with the line above means ‘in continuation’, so in a way, if that could be applied to a text can be translated as ‘shut up’! (the picture is something I found on the internet but I thought I should include this as it was very funny).

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There are many people that already created new punctuation marks, and there are some that already exist in the english language! For example on the left of the picture above, everything except the small reversed question mark (which means irony) already exists in the english language.

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These are some punctuation marks the poet Herve Bazin created, from left to right is Acclamation, Certainty, Doubt, Love.

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So what my punctuation mark could be? I started thinking about political and social use of punctuation marks, how can something protect the reader from political statements or brainwash?

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In today’s life themes going around are the ones I stated above, well in my opinion, that need to be expressed in punctuation marks.

I remembered this speech by Charlie Chaplin and how powerful this is, maybe it seems to me like that because I never saw him talking, and when he talked he said such meaningful things.

Of course later the next step was to look at V for Vendetta and his revolutionary speech.

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I started analysing these two speeches and how to make a punctuation mark showing empowerment. The fist was a visual I started picking out. Also a mark was needed to show that something is a statement.

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I started playing around with these ideas and being scared of creating a punctuation mark that doesn’t look like one, I sticked to the dot. First I started seeing empowerment in the means of a bigger  dot above the normal fullstop. Then a bolder fullstop for sentences that make a statement. Hm, these need development.

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I suddenly jumped from there and thought about ignorance. Ignorant to change the system etc. I related ignorance to sleep and the repeated z’s for indicating sleep in graphic novels.  So adopted it to make a punctuation mark for ignorance. Obviously it needs some more development, but this is a starting point.

My feedback was positive on the research I’ve done for the revolutionary speech and I was encouraged to take that further – I’m always interested in language anyway.

 

Also, it’s the first time I’ve done a presentation for my project, I always take the final outcome or mock-ups and stuff, without putting them into a structure. Maybe it’s an intuitive sign that I’m getting back to being neat again, as one of my goals for RCA was to get dirty (maybe unorganised too) and very experimental.

Can design feed people?

So this is the new brief, due to Wednesday. Still struggling with it.

Last week I haven’t produced anything, although I expressed my building-a-wall idea which had good feedback. It could be an exchange of ideas between a builder and a designer. There must be something in building my father has learnt in his profession that can I learn, and maybe there must be something I can teach him. Who knows. I would like to do this in the summer when I’ll have the time – I was thinking to devote a week for this project, so some days could be me explaining my father what graphic design is, what I’m actually doing, social issues, history etc and then the rest of the days I will be building a wall with him. Well it all depends if he has some work to do those days I will be in Cyprus. And also if he’s up for it. Anyway!

So, now, can design feed people?  Can it really help? What is we’re doing here?

From Neville’s introduction of the brief:

In today’s culture, we are bombarded with so much information every day, and if you don’t respond to them you will be probably considered dead. Also today value is added to ideas, concepts. money. Money does not exist, it’s an idea embedded in a piece of paper.

By designing more, the gap between the poor and the rich is getting bigger. We design only for a small percentage of the world who can afford it – iPhones, computers, TVs, they might seem easy to have, but actually the poor populations are more than the rich ones. Design creates manufacture need.

How do we justify luxury?

If everything shifts to online systems, how a poor person can buy anything? Without a computer, without ‘plastic’ money?

Is it about teaching people to be self-reliant?

The brief actually comes from an article Neville Brody wrote – access it here

The article disappoints me a little bit in the end, I find it a little bit dreaming (?). It ends up saying all we need is love, after giving to us many statistics. But the main things I outlined from there are:

Design can

  • educate people
  • reveal and publicise
  • raise awareness
  • empower people
  • help people be more self-sufficient

In ‘Design for the other 90%’ there’s a task set by a tutor to students (I don’t remember names, locations etc), asking them to live with only 2 dollars per day (or per week, not sure), just how people in third-world countries live. This actually interested me and I would like to test it too, record my experience (and my hungriness).

An idea also might come from home, as a student I’m a bit poor of course

Feed as in what? Information (we already got this, too much), visual pleasure, happiness?

Nothing in the market is produced for the poor people.

How to reduce consumerism? I remember having this expenses app which controls my expenses in a week/monthly basis. Never worked out. I always spend more than my budget limits I set.

In ‘Can designers save the world (And should they try?)’ article, by Nico Macdonald, talks about how the products of Disney, Calvin Klein are embraced by the users not because they like them or because the products have an intrinsic merit, but because designer puppet masters have hypnotised them with things like colours and typefaces. So we caused all of this.

What if we de-design everything? What could actually be consumed after that?

The view that designers can save the world it’s probably too arrogant – they’re the ones (sorry, we) that promoted consumption and helped technology to reach today’s level

Design can’t just stop be involved with advertising because that’s how designers feed themselves – design is fed by consumption

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So how can design reverse this and feed people instead of feed from the whole consumption process?

Design: a discipline that orients itself around the experience of the user.

Design to help better management of self-reliance, sources etc. There’s more food to go round. How can design do that?

My simplest – and silliest – idea was to create a plate which, when holding it in your hands immediately reads how hungry you are and all your body properties – how much food you need etc. So, when you put more food than you need in your plate it starts alarming. Or turns red. Or something. This way it can prevent you from  throwing excess food in the bin. Because there’s always someone in the world that is hungrier than you.

But wait, you’ll have to make your saucepan filled up with the amount of the necessary food. Maybe you’ll have to set all the persons that will eat, then you let them touch the saucepan which will calculate how much food will need, then it will tell you if you put too much or not.

This sounds complicated.

It’s 21:14 and I’m still thinking of what to do for Wednesday.

Fingers crossed something will come up tonight or tomorrow morning so I can have the time to produce it.

Seven days in the design world

The new project was set to us after we had a group conversation/debate about our position as designers in the society.

The brief invites us to consider the phrase ‘Seven Days in the Design World’ and take as a starting point Sarah Thornton’s book ‘Seven Days in the Art World – an ethnographic critique of the artists, systems and institutions, which define the contemporary art scene. It asks us to open up questions regarding the current state of the design profession and its future and importantly what the social/political/cultural role of the designers might be.

The outcome presented has to convey/define our point of view or critical position, consider  our audience and what is the most appropriate way to convey this.

What can design be? What’s the social implement? what could the 7 days be? Create a scenario? Express it in a different form? A performance? A narrative?

Is life a way of design? Who are you talking to for those 7 days? What’s your methodology?  How do you communicate design to different audiences? for example to kinds has to be something playful and interactive – use cards or a game as a tool

What is that you want to say about those 7 days? It could be one hour contained or one thing revealed about those 7 days, something scopic.

Who are you doing it for? Who are you doing it with? What’s your position? What’s the point of what you’re doing here? Is design an institution? Is it more fluid than art? Are we in a space? Is it more process? Is there a different institution for design – for art it’s galleries and museums. Equivalent of art school for design? Equivalent of museum for design? Is it the same? What’s the impact of what design is and where is it going? Are we in advertising?

These questions find me in a transition phase, if I can say this, especially being in the RCA where design/visual communication is not really defines what it is, as we are here to experiment, well at least me – everyone is here for different reasons. Personally I’m here to experiment and expand my practice even more but this gives me the feeling that when I will finish this course I won’t be named as a ‘designer’ but maybe something else, something in between.

Searching on the web what Visual Communication is, it comes up with results regarding advertising and persuading/informing/enlightening/entertaining audiences. Wikipedia says it’s only two-dimensional. But really? Visual Communication is shifting so much today towards interaction and experience and also three dimensional, it’s even combined with sound and music. So, if Visual Communication is to title the multi-disciplinary practice of all the 2D work, what is the title to include all the work I’ce just said? (interaction, experience and 3D).

To the question ‘who are you doing it for?’ I could say I first do it for me, but secondly for the public – and that answers the question where does design exist – if we consider design in the visual communication context is everywhere: in the nature – nature communicates seasons and so many others things. Advertising and pictograms and moving image is communication constructed by humans for humans. For better order of information, for achieving deliver of specific information to specific audiences, to challenge, to interact, to make life better and better the whole time. And as the years pass the public sees the importance of design and communication in the world around us.

When the tutor asked to consider our audience I instantly remembered my dad and how little knows about what I’m doing – basically he doesn’t know at all, he thinks all what I’m doing is stuff for signs on the streets, leaflets, promotional pens, promotional t-shirts and stuff for printing/newspapers/magazines. Well part of it yes. But I think one reason this happens is also cultural. Every time I said to someone older from my home country I’m doing Graphic Design their response was ‘ah great, you’re an artist! Could you come and find me a nice solution for my house? I want to redecorate it’. Which actually doesn’t make sense – first you tell me I’m an artist and then you tell me to decorate your house! Anyway, concentrating on my dad, if I had to explain him what graphic design and visual communication is I would have to start form the very beginning with the pictograms in the caves and stuff. Also, the way and the tools I’m choosing to communicate all these to him have to apply to his education background and his profession – he has only finished high school and he’s a builder, so he needs more tangible stuff to see so he can understand what I’m talking about. The difficult thing is that in his profession he doesn’t use any conceptual processes, all he does is using his hands and some simple calculations. So how am I communicating something that has to do with ideas to someone who doesn’t work with ideas? That’s a big problem I think. Also I personally need to clear up what I’m actually doing here, than ‘a bit of everything’, maybe I have to go back to fundamental definitions about visual communication – but do they really apply today?

One way to communicate this with him is to take one of his processes and apply them to design – like a simple wall, how is it built? Maybe what he does is design too? Thinking about this I started looking how to build a wall, and understand it:

What’s the equivalent design process of building a wall? A good foundation could be a good idea. And building the wall the development of it. The finishing is the visual appearance of the design. A wall also works in a grid.

So, the perfect scenario is to find a tool of communicating this with him and do it, although I can’t do it right now as we can’t have this interaction – and as he needs things tangible I can’t do it through skype! So maybe the best I could do is to construct the conversation and the way of teaching my dad was design is? Let’s see..