Adding More than More/Less/More

Vector leaves and budding vines, rainbow gradients, supermodels tucked in between it all—this hyper cool vector/pixel haberdashery is everywhere and is going nowhere. You have to give it up for the radical craft in the work of Brand New School, but enough already—they did it. Adding layers, adding more, simply adding—enough already and, yes, we can do the nil thing too. A few years back (2000-04) we had our old new-modernist, Helvetica, chill-out when doing nothing was the preferred and now the gluttony again. Yes, there have been attempts to intellectualize it by dropping it all into info space—chartifying, infographisizing, mappifying—but that just reads like putting on the smart glasses to look the part. The frequency increases and the style cycles collapse—more/less, less/more—it matters little in how the distinction is made—it is all the same. Please, tell me you hope more for your isometric pixels than either on or off.

We need our vapid, pixel massaging, disco-super fun—we can’t live without it as part of the continuum—but in a time of such immense scientific and technological invention and range of knowing and exploring in all things, why so much of one thing from design image makers? Where is the range, depth, exploration of the image? Images are everywhere and going nowhere in Graphic Design. Pornography has become clip art, common, acceptable—the new beige. Abu Ghraib becomes bumper sticker fodder and graphic designers swing between more and less in an attempt to do everything but invent.

Let’s look around a bit and fill out the gradient—maybe expand the gradient of possibilities. I’m not talking about running to experience design, interface design, interaction design, environmental design, et. al. I’m not advocating we somehow ramp-up the encyclopedic land grab that Graphic Design has become as it gobbles up all contexts, media, and content. I am talking about considering the graphic part and more so the single, still image part. Nothing in motion or manipulated in any “interactive” sense, but a well-framed, lit, conceived text phrased in/as a picture.

Ask a graphic design student what their most important work is and they will invariably look past telling photographs that seamlessly and effortlessly connect the heart, mind, and gut to point out something with the most layers, type/image synthesis, multipage, maximalism that they have been able to wrangle out of Indesillushop. I’m not bashing the digi—never—but lets turn it off for a while and come back to it when the lessons of the analog can be re-framed, re-cognized, and re-valued. Go read Barbara Stafford between choosing which side of the Frosted Mini Wheat to favor.

posted by Tony Brock on May 13, 2006 | comments: 3 | post a comment

Mini Wheats get soggy after a matter which side you start with...damned milk of human fallibility! But being incredibly guilty of the gluttony, I have to say pulling away and asking that question: DOES this disco-parade-a-thon really tell my story? might just become the greatest trend yet. I think the goal is to design like we speak and to speak like we design, only saying the necessities but saying them convincingly. Its a tough fight because on one hand we are communicators and on the other...well, some of us...actually enjoy doing this stuff. So how much time do we spend having fun at the disco and how much time do we spend focused on the meat, the marrow of "Graphic"? Can both fun and seamless connections exist simultaneously? I'm interested in what London may have for me in this respect....gosh I think I just said "London" but meant it as "Oracle".

Posted by Travis Stearns on May 24, 2006 05:14 AM

one more thing to mention...

I was contacted a few months back by a 16 year old kid from Sweden to collaborate....i think i still have his link..yup:
Anyway, he does the models (even Paris Hilton) cut up...the gradients...the vector ooze...all the hot stuff. But I don't think it means anything (except maybe to him and the other discos). The fact that a 15/16 year old is able to make these things is quite scary.

Posted by Travis Stearns on May 24, 2006 05:27 AM

I am going about design the right way. Information is power. I have quit chasing metaphors. In the GD jr interactive stdio I constructed a reflection of the US Military and its appetite for Depleated Uranium, presented in a smorgusborg of media spam. The Indesillushop that was my tool.

Now I have a whole television station of tools. Analog, digital, mechanical, physical, and the most important collective knowledge.

Last week, I recieved a cd by a local documntarian, Rebecca Cerese, "The Iraq War is a Nuclear One". "Oh, SMACK! It does exhist!"

My webzine and the documentor's film both gave information about DU. They differed in that mine was disguised as a website or as art. Carefully designed to distract, annoy, and evoke a certain courios reaction from the user.

Social commentary, not just a documentary or an abstract, must be present in graphic design. Stuff has to touch you before you can feel it.

Posted by ANNAW on June 27, 2006 09:56 PM