Below are two of my mini essays based upon ethical responsibility and post modernism. Comments always appreciated 🙂
Ethical Responsibility, A Personal Opinion.
The issues surrounding ethical and moral responsibility within the design industry is by no means a new discussion, often found to be under debate from many designers. Having read the views of Ken Garland and other like minded designers, involved with the signing of the First Things First manifesto, and in contrast to views discussed in Paul Nini’s In Search of Ethics in Graphic Design, it is clear that there are a number of valid points that refer to my own personal beliefs not only as a designer but also as a member of society.
Although labelled by some as conveying ‘anti-consumerist’ views, the emphasis placed upon creating more everlasting forms of communication, to challenge and enhance the knowledge of our society, is something that I feel could be a huge benefit, and certainly pose as a more creative avenue to become involved with rather than contributing to the saturated field of product advertising that will inevitably come and go. Although the pressures of living within a material driven society and financial prosperity remains the priority for a large percentage of people, participating on long term projects and collaborating with other like minded designers to create more academic based information design could run alongside the commercial, consumer led market, as well as still support it, if corporate brands were more willing to collaborate and invest the time and money as well. This said, I agree with one of the comments made in relation to Nini’s essay, in which stated the feasibility of trying to convince designers to uphold to a certain set of rules is even more unrealistic given the scale of contemporary design and to quote, ‘quaintly modernist’.
As a visual designer I have a passion for creativity, and so support the choice of self-expression design rather than always having to create from a user centred perspective with the primary purpose to fulfil the needs of an intended audience. We have a freedom of speech and ideas, and in some cases it is the unhindered, highly personal design that actually achieves the most impact and invites the most discussion because of its individuality and lack of contextual focus. I believe that I have a duty to ensure that my own ideas and creativity is of use for propelling society on a wider level, and enhancing the shape of our future. To give something of meaning back to the industry, yet having fun as well as being financially stable in the process.
Having the power and ability to promote and even manipulate viewers on an unlimited range of subjects invites a wealth of possibilities that should be treated as a positive, rather than missing wasted opportunities or promoting an de-constructive ideal. Understanding the consumer, and the nature of the context of most advertising, if push came to shove I could equally find myself involved with design that some people could consider as unethical although I hope if placed within the situation of choosing work over my morals, that issues surrounding the promotion of animal cruelty; and products such as fur, or glamorising drugs, drinking or smoking, that I would not succumb to the personal rewards that may be on offer.
Ultimately, the varying opinions that ethical responsibility provokes will always remain attached to the design industry, regardless of rules, manifesto’s and market led change. Its dominance over the type of design being produced however will depend upon the continuum of the reactions of the individual, and what they consider to be offensive. As long as each individual designer remains true to his or her beliefs, the industry will continue to evolve supporting the need for a harmonious balance of opinion.
And now for Post Modernism;
Post Modernism; A Recycled Future.
The aggressive force that modernists used as a way of achieving change; leaving the past behind in order to drive forward a new idealistic future, is ultimately what caused the natural death of the modernist era, the possibilities of creating movements based solely upon original concepts and intents proving more and more difficult. This lack of background as grounding is what helped to fuel the initial catalyst of the post modernist development.
Acting as a philosophical departure from the notions of an idealist age, accepting the knowledge of the past was seen as a tool to help produce more informed design, with enhanced meanings and provide greater levels of reflection. Presenting ideas with a freedom of artistic styles and concepts could help the contemporary society develop on a range of levels rather than forcing creativity to flow in single minded avenues.
The exploration of this visual sampling process has continued to grow, with a wide array of artists and designers from numerous backgrounds wanting to explore previous ideas yet placing them into contemporary contexts. Jasper Johns; who was most active during the 1950’s, was one particular artist who, alongside Robert Rauschenberg, worked closely in providing a higher cultural status to everyday ephemera objects to not only enhance their appreciation within society but also relate his talents to objects that would be more personal to his audience. One example being ‘Beer Cans’ in which Johns believed that the art work and actual design of beer cans were seen as a neglected form of vernacular design, and should be more widely and culturally praised, for instance being housed within art galleries. This was further enhance contextually by the fact that the beer cans were made out of bronze, a material in contrast to the use of ordinary tin, helping to change the relationship in which the viewer has with the object. He also had a strong concern for the process of his art, believing that ‘there may or may not be an idea, and the meaning may just be that the painting exists’. Producing such artwork has led to Johns being labelled as a pop artist, although his work with iconography alongside irony places him as a neo Dadaist. From the postmodernist perspective, it is a collective of all these styles that have helped to fuel his outcomes.
From a more contemporary outlook, Eduardo Recife; a Brazilian designer and illustrator active from the late 1990’s to date, creates his work through a mix of collage and hand rendered line drawings. His collage material is collected from everyday ephemera found around Brazil; ranging from years old to only a few days old, as well as classical imagery inspired by the renaissance chosen not only for its nostalgic benefits but also as a way to subvert contextual meanings to link the past to current issues faced within a contemporary society. This is further enhanced by his inclusion of personal doodles, placing his own reflections as an artist upon his pieces for which others can make up their own minds and opinions on. Although these pieces act as art forms in their own right, many have been created for a commercially driven purpose, in which their relationship towards a particular issue in crucial for their success in enhancing the additional written communication that may exist. It is this regurgitation and subsequent manipulation of historic design influences that helps to relate its intents to that of the post modernists; a sense of ultimate creative freedom, with endless possibilities but that is heavily underpinned by the actions and developments of previous pioneers and artists, recycled and presented in new visual forms. It is this collage medium that I find particularly relevant in relation to post modernism, in allowing new meanings to develop the moment one begins juxtaposing visual samples together.
Without an understanding of historic design practices; as well as the intents and desired outcomes from the creative experiments of artists and designers, I believe we would quickly fall into a vacuum of soulless ideas, lacking in the structure and support needed to uphold new discussions and perspectives which are ultimately the driving force of a society behind propelling positive change rather than dictating it. We need to use the lessons learned in previous generations to act as grounding, as a basis for which ideas can be expanded and evolved with enhanced awareness and in light of discovering new design avenues. The post modernist era I believe can therefore be summed up as a pause within the history of design, a time for contemplation of where we have come from, what has been learned and ways in which we can draw out all of the inspiration from before, making use of anything that we may have missed first time around, caught up in the fast paced furry of ploughing out a new future. A second chance in preparation for bigger and better things.
Post Again Soon!