Thursday, January 21, 2010

VIVA DESIGN! homework #1

It was nice to meet all of you. Ok. So we've covered roughly from the upper paleolithic right up to the 15th Century! We talked about a bunch of stuff, from food design, and celebrity chefs like El Bulli's Ferràn Adriá, to cheap food -as if designed by the Food Industry- to eco-design and eco-products suited for the particular needs of underdeveloped countries.

Even wars can be designed. 

Design is breaking boundaries: from cutting edge architecture to part furniture/part noise hybrids, to tiny portable gardens, to innovative environments for exchanging ideas, etc.

Finally, design can become the stuff of manifestos.

So, take any theme from the entries below (the entries start right after my syllabus) and just make a comment on something that strikes your fancy. Please, sign your comments.  

Don't forget to become a member of Miami Bourbaki.

Remember that I'll close this post next Wednesday @ 10pm. If you have any questions, post them here as well.


daynzzz said...

I thought you asked one of the most thought-provoking questions I've heard in a long time: Do we design or are we designed? You said it's really difficult for people these days to do something that hasn't already been done. The solution for designers is to do the same things but do them better.

As people, our experiences are reflected in our work and vice versa. Being that society as a whole is controlled by "the man," we are never truly free from restraints and limits. I mean think about it, we're on this earth with the force of gravity. We're not freely existing without something holding us in place. I know it sounds a bit cynical, but I truly believe no matter how much we want to think we are freely expressing ourselves, there is an underlying force shaping what we do and how we do it.

Design is a powerful thing when done correctly. It may shape someone's perception of a brand, even prompt them to buy a particular product. But behind that design is a more powerful force, one that ultimately shapes how we design and what we design.

miamibourbaki said...

Daynzzz, thanks, but what's your name? Would you please sign the bottom of your comments?

Sarah said...

I believe one of the most interesting comments you made during Art History class, was when studying history we should view the people in our history books as a “ALIVE,” not “DEAD!” This comment really rang in my ears, because unfortunately this idea holds true in many students’ minds. Students of this generation view Art History, American History, World History or any other type of history as merely a study of “DEAD” people.

Students of my generation do not take the time to visualize a young artist in his 20’s or 30’s contemplating over the vibrant colors, textures and medium he will use to arrange his well thought out landscape. Often times we think of the artist as dead and gone, and therefore move on to observing the modern day artist that strikes our attention.

Although, I do not personally feel that history is a study of dead people, it was still a great reminder to think of the artist as “ALIVE!” I like the idea of picturing a person sitting in the chair next to me in class, studying in the same way we do (except without the laptops). Just as you posed the question what will University of Miami students 200 years from now think of our Art History class? Will they think of us as just “DEAD” artists, or someone that made a difference during our lifetime?

Even though, I enjoy studying history, I will definitely think of the artists or other historical figures I study in a whole new light . . . ALIVE!

Sarah Gruhn
ARH 346

Rafaella Medeiros said...

One of the comments that was very captivating was how you compared caveman's drawings on walls to graphic design. It shows how even though we are so different from back then and have evolved though time some things still remain the same. The innate urge to fill up a blank wall, to mark our territory, to express ourselves through designs, patterns, and drawings.

What struck me even harder was the comment about how caveman would laugh at us and our chicken and meat that we buy at the supermarket. I never thought about that... if you know an animal has died so you can eat, you should have the courage to kill it yourself, earn it. I don't think any of us think about that when we are grocery shopping. Such animals have lost their value, have become objects. Well, after the lecture, let's just say I didn't want to have chicken for dinner...

- Rafaella Medeiros
arh 346

Gloria A. said...

Of the smorgasbord of images you showed us in our first class, Altamira is the image that calls to me the most. What struck me most about the bison on the ceiling was his color -- such vivid color. How many times has a new possession faded or turned colors over days or weeks? Thousands of years old, this bison is still a vibrant blood red, a testament to the artists’ work. This cave painting, in keeping with naturalistic imagery, is about the animals the cave dwellers hunted. It’s likely the cave dwellers were concrete thinkers, focused on the necessity, danger, and thrill of the hunt and maintained the paintings, as preservation of the hunting magic. Much later when abstract thought was in its infancy, the cave artists did not include abstract images. Because these artists kept to concrete naturalistic imagery, I would argue that yes they adhered to a design convention, and brought a dark dank dreary cave to life.
-Gloria Lastres

pedroiscool said...

On "incunabulum-incunabulorum".

I agree with you professor. These earliest bound bibles are some of the most beautiful machine-made (one could argue) bibles in the world. The picture doesnt do it justice. Ive seen a few (Not the rare bibles in your articles) Illuminated manuscripts and early bibles and they are simply spectacular to look at. Most are very big, heavy, and thick with small near-perfet lettering and adorned with vines and pattern in beautifu colors.

Its interesting to see that so much value is placed on something that (despite artistic value) can be had for little or no money; the actual text of the bible. This discrepancy in "value" i attribute less to the content of the words and more to the fact that it was the first PRINTED book. Its a shame because the words, some argue, are worth more kingdoms and their riches.

To me it is interesting to see such vast difference in value between an old, and relatively useless bible (how many of you can read latin?), and a new, portable and (most importantly) in common english bible that is easily understood and cost little to nothing.

-Pedro Rodriguez

cbfelder said...

On the questions concerning Venus of Willendorf.

It seems very likely to me that the figure's representation of fertility is "magical" in its intended purpose. That is to say that, like the cave paintings of Lascaux, the design is meant to manifest itself as its desired subject. By shaping this small piece of limestone, the people are designing fertility. They are creating something tangible.

While hearing about the topic of "magical thinking" on thursday, i began to think about the power of design, how quickly humanity loses touch with the past, and thus, what a powerful tool design could be in bringing an awareness of our specific place in time. Perhaps it is simply natural, but collectively we have a terrible memory when it comes to applying the ideas and lessons of our past to our current age. (an example being the "loss of magic" from present day society) Culture is essentially design, and we are complete products of our contemporary cultures.

It is interesting to imagine what could be accomplished with "cultural" design that is independent from, and (if its even possible) free from influence from our present society. Allowing us to maintain roots with the past while realizing that we ourselves are inevitably a part of history.

Charles Felder

Ping said...

Advertising is a very powerful and manipulative medium. We are being controlled and brain washed by it. As graphic designers, are we the culprit or accomplice?

Advertising is an excellent form of communication. It persuades potential consumers to consider products that could benefit them.

Now, more than ever, advertising is unavoidable: TV, radio, infomercial, newspaper, magazine, trade journal, billboards, direct mail, signage, Internet, and even personal recommendations are a kind of advertising approach. It seems like we don’t have to worry about job opportunities. These days advertising is being used to promote greed, vanity, and materialism. We have also created a great deal of artificial products — even among our key resources like food. Advertising creates an excess of “hope” in our society, confusing desire with need and leading consumers into financial trouble. Although there are some informative and helpful advertising campaigns produced such as those intended to stop teenage drug use or cigarette addiction, prevent drunk driving, support medical research, and offer education opportunities, most advertising does not fall into the cateogry of public service announcements.

Living in an environment oversaturated with advertising not to mention advertisers willing to sacrifice the health and well-being of consumers by hiding the truth about the products they are paid to sell, people are not able to make informed choices.

As designers in the field of advertising, are we guilty of helping to mislead the public, or not?

—Sau Ping Choi

miamibourbaki said...

As graphic designers, are we the culprit or accomplice?

Interesting point, Ping.

Lisa said...

One of your earlier posts is about the history of writing, and I love learning how writing first developed. Ancient peoples designed their writing systems as a response to their need to communicate and record information; it's interesting to see how written languages were redesigned over the centuries from their pictographic beginnings to seemingly random slashes here and there. When you talked about how almost everything from food to war can be designed... it's just very fascinating. Even now when I'm typing this, I'm using a form of communication first designed by our ancestors, and it's been redesigned over and over since then.

It's cool to see what the earliest written languages looked like. The reason most languages were pictographic to begin with is probably because images and symbols are so widely understood. That concept is still present today in some written Asian languages, like Han or Hangul (Hangul in particular because certain characters represent how the mouth and tongue would look when making certain sounds). Even logos are a universal language: thanks to advertising, almost anyone in the world knows what a giant yellow "M" represents.

Images are the foundation of written languages, which just adds to the idea that images are meant to communicate messages and thoughts and the like... and design is the most important part of creating that message.

Lisa Joseph

Sam said...

I was interested to see the parallels between the ancient cave paintings and the modern day graffiti that appears in the urban environment today. It seems to me that if you strip away the historical layers, there is great deal of similarity between our need to deface walls and ancient mans need to decorate his cave. Of course ancient man did not have to deal with the bureaucracy and risk of prosecution that faces the modern graffiti artist but it is intriguing none the less to note it as an intrinsic part of out nature.

I very much agree with the view you expressed, that food is "designed." Im not sure about in the United States, but in the UK there is certain amount of backlash towards the way that food is produced and presented. A number of celebrity chefs have created tv specials highlighting how we as a nation are ignorant as to the source of our meat and how the animals are maintained and treated before slaughter. Clearer packaging has come into circulation that clearly states the source and treatment of the produce. Through observation of consumer preferences, big name supermarkets are being forced to amend the stock upon their shelves.
Are any such measures being enforced over here?

Sam Martin

daynzzz said...

sorry my name is dayna bieber! daynzzz is my username / name in the digital world.

Betsy said...

The idea that artwork should maintain a primal, magical quality rings loud and true to me. As a student of many forms of art (i.e. drawing, painting, photography, piano, sculpture, drums/other percussion instruments, jewelry, etc...), I find that inspiration, creation, and eventually design stem from being personally able to tap into that magic. I know when I've tapped into that artistic magic because all my senses and skills become focused, fluid, and a design emerges from my creation without much deliberate thought at all. Viewers can identify this type of inspired artwork not so much by any concrete aspects of the piece but instead by their personal reactions, their curiosity, and their appreciation of the piece.

Viewers' reactions also seem to stem from the environment in which the artwork is exhibited. This brings me to another compelling topic mentioned in class, that of designing entire environments. I love this because complete immersion in a designed environment forces spectators to fully experience the magic of the artist, the magic of that moment in time (and space), and the magic of the design. A few examples of designed environments from class include the Spanish Altamira Caves, the French Lascaux Caves, and Frank Gehry's more recent City of Wine Complex (of the 'Marque de Riscal').

So what's my point here besides glorifying the artistic process? Mostly, this discussion makes me realize my hopes that appreciation for art will continually grow and that the art world will never become stale or boring. As time progresses, I hope artists can capitalize on the method of designing environments to capture their audiences. Our contemporary world is so busy, so cluttered, so full of distractions that in order to be noticed and effective, artwork must provide maximum stimulation. I think that larger artistic endeavors such as the design of complete environments could serve as a successful means to expanding the number of art enthusiasts today.

Elizabeth (Betsy) Rice - arh346

A.T. said...

Thanks, Dayna.

Luly said...

I like how you compared cave drawings to graffiti. I am not the greatest graffiti artist but i do practice the skill and when you mentioned the comparison, it was interesting to realize how far back graffiti goes. Which makes me think...if we call the drawings on the caves "graffiti", then graffiti was always a form of art/a form of expression and never an act of vandalism. As you said " If an architect designs a wall and leaves it blank for a while someone will draw on it." ( not sure if those were your exact words but i know im close =) )

I agree with you on that statement, any blank space acts like our canvas. As someone who does graffiti ...I don't consider myself a vandal, I consider myself an artist.

- Luly Lauredo

AlliHeathe said...

In my previous experience, I have understood graphic design as only a matter of computer art aimed for print or web media. However, through listening to your lecture, I finally began to understand the interlocking nature of design in the various medias surrounding us. If one were to think of design as a function of advertising, it becomes clear that the nature of most objects and settings is to be attractive to the user or consumer. When you mentioned food as a matter of design, I really began to see how restaurants use the attractiveness of their food as a main method, sometimes more important than the actual taste, to attract new customers. Another item of discussion that struck me was that of the comparison between older works, such as the Book of the Dead, to picture books. I find it quite comical that something as deep and as meaningful as instructions for the afterlife would be displayed with step by step images instead of an elaborate fabrication of words. It clearly demonstrates how many people of the time were illiterate, and that it was necessary to use images to bring a full understanding of the topic.

-Allison Brown

silentmonk said...

One of the things that struck me was your comment when you kept talking about "design" how design is planning. That everything is created by design from wars to even animals.

looking at the idea of starchitect, designers of buildings, with the beginning of the 20th century where many architects began to create forward thinking designs on modernism.But for many of the buildings in the 21st century created by these star architects that are in demand by many corporation.When looking at these design they seem extravagant, but what purpose do some of these appendages like in the frank gehry improve the buildings? at some points,the owners of the buildings would justify a terrible design becuase of the name behind it.

The idea of design in architect moved to art museum, where the art inside of the museum no longer becomes the attraction but how the building looks. For me the art within the museum is vastly more important than the building that houses.

Carlos franco

Juliana said...

When I left class last Thursday, I kept thinking about many topics discussed but I must agree with Dayna that the most frustrating question was: Do we design or are we designed? In today’s design world, it seems like we are no longer designing or creating new things. I believe we are simply taking what is already there and adding a twist.
Let’s take the simple example of music, how hard is it today to design a new “hit” song? (I’m talking about something as original as Michael Jackson or U2) Sure, we all enjoy the new pop and rap songs out there but is any of it “really” good music? Are these new artists talented at all? We can find talented people here and there but what happened to the real good stuff? In our minds, it has all been done before. So what are we doing now? We take what is already there and remix to create a new modern version.
Designing has become harder and harder with more competition every day. Unconsciously, we are designed by society and the simple example of music just makes us realize that no matter haw original you want to be, it is very hard to design something new. Music is a form of being designed by what society has given us but we continue designing to make an impact upon people.
-Juliana Aragao

barnez said...

While I had previously considered the impact of the design of various meat packaging upon my desire to purchase or not purchase meat, your lecture stimulated my imagination in an ad busters direction - what if the packing showed pictures of the dead animal? When I was a child, chicken packages might include streaks of blood or little chips of bone, but that was normal at the time.

In the 70s an artist friend, Celia Shapiro, did a piece in Los Angeles where she videotaped herself living in her studio with a chicken. Then she had the chicken killed and video taped herself eating the chicken, while looking at a monitor of the same previously alive chicken. For awhile after creating the piece she suffered from a virus associated with fowl - most of the others with this ailment lived in rural locations or in Chinatown. Maybe there's an advantage to having some distance between you and the food on your plate.

Grace Barnes

lauren dresbach said...

After thinking about all the discussions we had in class, I kept thinking about the cave paintings and the question of if we design or are we designed?

I like how you compared the cave paintings as graffiti and how any blank wall is a blank canvas screaming for art.

In regards to the question of if we design or are we designed, I think we are bombarded with so many different types of art everyday and it is extremely difficult to come up with something truly original. Yes, we can all design but many designers are highly influenced by what others are doing. I agree with Dayna, designers need to be able to do the same things as others but do them in a more creative and unique way that will truly amaze people.

When coming into this class I really did not have any idea of how far we would go back in regards to graphic design. When I think of graphic design my thoughts are automatically something created on the computer. It was interesting to learn that graphic design goes so far back in time (like in the cave paintings).

-Lauren Dresbach

Jeffrey Stern said...

Design indeed is all around us, an integral part of our everyday life from the smallest detail to the grandest epic. How can anything come into existence without being designed. Be it design by nature, man or if you believe God. Can design be an accident. One could design an accident. There isn’t anything that you can pick-up that didn’t require some thought of shape, size, color, functionality, cost, etc. So why is it then that web sights are so poorly designed. It may become obvious but in case not I’ll state up front that I am of an earlier generation. I did not grow up with computers. I went through my entire schooling experience sans computers. I have only owned one for perhaps fifteen years and have up to now spent a little more than half of my professional career working in the analogue world as opposed to the digital one. But design does not exist in a vacuum. We are after all studying its history. Even if a new product is developed (the computer), elements of its function and therefore its design are based in the past (a printed page with written and pictorial elements). You write of how we have never looked back since the second century technological design advance in presenting information. How the random access form of presenting information of the codex replaced the linear access form of the scroll. But design elements of the scroll were carried forward to the codex. With the development of the computer I feel as if designers felt they were designing something so new that there was no reason to reference the past. In a newspaper (the paper kind that you hold) when you reach the bottom of the page there is a clear indication where to find the continuation of the article. And on that page there are other articles related to the same subject. What I frequently find online is a maze of sidebars and hyperlinks that will lead one down a rabbit hole, away from the original content and into a labyrinth that frequently makes finding one’s way home difficult. For instance, I found it curious that on the class website the detail of information from the first class, while presented in a chronological order, started at the bottom of the page with the earliest dates and worked its way to the top.

blorenzo said...

Later artists of the Polychrome Ceiling definitely adhered to design conventions set forth by earlier artists. The bison are drawn in profile, with thick contour, and similar color schemes. The rituals used to create the works of art/magic over the years are responsible for the consistency of drawing style. In order for a ritual to be “successful” it has to be performed “correctly,” thus limiting these artists ability to be creative. However, by utilizing natural contours in the caves walls, the artists are proving that even within strict style conventions new developments in technique can occur. Some of these artists were certainly more talented than others, and while these cave drawings may all look alike to an untrained eye, the followers of this art could probably make out the “masters” of the time. I don’t believe that people nowadays are more intelligent than the people that made the cave drawings only our techniques have changed.

Bryan Lorenzo

nasha89 said...

I enjoyed our first class and how we got a little overview into the many forms of design. I took a course this past semester on Egyptian art so I would have to say the post about the book of the dead stood out to me the most. Before taking that course I knew very little about Egyptian art. To be honest I thought it was “primitive” simple stick figure art, similar to what I though about cave drawings. But as you mentioned in class, there is nothing primitive about it.
I have come to really appreciate and love ancient Egyptian art. To me, they were the most innovative, creative, and complex group to date. Almost everything they did, they developed and generated themselves. They were very focused on getting a clear and sensible message across to their viewers. One way they did that for example was the positioning of their figures. They did not want the viewer to have to make any assumptions about the art or the narrative displayed, hence the simplistic style of their designs. Egyptians, along with Greeks, are two of my favorite periods for art in general for they creativity, innovativeness, and overall style.

Nasha Wallin

jorell said...

The Venus of Willendorf brings up some interesting questions. In our current culture this statuette might be viewed as obese and unattractive. Yet in my great-grandparents time, being overweight was a sign of wealth as well as a sign of well-being and health. In the Paleolithic era when man was mainly a hunter/gatherer, being overweight would most likely be uncommon and reserved for only the highest ranking people in their society. Calling this figure a ‘Venus’ brings to my mind the idealized Venus of the Romans, yet it is rather difficult to imagine this being the ideal of a culture from the stone age. The emaciated models of our time must look like sick people who cannot hunt to someone from the time of this Venus. I would say the importance of this observation is that context plays a major role in design. That what is relevant now may make absolutely no sense in the future.

Ashley said...

Like Jorell, I also found the Venus of Willendorf to be extremely interesting. Although it is one of the first pieces taught in almost every art history course I have ever taken (those being quite a few), it is never fully explored. The fact that you posted it with a 'true image' for comparison makes it even stronger. It reminds me that the meaning of a piece of work can change wildly throughout time- even if the artist had no intention of it doing so. It's a great example of relativity. As someone who has done a bit of research and study of eating disorders (mainly the psychological side), I believe that this piece of art can be used outside of the gallery to make a strong statement to everyone who feels the need to conform to the pressures of society. Art offers many personal epiphanies via intense compositions and subject matter; the Venus of Willendorf is no different.

- Ashley McKevitt