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Picturing Propaganda: A Study Day

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When: Sat 1 Jun 2013, 10.00-16.30

Where: Conference Centre, British Library

Price: £25 / £15 concessions

Book now for 01 Jun 2013, 10.00-16.30

Effective propaganda relies as much on images as it does on words. This study day will explore the role of visual communication in influencing ideas and changing behaviour. Academics and curators will discuss the history of visual propaganda, using fascinating (and sometimes funny) examples from the British Library and British Film Institute collections. The event is aimed at students, researchers and anyone with an interest in 20th century history, design, film or communication studies. Entry to the exhibition is included in the price.

The morning session will give a brief history of visual propaganda, discussing film, posters, leaflets, maps, stamps and more. The afternoon session will focus on three themes that dominate 20th century propaganda: nation-building, health and war. Our speakers will explore the different ways that these themes have been dealt with in the last century, comparing the methods of propaganda and the public response.

In collaboration with the BFI

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Now online: the historic Chomsky-Foucault debate.

By Tamara van der Putten

Post image for About ROAR

http://roarmag.org/2013/05/chomsky-foucault-debate-full-video-subtitles/

On May 8, 2013

Excerpts from the Foucault-Chomsky debate on human nature and power have circulated online for years — now it’s available in full for the first time.

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In 1971, with the Vietnam war in full swing and radical social movements destabilizing the social, political and cultural order throughout the Western world, Dutch philosopher Fons Elders invited two of the world’s leading thinkers — the American linguist and activist Noam Chomsky and the French social theorist Michel Foucault — to debate a thorny and perennial question: is there such a thing as an “innate” human nature, and if so, what are its implications for our ideas about power, justice, revolution, and the shape of the ideal human society?

The resulting dialogue has been described as one of the most original, provocative, and spontaneous exchanges to have occurred between contemporary philosophers, and above all serves as a concise introduction to their basic theories. What begins as a philosophical argument rooted in linguistics (Chomsky) and the theory of knowledge (Foucault), soon evolves into a broader discussion encompassing a wide range of topics, from science, history, and behaviorism to creativity, freedom, and the struggle for justice in the realm of politics.

In his book, The Passion of Michel Foucault, James Miller recounts that, while Chomsky and Foucault prepared for the debate in the preceding hours, “there were already signs that this was not going to be any ordinary debate”:

Hoping to puncture the prim sobriety of the Dutch audience, the program’s host, Fons Elders, a professed anarchist, had obtained a bright red wig, which he tried, unsuccessfully, to convince Foucault to wear. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Chomsky, Foucault had received, in partial payment for his appearance, a large chunk of hashish, which for months afterwards, Foucault and his Parisian friends would jokingly refer to as the “Chomsky hash.” (Ibid., p. 201, hat tip to Aphelis for this quote).

Excerpts from the video of the debate — which was broadcast on Dutch television — have been circulating online for many years, and a book with a (rather liberally) translated transcript of the discussion has been published and republished many times. More recently, however, a full video of the debate has surfaced, allowing ROAR, in collaboration with a group of Dutch anarchists, to assist in a new translation of the debate. With this project completed, we are proud to share the first version of the full Chomsky-Foucault debate with English subtitles.

Special thanks to Anarchistische Groep Nijmegen. Translations from Dutch by withDefiance and Tamara van der Putten; translation from French by Tamara van der Putten.

N.B. Hit the ‘captions’ button if the subtitles don’t show up.

Noam Chomsky (1928): linguist, historian, philosopher, critic and political activist. As the “father of the modern science of language” (linguistics), Chomsky focused on the issue of the innate versus the learned. Over the course of his career, Chomsky evolved into a major critic of US foreign policy (from Vietnam to South America and the Middle East) and the propaganda of the mass media. One of his major works is ‘Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media’, co-written with Edward S. Herman. Chomsky continues to write prolifically today.

Michel Foucault (1926-1984): French philosopher, social theorist, historian and literary critic. In his work, Foucault dealt with the issue of power and how it works in practice; how it influences knowledge; and how it is used as a form of social control. Foucault is best known for his critical studies of social institutions such as psychiatry, social anthropology, the penitentiary system and the history of human sexuality. His works are still very influential in academic circles. One of Foucault’s major works is ‘Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison’.

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The 12 Paradoxes Of Graphic Design

By Dorothy Tan,

19 Mar 2013

Based on a lecture by graphic designer Adrian Shaughnessy, Stockholm-based designer Tobias Bergdahl has created minimalist visuals for the “12 Paradoxes of Graphic Design” that Shaughnessy spoke of.

Each paradox consists of an impossible shape—like the Möbius strip—accompanied by a simple statement about the practice of graphic design.

These illuminating and insightful messages are great advice for young graphic designers by urging them not to harbor misleading assumptions about important subjects like clients, money and ideas.

Scroll down to view all 12 paradoxes that may give you a new perspective of graphic design.

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[From: abduzeed.com]

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In popular culture

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The carousel slide projector was highlighted in the popular TV-series Mad Men (Season One, Episode 13, titled “The Wheel”) as a product for advertiser Don Draper to pitch. There, it was named the “Carousel” instead of “The Wheel”, because it was nostalgic and let its viewers travel through their memories as a child would, “around and around and back home again”.

From: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MoKtk8L77-U

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The magical power of the projected image is unique to the medium. A beam of light, thrown out from the slide or film projector, bears sequences of images that reconstitute and take form when the light meets an opaque surface. Projected images are at once solid and transparent…The beam of light is a powerful sign of memory and the visual imagination. It transmits ghost images, figures that live only through the power of the projective apparatus and die as the picture vanishes. Projected in darkness, the cone of light traces the genesis of the images from projector to screen. It is spellbinding and full of promise”

– Lynda Nead, The Haunted Gallery

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A thoughtful article by ORIT GAT at http://rhizome.org/

Projected Projects: Slides, PowerPoints, Nostalgia, and a Sense of Belonging

ORIT GAT | Mon Nov 28th, 2011 10:35 a.m.

The discipline of art history used to have a sound, the click and growl of the slide projector. It had a look, too, that was composed of darkened lecture halls and sometimes-blurry images of a unified size.

Kodak stopped manufacturing 35mm slide projectors in 2004, a decision in line with the company’s current focus on digital photography. The website dedicated to Kodak slide projectors has been archived as a frozen version, current as of November 2004. Soon enough, that website would seem as old fashioned as the famous poster celebrating the invention of the carousel slide projector.

ABC’s “Mad Men” credited Don Draper, the head copywriter at the ad firm the show focuses on, as the inventor of the term “the carousel,” for Kodak’s then-cutting edge technology. In the scene where he pitches the term to Kodak, he states, “The Greeks call it nostalgia. […] It’s a twinge in your heart, far more powerful than memory alone.”

The fact that slide projectors are now becoming a technology on the verge of death invokes a new feeling of nostalgia. Slide projectors were commonly used for varied purposes, from the family slideshow through the business meeting display, and up to illustrated lectures. These devices were commonplace and their aesthetic, sound, and use bring up familiarity and a certain tradition.

In 2005, shortly after Kodak’s announcement that it will no longer produce slide projectors, curator Darsie Alexander at the Baltimore Museum of Art organized the exhibition “Slideshow.” Featuring nineteen works made between the 1960s and the early 2000s by artists such as Robert Smithson, Dennis Oppenheim, Ceal Floyer, and Dan Graham, “Slideshow” celebrated the medium itself. It was presented in a series of darkened rooms where the only light came from the slide projectors and the sound of the changing slides echoed throughout.

Robert Smithson, Hotel Palenque, 1969, 35mm slide projection (detail).

35mm slides have a number of built-in characteristics that appeal to artists. First and foremost, they are a high resolution color image, which, in the 1960s, was a refreshing change from the dominance of black and white photography. Secondly, the slide projectors have an inherent sense of narrative built into them. Be it an 80-slide or 140-slide tray, and whatever number of seconds it is set to automatically change slides after, the projector presents a story in a certain time frame and a specific number of images.

What was appealing for artists in the 35mm slides was slowly disappearing in the projection technologies that followed it—first, the overhead projector, and more so, PowerPoint. The overhead projector using transparencies is still quite frequently used in contemporary art. PowerPoint, however, is different.

Since its introduction in the early 1980s, PowerPoint has become the tool of corporate culture. It drove the overhead projector out of the boardroom quite quickly, but it also became a trope of contemporary communications. According to Microsoft, thirty million PowerPoint presentations are given every day, almost all of them featuring the silhouette stick figure that stands beneath a question mark. PowerPoint was not the natural digitized version of the slide or the overhead projector. It was not the Mr. Coffee to the plastic funnel coffee filter holder. PowerPoint comes with a culture of organizing information—in bulletproof points, using a series of templates, and with AutoContent complete into the program.

Ofri Cnaani, Moviemakers (detail), 2010, overhead projection, handmade transparencies.

Ceal Floyer, Overhead Projection, 2006.

The use and value of PowerPoint has been widely discussed. A doubt was cast upon its efficiency in Edward R. Tufte’s famous article “The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint,” where he coined the (surprisingly commonplace) term “PowerPoint phluff” to describe inessential visuals in PowerPoint presentations (puzzled man silhouette included). The use of PowerPoint in the private and corporate realms was slighted in “Absolute PowerPoint” in The New Yorker in 2001, where the writer Ian Parker spells out how “PowerPoint is a software you impose on other people.”

Most art history classes are now taught using PowerPoint. We are getting more and more accustomed to viewing art digitally and online, insomuch that Google used its Street View technology to also make available virtual visits to museums across the world as part of Google Art Project. And the performative aspect of the PowerPoint is utilized in Pecha Kucha and Slideluck Potshow events. Maybe it is time that we throw thinking about the slideshow as a curatorial project into the mix. What worked for Baltimore Art Museum’s “Slideshow” will not work with PowerPoint, whose physical characteristics are quite different.

PowerPoint slides projected on the wall are heavy files in a low resolution, especially when compared to paper or 35mm slides. The capabilities of the human eye-brain system are much larger than what PowerPoint can offer, thereby making it harder to focus solely on the slides themselves. Notwithstanding projects like UC Berkeley Pacific Film Archive’s “PowerPoint to the People,” a competition of PowerPoint artworks (surveyed on Wired here) and Peter Norvig’s Gettysburg PowerPoint Presentationwhich has been linked to and mentioned countless times, a PowerPoint presentation still needs to be activated. It is a performative medium. Not surprisingly, many of the examples I could find of artists using PowerPoint are as part of performances. In his recent work, shown at Performa and SFMOMA, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, Simon Fujiwara carries a remote control for a PowerPoint presentation that he uses as part of the performance almost throughout the work. Does this differ from giving a lecture while using PowerPoint? David Byrne gave a series of lectures titled “I [heart] PowerPoint” at museums and universities across the country. He also wrote a book about PowerPoint and displays PowerPoints in his exhibitions. As to the negative reactions to the software itself, Byrne says, “Rather than resist, I decided that I must surrender and learn to use this software myself, for, like everyone, I long to belong.”

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The history of advertising in quite a few objects: 33 The Carousel

campaignlive.co.uk, Thursday, 21 June 2012 08:00AM Be the first to comment

In the three decades that followed its debut in the early 60s, the carousel slide projector was a key player at every big agency presentation – and one of the most cantankerous.

First carousel slide projector: by Eastman Kodak iFirst carousel slide projector: by Eastman Kodak i

It seemed almost to have a mind of its own. And if it didn’t like the way it was being treated, it had a habit of throwing a tantrum and making you look a complete twerp in front of the client you were most eager to impress.

Now that laptops and pen-drives have so dramatically reduced the chances of technical cock-ups at pitches, it’s hard to imagine how such a prosaic piece of equipment could make agencies hostages to fortune.

“You needed a knack to handle a carousel,” John Wringe, the chairman of the brand consultancy Your Future and an adman for more than 30 years, recalls. “The slides had to be loaded the wrong way round and upside down, so there was always a high chance of making a mistake.”

What’s more, to use a carousel was always to risk evoking Murphy’s Law, which states that if anything can go wrong, it will.

And it did the time Bill Husselby, the Cogent chairman, was about to present to executives of Massey Ferguson, the agriculture equipment manufacturer and his agency’s biggest client, at their Canadian headquarters.

With the auditorium hushed and expectant, Husselby went backstage to check on the progress of the carousel slide presentation being put together by his managing director, Ray Lee.

Husselby opened the door, which hit Lee, sending him crashing into the projector and spilling the slides everywhere. Husselby then succeeded in turning a drama into a crisis by accidentally stepping on the slides, shattering many of them. “I’ll leave you to it, Ray,” a shamefaced Husselby said as he tiptoed away.

Curiously, the fact that the carousel was costly to use was also a benefit. “Each slide cost around £6.50 to produce, which made a lengthy slide presentation quite expensive,” Wringe says. It was a great incentive to keep the slides – and the verbosity – to a minimum.

THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW

– The first carousel slide projector, launched by Eastman Kodak in 1962, was invented by Louis Misuraca, who emigrated to the US from Naples. Instead of royalties, he took a one-off payment from Kodak and used the money to take his family on a trip to Italy.

– An episode of Mad Men suggests the carousel was christened by Don Draper. Asked by Kodak to devise a campaign for their new but unexciting concept, Sterling Cooper’s creative chief, with his marriage on the rocks, talks emotionally of the projector as a “time machine” and uses it to screen images of his wife and children. “It takes us to a place where we ache to go again,” he tells them. “It’s called the carousel.”

– The arrival of the overhead projector and advances in digital photography marked the end of the carousel. Kodak ceased production in 2004.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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The ‘text’ for you to look at for our next session on Wednesday 13.03.13 is the documentary:

STYLE WARS

http://www.stylewars.com/watch

STYLE WARS Hip Hop Documentary 1 of 5 graffiti movie

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STYLE WARS Hip Hop Documentary 2 of 5 graffiti movie

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STYLE WARS Hip Hop Documentary 3 of 5 graffiti movie

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STYLE WARS Hip Hop Documentary 4 of 5 graffiti movie

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STYLE WARS Hip Hop Documentary 5 of 5 graffiti movie

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THE DOCUMENTARY

Directed by Tony Silver and produced by Tony Silver and Henry Chalfant, it was awarded the Grand Prize for Documentaries at the 1983 Sundance Film Festival. STYLE WARS is regarded as the indispensable document of New York Street culture of the early ’80s, the filmic record of a golden age of youthful creativity that exploded into the world from a city in crisis.

STYLE WARS captured the look and feel of New York’s ramshackle subway system as graffiti writers’ public playground, battleground and spectacular artistic canvas. Opposing them by every means possible were Mayor Edward Koch, the police, and the New York Transit Authority. Meanwhile MCs, DJs and B-boys rocked the city with new sounds and new moves and street corner breakdance battles evolved into performance art.

New York’s legendary kings of graffiti and b-boys own a special place in the hip hop pantheon. STYLE WARS has become an emblem of the original, embracing spirit of hip hop as it reached out across the world from underground tunnels, uptown streets, clubs and playgrounds.

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AND read

Michael Bierut’s

Style: An Inventory

http://observatory.designobserver.com/feature/style-an-inventory/36718/

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Vault doors manufactured by Remington & Sterling Company (detail), c. 1912. Photograph by Niko SkourtisStyle as learning

. It is your first big assignment in design school. You know, or think you know, about problem solving. You know, or think you know, about communication. You know about composition, about white space, about kerning. But this is not enough. With all those issues addressed, there are still decisions to be made, decisions that seem perfectly, maddeningly arbitrary. What typeface? What color? Not what does it say, or how does it work, but what does it look like? These decisions, arbitrary though they are, have an oversized impact. How do you decide? Do you copy something you like? (Is thatplagiarism?) Do you do something that no one else has ever done? (Is that even possible?) The blank piece of paper is overwhelming. You make your choices, and you look at the results. This is your first lesson in the power of style.Style as destiny. Style was never discussed when I was a student. There was a vague sense that genuine style emerged unconsciously in its own time, like breasts or facial hair. Trying too hard would derail the process and result in something less than authentic. What a wonderful promise: within each of us is a unique voice that will reveal itself, but only through patience and practice. Use the force, Luke. Do or do not, there is no try.

Style as compulsion. Where does style come from? Put more broadly, why do people do what they do? Nature or nurture? Free will or intention? How much of our particular version of the design process is hardwired directly into our basic brain functions? The designer can’t help it.

Style as ideology. It is unnerving to some that certain design decisions, particularly those related to style, are motivated subconsciously. “I don’t know, I just like it that way,” doesn’t always work for teachers, bosses, clients and judges of design competitions. Thus we have the post-rationalizations of the style deniers. Ideology is the superego to style’s id.

Style as habit. At the outset of his political career, Barack Obama decided to wear nothing but dull blue, black and gray suits so he could focus his attention on more important things. Here is William James in 1877: “The more of the details of our daily life we can hand over to the effortless custody of automatism, the more our higher powers of mind will be set free for their own proper work.”

Style as uniform. Charles Baudelaire: “Dress like a bourgeoisie, think like a revolutionary.”

Style as epithet. Stefan Sagmeister originated the easy-to-remember equation “Style = Fart.” He later said he no longer believed this, acknowledging that appropriate use of style could aid communication.Style as crutch. Every great designer has a default mode that provides a solution when original thinking, for whatever reason, is impossible. This default mode, deployed with regularity, becomes associated with that designer’s unique personal style. Do not fear your default mode, but nor should you seek it. Simply know that there’s a safety net if you need it. Knowing that makes you less likely to need it.

Style as assimilation. We are taught to value originality, to assume that the first goal of every design solution is differentiation. If you think that standing out in a crowd is a universal goal, take a look around. You will see few people sporting hula skirts or top hats. Instead, everyone is trying to fit in. Some design challenges have the same requirement. If you’re creating packaging for spaghetti sauce, you can make it jump out from the shelf by making it look like a bottle of shampoo. But people in the pasta aisle aren’t looking for shampoo. They’re looking for spaghetti sauce. And what makes spaghetti sauce look like spaghetti sauce is the aggregation of a hundred small stylistic cues that need to be understood and mastered. Once you know how to fit in, you can decide what it will take to break out.

Style as nemesis. Paul Rand almost never talked about or even acknowledged living graphic designers: his heroes tended to be European, usually obscure, and preferably dead. But in “Design, Form and Chaos,” he described the styles of some of his contemporaries, and one can almost imagining him spitting out the adjectives between clenched teeth: “squiggles, pixels, doodles; corny woodcuts on moody browns and russets; indecipherable, zany typography; peach, pea green, and lavender; tiny color photos surrounded by acres of white space.” On the other hand, I remember being introduced to Rand’s work as a first year design student in 1975 and thinking it looked naïve and old fashioned.

Style as straightjacket. Philip Glass: “I know you’re all worried about finding your voice. Actually you’re going to find your voice. By the time you’re 30, you’ll find it. But that’s not the problem. The problem is getting rid of it.”

Style as rebellion. How to break out. If you’re right handed, draw with your left hand. Determine the most sensible, practical thing to do, and then do the exact opposite. Pick a color at random. Force yourself to use the typeface you hate the most. Take on a problem that you’ve never faced before. Overturn the game board and make up new rules based on where the pieces fall.

Style as substance. Oscar Wilde: “It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances.”

Style as groupthink. Everyone’s doing it, why can’t I? It’s difficult to resist the zeitgeist, particularly if it doesn’t even feel like the zeitgeist, but simply the way things are supposed to look these days. And then…Style as timestamp. [Year] called, they want their [dated graphic trope] back. Oh, snap!

Style as denial. I don’t like to think I have an identifiable style, says the designer with the identifiable style. A way of working can become so comfortable that small differences can seem exaggerated. With surprising regularity, a designer is blind to the fact that it all looks alike, that the same patterns are being repeated over and over. The entire field of psychiatry exists to address this problem in daily life. At what point do you need professional help?

Style as trademark. You can identify an Emily Dickenson poem by the punctuation alone. There is an entire profession called “forensic linguistics;” its specialists can authenticate a Shakespeare sonnet or derive a criminal profile from a ransom note. What evidence are you leaving behind?

Style as narcissism. Or, falling in love with your own handwriting.

Style as disguise. Planner Andres Duany has said that the comforting style of New Urbanism — front porches, picket fences — is nothing more than the nostalgia-imbuedTrojan Horse in which the radical planning ideas — no cars, tiny yards — are delivered.Mary Poppins: “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.”

Style as professionalism. Eero Saarinen’s motto was “The style for the job.” His design for the TWA Terminal was as different from his General Motors Technical Center was as different from his U.S. Embassy in London as air travel is from automotive engineering is from international diplomacy. Purists viewed him with suspicion, but he was enormously successful and made the cover of Time magazine. After his early death, his work seemed to date badly. Today, everyone loves the TWA Terminal.

Style as prostitution. The oldest profession(alism). Who would the client like me to be today? “I’m a whore,” Philip Johnson liked to admit, preempting any criticism.

Style as homage. The gala invitation done in the mode of the event’s honoree. At a party for architecture dean Jay Chatterjee, famously fond of bow ties, attendees were asked to wear bow ties.

Style as impersonation. It can be surprisingly satisfying to attempt to channel the voice of John Baskerville, or William Morris, or Alvin Lustig, or Robert Brownjohn. Satisfying and, to some, dangerously addictive. Like a painting student copying an old master at the Musee de Beaux Arts, Hunter S. Thompson once typed out the entire text of “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. He said he wanted to find out what it felt like to write a masterpiece.

Style as indulgence. Even at its emptiest, style can be a source of great pleasure. I work in a building that was constructed 100 years ago as a bank. In the basement, side by side, are two vaults. Each vault has a massive door manufactured by the Remington & Sterling Company, made of brass and steel, with a gleaming mechanism visible behind glass. Each door is covered with elaborate, hand-engraved filigree, graceful and exuberant, purely decorative, and destined to be — literally — locked away from public view, for the decoration is all on the inside. But that’s not the amazing thing. The amazing thing is that the doors have slightly different patterns. One is based on oak leaves. The other is based on maple leaves. It’s as if some craftsperson said back in 1912: these two doors for the job at 204 Fifth Avenue, are they right next to each other? I’d better make sure they’re different. The vault doors would work just fine without any decoration at all, of course. That makes the gift ever more special.

Style as style.

This essay was commissioned by Julia Hoffmann and Joe Marianek for the 2013 School of Visual Arts Senior Library, a book celebrating the best work of that year’s graduating class

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Formal Design Education Is Necessary for Practicing Designers. Yay or Nay?

Ellen Shapiro

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Scott Stowell

It was the third Designer’s Debate Club event. The Parsons Tishman Auditorium on West 12th Street was packed last Wednesday with people eager to hear what well-known designers and design educators would have to say about the necessity of formal design education.

Co-sponsored by AIGA/NY and organized by Designer’s Debate Club founders Jon Troutman, lead product designer at design/technology incubator General Assembly, and Keenan Cummings, co-founder of travel startup Wander, the event was moderated by Scott Stowell, proprietor of Open and an instructor at Yale and SVA.

Structured like a formal debate, two teams of three panelists each argued the motion, “Formal Design Education Is Necessary for Practicing Designers.” In the spirit of serious interchange as well as good fun, the goal was to find out through audience votes, before and after the debate, which panel was the most persuasive and swayed more people from their original positions to their side.

 

 

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Yea: Miller, Bologna, Twemlow

At the ‘For’ team table, saying ‘Yea’ to the motion, were Alice Twemlow, co-founder of SVA’s D-Crit MFA program; Matteo Bologna, creative director and president of Mucca Design; and Pentagram partner Abbott Miller.

The ‘Against’ team members, saying ‘Nay’ to the motion, were Kate Proulx, designer at HUGE and an instructor of digital design at Parsons; Able Parris, associate design director at the Big Spaceship digital agency; and Peter Vidani, design director at Tumblr.

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Nay: Proulx, Vidani, Parris (standing to make his point)

The initial show of hands revealed that approximately 60 percent of the attendees were in favor of the motion, 40 percent against.

I raised my hand for Nay. Why? I’m the product of a liberal arts education—I was a design major at UCLA. And I’m a big believer in formal design education, having taught at Pratt, Parsons, School of Visual Arts, and Purchase College, SUNY. But I can’t agree with the word “necessary.” There are too many exceptions, too many self-taught, original, and game-changing David Carsons and Matteo Bolognas (though seated on the ‘For’ side, Bologna opened his studio in Milan straight out of an Italian high school for art study and learned by scrutinizing the work of his design idols in Type Directors annuals). Am I being too finicky saying I would re-write the motion: “Formal Design Education Is Desirable for Practicing Designers”— desirable, advantageous, important, useful, valuable, helpful—just about any word but “necessary.” Well, if it’s a formal debate, the task at hand is to debate the motion exactly as presented.

Each team had five minutes to make its case in an opening statement.

Twemlow eloquently compared formal design education to a full banquet, an experience rich in content, community and culture. Informal, do-it-yourself design education, she said, was like a cold buffet on flimsy paper plates, which “never satisfies.”

“Design education is broken,” countered Proulx, who made the case for learning via alternate means: online discourse, trial-and-error experimentation, on the job. She claimed, via her own experience, that design school faculty are unprepared to teach the technological skills needed today, and that design education mainly serves to get graduates into huge debt.

Then came the rebuttal/argument segment. To wit:

Bologna: “I didn’t go to design school but wish I had. Making a success of yourself is very tough without having someone to teach you how not to make mistakes.

Proulx: “I don’t look for degrees. I look for how well you express yourself, what’s in your portfolio.”

Miller: “I’m horrified at the debate itself. What you’re buying in design education is not an imprimatur to get a job. It is a face-to-face, collaborative experience in a real physical space.”

Parris: “It’s very rebellious not to go to school. You can create your own school on your own time: Twitter, TED talks, YouTube videos.”

Twemlow: “What you’re describing is lonely and sad.”

Vidani: “School costs way too much.”

Miller: “Not all schools and programs are expensive.

Parris: Buckminster Fuller didn’t go to architecture school, and look what he was able to create.

Proulx: “I teach today what I learned on my own as a teenager. Digital design teachers really don’t know what they’re doing and can’t teach for the real world.”

Bologna: “The real world is bullshit.”

Speaking against the motion from the floor

Two microphones were set up for audience members, who bravely lined up to make one-minute floor speeches as passionate as those of the panelists. For example:

“Even the renegades come from a design education tradition.”

“Design education is for an old system.”

“It’s five years behind, not up to current standards.”

“Design school is not about technology. It is about art and culture, form and structure.”

In the second vote, more hands went up for ‘For.’ “The Yays have it!”

Well, the auditorium was filled with students. It’s encouraging that they’re committed to what they’re doing. I stuck to my ‘Nay’ vote. The three panelists on the ‘Against’ side—their work, what they’ve accomplished professionally—are living proof that a formal design education is not necessary. But, again, that doesn’t mean it’s not advantageous, important, useful, valuable, desirable.

Maybe the question really being debated was, Can you be a successful designer without a formal design education? Yes. Some rare and talented people, including Parris and Vidani, have done it. There will always be renegade geniuses. But just because they and Buckminster Fuller and David Carson and Matteo Bologna were able to succeed brilliantly without a formal education, that doesn’t mean that design school doors should be closed to everybody else. It did sound like the ‘Against’ side might be eager to shut down the schools and departments, and perhaps deprive those who aren’t independent learners of the opportunity. And to be honest, if the need to go to work and earn money weren’t an issue, if tuition fees had been magically paid, how many self-taught designers would have jumped at the chance to spend time in classes with great teachers and immerse themselves in art and culture, form and structure?

Upon further consideration: Both sides won. I’ve been a member of the AIGA since 1987, and this was one of the best events I’ve ever attended: the best organized and most relevant. Bravo! To both sides, to attendees, and to organizers Troutman and Cummings.

Afterwards, Jon Troutman filled me in on the Designer’s Debate Club: “We wanted to start an event series that was different than the typical panel or ‘designer at podium with slideshow’ type of thing,” he explained. “And it’s actually quite fun to throw manners to the wind and flat-out argue. This format is meant to be open and honest and somewhat raw about which things are working, or not working, in our industry. Also, debates are a hell of a lot of fun.”

The topic of the first debate, held at General Assembly, was “All Web Designers Must Learn to Code.” Recalls Troutman, “The response was so overwhelming that tickets for the second session were claimed within 36 hours of announcing it; more than 100 people were on the wait-list.” Panelists at the second session, which took place at the Etsy Holiday Shop in SoHo, argued, “Lean Startup Methods Prevent Designers from Solving Big-Picture Design Problems.” I’m not sure I totally understand the statement, but I’ll maintain that most clients’ design budgets, startups or not, are too lean.

Designer’s Debate Club plans to hold monthly debates, and invites all designers to suggest topics by tweeting @DesignDebaters.

Since design is often compared to writing, my parting thought is a quote from The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers by John Gardner, a college textbook:

“Though the literary dabbler may write a fine story now and then, the true writer is one for whom technique has become second nature. Ordinarily this means university education, with courses in the writing of fiction, and poetry as well. Some important writers have said the opposite—for instance, Ernest Hemingway … who recommended just writing, writing, writing. But, it may help to remember that he went away for free tutorials to two of the finest teachers then living …”

And the debate goes on. Long live Designer’s Debate Club. Especially since all proceeds from the $10 admission tickets are going to support Inspire/Make Workshops, free classes for high school students who want to learn how to design and develop for digital media.

Continue your design education with HOW Design University, an online education program for busy creative professionals.

Categories: Design School, Education, Ellen Shapiro, Events, Featured
Tags: AIGA/NY, Designer’s Debate Club, Parsons The new School of Design

Read more: Formal Design Education Is Necessary for Practicing Designers. Yay or Nay? | Imprint-The Online Community for Graphic Designers
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Happiness Machines.

Part one documents the story of the relationship between Sigmund Freud and his American nephew, Edward Bernays who invented Public Relations in the 1920s, being the first person to take Freud’s ideas to manipulate the masses.

This series is about how those in power have used Freud’s theories to try and control the dangerous crowd in an age of mass democracy. Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, changed the perception of the human mind and its workings profoundly.

His influence on the 20th century is widely regarded as massive. The documentary describes the impact of Freud’s theories on the perception of the human mind, and the ways public relations agencies and politicians have used this during the last 100 years for their engineering of consent. Among the main characters are Freud himself and his nephew Edward Bernays, who was the first to use psychological techniques in advertising. He is often seen as the father of the public relations industry.

Freud’s daughter Anna Freud, a pioneer of child psychology, is mentioned in the second part, as well as Wilhelm Reich, one of the main opponents of Freud’s theories. Along these general themes, The Century of the Self asks deeper questions about the roots and methods of modern consumerism, representative democracy and its implications. It also questions the modern way we see ourselves, the attitude to fashion and superficiality.

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The Century Of The Self 1 of 4 | One: Happiness Machines

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The Century of The Self Part 2 of 4

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The Century of The Self Part 3 of 4

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The Century of The Self Part 4 of 4.

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The Century Of  Self (FULL: Episodes 1-4)

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