Design Fragments

Design Journalism / Design Fragments

whisper : a design journalism proposal

Reflections on Fall/Spring

Looking back on the two semesters so far, in order to do the Interim Thesis Presentation, I had a moment of realisation that my work is based on visceral impressions of the city and its peoples, and that it was therefore fitting that it should have a fragmentary aspect to it. This is how a city works: impressions, cultural overlaps, creative overlaps, fragments. It is fitting then that the design provocations I want to produce should be fragmentary also.

Street Photography

Credit: Joseph Sternfeld ‘ Landscape as Longing’
Credit: Robert Frank ‘Snapshot Aesthetic’

Street Photography

This has been quite an influence on me recently. Chatting with Romane Baldou has reminded me that photography is a medium that lends itself to capturing fleeting impressions, overlaps, moments in time. I used to do a fair bit of urban photography but at the time I didn’t know how to progress it beyond the urban gritty / industrial imagery that sometimes becomes the specialism’s default. I don’t know that I know better how to achieve something more subtle but I know now that there is a way out there, I just need to work on my skills through practice on the streets and reflect on what I capture each time.

Summer Thoughts

I plan to seek out those other designers tuned into the rhythms of their environment, aided by my design journalism proposal ‘whisper’. I aim to have these stories gathered and distilled over the summer so that I can then produce a range of provocative design fragments that will then provoke others to look at their city afresh, to encourage a different, more subtle form of creative response to their city. When I say subtle I don’t mean quiet as the word ‘whisper’ might suggest, I mean simply a creative response more attuned to the rhythms of the city – it could be gorgeously vibrant graphic design or textured black and white photography or anything in between. We will reflect as we go along whether ‘whisper’ is the right word but, for now, let’s stay with it.

Practice based research is one way that I will record and reflect on my own reaction to the city that I am in at a given moment, and this will feed into my own journalistic drive to seek other designers and other creative / environmental rhythms.

My aim is to create alternative narratives of a city, based on my own observations and reflections on others’. Where their own existing work or their graphic design responses to my probes comes into this is yet to be determined. I suspect it will form its own path once I get cracking at a new set of interviews (in the works).

It is dawning on me that exploring what contributes to independent cultures in one location will be dependent on how graphic designers in turn respond to this. Each of them will have their own sense of themselves, their environment, their local culture. This the space I will be working in, and their versions will be different to mine.

So it will be about what makes up their sense of themselves in that place, how this feeds into or is visible in their work, and perhaps comparing a range of these perspectives.

A final note to methods of capturing the city. I will use urban poetry and photography to record and gather, and together with interviews, distill all of this into design fragments as described above. I had thought that I might collaborate with a film maker to explore another way of recording interviews /and the city itself. If I do this for the interviews I may separately record the city itself as the former will be an objective recording of the interview, while the latter is a more subjective capturing of the city…to be decided…

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