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å September 2015

Y definition of Space vs Place

From Wiley-Blackwell Guide to Human Geography

… According to Yi Fu Tuan, specialist in human geography, “The ideas ‘space’ and ‘place’ require each other for definition:

“Space is more abstract than place. What begins as undifferentiated space becomes ‘place’ as we get to know it better and endow it with value. … From the security and stability of place we are aware of the openness, freedom, and threat of space, and vice versa. Furthermore, if we think of space as that which allows movement, then place is pause; each pause in movement makes it possible for location to be transformed into place.

In Tuan’s view…place refers to the process by which every day life is inscribed in space and given meaning for specific groups of people and their organizations. P’ace is thus created from space when people care about it, either positively or negatively— when they invested with their time, money, fear, anxiety, love, and antagonism. This is what Tuan means when he describes place as a “field of care” and distinguishes it from the more impersonalized arena of space. Although places are typically perceived as local, due primarily to the sense of familiarity that we associate with them, there is no inherent reason to limit our thinking to this scale. “Place exists at different scales” Tuan writes, “at one extreme a favorite armchair is a place, at the other extreme the whole earth.”

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Y Useful Links for Unit 12

This is an abbreviated view of some of the primary principles discussed in Lucy Lippard’s Book Lure of the Local. Please read!

The Wooster Collective: a blog from a team of folks in Brooklyn who keep track of interesting Street Art

This is an event taking place Oct 2–4 in NY but you for sure must at least read about it if you cant actually go.

Miranda July’s Hallway vimeo

A Must read: Laurie Anderson, at the Armory, New Yorker article

RI Resources / Recycling. Go here for cool stuff/ junk / materials

Storm King Sculpture Park (near DIA Beacon)

Dia Beacon (amazing contemporary art musuem, Beacon, NY)

MassMOCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art)

Art21 great PBS series on contemporary art and design

Pentagram has many inspiring exhibit and environmental projects

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í Unit 12: Overview and Assignment

(artist: David Shrigley)


So to bring design out from under the thumb of content, we must go one step further and observe that treatment is, in fact, a kind of text itself, as complex and referential as any traditional understanding of content. — Michael Rock

Art is the provocation for talking about enigma and the search for sense in human life. One can do that by telling a story or writing about a fresco by Giotto or studying how a snail climbs up a wall.  —John Berger

Unit 12 / THE ‘READ’  

Question: How can you design narrative experiences in physical places/environments, taking into account your audience and community?

Graphic designers are often tasked with shaping visual or verbal messages using two-dimensional typographic, digital, and pictorial means. But designers are also called upon to help make sense of environments beyond the surface of a screen or a page. We help to organize flow and message in museums and in places of commerce; we develop signage and informational markers in built environments; and we work in any number of other spatial and material ways.

• This unit asks you to explore and experience spatial and dimensional design
• This unit as you to consider the potential for spaces to be, or become, narrative places.
• This unit asks you to consider space, place, and experience through the eyes of the community of users (audience, humans).
• How can you “read” a space and how might you intervene in a way that allows that space to “speak”?
• What can you help a place to say? What does it need to say?

This unit asks the question: What is it to design spatially, materially, experientially, and narratively.
How can you consider and use metaphor, story, and association in a relational way in a public built environment.

Learning Objectives
• To expand upon your understanding of what constitutes a “narrative.”
• To expand upon your understanding of what constitutes a “place” (see resources and readings on Space and Place)
• To learn basic concepts within the sub-field of environmental and experience graphic design.
• To exercise your understanding of metaphor, association, form, abstraction, and other primary GD concepts, but in spatial settings.
• To expand your abilities in thinking and making off the 2d surface.
• To encourage engagement with your local environs and community.
• To explore the possibilities that exist within the act of creating a communicative documentation. How will you document your spatial explorations? In what way will you organize the evidence of the experiences you created. How can you share the process of finding your site, analyzing it, coming to an understanding, and then intervening or “drawing out” a narrative from within it.

Goals and Outcomes
1) to design a narrative experience  in a physical public space using any means appropriate to the space and the audience; to expand upon or extend or embellish or subvert what the space is saying, needs to say, or can say.

This should include (but needn’t be limited to) the use of typography, projection, addition of formal elements, signs or symbols, any object or material which holds narrative potential or signification, color, contrast, light, performance, etc.

2) to design a documentation using any necessary and appropriate media in order to share the physical experience and the process of making it with those who cannot be there in the site.


(artist: JR)

Step-by-Step process:
1) Choose a site. You are encouraged to choose a site downtown (over the canal) but no further than a 10-15 min walk from school.

2) Analyze the site first. Develop lists, keywords, histories, associations. Identify its use, and especially identify its users. What is the site’s culture, its past, its present. Write about its character, its nature, its forms and values. What is already there? What’s in the site. What is lacking? What might it say?

3) Begin to sketch/draw/photograph/ the formal, visual, and narrative potentials and interventions that you want to attempt.

4) Implement your plan(s) and experiments.

• Be sure to document ALL versions, iterations, failures: It may be better to attempt a number of approaches than to get hung up on a singular idea.
Try to be truly experimental. Your approaches can be poetic, pragmatic, linguistic, purely formal, or practical or all of the above. They should be appropriate and authentic in how they relate to the site.

• Students should explore and experiment with a variety of possible ways to alter or intervene in this site:
including but not limited to text, image, form, material, scale, contrast, sound, performance, projection, interaction, etc.

-Consider color and contrast.
-Consider mood, tone, temperature, the five senses.
-Consider uses, users, intentions and assumptions.
-What is your site for and why is it there? What is its history? Its culture or story?
-Why might it need or benefit from an intervention? What is the voice you will use to intervene?
-What do the site’s forms and structures suggest in terms of intervention, addition, narrative, etc.
-Consider how one might alter the site simply, with bold moves using contrast or color or material or form.
-Consider the metaphorical implications of the space/place and how you can highlight or subvert these.
-Consider precedents throughout history and world cultures.

but no more than 3 people per team


Wed. Sep 30
Introduction talk / presentation / writing exercise
Students to walk and map and choose a site. Make a mapping and an analysis. Details to be posted on ds1416.

Class 1 Mon. Oct 5 / The Read
DUE: a THOROUGH and EXHAUSTIVE site analysis. What does your site tell you? What could it say?  Come in with mappings, other drawings, photos, recordings. Also due: ideas and sketches for potential narrative/site interventions.

Class 2 Wed. Oct 7 / The Proposals
DUE: proposals for site intervention/narratives. Show examples of materials, supplies, proposals. Over the course of the Unit, expect to make between 3-5 interventions. They can be fast, materials can be cheap, etc.


Class 3 Wed. Oct 14 / The Variations

DUE: show documentation of actual  in situ interventions, between 3-5 at least; show variations and iterations; show a wide variety of elements, parts, communications, using various media. Each site and situation will call for its own approach. Photograph carefully at close up, long shots, medium shots; think macro and micro.

Class 4 Mon. Oct 19 / The Documentations 
DUE: Show refinements, show the development of your designed documentation or presentation of the projects/experiments.

Class 5 Wed. Oct 21 /
TWO THINGS DUE: The Experience(s) and the Documentation (site visits?)
DUE: final presentation of a narrative experience as well as your designed documentation to share with all sections



John Berger Ways of Seeing, ch 1 & 7
Stih and Schnock,
Overview of projects
Gunnar Swanson, Graphic Design Education as a Liberal Art
Lucy Lippard Lure of the Local



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í Unit 11: The Archive

Evan Roth, "Internet Cache Self Portrait: July 17, 2012"

Evan Roth, “Internet Cache Self Portrait: July 17, 2012″


How do we use curation to tell stories?


“The world is full of objects, more or less interesting; I do not wish to add any more.”
Douglas Huebler, 1969

We’re swimming in data. The relentless production of digital material has shifted us into a new condition where the foundation of graphic design — image and language — cannot exist without somehow touching (or being touched by) the internet. Massive archives, from digitized libraries to the quantified self, are part of the new landscape that artists and designers rely on for the production and communication of networked culture. In the face of this overwhelming accumulation of found stuff, curation is key. In this unit, we’ll look at how archives, collections and curation can be used to investigate memory, authorship and storytelling.

Learning Objectives
  1. Increase awareness and understanding for the changing nature of content as it relates to design and networked culture
  2. Learn to position yourself in relation to a specific archive of material and investigate its storytelling potential
  3. Learn to translate existing material into new work (design authorship)
  4. Learn to assemble, design and communicate ideas into stories using different kinds of media (publishing)
Studio 1: Surf / search

Search for an archive or collection. Look for existing photos, text messages, spam, novels, selfies, paintings, tweets, data, recipes, paint colors, stories, purple things, pyramidal things, dreams, code, books, artworks, status updates — anything. The only criteria is that the material interests you, and that you feel compelled to share it. Develop a point-of-view about the material.

  • What makes it a collection? If it already exists, what kind of audience does it already have? Or are you creating the collection?
  • If you’re searching online, spend at least two hours surfing the web, preferably more. Wander, explore and dig into parts of the web that reveal the unexpected. If you’re searching offline, be aware of how the found material does or does not engage with the network. Record your journey.
  • Is your collection ordered or disordered? is there a taxonomy?
  • Quantify the material — how big is it? how much memory? how many pages, images, items, authors?

Present your point-of-view and an in-depth analysis of your collection in one week. Include as many metrics as possible (quantity, taxonomy, authorship, timeline, etc.) and at least three concepts embedded in your collection that suggest larger stories.

Due Wednesday 9/16.

Studios 2 – 5:

Compile / document

You will document your collection in at least two different ways and present your documentation. Consider your options — do you print it out? photograph it? scan it? bind it? how else can you record it? How do different techniques of documentation and reproduction change the nature of the material?

Curate / translate

Curation *always* involves interpretation and translation. Edit your collection (in multiple ways) to shape a range of new meanings.

Storytelling / publish

Design a way to communicate and publish your work — make it public.

Studio 6: Final critique (Wednesday 9/30)

Suggested readings

Hito Steyerl, Too Much World: Is the Internet Dead?
Clement Valla, The Universal Texture
Archives of Memory
Gerhard Richter’s “Atlas”: The Anomic Archive
Cornell University’s site devoted to Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas
Walter Benjamin, Unpacking My Library
Walter Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

Lecture slides

September 14 lecture (PDF)
September 21 lecture (PDF)


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