COMD3504 - Section OL06 - Fall 2020

Author: Prof. Matthew C. Lange (Page 1 of 2)

(No) Assignment for December 16

As we prepare to wrap up our final class session your only remaining objective should be to make sure everything for the semester is posted to OpenLab.

This should include:
– Your bibliography,
– Images/files of your presentation
– Any missing assignments for the semester

Note: If you shared a link to a pre-recorded presentation, you are still responsible for posting images of the poster/powerpoint. Ideally this will be a pdf, but if you created a prezi presentation, or are having issues with file size, you can post jpeg(s) of your document.

With regard to past assignments, the Assignments page on this site should serve as a checklist. (You can click on your own name in any of your recent posts to filter your submissions, then open the Assignments page in a separate tab to cross-reference.) Please email me if you have any questions about any assignments.

Looking forward to our second round of presentations. Please be ready to engage with your peers’ presentations, and please let me know if you have any questions in the meantime.

Assignment 13 for December 9

It should be perfectly clear by now that final research projects are due on December 9. If any expectations or requirements are unclear, please refer to the posted Guidelines, or if you have any questions regarding topics and research please email me:

As stated, there are 2 items to post before class on the 9th. They are as follows:
(1) a PDF of your presentation. This should be the same document that you will use for your presentation, exported from PowerPoint, InDesign, or whatever program you use to design it.
(2) your bibliography, also saved as a PDF. Remember, in addition to class readings, you must include 10 sources from library databases.

Both of these items can be uploaded to a single Post.

It sounds like we’ll have some very interesting presentations in the next couple of weeks. Please be ready to get them rolling right at 2:30 on the 9th!

Assignment 12 for December 2

Our final reading assignment for the semester will be two short articles, both from Graphic Design Theory. Here are the PDFs:

Jessica Helfand, Dematerialization of Screen Space (2001): Helfand_ScreenSpace

Lev Manovich, Import/Export, or Design Workflow and Contemporary Aesthetics (2008): Manovich_ImportExport

This week’s response will not be a direct response to the readings. Instead, the written portion of this week’s assignment will be to post (1) “sketches” of your poster and (2) a working bibliography.

You can interpret sketches literally and/or loosely; include actual drawings, outlines of material, or brainstorm clouds of related ideas. The bibliography can include relevant assigned readings, but it must also include at least a few outside sources.

Please also remember: we are looking for a handful of volunteers to present on the 2nd. If you are able to assemble your resources and presentation before then, you are encouraged to volunteer. Early presenters will face lower expectations and will be graded with preferential treatment. I will also be happy to provide suggestions, comments or feedback on your work-in-progress.

Please also feel free to email me with any project-related questions that might come up through the week.

Assignment 11 for November 18

Our next reading will be a short essay by Steven Heller, from 2008, entitled The Underground Mainstream. Here is a PDF: Heller_UndergroundMainstream2008

Note that our response to this text includes a minor but important variation from our usual format: you must include 3-4 sources accessed through library databases. (I find that Jstor and Ebsco ebooks are great but you should explore a few.)

Please respond to the following prompt:
How, according to Heller, is the concept of mainstream vs. underground relevant in contemporary design? Where do the designs or the designer that you’ll be addressing for your final presentation fit into this dichotomy? What sort of underground designs influenced the work in question? In what ways has the work in question shaped the mainstream? Or how will it do so in the future? Provide full citation information for at least 3-4 sources from the library to support your response.

Part of the goal for this assignment is to make some progress on your final. We’ll check in on that progress in class on the 18th.

Assignment 10b for November 11

The first item to complete for November 11th is your second 2-3 page paper (See Assignment 10a).

Once this is completed there are two new readings for next week. The readings are essentially unrelated to the paper. It is recommended that you complete them after the paper. They are as follows:

Paul Rand, Good Design is Goodwill (1987): Rand_Goodwill

Denise Scott Brown, Steven Izenour & Robert Venturi, Learning from Las Vegas: The Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form (1972): Venturi_LasVegas

While there is not a response to these readings, you will be expected to respond verbally (or via Chat) in class on the 11th. Please budget your time so that you can give proper attention to these texts.

*Assignment 10a for November 11*

The second short paper is  due next class, and there will also be two short texts to read. The texts are listed as 10b. Note that you do not need to submit a response to those texts.

The second 2-3 page paper is a response to Roland Barthes’ Rhetoric of the Image. The objective for this paper is to analyze the rhetorical elements of a recent advertisement. Ideally, the ad should be from a print magazine.

The advertisement should use photographic imagery, and should include text. Begin by describing the image in as much detail as possible, examining the characteristics of the objects, models, environment, etc. pictured; and the layout, typography, interaction of picture elements, image quality and composition of the entire ad. Try to identify all of the signs at work in the image.

Make your best attempt to articulate the meaning of the image, using Barthes’ terms. What is the linguistic message? What are the non-coded iconic messages? What are the coded iconic messages? Identify the denotative and connotative aspects, the use of anchorage and relay, the semantic and lexical components, etc. Consider the effectiveness of the advertisers’ rhetoric, and the ideological metalanguage employed.

This response will be submitted as a 750-1000 word typewritten paper, double-spaced in 12 pt. Times New Roman. Include images of the advertisement under consideration and any other relevant illustrations. All references and quotations, including image sources should be properly cited in MLA format. Upload a PDF to a new Post on OpenLab before class on the 11th.

***NOTE: All Powerpoints, and chats from the past couple classes, have been added to the Class page of this site.***

Assignment 9 for November 4

Our reading for next week is Roland Barthes’ 1977 essay, Rhetoric of the Image. Here is the PDF: Barthes-Rhetoric-of-the-image

As you read, please make note of all important terms (ie. polysemy, linguistic sign, connoted, denoted, etc.), especially if their meaning is unclear.  Also make note important points that you don’t completely follow. Record a list of questions you have concerning the essay. When you’ve completed the reading, drop these notes into a post; this will be your written submission for the week. (It does not need to be structured or organized into neat paragraphs.)

The second 2-3 page paper will be a response to this article, and will be due on November 11. In this paper, you’ll critically examine a contemporary advertising image in a manner similar to Barthes’ approach. You will be expected to employ the logic and terminology that Barthes uses in this text. (This is an important reading!)

You should begin to consider the advertisement that you would like to address for your essay. It should be an advertisement organized around a single photograph. A full page print ad is preferable. Please bring ideas to class next week.

Assignment 8 for October 28

Our next readingis a 1969 article by an advertising executive and professor named Arnold M. Barban. It is entitled The Dilemma of “Integrated” Advertising. Here is a PDF: Barban_DilemmaOfIntegratedAdvertising

This article is something of a technical paper, written for ad executives and media strategists. You’ll notice that the terminology is, to say the least, out-of-date. While reading this we should consider the ways that language, tone and biases effect different aspects of advertising.

Your post for this reading will be a little different. Instead of writing 3-4 paragraphs, please identify and document 3-4 advertisements in recent magazines, web pages, posters, billboards, etc. where race, ethnicity, gender or cultural identity play a role in shaping a brand’s message.

Note that identity and race can be used in a seemingly positive, embracing way, or in a cynical, pandering manner; or it may be difficult to tell. The most interesting ads are probably the most nuanced.

Please also use ads that you encounter this week, after completing the reading. We’ve all seen some of the widely publicized missteps from companies such as H&M, Dove, Sony, etc. …These are all very obvious. They really don’t require critical examination and we really don’t need to see them again.

Post phone pics, scans or screenshots of your selected ads with short captions describing the image and the source from which the image was found.


Assignment 7 for October 21

Note: The college will follow on a MONDAY schedule on Wednesday, October 14. Our next meeting will be on the 21st.

Our next reading will be a couple excerpts from Marshall McLuhan’s influential 1964 book Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man.

We’ll read the Introduction, Chapter 1 and Chapter 7, all of which are included in the attached PDF: McLuhan_UnderstandingMedia_exc

Please consider the following questions, then as per our usual, write 3-4 paragraphs considering related ideas:
In Understanding Media, Marshall McLuhan describes technology and media as “extensions of man.” How do media extend human beings, or humanity in general? What hazards might technological progress bring for individuals and society? If “the medium is the message,” what role can artists and designers play in creating new ideas? How is the work of a designer subordinate to the media they use to create or distribute information? 

Sidenote: I also highly recommend Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore’s experimental book, The Medium is the Massage. To tell the truth I prefer it over the text we’ll read, but it would be nearly impossible to create a good PDF. It is an incredible example of design and theory merging. Bonus points for anyone who can access a copy and make reference to it your response!

Assignment 6 for October 7

Our next reading assignment includes 3 short texts from designers who employed rational, systematic methods in their work. They are as follows:

Jan Tschichold, The New Typography (1928): Tschichold_NewTypo

Karl Gerstner, Designing Programmes (1964): Gerstner_DesigningProgrammes

Josef Müller-Brockmann, Grid and Design Philosophy (1981):  MullerBrockmann_Grid_Des-Phil

The prompt for this week is one fairly simple question: According to Jan Tschichold, Karl Gerstner, and Josef Müller-Brockmann, How should one design?

For this one you can answer with 3-4 paragraphs, as usual, or you can create a visual response, incorporating text with design elements. If you choose the visual response, use the visual-linguistic ideas discussed in class and the systematic approach outlined in these texts to create your design. Please upload a jpeg or pdf file.

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