Assignment for May 12

It should be perfectly clear by now that final research projects are due on May 12. 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 12th. 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 8:30 on the 12th!

Assignment for May 5th

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

Assignment for April 28

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, and in what ways has it, or will it eventually, shape the mainstream. Use at least 3-4 sources from the library to support your response. Include citations.

Part of the goal for this assignment is to make some progress on your final.

*Assignment for April 21 (Part 2)*

The first item to complete for April 21 is your second 2-3 page paper, the details for which can be found in Part 1 of the Assignment.

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 in class on the 21st. Please budget your time so that you can give proper attention to these texts.

*Assignment for April 21 (Part 1)*

Please note that we will have a full Webex class session on April 14. (Spring Break is shortened because of the Recalibration Period.) You should complete the Roland Barthes reading and post your notes before the 14th.

The second short paper is due on April 21, and there will also be two short texts to read for that class. I will assign the texts in class on the 14th. Please use the time until then to work on the paper and to research your Final Project.

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 21st.

Assignment for March 31 / April 14

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 note important points that you don’t completely follow. And record a list of questions you have concerning the essay. 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 April 21. 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. (In other words, this is an important reading!)

Please also 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.

As you may have seen in my message from last week, I will also hold an optional online session on March 31 from 8:30-9:30 to briefly review this text, and to talk about ideas for the paper. I hope this will be a good opportunity to get ahead on your paper. Please log in if you can!

Assignment for March 24

Please keep the posts coming everyone. They are looking really good. And, again, please keep an eye out for details concerning next week’s lecture. We’ll catch up on the McLuhan Reading and we’ll discuss the next reading, which is a 1969 article by Arnold M. Barban 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 might 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.

Post snapshots, rough scans or screenshots of your selected ads to OpenLab with short captions describing the image and the source from which the image was found. If you’re looking in a magazine, tear out the pages and keep them in your journal.

And, as always, remain healthy and cautious this week, and please let me know if you have any questions. I’m happy to chat online.


Assignment for March 17

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 in the “electric age” or in the current age? If “the medium is the message,” what role can artists and designers play in creating new ideas?

Extra Credit Option:
Instead of this text, you may read Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore’s experimental book, The Medium is the Massage. You must obtain a hard copy of this book, as the layout is a critical piece of the text. If you choose to read this option, please consider and answer the same set of questions.

Assignment for March 10

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

Here is this week’s question:
According to Jan Tschichold, Karl Gerstner, and Josef Müller-Brockmann, How should one design?

(Remember, you can answer with 3-4 paragraphs, as per usual, or you can use some of the visual-linguistic ideas discussed in class, or outlined in these readings, to design your answer in a jpeg or pdf file.)

*Assignment for March 3*

While our readings for next are similar to those of the past couple of weeks, the written portion will be the first of the two longer responses to be completed during the semester.

The readings are as follows:

Beatrice Warde, The Crystal Goblet, or Why Printing Should be Invisible (1930): Warde_CrystalGoblet

A selection from György Kepes’ Language of Vision: Painting, Photography, Advertising-Design: Kepes_Language_of_Vision_exc

Requirements for the written portion are included below. Note that you do not need to address this week’s texts in the paper if they are not directly relevant to your topic, but you must be prepared to discuss them in class on the 3rd.

First Paper
Select a design or design object created after 1969 in which the influence of the theories considered thus far can be seen. Begin with a brief description of the object, the designer who created it, and the historical circumstances under which it was made. Considering these factors, examine the ways in which the creator was responding, directly or indirectly, to theories related to linguistics or semiology, avant-garde art movements or Gestalt psychology (ie. any of the ideas that we’ve covered). Discuss the manner in which the design you’ve chosen embodies these theories. Provide direct references to relevant passages from our readings. Locate additional writings using library resources to substantiate your comparisons.

Your goal is ultimately to provide a critical examination, not an account of historical details.

This response will be a 750-1000 word typewritten paper, double-spaced in 12 pt. Times New Roman, printed and submitted at the start of class on the 3rd. Include images of the work under consideration and any other relevant illustrations. Cite all materials researched for historical context, any related writings, and image sources. All sources, references and quotations should be cited in MLA format.