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 You’ll notice that the terminology is, to say the least, out-of-date.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.

 

Assignment for February 25

Our next reading assignment is 3 short texts from architects/designers/artists affiliated with the Bauhaus. They are as follows:

Walter Gropius; The Theory and Organization of the Bauhaus (1923): Gropius_Bauhaus

László Moholy-Nagy; Typophoto (1925): MoholyNagy_Typophoto

Herbert Bayer; On Typography (1967): Bayer_OnTypography

Here are some ideas and questions you might consider while reading these texts:
Walter Gropius, László Moholy-Nagy, and Herbert Bayer all played critical roles in defining the aesthetics and ideas of the Bauhaus. According to them, what key elements are lacking in art of the past? What is necessary for making art in the future? What should education or “the academy” teach artists about their field? Which of these ideas continue to be important for 21st century art and design?

_______________________________
Please also remember that your first 2-3 page paper is due due on March 3. You are strongly encouraged to begin thinking about, if not actively working on, this assignment. The question and requirements are as follows:

First Paper – Due March 3
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 submitted as a 750-1000 word typewritten paper, double-spaced in 12 pt. Times New Roman. 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.

Assignment for February 18

Our third reading assignment consists of three short manifestos written by avant-garde artists in the early decades of the 20th century. They are as follows:

Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism (1909): Marinetti_Manifesto_Futurista

Aleksandr Rodchenko, Varvara Stepanova, Aleksei Gan, Who We Are: Manifesto of the Constructivist Group (c. 1922): RodchenkoStepanovaGan_WhoWeAre

El Lissitzky, Our Book (1926): Lissitsky_OurBook

Here are some questions to consider as you read:
The first decades of the 20th century, and the new technology that came with them, inspired a generation of artistic movements and manifestos. What new possibilities did the authors of these texts envision for the new century? In what ways did these artists anticipate the art and design that would follow? Where might the ideas of these authors intersect? And where might they diverge?

 

Assignment for February 11

Our second reading will be an excerpt from Ferdinand de Sausurre’s Course in General Linguistics. We’ll read the second and third chapters from the Introduction, as well as the first and second chapters from Part One.

Here is a PDF: Saussure_GenLing_exc

Here are the questions for this reading:
Ferdinand de Saussure’s Course in General Linguistics contributied greatly to the study of language and introduced a new field referred to as semiology. What distinguishes semiology from linguistics? How do we use signs and symbols in everyday language? How are signs, signifiers, and the signified employed in general communication? How are language, graphic communication and visual arts related to or distinct from one another?

Assignment for February 4

Our first reading assignment consists of a few short pieces, which can be found via the links below. Your response should be 3-4 paragraphs, which may be typed or written directly in your research journal, but you must (1) create a new post containing your response and (2) bring a hard copy of your response to class next week.

To create a new post you’ll need to join the group. You can do this by clicking the “Join Now” button on the course profile. Please do this sooner than later to ensure that there are no issues in creating your first post.

Here are the readings:

Helen Armstrong, Introduction: Revisiting the Avant-Garde from Graphic Design Theory: Readings from the FieldArmstrongIntro

Ellen Lupton & J. Abbott Miller, Counting Sheep, Period Styles, Language of Dreams and Language of Vision from Design Writing Research: Writing on Graphic DesignLuptonMillerDesignWritingResearch

Here are the questions to which you should respond:
Our first readings by Helen Armstrong, Ellen Lupton and J. Abbott Miller consider developments in graphic communication from ancient and recent history. Why are rudimentary communication methods relevant for contemporary information systems? Why should contemporary designers concern themselves with archaic writing, counting, or printing techniques? What facts or details from these texts provoke ideas for developing new design strategies?

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or issues. You can send a message through OpenLab or email me: mlange@citytech.cuny.edu