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: