According to Heller, the concept of mainstream vs. underground is relevant in contemporary design because mainstream culture depends on the ideas of underground culture, to stay fresh and popular. It’s almost as if it were a life cycle in advertising or stages of evolution. The reason for that is because underground culture always starts off as unpopular and different from what is mainstream. However, as time goes on and what is mainstream loses popularity, the weird and different gains popularity. Soon, what was underground becomes popular enough that it becomes mainstream. If it is very popluar, it may even become the standard, until it’s popularity begins to die down and the people start looking for something new again.
The “Be Stupid” ad campaign by Anomaly New York, for Diesel is a good example of advertising influenced by underground culture. Underground culture goes against the norms of society, making it’s followers rebels. When you take a message such as “be stupid” is that not rebellious? Additionally, the campaign isn’t simply saying “be stupid”, but elaborating on what being stupid can do for you in a positive way. In other words, they are changing the way people perceive what “stupid” means. What was always looked down upon, is now being questioned if it is all a completely bad thing. In one headline, it says “Smart sees what there is. Stupid sees what there could be.” implying that being stupid allows for imagination and breeds creativity.
I’m not sure in what ways this campaign has directly influenced the mainstream, but I do think it has further enforced the idea that stupidity and fun are undeniably connected with one another. When you look at the images that are paired with the headlines, you can’t help but laugh and smile at them. I would even goes as far as to say that we might be envious of the people in those scenes, and wish it was us, because it looks like fun. Even if it’s not very fun and it is a bad idea, we know that we’ll have a story to tell, as another headline suggests. That’s probably the biggest impact it will have on the mainstream. The reassurance that even if you do something stupid, it’ll be okay, because it’s cool and you’ll have a story to tell.
Media extends human beings because it is like a vessel that allows you to complete your task, which you could not do before or do so easily. Like our limbs and different parts of our body, there are different types of media and each with it’s own purpose. McLuhan says that the wheel is an extension of our foot. I happen to think that is true. The wheel is a part of a car which is designed to get us from one destination to another, the same way our legs do. Therefore, the wheel is like feet, allowing us to travel long distances without using our actual feet. They are pseudo feet.
There are many hazards that might come along with technological progress. I think the alarming of them all is the possibility of creating a piece of technology that leads to the destruction of our civilization and mankind overall. One very obvious piece of technology with hazards are weapons of mass destruction. Albert Einstein said it himself “I do not know with what weapons World War 3 will be fought, but World War 4 will be fought with sticks and stones.” This implies that he believed technology would bring upon our destruction.
If the “medium is the message” the roles of the artists and designers are to look for ways to craft the message. Perhaps the medium carries a certain meaning, but by changing the amount used in different aspects of it, you can change the way people interpret it. Art is already subjective and in turn so is the message the artist or designer is trying to communicate.
If we simplify what is language, we see it as a structured set of written characters or sounds, representing things in our natural world. We can look at the past for examples of this, shown by Egyptian hieroglyphics or cave drawings by our ancient ancestors. While both are not only different in a visual sense, both are also different in age. However, they both were born for the same purpose; to tell a story. If you think about this a little deeper, you realize that if the purpose of language is to tell a story, then language must be how the story is told. Better said, language is the tool we use to communicate with one another.
What distinguishes language from other forms of communication is that it follows a certain set of rules in order to effectively communicate with one another.
Symbols and icons are related to language because they stand in place of words, representing an idea or thing while communicating through a drawing. Society has attached meaning to symbols and while symbols aren’t a language, they are equivalent to words within a language.
I believe language has shaped design historically in the sense that it has encouraged us to ask ourselves if we can boil words down to graphic images and furthermore, simplify an entire language into graphic elements. However, culture is what really shaped design more than language. A symbol can mean two very different things to different people depending on their society’s interpretation.
On another note, I wouldn’t say there things language can’t communicate, however, I think in ways design can communicate more effectively. The reason for that is because images can sometimes be a lot more impactful, communicating a variety of messages at a quick glance, instead of a slower process that you must know and work to understand.
According to Munari, design and practicality should be intertwined with each other. He says “there should be no such thing as art divorced from life, with beautiful things to look at and ugly things to use.” They should be one. I agree with his statement, however, I think l understand why it isn’t. That is because an object doesn’t necessarily need to be designed aesthetically pleasing for it to still be useful. That is also what distinguishes it from other creative occupations.
Where art is made to be either aesthetically pleasing, emotionally provoking, or both, design is not. Design is a marriage between art and practicality. Design is used as a solution to a problem in communication. According to Munari, a designer “responds to the human needs of his time, and helps people to solve certain problems without the stylistic preconceptions or fake notions of artistic dignity derived from the schism of the arts.”
In the reading, Lupton says that graphic designers should concern themselves with theory because it’s a necessary reflection on us. It is a way to reflect on ourselves, our work, and ideologies. The questions raised in theory, whether they are philosophical, political, or aesthetic have inspired the work of their authors and also the work of the people around them. Thus, it is certain that theory can do the same for us in present time.
However, while theory can be inspirational, I don’t think graphic designers should concern themselves with it very much. The particular reason for this is that theory typically isn’t a piece of knowledge that is actionable. It provides you with something to think about, that can inspire a certain technique or style of design, but not the technique itself. While it can be valuable, I personally haven’t found theory to be useful in design. When I read about Avant-Garde, I view it as a piece of history with no direct application to pieces of work. It tells me why some designs or artworks are styled a certain way, but it doesn’t tell me how to replicate them or apply the knowledge.
According to Jan Tschichold, people should design with the purpose of clarity. He believes that old typography was outdated for his time. Its focus was geared more towards “beauty” when beauty wasn’t seen as the most important thing. He thought that designers should step away from the principle of arranging everything on a central axis. The reason for that is because makes legibility tougher. He also believes designers shouldn’t use so many typefaces at once.
Karl Gerstner believes that design should be approached with a programme that will generate a number of different solutions. The reason for this is because there will never be just one solution, but there will be one solution that works best over the others. He insists you don’t make creative decisions based on feelings, but by intellectual criteria. Gerstner designed a programme using a method by Fritz Zwicky that was intended for scientists and not designers. He called it “the morphological box of the typogram”.
Josef Muller-Brockmann was a designer that popularized the grid. He thinks that the grid is not only a good way of bringing order to disorder in designs but also a good way of showing a designer’s focused work ethic. Gerstner believes that a “designer’s work should have clearly intelligible, objective, functional, and aesthetic quality of mathematical thinking.” The visual creative work should be a representation of the character of the designer.