COMD3504 - Section OL10 - Spring 2021

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

Assignment 13 for May 17

It should be clear that final research projects are due on May 17. If any of the expectations or requirements are unclear, please refer to the  Guidelines, and/or email me:

There are 2 items to post before class on the 17th. They are:
(1) a PDF of your presentation. This should be the same document that you will use to deliver 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 as a single Post.

It sounds like we’ll have some very interesting presentations in the next couple of weeks. Please be ready to start promptly at 11:30 on the 17th!

Assignment 12 for May 10

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

The written portion for this week will not be a direct response to the readings. Instead, your 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 brainstorms of related ideas. The bibliography can include relevant assigned readings, but it must also include at least 6 outside sources.

Please also remember: we are looking for a handful of volunteers to present on the 10th. 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 status. I will also be happy to provide suggestions, comments or feedback on your work-in-progress.

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

Assignment 11 for May 3

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 3rd.

Group Discussion – April 26

We’ll break into a quick group discussion this week to brainstorm ideas and topics for final presentations. Please take turns considering the following questions. Provide feedback and suggestions to your peers based on their responses.

Do you have a topic in mind for your presentation?

What sort of design would you like to address, ie. graphic, industrial, architectural, advertising, etc.?

Is there an ad, a design project, or the work of a particular designer that has recently been inspiring to you?

Have you completed any recent design projects that were particularly exciting or interesting? If so, did you view any examples or samples of related design work?

Have you seen any great design work in other studio or history courses this semester?

Are there any particular social or political issues that have been important to you recently? Are you aware of any design that addresses these issues?

Which readings from this class have you found to be the most relevant or resonant?

*Assignment 10a for April 26*

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 must use photographic imagery, and must 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.

Assignment 10b for April 26

The first item to complete for April 26 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 written response to these particular texts, you will be expected to discuss them in class on the 11th. Please budget your time so that you can give proper attention to these readings.

Assignment 9 for April 19

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 brief list of questions you have concerning the essay. When you’ve completed the reading, drop these notes into a post; this is the only submission for the week.

The second 2-3 page paper will be a response to this article, and will be due on April 26. 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.

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 April 12

Our next reading will, in some ways, be very different from most of what we’ve read so far, yet it is also the embodiment of some ideas that we’ve covered. You should also note that this particular reading is a part of the department-wide initiative to examine the work of Gordon Parks.

The reading is a photo-essay entitled What Their Cry Means to Me…, with words and pictures by Gordon Parks. It was originally published in Life Magazine in May of 1963. Note that the following PDF also includes a piece anonymously authored by Life’s editorial board, with photograph’s by Parks. Please examine the interplay of image and text in this article. Here is the PDF: Parks_WhatTheirCryMeansToMe_1963

Your response to this reading will also be slightly different. Your objective will be to create your own evaluation of identity, or a movement associated with ‘identity politics’ today. You must create a 3-4 page PDF that incorporates images and text to address the topic. You can write about personal experiences, or adopt the stance of a neutral observer. You can use your own images or imagery drawn from advertising, news or other media outlets. It is ok if your design and text are not completely polished (this is still just a regular weekly assignment post), but think about Typophoto or ‘an inventory of effects’ as tools for addressing current issues related to identity and representation.

Assignment 7 for April 5

Our next reading will be from the media theorist Marshall McLuhan. For this reading, you have two options. Please read one of the following:

The Introduction, Chapter 1 and Chapter 7 from McLuhan’s influential 1964 book Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. This is a fairly straightforward text. Here is a PDF: McLuhan_UnderstandingMedia_exc


Selected paged from The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effect, co-created by McLuhan and Quentin Fiore in 1967. This is an experimental text that relies heavily on image-text interactions. Here is a PDF: McLuhan_Fiore_MediumIsTheMassage_1967

Please take a look at both, to get a sense of the material, then choose one or the other to really focus on.

Here are some questions to consider:
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 messages? How is the work of a designer subordinate to the media they use to create or distribute information? 

You also have two options for this response. You can write 3-4 paragraphs. Or you can respond in a “typophotographic” manner, combining images and text.

Assignment 6 for March 22

Our next reading assignment includes 3 short texts from designers who employed systematic approaches to 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 an overly simple one: 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, then upload a jpeg or pdf file.

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