The idea of consilience stretches back as far as Ancient Greece, reaching its apogee during the Enlightenment, when Western ideals sought to create an ordered system of human knowledge. This seeks to integrate knowledge gained from all scales: starting at the cosmological and peering down to the quantum with the cultural somewhere in the middle, seeking connections from one level to the next.
With the aim of unification between the humanities and the sciences, consilience became an unpopular word in the latter half of the 20th century. Beginning with CP Snow’s infamous 1957 lecture The Two Cultures in which he rallied against the growing rift between the two sides, the unity of knowledge seemed a hard task. As academic fragmentation and specialisation continued throughout the century, the chasm that emerged made the possibility of a unity of knowledge even more remote. The identity of the intellectual shifted towards the domain of the humanities, leaving the sciences to work in resentful obscurity. Design academia has been no different, seeking inspiration from the humanities and literary criticism while ignoring the ramifications of scientific breakthroughs in neuroscience, biology, cosmology and complexity theory.
This thesis will seek to remedy this problem by exploring the implications of some of these scientific breakthroughs on design theory, while respecting advances in the humanities as well. In recent years the idea of the third culture has arisen, with thinkers and scholars seeking to create a synthesis of the two sides into something far more relevant and powerful than a divided body of knowledge. I see design in all it’s facets as able to fit into this new category: ignoring the divide in search of something greater.
This thesis will seek to understand how changing scientific paradigms have shaped recent design practice, specifically that of logo and identity systems for cultural and public institutions. This will situate my argument within a broader view of human knowledge, acknowledging the desire for an all encompassing and inclusive body of knowledge.
The framework I will use to explore the recent shifts in design practice is based on the relationship between how a society has viewed and understood the heavens and the correlation to structural elements of that society. Three models of cosmology have shaped social, political and cultural models across three time periods; these time periods are considered epochal within Western Society and thus serve to punctuate the differences between them. While briefly mentioning the first period as having spanned from Ancient Greece to the Middle Ages I will then focus on the distinction between a Newtonian view of the universe to one ruled by Einstein and Darwin. By focusing on the distinction between the Newtonian worldview and one formed by beginning with Einstein’s model of the universe I will illustrate how we are moving away from a world view that sees the world as one governed by static entities to one ruled by a dynamic network of relations. The effects of an ontologically relational universe will illustrate how reductionist modes of thought will not provide new fields of knowledge.
This new framework serves as the basis for a new mode of being, overturning individualism towards a more inclusive and holistic view of the self. Only by understanding how fundamental component elements interact with each other can an epistemological framework begin to understand how the natural sciences can and are moving forward. By looking at systems of order arising as a result of simple interactions between many elements, the universe can be seen as operating in an algorithmic fashion. It is through this algorithmic and computational theory of the universe that systems of evolution can be seen to work at even larger scales than previously thought. If no order can be imposed onto the universe through a top-down approach, the only way that order can arise is through a process of bottom-up emergence. This emergence can only operate between the opposing morphological structures of rigid crystalline structures and atmospheric gases. Situated between these contrasting configurations is complexity, providing dynamic interactions to create even higher levels of complexity.
I will use this firm ontological basis as a means of exploring the framework for what I and others see as the main cultural components of the early 21st century. I will refer to the work John Galanter who uses Complexity Theory as a framework for articulating the differences between the structured hierarchy of Modernism to the disorder, random and relative values of Postmodernism.Galanter situates Complexism as a response to these two polar time periods by arguing that our era is not dictated by hierarchy or collapse, but by networks of connections as a means of creating structure. Instead of Absolute or relative values, distributed values that rely on their context to dictate worth. Instead of authority and contention, feedback.
The second response to a perceived end of Postmodernism as the dominant cultural authority is Andrew Blauvelt’s theory of Relational Design. This theory brings the focus of the thesis into design practice, serving as the basis in which to narrow down the field of enquiry. Blauvelt views the 20th and 21st century as consisting of three waves, moving from form to content to context. Design and art begun by focusing on the creation of a universal visual syntax and continued by exploring it’s semantic and meaning making potential in the last quarter of the 20th century. Only by exploring the pragmatic and practical concerns can there be a potential for a new ethos. Blauvelt outlines the main components of Relation Design by looking at the changing role of the Designer, the underlying philosophy as it pertains to language theory, the logic and cultural values of Relational Design as well as the process in which design is created and received. These components will be explored as a means of providing the context in which design operates today.
This thesis will focus on the process of design through the three distinct components he describes and use these to frame each case study. I will explore how the use of contingency and context are used to alter the colours of the logo system for the Casa de Musica, a music hall in Portugal. This logo responds to the immediate design environment in which it is viewed, primarily on posters advertising events at the music hall. The second case study will explore how the use of generative systems were used to create a seemingly infinite amount of logos for the media and arts festival Lovebytes. This process uses parameters to allow the designers to create a large variety of possibilities in which they are able to refine towards the finished product. The third case study looks at how the network is able to influence aspects of a dynamic typeface used for the twin cities of St. Paul and Minnesota. By using environmental factors such as temperature or wind strength the typeface displays the city through non semantic and symbolic values. By limiting the case studies to logos this thesis will be able to explore these simple elements as a means of exploring the broader shifts in design practice. The use of simple reductive devices that are used to portray a wide variety of meanings provides a clarity that would not be provided by more complex and detailed design objects. Each of these three case studies will allude to the shift in scientific paradigms, as a means of situating them within the broader field of human knowledge.
Network of Relations
Throughout history Western society has viewed the cosmos in different ways, each epoch affected by its own understandings of the machinations of the heavens. The theoretical physicist Lee Smolin has identified three distinct stages evident in history in which there has been an interesting correlation between how the universe has been understood and the political, cultural and societal structure of the day. Smolin’s ideas echo a work by the pragmatist philosophers Dewey and Bentley in dealing with modes of action and agency.
Not only was it believed that everything belongs in its appropriate position, with respect to both the societal structure and the heavenly bodies, but also that each of these bodies were deemed to possess being, propelled by its own power.2 This belief applied not just to heavenly bodies but to all substances, each containing their own essence. Dewey and Benley describe this understanding of the world as Self-Action: “where things are viewed as acting under their own powers.”3 The Christian notion of the soul exemplifies this mode of thinking culminating in the works of Thomas of Aquinas.
There exist no occult forces in stones or plants, no amazing and marvellous sympathies and antipathies, in fact there exist nothing in the whole of nature which cannot be explained in terms of purely corporeal causes, totally devoid of meaning and thought.4
Self-action gives life to inanimate objects in the belief that they acted “under their own powers”; the second model denies these mystical assumptions, instead the action takes place between the entities.5 Beginning with Galileo’s experiments in motion and continues with Descartes prime law of nature and Newtons Laws of motion. Objects are not propelled by their own essence but through Inter-Action: “where thing is balanced against thing in causal interconnection.”6 Space and time are not included in this description but are merely the fixed framework for action to take place in. This Rationalist approach results in a closed and eternal system, with particles positioned not in relation to other objects but to an absolute concept of space. The discourse of liberal political theory mirrors the scientific understanding of the time: the individual is acted upon by the absolute and universal laws, rights, and systems of justice. While these ideas formed the basis for the political and social rules of the Enlightenment, the scientific understandings which preceeded them have come to an end.
21st century science is going to be driven by the integration of these two ideas: the triumph of relational ways of thinking about the world, on the one hand, and self-organisation or Darwinian ways of thinking about the world, on the other hand. 7
The third model in our understanding of the world are products of both Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. I will first explore the epistemological importance of relativity before the discussing the role of evolution in our changing understanding of the world. In comparison to the second belief system time and space are no longer mere backgrounds for action to take place in, “a static empty grid waiting to be filled,” but rather factor into the description as a changing and growing aspect of our universe.8 Through this logic it is meaningless to say where something is based on universal co-ordinates; the only meaningful way to describe the position of something is its relative position in a network of relations.
Thus the only meaningful way to view the universe is as an embedded observer within it. This echoes ideas of our contemporary democracy and globalisation, where we view ourselves embedded inside a network of relations, unable to create meaning and understanding as an external observer, but only from within the system:
It is commonplace of historical thinking about globalisation to say there are no vantage points from which to observe any particular culture because the very process of globalisation have effectively abolished the temporal and spatial distances that previously separated cultures. 9
Our globalised world, with the multiplicity of voices disallows the possibility of an external observer. This expanding model of the universe differs from the closed and static Newtonian understanding: all places of observation will influence and limit what can be understood. As there is no space external to the universe, nothing can exist outside of it, thus every occurrence must be governed by properties inside the system. One of these properties - gravity - causes planets, stars and galaxies to form. At an even larger scale it has been shown to cause the clustering of galaxies to form into even larger networks. Through this understanding of a network of relations we can now return to the work of Bentley and Dewey with their third categorisation, Trans-Action:
Where systems of description and naming are employed to deal with aspects and phases of action, without final attributes to ‘elements’ or other presumptively detachable or independent ‘entities,’ ‘essences,’ or ‘realities,’ and without presumptively detachable ‘relations’ from such detachable ‘elements.’ 10
This inability to detach an ‘element’ from its ‘relation’ leads to a dynamic system: the relational process becomes more important than the constituent units and the qualities of these units stemming from their relations. The difference then, between Inter-Actional and Trans-Actional ways of thinking is whether or not to view the world “in substances or in processes, in static ‘things’ or in dynamic unfolding relations.”11 Only through viewing the transaction between time and space, rather than viewing them as separate entities, are we able to move on from previous Newtonian and Cartesian epistemology.
This Relational ontology posits that the relations between entities are fundamentally more important than the entities themselves; one must look at the dynamic relationship as a whole. One cannot look at entities first and then the interaction; the transaction must be held at the same time. Western Language is unable to articulate this transaction through the use of everyday speech. Verb and noun cannot be held at the same time, as one must take priority over the other. The process of viewing things under prior rigid naming systems, and through unchangeable essences, requires one to form a “conceptual blankness” around each subject “without a defining reference to its surrounding context”.12
This ability to remove oneself from context has been one of the most important defining ideas of Western thought. The mind/body split allowed the conceptual framework of the mind to think of abstract ideas, separated from the body and the external objective world. This ‘punctual self’ does not need others to confirm its identity, seeing oneself as an isolated point of consciousness, surrounded by a “conceptual blankness.”13 By contrast, the relational self relies on its connections with others to define itself. This still allows for a distinct identity, but “through a distinct nexus of relationships rather than a distinct set of beliefs”.14
Smolin sees the ultimate problem with reductionist thinking as its own undoing. As technology and ideas advanced, the sciences were able to peer deeper and deeper into the fundamental elements and building blocks of nature. Yet the quest for even greater reductionism leads to a problem for “if the particles are truly fundamental then their properties cannot be explained by a further appeal to reductionism."15 Thus the search for eternal and absolute truths about the universe can only go so far: the rationalist mode of thinking views entities and objects in static terms, ignoring the true dynamic nature of the universe. The search for eternal laws of physics is made redundant by the actuality that our universe is, and has been, constantly changing (albeit at varying speeds) through its existence. This makes the idea of a sealed, knowable and platonic universe impossible.
Having followed the path of reductionism, as far as it can reveal the workings of the fundamental particles of the universe, we now need to look for other methods in which to search for truth and meaning. Disregarding the nostalgic desire to ignore this ontological crisis, there are two methods in which to seek out any notion of truth. What Smolin calls the “Postmodernist move” is to reject notions of truth altogether and view it as a social construction. Seeing fault in teleological notions of progress, deconstruction sought to dismantle Western hegemony through the use of cultural relativism: “a levelling of chronological systems by criticizing the Western one.”16 But this attempted solution leaves us in an even worse position than before, leaving us “suspended in an impotent haze from within which we cannot remember how useful rational thought has been for improving our world.” It is at this point where the search for knowledge must move beyond the old reductionist manner and accept that, while elements of Postmodern thought are useful, it is an interesting experiment whose cultural function has run its course.
The processes and systems of evolution provide useful frameworks with which to answer the problem of moving beyond the reductionist approach. The evolutionary tactic accepts the positive attributes of reductionism yet seeks to understand how the parts work together as a whole in relation to each other, at varying scales.
Science generally proceeds in a reductive manner, the thinking being that by breaking down complicated phenomena into their figurative (or literal) atomic parts one gains predictive and explanatory power. The problem with reductionism, however, is that it doesn’t fully address the problem of putting the pieces back together again. 17
Causation in systems of evolution and emergence allow self organisation to arise from the interactions rising up through the spatiotemporal scale from genes to cells, individual animals, species and whole ecologies, each affecting the outcome of the next self contained entity. This occurs because of the process in which self organisation works, through patterns of process and activity. In this sense, it can be said that evolution works because it sees ‘process’ not ‘substance’ as the main constituent of the world. Forms of behaviour emerge from the process of the relationship and feedback between the organism and environment. As Darwin writes, in the closing lines of the Origin of Species: “from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”18 The main tenet of Darwinian evolution is through natural selection, through generation after generation in order to enact physiological change. Yet the principle of evolution – process - can be understood and visualised in a myriad of ways.
The examples of cellular automata and the computational universe illustrate the possibility of emergence as the results of complexity. The study of these systems has become defined as the field of Complexity Science. Through the interaction of many simple independent agents governed by simple rules operating in a non linear manner this space of enquiry has been able to model a vast array of environments, opening up new methods of looking at fields as varied as Urban Design, Economics, Neuroscience and Physics. The pioneers of Complexity Science - based at the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico - saw that this space of generative emergence exists at the edge of chaos: “the constantly shifting battle zone between stagnation and anarchy.”19 It is at this domain, in the phase transition between order and disorder that complexity operates.
Complexity and the Relational Approach
Generative artist and theorist Philip Galanter has taken the idea and systems of complexity, something he utilises in his artworks, and attempted to portray it as a new field of enquiry in relation to the arts with his term Complexism: “the application of a scientific understanding of complex systems to the subject matter of the arts and the humanities.”20
Galanter has become unhappy with the split between the humanities and the sciences. He positions this split in a similar way to Snow's Two Cultures, yet approaches the split not just on the fault line between Science and the Humanities, but between Modernism and Postmodernism. He sees the sciences as occupying that of modernism, with its rational and objective leanings - postmodernism taking the role of the humanities. He views this split as on par with the schism between modernism and postmodernism. While this is an old argument, his proposed solution is based in the sciences of complexity. It paints a way forward in defining a new methodology for the twenty first century.
Modernism moves towards understandable simplicity by creating crystal-like systems that are highly structured and highly ordered. Postmodernism moves towards understandable simplicity by breaking down and levelling structures leaving behind something like an undifferentiated mist. 21
By using the morphological metaphor, Galanter is able to replicate yet transposes modernism, postmodernism on opposing sides, with Complexism in the centre in an “embrace of complexity”.22 He approaches this from the point of a thesis-antithesis-synthesis, “without any specific commitment to literal Hegelian philosophy”.23 It incorporates elements of complexity science into his argument, yet positions it as a means in which to describe a new method of working, and responding to issues that neither modernism or postmodernism solved. He continues on with the morphological metaphors throughout this argument, at each point positioning lessons learnt from complexity as a means in which to answer how best to resolve the stark contrasts between the two.
Modernity, whether in the sciences or in the hands of painters such as Rothko and Pollock, reflects the Enlightenment values in reaching for the absolute, the sublime and the fixed. The postmodern attitude rejects the absolute, and instead posits a multivalent view of arbitrary relative positions that are functionally random. Complexism reconciles the absolute with the relative by viewing the world as a widely interconnected distributed process.
While his proposal remains limited to the small field of discourse that he is engaged in, and will not reach the same traction that other proposals have been met with, notably Bourriaud’s argument that we are now in a period of Altermodernity, it still remains a viable and interesting lens in which to view not just the differences between the two major time cultural phases of the twentieth century, but as a way forward into the 21st century. By viewing the twentieth century as an argument between two opposing sides he situates Complexism as an answer to the two as a structural argument. Another way is to move forward, accepting that there were arguments and oppositions, but that they were not in stark opposition, but as moving forward in a non teleological manner. While I have so far discusses broader themes of the cosmology, physics, evolution and complexity, the very large ad the very small, I will now be discussing the human scale, culture, and more importantly, design.
The concept of Relational Design was created by Andrew Blauvelt, Design Director of the Walker Art Museum. Through a series of lectures he presented at the Museum discussing elements of the term; he cemented the ideas by publishing what could be seen as a manifesto for it on the influential design blog, Design Observer. In his post, Towards Relational Design, he argues that we are entering a third phase of design, one just as important as the previous two: a phase that places an emphasis on context over form and content.
We might chart the movement of these three phases of design, in linguistic terms, as moving from form to content to context; or, in the parlance of semiotics, from syntax to semantics to pragmatics. This outward expression of ideas moves, like ripples on a pond, from the formal logic of the designed object, to the symbolic or cultural logic of the meanings the forms evoke, and finally to the programmatic logic of both design’s production and the sites of its consumption. 24
To further understand the 'ripples on a pond' we need to compare this current mode of design to its 20th century counterparts. It is interesting to note that Blauvelt does not make any mention of Modernism or Postmodernism in his essay, but only alludes to them, referring to them as waves, phases or periods. Perhaps this allusion is to hide the nature of his attempt at a meta-narrative.
The first wave of design highlighted the importance of reductionism and simplification to achieve a universal language that could be exported throughout the world. This desire for a rational and reductionist vocabulary can be seen in the work of the Bauhaus school; continuing on through to the logos and identities aligned with the New International Style of the early sixties. Designers such as Joseff Muller Brockman sought to achieve clarity and perfection through the use of typefaces such as Helvetica and Univers while paying extreme attention to the use of and logic of the grid in creating clear and concise forms. This focus on Formalism in Modern art practice can be seen in the teleologic flow diagram illustrating the transition towards the perceived end states of Modern Art.
The second wave of design was focused on its underlying content: its semantic, symbolic and meaning making potential. The Death of the Author resulting, in the design world, in seeing the Designer as Author. If the meaning of the text could be interpreted on many levels, the designers hand could also be seen as a text to be read. The designer, through the control of form, became the author of the text. A strong example of this notion was the inclusion of the designer Bruce Mau as an author alongside the architectural theorist Rem Koolhas’ book S, M, L, XL. The explosion of publication based experiments in magazines such as Raygun and Emigre Magazine saw designers reacting to the clean and rational layouts of high modernist design. These were attempts to imbue extra meaning in the original text through a Neo-Baroque aesthetic: distorting the typography and layout to make the reader aware of the designer.
Blauvelt then sees the third wave of design beginning in the late nineties, being closely connected to, and informed by, the rise of digital and interactive media. This third period emphasizes design’s context but also includes its “performative, pragmatic, programmatic, process-oriented, open ended, experiential and participatory elements.”25 Illustrating the differences between the three eras, the figure below demonstrates Blauvelts claim that Relational Design is not merely “a movement or style” but a new method of understanding the role of design from a different perspective. 26
I will attempt to navigate through these differing aspects of Relational Design as a means of leading up to my case studies, which all interrogate the new process of design. Naturally there is some overlap and causal connections between the different areas. This essay is less interested in comparing Relational Design to the previous eras of the twentieth century and more interested in exploring how it is informed by the scientific concepts I have discussed. Where applicable I will compare and contrast this third wave of design to the previous two. By synthesising the design and scientific discourses I aim to arrive at a unifying argument. The confluence of a relational understanding of the universe and a relational understanding of design I hope to illustrate the strength of my argument.
While I will be going into finer detail in my case studies by analysing the Relational Process as it relates to Logo systems, I feel it would be wise to open up the whole of design discourse in which to explore how Relational operates through a few examples of publication design, experience design and architecture.
Open ended-solutions rather than closed systems; real world constraints and contexts over idealized utopias; relational connections instead of reflexive imbrication; in lieu of the forlorn designer, the possibility of many designers; the loss of designs that are highly controlled and proscribed and the ascendancy of enabling or generative systems; the end of discrete objects, hermetic meanings, and the beginning of connected ecologies. 27
If these are the modes and methods of Relational Design, the need for a philosophical and epistemological basis is paramount to understanding why and how these modes are understood. Structuralism and Post Structuralism view the world as nothing but language: a series of structures and signifiers. If one attempts to get out of this situation, it is determined solely by further referring to language. The Pragmatists - notably Charles Sanders Peirce, John Dewey and William James - believe that pragmatics need to be brought into epistemology in order to give language a practical use. To determine truth is by determining its practical implications. This is in stark contrast to an appeal to an abstract noumenal truth by an attempt to move outside of language. True ideas are those that work, that lead to somewhere, that succeed. There is no reason to seek the existence of unchanging and eternal laws: language and truth should be accepted on an ad hoc basis. The world is in a constant state of becoming and can only be experienced through lived practice and experience. As James writes:
That ideas (which themselves are but parts of our experience) become true just in so far as they help us to get into satisfactory relation with other parts of our experience. 28
Instead of viewing truth as nothing but a social construction “suspended in an impotent haze”, we accept that truth can be gained through lived experience.29 Pragmatism ignores the search for an ultimate truth - it denies the possibility of a dynamic and changing universe. Instead of feeling lost through the “giddy meaningless whorl of signifiers” it is now possible to “nod at syntax and carry on.”30 By accepting the flow of semiotics while carrying on, the context of language is where it is most understood.
This does not discount the possibility of confusion. A problematic aspect of the term Relational Design lies in its title: the term ‘Relational’ having been colonised in the art world by the French Curator Nicolas Bourriaud’s Relational Aesthetics. He used this term to describe the work of a group of artists whose work placed an importance on the “sphere of inter-human relations.”31 This confusion has lead Blauvelt to argue that despite some similarities his term is not “simply reduced to social, human interactions” but “is an attempt to account for a series of disparate approaches witnessed across a variety of design fields over the last decade.”32 While some design theorists have attempted to incorporate Bourriaud’s Aesthetic into design practice, the larger scope of Blauvelt’s term includes the social as just one of the many different relational interactions.
Considering the cultural importance of Relational Aesthetics, it would be ignorant to not explore the participatory nature of a few examples. Designed by UK studio A2/SW/HK the 2002 Turner Prize held at the Tate Gallery included a novel means of allowing visitors to comment on the exhibition. After walking through the exhibition, visitors arrived at a small room in which a grid of small slips of paper were hung into the wall using small wooden pencils. These slips provided visitors a forum to publicly comment and converse on the exhibition in contrast to the invisible and individual comment forms traditionally used in exhibitions. Viewing this interaction through the lens of Relational Aesthetics, the designers had created a microtopia centred around open ended discussion: “negotiating relationships with their audience that is not prepared beforehand.”33 By applying the same pointed criticism that Claire Bishop applied to Relational Aesthetics we must ask “what type of relations are being produced, for whom, and why?”34 This public and visible forum did not provide the audience with a means to alter the results of the Turner Prize. The curators and judges were not influenced by the discussions created on these messages, it was merely a means of providing the illusion of a conversation between those in control of the exhibition and the audience. While criticism of this example is entirely valid, there is another perspective in which to view the changing relationship between author, text and reader.
Galanter provides an easy method to understand the shift between the relationship of these three entities. It places an equal emphasis on all three, allowing all to be part of the same process. Modernism - taking a lead from the Enlightenment - sought to view the author as being in complete control of the text; the reader merely an afterthought. The shift that occurred through Postmodernism inverted this relationship away from viewing the author as in control of the text, to viewing the reader as able capable of many interpretations. In the Modernist relationship, there is no reader, in the Postmodern relationship, the author is dead. There is a missing actor in both examples. Galanter sees the relationship requiring all three components to make it work. This does not deny the role of the author in regard to the “totalising masterpiece” nor does it deny the readers ability to create their own meaning with the text.35 It holds all three as existing within the same relationship, giving each an equal status. We see the role of the individual as not just a Designer/Producer, nor as just an Author/Consumer, but instead acting as an Editor/Prosumer. By being situated between the two texts, the text that he/she reads that informs the text that he/she creates.
The prosumer shapes their environment to suit their needs instead of passively consuming. This is by taking part in the consumption and creation or alteration of the design object. For the August 2010 issue, Wallpaper magazine gave readers the ability to design their own front cover of the magazine. Using a large variety of visual assets such as photographs, patterns and illustrations provided by the magazine the prosumer was able to actively take part in the consumption process. The reader was able to create a personalised front cover while using a range of styles that reflect Wallpapers aspirational content and concept. By incorporating both the reader, author and text into one network a more relational approach was achieved. The designer’s role has shifted away from designing hermetically sealed objects to creating a platform in which the user is able to create.
Our role as designers is less about crafting objects and increasingly about designing tools, systems, and the conditions through and in which others create their own experiences. 36
While the example of Wallpaper magazine front cover is a novel means in which users able to create their own experiences, the Manufactured Sites project by Teddy Cruz is a richer and more participatory example. It also provides a means of reflecting on the Pragmatist understanding of the world existing in a constant state of becoming through the creation of “unfinished objects” that need to be inhabited to have any truth value.37 Through the creation of prefabricated modular structures, the architect provided a platform for residents of Tijuana to create homes that are more suited to their personal and cultural norms. By using commonplace quotidian materials to furnish their homes, the occupants were able to create adaptable living arrangements that referenced the traditional building typology of the area. Cruz, in reference to Bourriaud’s Aesthetic, designed lived microtopias instead of the unattainable utopian desires of high modernity instead of living in supposedly ‘universal’ housing commonly enforced by governments. These were not static unchanging architectural forms, but accepted changing needs of the area and the occupants of the buildings.
Recent shifts towards user centred design and the greater focus on environmental concerns are some examples of designers enquiring into the “messy reality” of design’s ultimate context. However, I will not be enquiring into these realms, to do so would be to engage in a different essay altogether. I will instead be focussing on the means in which design is created: the new processes of generating form that are a result of changing shifts in attitude.
In using logo design as the narrow scope in which to connect design practice to the broader picture this thesis accepts their simplicity of form. The reductive qualities provide them with the means to distill a wide variety of meanings into an uncomplicated mark. By allowing for an element of abstraction they are able to convey the outward appearance of an organisation’s internal values. The simplest artefact of design will be used to explore how their reductive qualities allow causality to affect all the ripples in a pond: moving from the form to the content to the context. Modernism used the form of the logo in which to create a universal language in which to project the aims and ideas of corporations and organisations throughout the world. These brands of these companies are then be extrapolated via the language of identity systems and branding by creating stylesheets that determine the basic rules for organising the layout and relationship to secondary elements such as typography or photography and illustration. Despite the possibilities the secondary elements allowed, these identities have always remained fixed and static entities. Reductive unto themselves, they have typically been presented on white backgrounds furthering the ideal of the singular logo.
The failure of Modernism and the Enlightenment is based on their premature reduction to, for example, an identity that is closed and given within and in itself. 39
As a response to this perceived failure these static devices have now begun to take on dynamic qualities by using the design techniques of variability, multiplicity, permutation or through modular systems. This provides a degree of flexibility and freedom in presenting the logo, away from the monotony of repetition. Branding has been moving away from simply stamping the logo onto every possible surface towards a space in which the permutations of the logo allows for a more responsive and interesting brand. This is a response to moving away from the structured hierarchy that dominated most of the 20th century to the more network orientated organisational structures and methods of presenting the identity. The differences between print and screen based cultures allow for a greater variety through technological advancements of the mediums of presentation.
In moving away from reduction to an acceptance of complexity the designer and client are able to acknowledge the constant change that occurs in our contemporary society. The formal, symbolic and contextual environment is always in a state of flux; the logo as an organism needs to be able to respond and adapt to these changes. By being aware of where the organisation is situated in a network of relationships can the creation of a dynamic and responsive identity system begin to be designed. The neighbours in this network need not just consist of other companies or brands but the social, cultural, geographic and environmental nodes that it must respond to. The three case studies that I am discussing are for an arts festival, a music hall and two cities: while these are of a commercial nature to some extent they mostly reside in the cultural and public domain. Wide ranging research has shown that the trend of using dynamic, flexible and responsive identity systems has remained mostly in the cultural and public sphere.40 One interpretation of this research shows contends that the corporate sector is determined to be represented in a strong and and unifying image, fearing that their message may become weaker by using a dynamic and flexible logo. Another interpretation could be that the public and cultural sector are more experimental and forward looking in their method of representation. Either way, the new process of creating logos is not just a trend but a considered response to the changing shifts brought on by larger ontological and epistemological methods of viewing the world.
21st century [design] is going to be driven by the integration of these two ideas: the triumph of relational ways of thinking about the world, on the one hand, and self-organisation or Darwinian ways of thinking about the world, on the other hand. 41
If the two dominant fields of science are to be these two ideas, then it would be wise for design to be aware of this integration. Not merely because another field of enquiry is changing, but because design has, is and always will be a part of the broader culture.
Casa de Musica - Contingent Solutions
This case study will look at the logo for the Casa de Musica, particularly how it uses the immediate context in which it is displayed as a means of altering the colour of the logo. The form of the building, and the context in which it is situated informed the final visual and contextual syntax of the identity system. By focusing on the system used to alter aspects of the logo, I will illuminate the contingent and contextual nature of the logo in response to the designed environment in which it exists. I will respond to some of the criticisms that have been made about the logo, and illustrate how these are nothing more than ignorance about new methods of creating identity systems. In viewing the logo and system as a form of language, I will compare it to the Pragmatist method of ascertaining truth. This logo and the contextual system that defines its variability illustrates that it is aware of and highlights the network of relationships that it is embedded in.
The logo system for the Casa de Musica, a Portuguese music hall situated in the city of Porto uses a representation of the architectural form of the building to act as a vessel for representing the myriad contingencies needed by the organisation. The identity system designed by New York based design studio Sagmeister Inc is a dynamic and varied identity system that represents the various uses and meanings of the building and its activities. The head architect of the building was internationally renowned architect and theorist Rem Koolhas, from the architecture studio OMA in 2005.
After hearing Koolhas describe the building as a “conglomeration of various layers of meaning”, Stefan Sagmeister realised that such a definition could be transferred from the concepts used in architectural discourse to one of graphic design, branding and logo design.42 The creation of an identity system needs to convey different aspects of an organisation into one conceptual whole, to group together disparate parts into a unifying and distinct entity. By using the same language and justification as Koolhas, Sagmeister realised that the built form would be able to inform the visual identity; by using the memorable shape of the building itself as the logo.
The building has a towering presence, comprised of an angular faceted exterior with the concert hall situated as a hollow space in the centre; surrounding the hall are smaller concert halls devoted to more intimate musical styles as well as various administrative areas. This layout was a response to the ‘shoe box’ typology: the need to create a rectangular room that respects the acoustic needs of the music played in concert halls. The allowances for these other rooms to be situated around the concert hall is what gives the building it’s recognisable shape.
The building faces open civic and green space, surrounded on three sides by residential buildings. The shape of the building responds to the roofs of the surrounding houses, the tiles and terraces reminiscent of the angular facade of the building and incorporates a vernacular use of colour. For an architectural theorist noted for his disdain of context it is noteworthy that he is responding to the immediate environment by mimicking various attributes of the surrounding buildings that are part of the visual history of the city of Porto.
Sagmeister believes that “sameness is so incredibly overrated, the idea that everything needs to be the same works for a few brands and companies and not for everyone else.”43 This notion informed his approach to the Casa de Musica logo by turning the building into a series of six shapes used as the set of basic logos. After reproducing a model of the building as a three dimensional form, it was then converted into six different logo marks comprising the top, bottom, north, south, east and west views of the building. Each of these marks act as a flat representation of the building, a series of simple yet irregular forms. Coupled with the round and geometric typeface, the Casa de Musica logo is a clean and modern example of contemporary design. The rounded forms of the typeface provide a welcome contrast to the angular shape of the building. By providing six different variations of the logo, visual flexibility is already incorporated into the identity system. This allows for an identity system that respects the iconic shape and the name of the building – Casa De Musica – House of Music.
These primary elements of the form of the identity system are not meant to be viewed in isolation, but instead act as a device to illustrate various meanings contingent on their context. This provides a seemingly infinite amount of chromatic variation based on the immediate context in which the logos are viewed.
The customised software program The Casa de Musica Logo Generator is used in the process of providing the colour system to be used when designing posters from the music hall that creates a harmonious relationship between logo and image. Once the image for the poster is complete – whether through illustration or photography – the program selects seventeen points on the image, recording the colour values of each point in the image. Each of these different colour points are then transferred onto the 17 facets of the three dimensional device. This provides the colours to be used on the logo, reflecting those same colours used in the poster. These logos can then be exported using a variety of industry standard files to be used in design programs when creating the final poster.
As can be see with the image of Mozart, the majority of the painting is one of dark muted colours: framed by darkness with a strong focus of deep reds, bright whites and skin tones running through the centre . The 17 reference points cover most of the available space of the image, ensuring that an average of the image is captured. These colours are then transferred onto the surface of the logo, creating a chromatic representation of the painting as a semantic layer on top of the object. The same contextual colouring system can be seen in the logo generator, the interplay between skin tones and shadows informing the facets seen in the bottom of the application.
A criticism of this system could argue that the program did not capture the white collar, which acts to focus the eye onto Mozart’s face. By creating an average of the colours within the circles, the program also fails to capture the granularity needed to truly portray this, or any other image. Whether through missing out on key features of an image such as this, or by generalising the chosen colours by taking an average within the circle, important elements are ignored.* In needing to generalise for the sake of expediency, systems like this miss out on the richness of visual experience. However, in other examples such as those below, these omissions are not as visible.
By using the Logo Generator, the role of the designer is compromised, giving more power to the illustrator or photographer in creating the variable colour values on the logo device. While art direction informs the overall aesthetic and style of the image used in pre and post–production, the final choice of colours is taken out of the hand of the designer and placed in control of the algorithm. This need not be a negative aspect of the final design: whether Lou Reed, Phillip Glass or the Chemical Brothers are performing, the relationship between logo and image will never pose a problem. The decision to use a specific side of the building gives the designer some freedom in choosing to create contrast or a more harmonious and coordinated relationship between the two elements.
A similar programmatic mechanism is used for the corporate stationary in creating the colour values for the business card. The logo for each business card takes the colour values from photographs of the person the card is meant for. This creates a card that is an individual portrait for each card holder, as well as reinforcing and working within the spacious confines of the identity system. This system differs from the music posters by not including the original reference point in which to glean the context for the colours.
This mechanism was used to similar effect for another identity system designed by Sagmeister Inc. The client, the Seed Media Group and Magazine, is a science based media organisation with a magazine, website, and which holds various conferences and talks. The tag line for the organisation is ‘Science is Culture’, the clients wanted an identity that would illuminate the ubiquity of science as a cultural force. The resulting logo is designed around the from of the phylotaxis. The phylotaxis is a shape, structure and mathematical equation recurring throughout nature: the horns of a gazelle, the patterns of sunflower seeds, the dimensions of classic greek architecture or the flowers of wild carrots.
The portrait of the card holder is seen through the circles in the logo. The Casa de Musica business cards show a highly abstracted portrait: the seed cards show a figurative abstraction of the individual due to the higher granularity of the logo. Instead of taking coloured reference points from the portrait, the Seed logo takes an approximation of colour values from the image.
In describing the process of creating the logo, Sagmeister said they were “looking for something open ended and flexible, a vessel we could fill with new meanings as they developed.”44 This desire to fill the logo with new meanings is the opposite of how Blauvelt describes the Postmodern need for variable interpretations. The meanings are created by the designer, not by the readers. Meaning is not read, but created through the flexibility of the device and its relationship to – in the example of the business cards – who the card is made for. Both Casa de Musica and Seed illustrate that Sagmeister Inc are intent on ignoring the restraints of static logo creation, towards a methodology that is open to new methods of thinking and working.
The Casa de Musica Logo Generator is the most relevant example theoretically for this thesis. However there are a few other examples in which the flexible nature of the logo has been used as a vessel. The posters advertising various events put on by the music hall have a playful relationship to the logo. These treat the flat logo as an simple shape or pattern, as decorative blocks of colour or as a three dimensional object. By removing it from the original representation of a building, this gives the designers greater freedom to to use the device as an abstract object. By making a cardboard model of the object it is used to semantically display musical workshops. The use of chalk to display the headline further enhances this message. The poster advertising a disco uses the form of the building as growths under the skin, highlighting the unusual shape of the building. All of these examples show that not only is the Casa de Musica a logo capable of reflecting and being informed by its immediate context, but can be treated as a vessel in which a more theoretical and semantic context can be displayed.
The reception of this flexible and open ended identity created a large discussion on Brand New. In presenting the system for the Casa de Musica, the discussion revolved around two competing arguments on the merits of the Casa de Musica logo and system. The negative comments were mostly directed at the form of the logo and the results of the system while the positive comments were in support of a brave and novel method in the creation and extrapolation of the identity system. I will not be responding to the comments about the formal properties of the logo, this is merely a matter of personal preference or style, something this thesis is determined not to discuss, but instead I will try and focus on opinions regarding the relational qualities of the logo generator and the use of context.
Some of the commenters did not understand or approve of a flexible system: “besides the question [of] what the “official” logo version is”.45 This is merely a desire to view a logo as a simple reductionist mark, a hallmark of rigid Modernism. In the case of the Casa de Musica, as with many other dynamic and flexible identities, there is not an ‘official’ logo, but merely a system of formalised ideas that change based on various factors or parameters. These factors can change the form of the logo, its placement in responce to its context, or in this example, it’s colour. There is no official logo in as much as there is no official way in which to view the building. There is no single viewpoint in which to view the logo, there are six.
Most of the negativity stems from a misunderstanding about the system, and how it works as a cohesive whole, especially in regard to the programatic logic of the relationship between the colours of the logos and the posters. Because real names have not been provided in most cases, I am using the name that they have used on Brand New. Tactful Cactus sees the problem with the system because he/she cannot see the logo as existing outside of the context:
What I do have a problem with is when process trumps end product. The colors were chosen from a set grid placed over meaningful photos. Once those colors are taken from the meaning of their context, they’re just random colors. 46
The six basic black and white brandmarks are never meant to be viewed on their own, but act as the framework and structure in which to respond to various stimuli. Another user, 5000, responded to this misunderstanding by replying that “the colors are derived from the context that the logo is used in. They’re never taken out of context.”47
This isn’t a result of process trumping process, but instead a firm process set in place to reinforce meaning. To repeat ‘5000’ “they’re never taken out of context”.48 This applies to the poster system, in which the immediate context is the poster, and for the business card, in which the context is the skin tones of the owner of the card. One commenter (Alfonso) articulated the beauty of the system:
This system doesn’t work mean to work in a void, like the sample at the top of the post (figure/ground, in an endless white canvas). It is meant to be applied to something. I know it looks ugly on its own, but then it seems to me that one isn’t really supposed to view it in its contextless condition. After you see it applied in various ways, you learn its language, and its beauty becomes palpable (not an aesthetic beauty, but a beauty that happens when systems work.49
This figure/ground that Alfonso mentions is a hallmark of Modernist presentation techniques. Alfred H. Barr Jr, inaugural Director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, was one of the first to use a neutral background in which to display artworks. Previously, artworks had been displayed close together and skied, creating a cacophony of competing artworks, as was the style of the Pre–Modernist period. This was in part due to the realism of the picture plane, which created a window into another world, with clearly defined boundaries. With the modernist tradition, the aim was for a truth to materials, which resulted in a search for abstract visual language of infinite forms, by treating the canvas as a flat representational plane. These artworks needed to be viewed in isolation, free of distraction: “Whereby the language of display articulates a modernist, seemingly autonomous aestheticism”.50 This autonomous aestheticism is no longer apparent for the Casa de Musica logo. The logos are not meant to be viewed in a void, in a “white, ideal space”, but in relation to the poster image.51 It does not exist in a vacuum of autonomy, but only becomes apparent when viewed in the contingent relationship it has with the surrounding image. It is not used until it is in contact with another design element.
Through this relationship we should refer back to Pragmatism and its notion of a living language, that truth can be gained through lived experience. As James contends: “In the reality of a living language, the utterance has no meaning except in the concept of the situation.”52 Ideas only become true when used in context. The Casa de Musica logo, does not exist in ‘true’ form as a black logo on a white background, it only becomes true when used as a lived language. This identity system, and most others, can be seen as a language, a vocabulary of elements. The noumenal version of the logo – six black logos against a white background – have no use value as a language. It is only when they are used that their truth factor as a component of the Casa de Musica visual language becomes useful. They have not become practical until they are in use. While the Casa de Musica is not a spoken language, it is a living language, constantly adapting, changing and responding to the situation.
The Casa de Musica logo is a device that is aware of its position within a dynamic network of relations and seeks to highlight those relations by operating as a vessel in which various externalities can be made visible. These externalities range from the semantic qualities of the events it is advertising, or they can be the make up of chromatic values contained within those posters. It operates as an abstract portrait on business cards, presenting the identity of the card holder through the logo. By using a customised software program it is able to represent the Casa de Musica building and organisation in a novel and interesting manner that emphasises the identity of the organisation as existing within a specific environment. Within this specific environment are various semantic elements, that do not inform the shape of the logo, but are merely applied to it’s surface. By designing a logo that is a visual representation of the building, Sagmeister has created an identity that is able to portray many layers of meaning at the same time.
These layers go beyond the typical and static devices used by traditional means. Instead of visualising the relationship the logo has to various other design elements through traditional means, it is able to incorporate a wider range of meanings, without watering down the visual and symbolic elements of the design. Through contingent means, the representation of the Casa de Musica building enhances the capabilities of this design device. In highlighting the contextual attributes of the logo it is an example of ignoring the reductionist approach to logo design. It is a simple device, but it allows the causality to move back up the system. This causality gives the logo the ability to be affected by various externalities, all of which heighten the importance of the brand as it exists within it’s environment. It traverses different scales, from the more immediate space of the printed poster, to the people that occupy and represent the building and outward to the activities the organisation conduct as a means of interacting with the wider public. Without all of these elements interacting with the brand mark, it would not have the same distinctive qualities that make it so interesting.
*Unknown to me at the time, the logo generator is far more fluid in it's ability to gather colour points than I previously thought. The Sagmeister website went through a massive refresh after I completed the thesis and there is far more information regarding the project than was previously known. The grid of circles are not limited to a concrete positioning overlaid across all images, it is possible to move the sampling circles around to create a more relevant colour scheme for the logos.
On one hand this makes the logo generator more capable of responding to the immediate designed context (the image) and makes the designer's job much easier and relevant. On the other, it takes away some of the theoretical strength of the project, by having the system not so dependent on the initial starting points (and thus the relational qualities) of the image.
This kinda stuff would have been pretty useful a few months ago.
Lovebytes - Generative Systems
The Lovebytes case study will take a greater focus in reflecting on systems in nature as a means of generating form. These systems do not directly copy the machinations of evolution but reference a simplified model that is appropriate for design. This process is less concerned with creating species that reproduce, but with using variable parameters as a means of creating a large population of possibilities which can then be refined. The process can be seen as growing a seed, capable of responding to various factors but with a predetermined approximation of the finished design in sight.
Blauvelt proposes that instead of working iteratively or through variable means, Relational Design is focused on using generative means as a method and process in which to produce form. While this is true of the Lovebytes identity, the use of iteration is still part of the designers method. By working iteratively with generative means, the design works in a method similar to evolution by natural selection. Through the use of algorithms to create a vast amount of possibilities, parameters can be used to alter the ‘genes’ of the design and can act to save time when creating populations of logos. In looking at this new method of creating designed objects, I will illustrate that previous 20th century means of critique can not be applied to these designs, and will instead apply a new theory of objects to the finished design product. The aim of the design was to create an empathy with technology; this empathy can only be achieved by subverting the role of technology and making it docile and approachable. The symbolic nature of this logo used systems of evolution as a means of iterating towards the final product.
The parametric logo system designed for the 2007 Lovebytes Arts and Digital Media Festival is an example of using a generative process as a means of creating form. The theme for the festival was ‘Process’ focusing on the “creative and technical processes involved in making art with computers and digital systems.”53 The art director Matt Pyke and designer and coder Karsten Schmidt created an identity system capable of creating of generating over 20,000 unique designs. By responding to the brief to create an “empathy with technology” they worked with the idea of “simple, warm, soft technology.”54 The finished result was a simple representation of the brief: cute and furry monsters. These monsters were used in the promotional material of the festival, appearing on posters, the festival planner, the website and on postcards advertising the festival. This algorithm used the various parameters needed to create the creatures and forced them to interact with each other to create the animals.
These monsters have a range of emotions that create a connection with the viewer. By using a variety of parameters – length and colour of hair, head shape and colour, eyes and names – the designers created a species of monsters that responded to the need to create an empathy with technology.
The artist Patricia Piccinini deals with similar themes in her work, creating lifelike creatures that hover between the harmless and the monstrous. By making the artworks as realistic as possible viewers are confronted with the ethical ramifications of scientific progress. For Siren Mole: Exallocephalla Parthenopa she placed two mole like creatures into the Wombat Enclosure at the Melbourne Zoo. By placing the creatures into a place of authority the audience believed that this monstrosity were alive; questioning their relationship to this hideous creature. While Piccinini probes questions about biotechnology and hybridised life forms, her aim is for the audience to have an empathic relationship with her artworks. The aim of the festival was to provoke questions about our relationship to technology, by creating creatures capable of portraying emotion. By subverting technology and making it docile and approachable, the designers created an identity system capable of provoking empathy.
In order to provide a richer empathic relationship with the viewer they created names for the creatures through simple programmatic rules. Beginning with a consonant-vowel-consonant structure, they then applied a few more filters to create variety while avoiding chaotic strings of letters. Some One ruleset created ‘female’ names by ending them in either ‘i’ or ‘a’, another used a repetition of letters in order to simulate familiar naming conventions. Schmidt has admitted that some of these rules unintentionally enforce white-eurocentric naming conventions, perhaps under different rulesets a more globalised naming system could be achieved.
This generative approach challenges the role of the designer, who designs the ‘seed’ which spawns these designs automatically within parameters such as hair colour, hair length, head shape and name. 55
The concept of the designed ‘seed’ was expanded by Matt Pyke in an exhibition of his works entitled Designing Seeds. The exhibition showcased a range of his client based works which responded to the idea of “the process of designing seeds and environments for them to grow”.56 This process of autonomy questions and challenges the role of the designer and ideas of authorship. According to Galanter, we have moved away from the focus on the author or reader to a generative system that constructs form. This system need not be solely constructed by a group of networked people, can also be read as the algorithm: the complex feedback process between all parameters that the designer included in the seed. This lack of authorship is an “explicit externalisation of the artist’s decision making process” that “repeatedly finds the artists as a spectator of his own work.”57
The Designing Seeds exhibition showcased examples from Universal Everything’s portfolio that used the ‘seed’ metaphor as a means of generating work. All of these designs could not be replicated as each output was a result of computer code. One design used a generative system to mimic draped fabrics seen in Baroque sculpture for the V&A Museum. Another example made for the car company Audi simulated a wind tunnel, in which the wind was made visible in the form of particles which left a trace as they were blown over the surface of an invisible car, making the shape of the car visible by showing the collision between particles. Similar to the Lovebytes identity was an advertisement for Nokia advertised at Heathrow Airport. It also consists of a multitude of characters created through different defining parameters with an emphasis on different body shapes. In making a comparison to the Lovebytes identity, the multiplicity of each design operate in contrast to each other. The Nokia advertisement involved presenting a group of creatures on the screen at the same time whereas the Lovebytes identity kept each monster as an individual. They were never seen as a community or collective species of creatures, only as an individual, singular creature.
Perhaps a method in which to further explore the multiplicity of Lovebytes creatures is evident in Walter Benjamin’s The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Production. Written at time when photography and cinema were beginning to show signs of maturity as mediums the distinction between original artworks to those reproduced mechanically creates an aura in artworks produced by hand. The use of generative algorithms to create artworks question this aura, as they are neither created directly by hand, nor are they copies. The Lovebytes identity as well as this new medium questions the nature of the aura. Has the aura become more enriched, because no two artworks are the same? Or does it further remove the aura because they have all sprouted from the same seed? This new method of creating and critiquing art sits uncomfortably between both questions. If there is no reproducibility, mechanical or otherwise, then what do we make of the genuine article, if there is one at all?
The whole province of genuineness is beyond technological (and of course not only technological) reproduction. But while in relation to manual production (the product of which is usually branded a forgery of the original) the genuine article keeps its full authority, in relation to reproduction to by technological means that is not the case.58
If the solution has not been found with Benjamin, we need to move away from attempting to find an aura. There is a material and immaterial difference between the algorithm and the printed or realised object. Bruce Sterling and his theory of the spime can illuminate the difference for this new paradigm shift. While his definition of the spime has centred around material objects, it can to some extent be applied to the printed Lovebytes identity. So far, the spime is a theoretical product, as the construction of these devices is not yet completely possible with the technology of today. The spime is a new class of physical object, one that is not a product of industrial processes but is part of the Internet of Things. They are objects – wine bottles, tennis rackets, chairs, shoes, any output of industrial design – that are trackable and searchable within their physical confines and contain the history of the product. These objects exist as files on the internet, and only become material when needed through advanced production techniques. They exist in the network and only become material when needed. “Spimes are manufactured objects whose informational support is so extensive and rich that they are regarded as material instantiations of an immaterial system.”59 In discounting the application of the term to consumer products, we can see that the theory of the spime can be applied to the Lovebytes logo. These creatures do not exist accept for their material reality, whether that be a printed postcard or an image on the website. “Spimes begin and end as data, because they’re virtual objects first and actual objects second.”60 The immateriality of the parametric and generative instructions never provide for the logo to exist except as a result of material output.
The form of this identity is a result of the process in which it was generated. Both Galanter and Blauvelt position Modernism as concerning itself with visual language. For Blauvelt, Postmodernism was concerned with the semiotic meaning behind form, Galanter sees this as exhibiting anti–formal tendencies. Both see a rejection of form in the search for meaning. Blauvelt views our current period as focusing on Pragmatics as the dominant philosophy, illustrating an emphasis on a process of constant becoming. This is similar to Galanter who sees our contemporary period as being occupied with realised form as a result of process. Differing from the Modernist maxim of truth to materials, Galanter views Complexism as focused on a truth to process. The process is what should become revealed in the form. By approaching art from a truth to materials perspective, modernists viewed this as bringing a purity to their works. Viewing the canvas as a flat plane – not as a window capable of perspective – painting could express its true power. The designers of the Lovebytes identity have stayed true to their materials: code. With a festival theme of ‘process’, Schmidt and Pyke have successfully illustrated how such an ethereal term can be made concrete. This truth to process is a materialising method, in moving away from the designed object, to the designed process.
By applying the notion of evolution, complexity and generative processes to this or any other form of generative design or art is to enter into a metaphor of natural systems that do not apply verbatim. Systems of evolution require natural selection by reproduction: the Lovebytes creatures are not reproducing and passing on their genes to the next generation. There is no selective pressures to be gained and passed on. Evolution is not a teleological process; species merely respond to pressures that are immediate at the time, with no goal in sight, and adapt to them. Design on the other hand is a problem solving process with clear goals that need to be met. In this case there was an aesthetic need to respond to the brief in the creation of empathy with the viewer by using cute and furry creatures as the means to achieve this.
Artists typically have a vague to specific notion of what the desired result is, and then designs an evolutionary system to explore that aesthetic space. In doing so the design of the genetic representation is of meta–significance because it will constrain the space of all possible evolutionary paths.61
Galanter has devised a series of definitions in regard to how generative art remains as merely a metaphor for evolution. He defines these four levels of emergent complexity as Fixed Parameters, Extensible Parameters, Direct Mechanical and Reproductive Mechanical. The use of the seed metaphor as well as the Lovebytes identity reside in the level of Fixed Mechanical:
Fixed Parameters offer the simplest kind of genetic representation. For example, in a system for creating drawings of insects there would be a gene for head size, another for body colour, another for leg length, and so on. Such a system will always draw six legs, and so it will never draw a spider. A fixed parametric evolutionary system is always constrained.62
The parameters described here correspond with those of the Lovebytes creatures: the use of an insect metaphor can easily be transferred to our monsters. These fixed constraints ensure that the creatures exist in a region of optimality, instead of looking like a spider. Working up the chain of complexity towards Direct Mechanical would result in a minor lack of control in the hands of the designer. If the creatures had enough parameters to make them look like a different breed or species of furry empathic creatures, perhaps with different emotions, they would still reside in the same genetic domain. There would be no genes for the creation of creatures with legs, wings or the unexpected and nonsensical result of a chair. Galanter’s final complaint that generative systems should be as open ended as possible can only be taken so far as design works in the realm of the representational and the artificial. If this design were to create a true example of Reproductive Mechanical then the designer would have created artificial life. The aim of generative design is not to create designs that beget more designs, passing on elements to their offspring without the involvement of the designer. It is only with the designer’s eye is information transmitted from one generation to the next.
The iterative process is what allows each generation of Lovebytes creatures to progress towards the goal of a refined design. The selective pressures applied to the designer from each generation to the next act as the environment in which the species adapts to. As can be seen in the three stages applied by Schmidt and Pyke, there was a refinement process that used the various genes of the species to adapt to the next stage. By using a parametric method to create the creatures, they were able to quickly delve into the search space of possibilities in order to find the species deemed most fit.
Population thinking has switched the slogan of Darwinism from survival of the fittest to evolution as an automatic search process, it automatically searches the space of possibility. 63
Schmidt has discussed how the large amounts of initial attributes had to be restrained to ensure that the final visual result did not encroach on aesthetics, sentiments or practicality. Some of these parameters, such as eye shape or size, were removed through the iterative process to allow the animals to allow a stronger feeling of empathy. Other elements relating to body size and shape had to be removed to allow the creatures to exist within a usable and plausible limit. They would “limit the number of possible outcomes or alternatively explode that ‘search space’ beyond our control”.64 This small variable limit needs to result in an optimal “region of interest” that could be used in the final design.65 This ‘region of interest’ can only be achieved with a very simplified evolutionary metaphor, these creatures did not need to reproduce, nor did they need to react to the environment. If any of the animals looked completely different they would have been useless, requiring him to spend a large amount of time deleting individual creatures. They all needed to look within the same confines of each other, to have a family likeness to ensure that the branding remained consistent across all 20,000 animals.
While this parametric method of designing challenges the role of the designer–as–author, power is exerted in the editing stage. Choosing which attributes of the species are more suited to the finished product gives the designer the ability to refine from a vast array of options. The second iteration is very close to the finished product, only a few adjustments are needed to refine the species to it’s final stage. The traits of hair colour, hair type and body shape are much closer to the finished product than their parents. Some ideas, as mentioned, were bred out before they reached the planning stage, allowing for a simpler generative process. The idea of the designer as author emerged as a response to the Deconstructionist attitudes of Postmodernism. If meaning was taken away form the author’s hands and placed in the hands of the reader, then the designer acted as an intermediary by altering the form and thus content. Relational design moves beyond this approach, by proclaiming that the role of the designer is now as an editor, acting as a valve to refine the large flows of information that is endemic to our contemporary culture. Applying this reasoning to this case study, the designers needed to restrict and restrain the large flow of possible permutations created by the vast amount of species that could have been created for the festival. Only by finding the optimal region of interest did they create a range of creatures capable of creating empathy with the viewer.
The methodology of creation for this case study revolves around the idea of the seed. In stating that it questions the authoritative role of the designer, Pyke and Schmidt argue that designers are concerned with the minutia of the finished product. The use of a seed metaphor opens up broad possibilities for creating large populations of designed objects, all with the same minute differences that are typical of a single species. However, by using terminology taken from natural systems, the question of appropriateness must be asked. Why this system and not others? Why a simplified version of natural processes and not a more comprehensive one? Why use an approach that need not be applied to the field of design? The answer to all of these questions must be a pragmatic one: because they work. The generative approach is informed by systems of evolution, but does not copy them completely. Design is concerned with the artificial world not the natural one. Yet these allusions serve to create designs that are not just novel and interesting, but are able to create 21st century methods of responding to 20th century questions. The parametric approach is capable of creating vast amounts of singular objects that cannot be reflected on by old notions of authenticity and reproduction. The new approach is not a mechanical one, but uses biological metaphors in the creation of new design objects that respond and relate to the needs of the our contemporary period. We are moving away from the old approach of viewing things as material objects towards viewing things as a result of immaterial processes. If this remains to be true, then the Lovebytes identity system will be remembered as one of the first species to recognise this shift.
Twin Cities - Network
The typographic system Twin Cities is a family of typefaces that exists as a result of the networked society that shapes our current cultural and social era. This new era posits a change away from the mechanic and electronic logic of yesteryear, towards a worldview that realises all forms of identity are a result of connections to neighbours in the network. It represents a shift in moving away from using semantic values as a marker of design, using the context of the broader environment as a means of justifying the alteration of form. In departing from a focus on historical styles that has become dominant in recent typographic trends, Twin Cities approaches the concept of identity from another angle. This consists of using the elements of the natural environment to symbolise create a connection with the urban geography. The typeface acts as a dynamic weather vane, updated every five minutes to reflect the temperature or wind strength of the area in which the data is taken. Through the use of several typefaces the design illustrates the diversity of cities and in doing so it is taking part in a shift in which cities need to portray themselves through non specific means. The typographers who designed this device are aware of the historical differences in type styles, specifically how they relate to attitudes about hierarchy, the collapse of order and non–linear means of creating structure. By standing at the vanguard of typography they are able to use emerging technologies to create works that could not have been possible using simpler techniques. These are not for novelty’s sake, but are a response to the needs of the designer and the client.
The Twin Cities typographic system designed by typographers Just Rossum and Erik Blokland from LettError is a dynamic design for the twin cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis. It treats various external factors such as wind strength and the temperature of the cities as a means of generating form. It is a family of fonts that cover a wide variety of styles including a sans serif, sans, rounded sans as well as many other whimsical fonts. It was commissioned as part of a competition to explore the relationship between typography and cities. Out of the six entrants invited to the competition, their entry was the winner based on their response to the brief.
While this typeface can be used in common design software (Adobe Illustrator, InDesign et. al) it is similar to the Casa de Musica Logo Generator and also exists in the form of a tailored software program. This program takes the form of a special web applet allowing it to take live data from the National Weather Service Forecast Office in realtime; the wind strength or temperature affecting the overall form of the typeface throughout the day. Aside from existing as a living pulse of the city’s weather, the designer can choose to input parameters along the program’s predetermined axis of variability. While this is a novel use of typography, I will be focusing on the contextual network–oriented meteorological component of the design.
The typeface consists of ten different fonts: Formal, Gothic, Sans, Poster Sans, Casual, Round, BitRound, Weird Round, Weird and Loony. These ten can be viewed as inhabiting three distinct typographic dimensions – Serif / Formal, Round / Informal and Alternate / Weird. They begun with a two dimensional map of four quadrants and then expanded this into a three dimensional cube of eight quadrants to allow for a finer granularity between fonts. By beginning with a simple and “sturdy low contrast sans serif design with subtle curves and rounded edges” they were able to extend the basic shape of the fonts to create the rest of the family.66 The cube allowed them to extrapolate the vast array of characters that would be able to bridge the differences between styles. The X axis is formality, the Y axis is informality and the Z Axis is weirdness, giving the designers the ability to “need a glyph that’s close to (0.56, 0.33 0.92)’’ to ensure smooth transitions between each of the styles.67 The temperature used by the system ranges from -10˚F to 100˚F (12.2˚C – 37.8˚C), the coldest using the Serif/Formal typographic values and the hottest using the Round/Informal values; the Alternate/Weird Axis is not used for the temperature component of the identity. This allows for a gradient of options depending on the temperature at the time by including a mixture of fonts in the same line of text. By creating such a comprehensive system they were able to respond to the wide variety of possible external factors and contexts.
Yesterday’s designer was closely linked with the command-control vision of the engineer, but today’s designer is closer to the if-then approach of the programmer. It is this programmatic or social logic that holds sway in relational design...obsessed with processes and systems to generate designs, which do not follow the same linear, cybernetic logic of yesteryear. 68
The relational and contextual qualities of the Twin Cities system would not be able to operate without being connected to the internet. It is by being part of a network that it is able to mutate and transform in real time. Examples such as this illustrate how much influence the internet has in creating our network dominated culture. This flexible and feedback orientated societal structure is a new one, having replaced the older formal industrial era hierarchies.
For Network Theorist Manuell Castells the network has become all invasive and paraphrases Marshall Mcluhan to make his point: “The Network is the Message”.69 This Network Culture has become the dominant paradigm of our time; not just composting the older machine oriented society of Modernism but also the electronic and digital based culture of Postmodernism. For Frederic Jameson, Postmodernism was a result of Late Capitalism, the commodity having become transformed into an abstract entity. Continuing on from Jameson and Castells, Architectural Theorist Kazys Varnelis recognises that the value of the commodity has become less about what has become abstracted but its position in the network. This notion of importance based on contextual relationships has importance for not just capital, but for individual identity as well. The singular subjective identity, once deemed so central to enlightenment values has now become subsumed into the network. Our identity is now composed of relations articulating where we sit in the network: “affirming one’s identity today means affirming the identity of others.”70 The identity of the Twin Cities now relies on affirming the identity and importance of the other non–formal and symbolic factors of place. The transferal of subjectivity was transferred to another node in the network: weather.
The advertising campaign for the Nordkyn peninsula in Norway is another example of using external environmental factors to alter the form of a logo. Designed by Neue Design Studio, the logo takes weather statistics from the Norwegian Meteorological Institute to affect the shape and colour of the logo. To promote the area as a tourist destination the tag line Where Nature Rules is used to highlight the sublime qualities of the arctic area. Acting as a compass, the logo is distorted to reflect the wind strength and direction while the colour values are changed according to the temperature ranging from –25˚C to 25˚C. This is a logo that has a deep relationship to the area, where the nature rules over not just the peninsula, but to the logo as well. The tagline and weather details are adjacent to the logo, set in a clean and rational typeface appropriate for the Nordic locale. This dynamic identity reflects the local and immediate environment while being conscious of situating itself within the broader historical and cultural domain of Nordic design.
In representing a non urban area, the use of the weather as a means to generate and alter form has a closer semantic link to the logo than the Twin Cities typeface. While the typeface represents the diversity of urban life through the use of a multitude of possible forms and variations, it is the connection to the natural environment that informs the programmatic and contextual element of the identity. The city is an artificial environment, yet the values that affect the typeface are composed of natural phenomena. Perhaps different databases such as traffic speeds or population densities would provide a more cohesive means in which to connect to the urban environments of St. Pauls and Minneapolis. The differences between Twin Cities and the Nordkyn logo reflects the geographic scale both are attempting to represent. While a large area, the Nordkyn Peninsula is a monocultural area composed of a natural landscape; The Twin Cities are microcosms composed of the diversity of human culture. The difficulties in representing two cities, and the cultural diversities that lie within, is a harder task than referencing a broader culture with the deep historical connection it has to a country.
The competition was commissioned as an experiment to understand the relationship between urban identity and typography. This relationship is often fraught with problems. How can one consolidate the vast cultural attitudes of the residents of a city into a typeface, let alone the geographic, historic and architectural aspects as well. The creation of a new typeface poses new new problems: does one impose a specific ideal of the city by creating a typeface and expect it to respect all the factors that define the image of a city, let alone two. Typefaces that are now considered emblematic of cities, nations and cultures were not imposed by above, but allowed the passage of time to imbue the font with meaning. Johnston, the typeface used by Transport for London has become synonymous with the city of London becoming part of the urban fabric. The classical form of British modernity that underscores the form of Gill Sans is a result of the culture and training of the designer Eric Gill who contributed to the Johnston typeface. Another typeface which has come to represent a city, if not officially, is Gotham designed by Tobias Frere Jones. Taking cues from the lettering seen on the Port Authority building in New York he extrapolating the alphabet by finding similar examples throughout the city. Through this survey of the typographic environment of the city he was able to construct a typeface family that reflects the city’s character. In paying homage to the semantic relationship that Gotham has with New York, it was used on the Freedom Tower memorial stone on the site of the Twin Towers.
The Twin Cities typographic system does not refer to the semantic or historic nature of the cities themselves, but to the vibrant and multicultural aspects of cities in general. They rejected the idea of using stylistic traits common to either city, deriding it as kitsch. Their proposal reflected on the heterogeneity of urban life: "To an extent our proposal is more about a city and diversity in general, rather than something specific from St. Paul and Minneapolis".71
The recent rebranding of Melbourne City is one such example where the representation of multicultural and vibrant city replaced concerns to represent specifics. Consisting of a geometric capital M, the inside of the logo has been used to present a diverse range of options and appearances. The internal system of triangles and angular facets allows the designers to create a multiplicity of options that can be used to present the diversity found in Melbourne. The different patterns and forms inside the logo allow for a multiplicity of options, but unlike the Twin Cities typeface they do not respond to any external factors. Instead the visual syntax is used to display semantic values or to illustrate differing organisational structures within the Melbourne brand. While the use of a dynamic and flexible identity system is a relatively new occurrence, it is not situated exclusively within the domain of the networked and the relational.
Galanter refers to the three distinctions between Modernism, Postmodernism and Complexism as being distinguished by Hierarchy, Collapse and Connectionist Networks. We can further explore these three differences through the lens of typeface systems. The Univers typeface family designed by Adrian Frutiger in 1954 is one of the great type designs in the modernist tradition. The clear rational forms of the letters helped designers portray universalist messages, using it as a global language that could be exported around the world. The typeface should clearly speak the message contained in the text: the typography should be invisible so as to better service the text. The system in which it was presented is a result of the modernist mind. Organised along a grid system, it presented the hierarchy of the typeface in a clear and concise manner. Not just through the numbering system used to denote the range of faces but also through the rationalist grid. This clearly outlines the differing weights of the font; an informational tool used to visualise the hierarchy of the typographic system.
Designed by Letterror in 1989, Beowolf is a typeface that become more distorted the more it is used. By using the Postscript technology that was new at the time, they were able to alter the underlying code of the typeface. Through programming, the designers were able to create a font that creates minor distortions each time a letter is used. The more often a specific character is used the more that character will become distorted. Throughout a sample of text, more commonly used letters like ‘e’, ‘s’ and ‘n’ would become extremely distorted and almost unreadable while less commonly used letters such as ‘q’ and ‘x’ would remain fairly coherent. The font never repeats itself as noise is added into the distortion process so that each character is never the same. It is this distortion that appeals to the postmodern fixation on random qualities, by collapsing hierarchies. To refer back to Galanter’s morphological metaphor, Univers is a crystalline structure while Beowolf is an undifferentiated gas.
The Twin Cities typeface is situated in between these two oppositions. It has an underlying structure ranging from a soft rounded sans serif to a firm and rigid slab serif with all the gradients in between; as well as the loony and weird variations. There is no strict hierarchy involved in delineating the differences, these are a result of the parametric inputs responding to the designers preferences – or more importantly – the natural environment. The specimen sheet they provided does not work in the same way that a typical specimen sheet illustrates the range of weights or italics commonly seen in extended typeface families. Instead it is presented as a city map, comparing areas of an imagined city to the different sensibilities that each face portrays. This provides a semantic context to aid those needing to understand the various personalities of each font. As Dewey discusses in reference to language: “signs and symbols derive for their meaning upon the contextual situation in which they appear and are used.”72 The contextual situation for Twin Cities lies in not just the relationship between typeface and imagined urban neighbourhoods nor between the interplay between environment and text, but between the letters themselves. The non–hierarchic network structure of the typeface uses contextual alternates to create a smooth and readable result despite the various typographic styles contained within a single word or sentence.
Contextual alternates have become an important and defining typographic trend in recent years. This is a result of the new Opentype format which allows for 65,536 glyphs in a typeface, a vast improvement over the previously allowed 256. Type designer have been experimenting with the typographic form because of the increased amount of characters able to be embedded into one font. This experimentation has lead to typefaces that play with the idea of ligatures: letters that connect together to enhance readability. Up until the digitisation of typography, fonts were only able to include a small amount of ligatures, notably fi and fl. This allows the terminal of the f to not clash with the crossbar of the t or the ball of the i. Due to the increased range of possibilities allowed through opentype, a wider range of possibilities have been explored. One notable example is the Ed Benguiat family of fonts designed by House Industries in 2007. This family of casual typefaces use an extensive range of contextual ligatures and alternates in an attempt at mimicking the fluid forms of hand rendered typography, of which the typographer and letterer Ed Benguiat is famous for. These homages to mid–century modern lettering uses a vast amount of interlocking and connecting glyphs to create the illusion bespoke typography. The Ed Interlock typeface has a family of 1,400 ligatures allowing for an extremely varied and whimsical typeface. Ed Script uses a similar technique to create the illusion of authentic hand rendered lettering by ensuring that each character smoothly connects to those surrounding it in all but the most unreasonable of character combinations. The fluid forms of both of these typefaces use contextual alternates and respond to their immediate environment.
While the characters in Twin Cities do not connect in the same manner that Ed Interlock and Ed Script do, the Twin Cities system takes this a conceptual step further by allowing for a wide variety of styles and typographic sensibilities to work together. By creating each font with the same weight, width and humanist form the varied forms are able to work in a harmonious and readable manner. The aim of this approach, is to be able to create a typeface where you can tell “a difference if you set a word at the beginning of the day vs the end of the day” while still maintaining the same level of readability and quality of design at all times.73
The question of whether or not the Twin Cities typeface can “effectively represent a city, or communicate what’s unique about a particular place” is best answered by the woman who commissioned the competition: “Maybe. Maybe not.”74 This answer depends on what quantifying factors are included in the question. As discussed, there are many ways of representing a city through a typeface. These can range from incorporating historic cultural elements of the specific location or by allowing the semantic relationship between the urban and typographic form to grow together. Twin Cities does neither. It takes a completely different approach, an approach that is dictated and informed by the changing culture we live in today. It does not respond to the city through formal or semantic dimensions, but through a broader meteorological connection. It represents the diversity of the city by portraying the multicultural fabric of the city through the various differing typographic styles, from a serious and cold formal slab serif, to a warm and friendly rounded sans serif, to a mixture of bizarre forms which have a passing resemblance to the typographic form. All of these work together using a well designed humanist base; a handy typographic metaphor for cosmopolitan city living. Despite all of these networked meanings, this typeface could represent any city. The fact is that it was made for the twin cities of St. Pauls and Minneapolis, and is thus able to represent them. This could only be possible because the project and designers are aware of the cultural and technological period in which they work. Not just in using advances in the construction of typographic artefacts as a means of creating variability but in understanding why and when to use them. As shown in their previous work, they are able to construe the defining qualities of the age into structural qualities of the work. The Twin Cities responds to the networked culture in which it resides by creating a structure not around hierarchy, or by ignoring or collapsing it, but by aligning the structural qualities in the network that it resides. If, as Blauvelt argues, that there are now different defining markers of this period, this project must be marked against the qualities and requirements of our age. Seen in this light, the answer to whether or not this typeface represents a specific locale the answer is not an indecisive “Maybe”, but a decisive yes.
This thesis has sought to understand how changing scientific paradigms have shaped recent design practice, specifically that of logo and identity systems for cultural and public institutions. The field of design practice must always respond to the broader culture in order to stay relevant. To achieve this there must be a constant dialogue between all forms of enquiry, ranging from the specific to the general and from the very large to the very small. Throughout the history of human society there have been different means of understanding the relation between the very large to the very small. A similar structure exists at all scales: a dynamic relational network that underlies all systems and phenomena. These are constantly changing, adapting and emerging to create higher levels of complexity.
That there can be no external perspective in which to objectively observe this system indicates that we are embedded in our network and can only understand a limited range of phenomena. The aim of consilience is not to ignore the Humanities but is an attempt to incorporate the various islands into one body of knowledge. Every field of enquiry must be given the space it deserves without fear of being enveloped into one undifferentiated mass. Consilience recognises the connections between each field, understanding the whole network of relations consisting of the vast body of knowledge, and strengthens those ties. By understanding that the same network of relations operate at all scales it is possible to create a more unified view of knowledge.
In strengthening the connections between design theory and science, the use of logos proved to be an appropriate example. Acting as the smallest and most reducible mark that an organisation can utilise, they are able to act as nodal points in the broader ecology of ideas in which they are situated. The Casa de Musica logo device recognises that the context in which it is used is the most important means in which it can respond to the designed, personal and cultural environment. By acting as a vessel it is able to not only portray the formal and symbolic properties that can be poured into it, but that these all rely on the contingent solutions to work most effectively. Without the constant changes and adaptations based on environmental factors, the logo would cease to become a lived language and would remain a static device.
The Lovebytes identity responds to evolutionary processes in a different means. While it does not respond to environmental forces, it used generative systems that allow population thinking to be applied to allow the most useful genes to be passed on to the next generation. Through a simplified metaphor of complex systems a vast amount of possibilities were created that allowed for a seemingly infinite amount of design possibilities. The designers successfully achieved the creation of empathy with technology by not only creating creatures with anthropomorphic qualities but by using morphological systems shared by all organisms.
As a response to the interplay between typographic and urban forms, the Twin Cities typeface responds in a manner that is appropriate for our time. It is aware of the cultural period in which it was created as a response to technological innovations. In responding to the networked culture in which we exist, it illustrates the possibility of using non hierarchical structure as a means of responding to meteorological phenomena. Through this approach it illustrates the possibility of encompassing a much larger scale in the production of identity. This allows for the use of novel yet appropriate means to create designs that do not require semantic devices as a means of cementing the relationship between disparate fields, typography, urban design and something as banal as the weather. All of these case studies serve to reinforce Blauvelt’s contention that Relational Design “tends toward the reduction of subjectivity in the design process or transfers the subjective to others in the network of relationships.”75 Without this awareness, they would not be the dynamic and vibrant logos that they are.
These three examples point the way forward to a new and fruitful period of design in which there are new methods of experimentation. As Postmodernism used content as a means of revitalising form, hopefully a focus on context can be used as a means of revitalising both form and content. There are many changes occurring in design that are overturning previously held assumptions as to the nature of what is viable. Design is not a static field, it is a form of communication that is always changing and adapting to the culture around it. In doing so it is a language that defines truth value as what works, not as an abstract ideal. All of these case studies prove that these theories are not just abstract, but they produce results.
The defining qualities of the Newtonian era lasted for several hundred years and produced the greatest outpouring of human ingenuity and progress the world has ever seen. We are still benefitting from the fruits of the Enlightenment and will continue to do so for a long time. Yet they were based on scientific concepts which have proven to be, in some respects, incorrect. If we are indeed shaped by our understanding of the universe, then we are entering into a new period of human ingenuity. If Postmodernism was merely a period of confusion marked by a final rejection of ideologies that have no connection to modern day, then the time to start fresh is now. By strengthening the connections between a self–organising and relational view of the universe to a self–organising and relational model for design I hope to illustrate a way forward.
1. Aristotle and Botton, Alain de. Status Anxiety. (Camberwell, Penguin, 2004 ) p.48
2. Bentley, Arthur & Dewey, John. Knowing and the Known. (Boston, Beacon Press, 1949)
3. Bentley & Dewey op. cit., 134
4. Slife, Brent D. Taking Practice Seriously: Toward a Relational Sociology. (Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, 24 2) p65
5. Bentley & Dewey, ibid,
6. Bentley & Dewey, ibid,
7. Smolin, Lee. Why Science is Like Democracy TED
8. Brown, Colleen. The Relational Meme Fillip Vol 1 (Summer 1996
9. Enwezor, Okwui. ‘The Postcolonial Constellation: Contemporary Art in a State of Permanent Transition in Terry Smith, Okwui Enwezor and Nancy Condee (eds.), Anti- monies of Art and Culture: Modernity, Postmodernity, contemporaneity (Durham: Duke University, 2008), pp 218
10. Bentley & Dewey, op. cit., p133
11. Emirbayer, Mustafa. ‘Manifesto for a Relational Sociology’ The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 103, No. 2. (Sep., 1997), p 281
12. Brown, ibid
13. Slife, op. cit., 69
14. Smolin, Lee. ed. Brockman, John. The New Humanists Edge
17. Galanter, Philip. ‘Complexism and the Role of Evolutionary Art’ http://philipgalanter.com/research/
18. Darwin, Charles. On Natural Selection (Camberwell, Penguin Books, 2004) p117
19. Waldrop, M Mitchell. Complexity. (Penguin Books. St Ives. 1992)
20. Galanter, Philip. Complexism and the Role of Evolutionary Art
24. Blauvelt, Andrew. Towards Relational Design
27. James, William. What Pragmatism Means. (Penguin Books. Camberwell. 1907) p73
28. Smolin, Lee. ed. Brockman, John. The New Humanists
29. Brown, Colleen. ‘The Relational Meme’ Fillip Vol 1 (Summer 1996)
30. Bourriaud, Nicolas. Relational Aesthetics. (France, Les Presses du Reel, 2002) p14
31. Blauvelt, ibid,
33. Davies, Colin & Parrinder Monika. 'Part of the Process’ Eye Magazine Issue 71
34. Bishop, Claire Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics (October 110 51-79 2004) p53
35. Galanter, ibid
36. Davis, Meredith. ‘I’ve got a feeling We’re Not in Kansas Anymore...’ (Interactions Sep/Oct 2008) p31
37. Julier, Guy. ‘Value, Relationality and Unfinished Objects’ Design and Culture (Vol 1 Issue 1 2009) p96
38. Blauvelt, ibid
39. Felsing, Ulrike, Design2context. Dynamic Identities in Cultural and Public Contexts. (Lars Muller Publishers. Freiburg. 2010) p231
40. Smolin, ibid
41. Sagmeister, Stefan. The Power of Time off, TED
44. The 17 Sides of a Cultural Identity Brand New
49. Stanisweski, Mary Anne. The Power of Display: a History of Exhibition Installations at the Museum of Modern Art, Cambridge MMass. MIT Press 1998
51. James, William. What Pragmatism Means. (Penguin Books. Camberwell. 1907) p68
52. Schmidt, Karsten Lovebytes 2007 generative ident toxi.in.process.
54. Lovebytes 2007 / Generative Branding Universal Everything
56. Solaas, Leonardo. Whitelaw, Mitchell. Watz, Marius. Levine, Jeremy.Generative Practice: The State of the Art Digimag
57. Benjamin, Walter. The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. (Pengun Books. St Ives. 1936)
58. Sterling, Bruce. Shaping Things, (MIT Press, Cambridge Massachusetts, 2005)
60. Galanter, Philip. Complexism and the Role of Evolutionary Art
62. Delanda, Manuel Deleuze and the Use of the Genetic Algorithm in Architecture YouTube: Columbia University
63. Schmidt ibid
65. Worthington, Michael. ed Littlejohn, Deborah. Metro Letters: A Typeface for the Twin Cities. (Design Institute, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, 2003) p184
67. Blauvelt, Andrew. Towards Relational Design
68. Castells, Manuel. The Internet Galaxy (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2001) p1
69. Varnelis, Kazys. The Rise of Network Culture Networked Publics.
70. Blokland, Erik Metro Letters: A Typeface for the Twin Cities (Design Institute, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, 2003) 91
71. Dewey, John. ‘Context and Thought’ University of California publications in philosophy, (Volume 12, Issue 3. 1931) p5
72. Blokland op cit
73. Abrams op cit
74. Blauvelt op cit
Notes: There are big differences between the footnoting style used academically, and those used online. I have tried to create a hybrid here - part hyperlink and part numbered footnoting. It was partially to make a point: that the style used academically is an old system, unfit for todays world. Creating the bibliography was the worst part of this thesis, causing me to lose quite a few points due to my hatred and laziness. I've tried, in part to correct for this by trimming down all unnecessary footnotes, and by using links were possible. Naturally this may cause problems, if you spot any notify me and I'll fix it. If something is incorrect or missing, and you would like to know the correct source, mention it in the comments and I'll track it down for you.