Thursday, 22 October 2009

Send and Receive Workshop #2

I'm not going to lie... When we were told in the last workshop about the various texts we had to read it baffled me. I didn't understand how it linked to volunteering so I took the 'ignorance is bliss' approach with regards to them until about 7pm the evening before. At which point I read a selection whilst getting ready to go out. Shocking, I know, but at least I'm honest.

The texts that I read initially were the First Things First 1964 manifesto, and the 2000 manifest, and a couple of the essay responses to them. To be perfectly honest, they angered me. I know this brief is all about looking at the deeper value of design and its application, but I just don't agree with a word these pretentious 'god-like' designers have written! In summary, they created manifesto in 1964 trying to re-radicalise design that had become lazy and uncritical - they wanted to highlight the humanist dimensions of graphic design; saying that we should be assigning moral value to our work and not selling out to consumer culture. This I can handle and I agree with. The manifesto was then rewritten in 2000 and the designers that contributed to it have put themselves on some sort of pedestal with so many airs and graces.

They basically want us to all stop designing for consumer culture altogether and apply ourselves to 'pursuits more worthy of our problem solving skills'. Bearing in mind that at the time this was written the majority were busy working on 'consumer' briefs and in this air of design arrogance in which they find themselves so highly placed they seem to have forgotten that it was their undertaking of commercial work that got them so well established that they were in a position to have there names on the manifesto in the first place! There are that many design graduates today that if we all took moral high ground and refused work because 'it is not worthy of our time' then HELLO WE'D ALL BE UNEMPLOYED!

Safe to say I abandoned that approach after the 3rd text and moved onto 'The Designer As Author' by Michael Rock which is a response to Barthes' and Foucault's writing on the issue. I did initially try and read Bartes (I assumed that because I'd studied him for critical studies that obviously means I'm a literary genius..... errr yeah ok then) but I just couldn't get my head around it. Quite by chance, in the workshop our group was given 'The Death Of The Author' by Roland Barthes... AWESOME.

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