Archives for November 2014

November 19, 2014 - Comments Off on Amalgam | Research Presentation

Amalgam | Research Presentation

Lately there has been a consolidation of ideas, first of all my internal conflict between what it means to be either an artist or designer and secondly reaching an intersection in my research. For this reason I felt compelled to label this post ‘amalgam’ in reference to the uniting of multiple entities into one form. At this moment in time I still remain torn between disciplines; looking for a resolution a self-reflexive debate arose, the paragone between art and graphic design. A paragone (Italian term meaning ‘comparison’) is a debate that surfaced during the Renaissance in which practitioners sought to champion an art form over another. In former analyses I had originally found consolation by determining that graphic design remained entwined in the creative act (a poiesis, a term derivative from the Greek meaning ‘to make’), in principle this remains to be an accurate estimation yet I still feel restless with this resolve. Searching for answers I discovered that my quandary was reciprocated and despite the fact that delineations were found (art makes questions and design makes solutions as discussed in a preceding post), quite often people agreed that graphic design constituted as art and vice versa.

Artist and Architect Giorgio Vasari said that design is the fundamental, the basis for all art, painting, dance, sculpture, writing – it is the fundamental of all the arts. It is the manipulation of form and content in all the arts. So design, and graphic design, is no different from design in painting. If you carry this idea to its natural conclusion, you will decide that here is no difference between design and painting, or design and sculpture, it is all the same.

Paul Rand | Conversations with Students

In conjunction with my introspective search for lucidity concerning the aforementioned internal paragone between artist and designer, was the amalgamation of research in furtherance of my interim viva. Devising a concise narrative posed extremely difficult as I had obtained an extensive influx of information that required refining. This process of reduction proved indispensable and the presentation has surfaced ideas that had previously remained unclear. However, I had intended to demystify my project through the delivery of my presentation having taken on board a number of research seminars and their abridged approach, regrettably I do not feel that I achieved this objective with regard to the spectators of my presentation. Nevertheless the extent of content that I collated in my presentation did feel necessary in order to formulate the complete hypothesis. Over the coming weeks I aim to re-evaluate my convoluted presentation and deduct elements that I deem superfluous in favour of creating a straightforward clarification of my project.

November 14, 2014 - Comments Off on Research Abstract

Research Abstract

Graphic Design as a means of extending the human capacity to communicate | Humanity's entanglement with technology and how this in turn alters Graphic Design

Some time , around 70,000 years ago, an evolutionary change occurred in the dimensions of the skull of the homo-sapiens species. Cieri, (see McName, 2014) suggests that this change facilitated a development in brain capacity that enabled the homo-sapiens species to join other hominid species in the development of tools. It is commonplace to describe the development of tools as a deliberate attempt to extend the range and capability of the body; this is born out by evidence of how Palaeolithic tools were initially fashioned to extend the capability of the human hand. The evidence we have suggests that unlike other hominid species, homo-sapien development of tool use coincided with the development of image making and in particular the deployment of graphical forms of symbolic meaning, (Drinnon, 2014). Can we usefully discuss the use of image making to deploy symbolic meaning as a means to extend the body. What does this imply for contemporary practices such as graphic Design; for our histories of communication and furthermore what insight can contemporary design bring to our understandings of Palaeolithic image making.


DRINNON, D. (2014) ‘Geometric Signs from Genevieve Von Petzinger’ [Online] Available at: (Accessed 16 November)


MCNAMEE, D. (2014) ‘Softening of human features 'coincided with technological breakthrough' [Online] Available at: (Accessed 16 November 2014)

November 4, 2014 - Comments Off on Higher Consciousness and the Autobiographical Self

Higher Consciousness and the Autobiographical Self

Humanity appears to inhibit two realities (although dualism is disputed) and our consciousness is certainly the logical explanation, it is this ‘inner’ reality or the ‘self’ that holds our distinctive understanding of our daily lives. The modern age that we know today is a result of our mind's profound cognitive ability to interpret our surroundings, and most significantly be able to further convert our knowledge and experiences into something new entirely. We as humans share a unique ability above all other animals, we are able to construct and shape our entire world around us like never before, thriving on creativity and invention. In order to begin piecing together how creativity may have become possible, I think it’s important to briefly highlight the brain's ability to render and conjure images, illustrated in the images below. In the first image we have the visual cortex shown in yellow, green refers to tactile and blue auditory. The image-making regions then send signals to the memory-holding regions shown in purple.

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The significant attribute of higher-consciousness is the ability to transmit information from our memory back to our visual cortex and also be able to fabricate our sense of self from these memories. ‘Simply put, the development of enormously complex re-entry neural circuits in the brain’ (See Lewis-Williams, 2002). A study on visual mental imagery and visual perception conducted by Giorgio Ganis, shows the brain's ability to transfer signals from memory to our visual cortex and established that visual imagery and visual perception draw on most of the same neural machinery. It is this trait in the brain's ability to later recall visual data and send it to the visual cortex that has initiated a number of theories with regard to prehistoric creativity. One particular theory supposes the brain's ability to recall visual images allowed for visions, such as dreams and altered states and suspected spiritual experiences which humans sought to transfer their visions to the ‘physical’.

Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio in a TED talk on ‘the quest to understand consciousness’ assumed that the motivation to communicate visually was induced by an understanding of time, the memory of before and the knowledge that they could transmit meaning beyond the confines of the self in the future. The observation of time is a plausible incentive for Paleolithic hominids to fabricate art that would supersede their own existence and various contemporary artists have expressed a similar motivation. In an earlier post I discussed the presentation conducted by Dr Jonathon Clark in which he spoke of the ‘longevity of art and the shortness of life’ and a comparable citation can be found in the Channel 4 ‘Who are you?’ with Grayson Perry; one of the subjects states ‘I’m fragile with the possibility of immortality, identity is fragile, and then what you leave from your identity is a possible legacy of some kind of immortality’. Visual communication has the capacity to convey one's self beyond the confines of mortality and without an appreciation for time, I highly doubt early hominids would have begun to devise what we know as the creative act.

Grayson Perry: Who are you? (2014). [TV programme] Channel 4, 22 October 2014

LEWIS-WILLIAMS, D. (2002) The Mind in the Cave: Consciousness and the Origins of Art. London: Thames & Hudson.

November 1, 2014 - Comments Off on Visual expression as a form of technology and technology as an extension of nature

Visual expression as a form of technology and technology as an extension of nature

More than conversation at the user interface, we need the creative elaboration of the particular dynamic capacities that these new media afford and of the ways that through them humans and machines together can perform interesting new effects. These are avenues that have just begun to be explored, primarily in the fields of new media, graphics and animation, art and design. Not only do these experiments promise innovations in our thinking about machines, but they also open up the equally exciting prospect of new conceptualizations of what it means to be human, understood not as a bounded, rational entity but as an unfolding, shifting biography of culturally specific experience and relations, inflected for each of us in uniquely particular ways.

SUCHMAN, L. (2009) Human-Machine Reconfigurations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

As of late I have been contemplating the relation between art and graphic design, and come to a postulation that perhaps they are more closely entwined than I had previously recognised. Having cogitated a variety of text that equates art and graphic design as merely an extension of our natural ability to communicate to one another has alleviated my recent quandary. If I were to isolate art and design to their respected attributes then delineations can be deduced, Thomas Widdershoven (creative director of Design Academy Eindhoven) stipulates that “Art is much more self-conscious, self-initiated, but also solipsistic. Design is much more open to the world”, a notion shared with John Maeda (former president of the Rhode Island School of Design) illustrated in a number of his TED lectures (fig.1).

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Fig 1: John Maeda: How art, technology and design inform creative leaders

Nevertheless, by reducing art and graphic design to a constituent element of visual expression has evoked a thought provoking conception of ideas from which I plan on developing further. My resolve has no doubt been stimulated by recent perturbations, particularly the emphasis on technology as an extension of nature that has now resonated with my understanding of visual expression existing as an extension of our innate capacity to communicate orally and also physically with regard to body language. Having stipulated that I perceive visual expression to be an extension of our biological means of communication I see no reason why the creative act cannot be ascertained as a form of technology. Humanity remains bound and determined for a metamorphosis of crucial significance, an entanglement with technology that encompasses every aspect of our lives.

Visual Communication, or perhaps sensory communication would be more apt considering the breadth of expression now attainable following the influx of technological means of transmission whereby the multisensory ensue. Our entanglement with technology in correlation with expression has provided an ever-evolving catalyst of emancipation from our consciousness, highlighted by Marshall Mcluhan in Understanding Media, The Extensions of Man:

In this electric age we see ourselves being translated more and more into the form of information, moving toward the technological extension of consciousness. That is what is meant when we say that we daily know more and more about man. We mean that we can translate more and more of ourselves into other forms of expression that exceed ourselves.

MCLUHAN, M. (1994) Understanding Media, The Extensions of Man. Massachusetts: The MIT Press.