December 6, 2014Comments are off for this post.

Turner Prize 2014

I have found a number of revelations by engaging with this year’s Turner Prize nominees that I expect will shape my own methodology and ensuing project. As I discussed in an earlier post ‘All the World’s Futures’, I am beginning to establish recurring themes in works that on the surface appear to diverge in their overarching implied denotation. I have immersed myself in the work itself and attempted to delve deeper in trying to understand the artist’s influences, as a result I have chosen particular elements that resonate with my own practice.

Duncan Campbell | It for Others

A History

Duncan Campbell won this year’s Turner Prize with his film ‘It for Others’ that explores how we can understand certain histories through objects. Campbell’s fascination for African art coexists with a portrayal of a constructed history. Originally I established an association with ‘It for Others’ due to the traditional art shown that I conceded to be related to my earlier foray into primitive modes of expression, though I admit this early delineation was perhaps superficial. The African art alternatively strove to question the value of objects in a social and historical context.

One particular element of Campbell’s work that resonated with me was his description of a constructed history that is malleable and susceptible to bias. This observation had been highlighted in a previous conversation I had with Dr Stephen Thompson at the early stages of my project and has resurfaced in an altered façade. In an interview with Campbell conducted by Tate as part of the promotion for his nomination, he stated:

What’s contained in these archives is actually highly constructed and partial. There’s all sorts of gaps and lapses and even, kind of, prejudices against certain subjects. The histories are very important but I also think it’s very important to look at how those histories are constructed as well.

Duncan Campbell

This whole paradigm of a constructed history and the precursors who fashioned this accepted history as we know it poses interesting ideas of an active viscous structure prone to fictitious dogmas. In my previous post I deliberated the work of Croatian artist Sanja Iveković and her work ‘The Disobedienst’ that strove to reveal the disremembered stories of individuals who had made considerable contributions to society. The key figures in Iveković’s work had become marginalised having resisted the Nazi Regime and only now were they collectively revered for their own personal experiences. Drawing upon the actor-network theory I think it is important to delve into the individual elements that contribute to a society or history. Previous Turner Prize winner Grayson Perry made a thought-provoking statement in his Channel 4 series ‘Who are you?’ that approached the question of the individual, he concluded that:

Our identity is something we perform over a lifetime, so this idea that we are this static thing I think, is an illusion. We are a series of bits of baggage, but eventually they build up into this ongoing, lifelong artwork that is our individual identity and we feel it and we live it and we perform it.

Grayson Perry

In addition to realising Campbell’s motives behind ‘It for Others’ I have also established an appreciation in the works method, predominantly the episodic manner that Campbell ascertains: “It’s a moment in thought as opposed to being some kind of conclusion, it’s kind of open-ended” (see Tate, 2014) I found solace in this statement having grappled with my own thought process and similarly how I would ultimately bring my idea’s to fruition. Recently I have begun to adopt the theatrical term ‘Diegesis’ as a label for my work for the reason that it denotes a monologue of sorts in which an interior view of a world is externalised and most importantly a fictional view. Above all I chose diegesis as I felt it reflected my ideas in a concise and approachable manner, basically reducing my hypothesis into two delineations of ‘interior view’ and a ‘fiction’. Campbell’s work has provided a newfound acceptance of complexity and I hope that by implementing the term diegesis I may be able to fabricate a project that becomes a self-reflexive monologue of ideas in perhaps the guise of a book.

I am beginning to envision that a book would become a catalyst for thought as well as a means of honing my design methodology. Essentially it would take on the form of art with its implied contextual framework and embody my progression as a designer.

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

Tate (2014). TateShots: Turner Prize 2014, Duncan Campbell. [Video Onlne] Available at: (Accessed 05 December 2014

December 2, 2014Comments are off for this post.

All the World’s Futures

On a number of occasions this week I have been required to articulate my forthcoming project as succinctly as possible. This has proved challenging as I have a proclivity to construct a research framework that contains multiple possibilities and find it problematic when asked to “describe in a few words”. Two incidences where a coherent description for my proposed project was necessary was at a selection workshop for the opportunity to invigilate and produce work at the Venice Biennale and in a discussion with Professor Robert Pepperell.

A variety of factors that arose from these discussions have assisted in a potential route for further investigation, predominantly cultural theory. The Venice Biennale in 2015 has an overarching theme of All the World’s Futures which is ‘devoted to a fresh appraisal of the relationship of art and artists to the current state of things’ (Enwezor, 2014). I instinctively drew connections with this theme and my own inquiry into the actor-network theory by French scholars Bruno Latour and Michel Callon. The actor-network theory takes into account surrounding factors as part of an interconnecting framework and can be applied to the collective milieu of cultures found at the Biennale. The prospect of being present at the Venice Biennale has no doubt sparked further interest in the transmission of ideas between diverse social constructs.

To date I have accumulated a complex range of research that attempts to reveal how we as humans make sense of the world and in turn shape our surroundings. The type of research that has been collected lends itself to philosophical musings and I am finding it challenging when trying to direct it into a tangible realisation. It is for this reason that I decided to discuss cultural theory with Professor Robert Pepperell as a possible application for my research among other key topics such as humanity’s entanglement with technology and cognitive perception of the world. I believe that there is certainly a mounting interest in the social sciences for artists and designers who are fully aware of our global culture whereby communication ought to be more universal. In a recent article on ‘Design Week’ was a dialogue between various academics on graphic design in 50 years and I saw a similar observation of our global culture’s effect on graphic communication by Professor Teal Triggs (see Banks, 2014):

In 50 years I feel like the mixing of cultures – which is already happening to some extent – will lead to unexpected outcomes. The cocktail of references, languages and even humour will surely encourage designers to think differently.

Professor Teal Triggs | Royal College of Art

This subject will be expanded further in a number of posts on the Turner Prize and Artist Mundi.

BANKS, T. (2014) ‘What will visual communication look like in 50 years time?’ [Online] Available at: (Accessed 02 December)

ENWEZOR , O. (2014) ‘56th International Art Exhibition - All the World’s Futures’ [Online] Available at: (Accessed 02 December)

Further Reading

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November 14, 2014Comments are off for this post.

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 10, 2014Comments are off for this post.

Research Framework

Mind Map

November 1, 2014Comments are off for this post.

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.

October 25, 2014Comments are off for this post.

What Now?

State of Entropy

In an earlier post I highlighted why analyses became the solution to my disarray and uncertainty, allowing me to overcome the expanse of knowledge I was investigating. However, recently I have become overwhelmed with a discord of ideas and attempting to search for lucidity out of my current perplexed state. Having spoken to Dr Stephen Thompson I began to consider that I may have been trying to implement methodologies to design that perhaps remain solely associated with photography, in particular the mimetic artifice inherently ingrained within the photographic image.


By acknowledging that my former approach was convoluted with predisposed ideologies that did not really attain relevance to my latest endeavours I feel that I am now able to reveal my true intentions. Perhaps I was lazy and relying on my prior research and by taking a step back I have begun to explore and assimilate a more suitable focus.


An artist is a man who digests his own subjective impressions and knows how to find a general objective meaning in them, and how to express them in a convincing form.

Maxim Gorkey

Contemplating my former attempts to conjure a theoretical grounding from which to base my forthcoming project allowed me to uncover the rudimentary elements that were prevalent throughout, predominately visual communication, although it is important to note that I plan on expanding my future research to cover multiple instances of sensory stimuli. Rather than focus on the creative act, a foundation which I previously relied upon as an artist whereby I became preoccupied in the act of self-expression, I now need to consider others. Striving to transform my methodologies towards the field of design in which others (clients) and their messages are to be cogitated and conveyed, the successful transmission of ideas becomes imperative. This is not to say that I plan on relinquishing my own sense of diegesis throughout this project, I solely want to foster a greater propensity to articulate meaning via design.

Let us consider two important factors, the two poles of the creation of art: the artist on the one hand, and on the other the spectator who later becomes the posterity.

The Creative Act, Marcel Duchamp


At this moment in time I am constructing my amended theoretical framework that I anticipate will assist in invoking a thought-provoking venture into not only graphic communication but also the transmission of ideas within the study of aesthetics i.e. empirical aesthetics and incorporating components from psychoanalyses.

Perhaps investigating the inception of ideas in my study is too expansive in the time that I have, therefore an emphasis on the transmission and inferred connotative/denotative meaning within graphic communication would be more fruitful.

Future Reading:  

The books I intend on reading over the coming weeks encompass semiotics (Mythologies | Roland Barthes), the capabilities of the human mind, along with its flaws and limitations (Brain Bugs | Dean Buonomano and How To Create A Human Mind | Ray Kurzweil), the instigation and foundation of human creativity (Last Ape Standing | Chip Walkter) and why the traditional artist is being transformed into the designer (Design as Art | Bruno Munari).

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© Oliver Norcott 2015 – 2023