The 45th City: Visualizing and Experiencing Fake News

Jonathan Hanahan
Assistant Professor, Communication Design
Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts
Washington University in St. Louis

Fake news is a problem created by designers. It is a problem of aesthetics, not simply content or substance. Attempts to clarify the way information from any source is rendered in the walled gardens of our social media platforms—where reportedly 62% of American adults get news information—have homogenized the visual representation of all content, reliable or not.

This presentation discusses an ongoing research project—titled The 45th City—which investigates the role that design plays in the current fake news epidemic, epitomized by the recent election of the 45th President of the United States. The project explores speculative ways of visualizing both reliable and unreliable news websites through the physicalization of code into 3D artifacts. It inquires on a real world implication of the legitimization of such entities and encourages audiences to occupy, investigate, and contemplate their relationship to digital infrastructure beyond the thin veneer of their devices.

This series of large scale 3D artifacts along with corresponding digital renderings will be on view at The Luminary in St. Louis, MO in September 2017 and the pinkcomma gallery in Boston, MA in early 2018.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 4.1: San Jose State on Saturday, Sept 30, 2017.