Safe Niños: A Co-Creation Case Study

Susannah Ramshaw
Associate Director
Designmatters
ArtCenter College of Design

Over 7 million children a year suffer from severe burn injuries in Latin America. COANIQUEM, a non-profit pediatric treatment facility in Santiago, Chile that cares for young burn survivors free of charge, partnered with Designmatters at ArtCenter College of Design in the Spring of 2016 to develop innovative interactive environments for pediatric healing. In the Safe Niños transdisciplinary studio, students were challenged to co-create with stakeholders to reinvigorate the six-acre campus with human-centered and engaging environments aimed at optimal healing for patients and their families, and support the holistic medical approach of the center. Designmatters faculty guided students to use various design ethnography tools, from day-in-the-life patient journeys to brainstorming sessions with medical staff, enabling them to uncover insights and opportunities informed by stakeholders’ daily behaviors and activities across campus. Two follow-up field testing trips allowed a smaller group from the studio to test concepts and push co-creation and empathic methodology to arrive at novel, useful and integrated solutions that were ultimately implemented at COANIQUEM’s campus by Summer 2017, thanks to a nearly-$50,000 award supplied by Sappi North America’s Ideas that Matter grant. Patients at COANIQUEM now enjoy a system of environmental wall graphics and wayfinding, an interactive passport and storybook for the 10 rehabilitative therapies, and an area dedicated specifically for teenagers on campus.

Portraits of Obama: Media, Fidelity, and the 44th President

Scholarship: Creative Work Award Winner

Kareem Collie
Lecturer
Harvey Mudd
Stanford University

“In a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t always rank that high on the truth meter…information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation. So all of this is not only putting pressure on you; it’s putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy.” -Obama

President Obama made this statement in May 2010, during one of his most tumultuous years in office— healthcare reform, financial reform, the BP oil spill … the list continues. The notion of being bombarded by media is not a new one. This idea was discussed often during the last half of the 20th century, as television became ubiquitous in American life. The proliferation of media content, voices, and audiences (specifically in relationship to news content) continue to grow and reach into every aspect of our lives through 21st century media tools and channels. The discourse on media and its impact on society continue to call for scrutiny, and as Obama says, it continues to put “new pressure on our country and on our democracy.”

Using Obama as a prism, I examine the culture of American mass media, examining the fidelity of news content amongst the ever-growing, ever-fragmenting, modern media landscape. I investigate the audience’s active engagement in the construction of their relationship to reality, the flawed nature of news makers and their perceptions of the world, and offer an alternative narrative approach to the construction of the self.

I approach this essay through the convention of narrative and visual communication. I discuss narrative as a mechanism of our individual cognition and cultural engagement, allowing for personal and collective understanding of the world around us. The tools of visual communication design are used to reframe the discussion of today’s 24/7 media environment, hoping to step outside of the “wolf’s gullet,” using the tools that help coat its lining.

My hope here is three-fold: (1) Using President Obama as an example, I wish to examine and illuminate the current role of media in our lives, (2) reframe the discourse of media and the active nature of the audience through the use of visual communication design, to pose new questions and answers and (3) present an alternative means of finding our sense of self within the deluge of media today.

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Kareem Collie is a lecturer at Harvey Mudd College and Stanford University. He is a design professional, with over fifteen years of experience designing, directing, and leading projects in branding, advertising, interactive, and creative strategy. His collaborative and leadership skills span across diverse areas of the industry, from the boardroom to the classroom.

Kareem is also a lifelong learner and educator, with a decade of experience teaching design and design thinking. His research interests are visual communications, design thinking, narrative, audience reception, and media theory.

As a deep thinker, visual storyteller, and maker, Kareem endeavors to inject more critical thinking and intentionality into the creative process, a notion that drives both his practice and pedagogy.

 

Critical Making: Design and the Digital Humanities

Scholarship: Published Research Award Winner

Jessica Barness
Associate Professor, Kent State University
Amy Papaelias
Assistant Professor, SUNY New Paltz

Our special issue of Visible Language journal, “Critical Making: Design and the Digital Humanities” (vol. 49, no. 3) locates where, how, and why critical making is emerging and the scholarly forms it takes. Visible Language journal is the oldest peer-reviewed design journal in the world and is currently published by the University of Cincinnati.

The idea for this special issue grew out of a mutual interest in the ways critical making in design connects with humanistic inquiry, and how this might form a foundation for research by design faculty. We viewed the project broadly as a finding tool because we observed a shortage of resources for design scholars on this topic. Critical making is an emerging framework that serves as a means to integrate research activity and practice-based artifact. It situates studio-based design practices as scholarship in ways that augment existing theories of design authorship, production, and thinking. The findings that occur within these activities become the crux of the endeavor and may produce as much knowledge as the polished, finished product.

As editors of the issue, our responsibilities included writing and circulating the international call for papers, facilitating double-blind peer review processes within two disciplines (design, and the digital humanities) and designing the issue layout, including the development of text analysis and data visualizations. Rather than advocate for each discipline to borrow and build off the other in isolation, this issue aimed to serve as a shared space to affect synergistic research, practice, and education. It became a research project in itself and is ongoing.

Two challenges were encountered in this project. First, Visible Language is a journal of evidence-based research and we focused on scholarship that is often considered exploratory. This meant determining, for all submissions, what constitutes rigorous ‘evidence-based research’ in theoretical and speculative inquiry, and in effect, publishing articles to serve as models for work of that nature. Second, the issue needed to connect research within disciplines that have significant overlap yet are just beginning to formalize their commonalities. The final issue needed to represent new knowledge, and be peer-reviewed, at a transdisciplinary intersection.

The final issue was published in print (approximately 700 copies distributed) and online. The online distribution coincided with the fiftieth anniversary of Visible Language and launch of its new open access web site; as a result, our full issue was readily accessible to all visitors to the new site. The issue contains nine articles by an international group of authors, and these were organized into two areas that blurred disciplinary boundaries: Theories and Speculations (methods and systems to facilitate research), and Forms and Objects (publishing, prototyping, and hacking practices). These published works have the potential to critically impact the ways we read, write, play, imagine, and learn across disciplinary boundaries, and exemplify non-traditional academic research methods for design and digital humanities scholars. This project served as a catalyst for the AIGA DEC conference Converge: Disciplinarities and Digital Scholarship we co-organized (spring 2017) and has been referenced in various other venues (see outcomes PDF).

Jessica Barness is an Associate Professor in the School of Visual Communication Design at Kent State University. Her research resides at the intersection of design, humanistic inquiry, and interactive technologies, investigated through a critical, practice-based approach. She has presented and exhibited her work internationally at venues hosted by organizations such as the Design History Society, HASTAC, and ICDHS, and she has published research in Design and Culture, AIGA Dialectic, Spirale, Visual Communication, SEGD Research Journal: Communication and Place, and Message, among others. Recently, her interactive work has been on display in the traveling exhibition Édition, Forme, Expérimentation, curated by Collectif Blanc. She co-edited (with Amy Papaelias) a special issue of Visible Language journal, “Critical Making: Design and the Digital Humanities” and is a member of the organizing committee for AIGA Converge conference, June 2017. She has an MFA in Design from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. jessicabarness.com

Amy Papaelias is an Assistant Professor in the Graphic Design program at the State University of New York at New Paltz. Presentations of her creative work and pedagogy at national and international venues include the Type Directors Club, Digital Humanities, Theorizing the Web, TypeCon, and the College Art Association. She has been involved with several digital humanities initiatives including One Week One Tool, and serves on the Advisory Boards of Beyond Citation (CUNY Graduate Center) and Greenhouse Studios (University of Connecticut). She co-edited (with Jessica Barness) a special issue of Visible Language journal, “Critical Making: Design and the Digital Humanities” and is a member of the organizing committee for AIGA Converge conference, June 2017. She co-authored a chapter (with Dr. Aaron Knochel) for Making Humanities Matters (University of Minnesota Press, 2017). She is a founding member of Alphabettes.org, a network for promoting the work of women in type, typography and the lettering arts. amypapaelias.com

COIL & Preparing Global Designers

Sean Nixon
Associate Professor of Art
Program Coordinator, Design Program
Art, Design, Fashion, Music, Theater & Communication Dept.
SUNY Ulster

In 2015, the top 225 design firms generated $65 billion in revenue from projects outside their home countries, according to ENR, Engineering News Report. The REAL World Classroom TM Design Program at SUNY Ulster is paying attention and on task with an ever-evolving pedagogy.
The annual capstone project of the program involves creating a client-based campaign, within an international collaboration. Modeling successful business behavior, using free, internet-based communication software with international partners prepares these design students to enter the global workforce experiencing the value of professional behavior working with clients.

Engaging in ubiquitous, internet-based communication software, the student is coached and must learn how to work in a social, familiar public platform, on a professional project internationally. Their challenge is to maintain a professional demeanor, and separate from their private lives, while solving a problem for a client, as well as participating in an intercultural and team building project. Students learn the necessity of process, professional demeanor, project flexibility and reflection. One major outcome is how this pedagogic process motivates and accelerates the learning process.

Here are the structural guidelines defining the components that the REAL World Classroom TM Design Program utilizes in constructing the Program’s capstone project.

  • The Activity is Structured, Intentional and Authentic.
  • The Activity Requires Preparation, Orientation and Training.
  • The Activity Must Include Monitoring and Continuous Improvement.
  • The Activity Requires Structured Reflection and Acknowledgment.
  • The Activity Must be Assessed and Evaluated.*

* Criteria for Approved Applied Learning Activities. SUNY Applied Learning Resources, 2017, https://www.suny.edu/applied-learning/resources/ Accessed 12 July 2017.

The colloquium presentation will highlight the Spring 2017 capstone as a project example of the pedagogy of the REAL World Classroom TM Design Program, complete with student assessment and evaluation. This particular project produced a Transgender Pronoun Awareness Campaign for a client, the SUNY Ulster LGBTQ Club and the SUNY Ulster community.

To research more on the REAL World Classroom TM Design Program, google Sean Nixon with the REAL World Classroom TM Design Program. The SUNY Ulster LGBTQ page does not reflect the project because the campaign will not be launched until a TBD date within the Academic year 2017-18.

Facilitating a Culture that Celebrates Experimentation and Addresses the Fear of Failure through Assessment

Alex Girard
Assistant Professor
Graphic Design
Art Department
Southern Connecticut State University

At Southern Connecticut State University, it has been observed that students pursuing a design degree are entering the program with a background dominated by a philosophy in which success equals providing a pre-defined, correct answer to a problem. This approach does not prepare students for a design process in which experimentation is paramount, as there is no singular correct answer to a given design problem.

The test-taking model of assessment assumes that information is disseminated by the instructor, retained by the student, and then recalled during a test. In this model, correct answers are consistent across submissions; it does not allow for the synthesis of something new, which is key to a successful design solution. Further, students in this process are often creatively crippled by fear of failure, as failure will negatively impact their final grade. Applying this philosophy of a singular correct answer, students are hesitant to embrace a process that encourages the exploration of ideas with multiple solutions.

While parameters guide a design project, end results are not measured against a pre-defined, correct design solution. In theory, each solution has the potential to be vastly different from another, yet still successful. Developing an assessment model that reinforces this process of experimentation with multiple solutions can be challenging for an instructor.

This presentation outlines a response to the perceived disconnect between the academic background of incoming students and the process required to achieve a successful design solution, utilizing an alternative project assessment model at Southern Connecticut State University. While this assessment model was applied in a limited context, positive results were immediately apparent and lasting; most notably, a marked increase in student experimentation with multiple solutions was observed.

INPLACE: Innovative Plan for Leveraging Arts Through Community Engagement

Robert J. Thompson 
Assistant Professor
Graphic & Interactive Design
Department of Art
College of Creative Arts & Communications
Youngstown State University

Terry Schwarz 
Director
Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative

Kent State University

In 2015, the National Endowment for the Arts, an independent federal agency that funds, promotes, and strengthens the creative capacity of our communities by providing all Americans with diverse opportunities for arts participation awarded the Department of Art in the College of Creative Arts & Communication at Youngstown State University with a $100,000 “Our Town” grant to fund arts engagement, cultural planning and design projects. Their programs support creative place-making projects that help to transform communities into lively, beautiful, and resilient places with the arts at their core.

The grant authors, Asst. Professor of Graphic Design, Leslie Brothers, Executive Director of the McDonough Museum of Art, and Dominic Marchionda, City-University Planner with Youngstown State University successfully proposed the “INPLACE” project, otherwise known as “Innovative Plan for Leveraging Arts through Community Engagement.” INPLACE came together over the course of three years through a unique blend of artists, designers, community stakeholders and civic leadership. It focuses planning initiatives and resources in targeted locations within city-in-revival Youngstown, Ohio to draw on the compounding effect of well-coordinated action and creative output. It is directed toward community driven public art projects that combine storytelling with art and design to create memorable, permanent place-making experiences throughout the city. The NEA chose only 64 of nearly 250 applications from across the nation for funding. INPLACE offers unique opportunities for members of Youngstown’s creative community to play an integral role in this prestigious NEA Our Town grant.

This presentation seeks to present the process of discovery, working with various constituencies within the Youngstown community, mentoring teams into cultivating meaningful, high-quality projects, share project proposals, and provide updates on the INPLACE project, which ends in July 2017.

Thinking Through The Pencil: The Primacy Of Drawing In The Design Thinking Process

Pattie Belle Hastings
Chair of Interactive Media + Design
School of Communications
Quinnipiac University

The research and ideation phases of the Design Thinking process typically incorporate forms of drawing, which can include thumbnails, sketches, comprehensives, wire frames, mind maps, storyboards, paper prototypes, and collaborative methods. It is from this collection of visualized ideas that a design project moves forward toward implementation. The basic purposes of design drawing can be summarized as generating, visualizing, documenting, collaborating, and analyzing. I’ve broken this down into three main drawing and thinking practices:

  1. thinking of and through ideas

This includes visualizing and recording ideas to externalize and convey the process of thinking. The goal for this kind of drawing is for idea generation and exploration. The best approach is to start with deep research and then freeform brainstorming of ideas on paper in which quantity is pursued in order to reach quality.

  1. thinking to improve ideas

Once the flow of ideas begins to form on the page, the processes of analysis, comparison, iteration, elaboration, reflection, and development can begin. Sometimes generation and analysis occurs simultaneously and sometimes it is successive. Reflection on the drawings reveals relationships, strengths and weaknesses that allow for refinement, reduction, and reiteration.

  1. thinking about ideas with others

Design drawings are often created for the purpose of collaboration, communication, and conversation. They are used to explain ideas to others and to engage discussion around the project or problem. Through their ephemeral nature, design drawings convey an idea that is in process not completion, which invites reflection, responses, criticisms, and alternatives.

This framing of “design drawing,” grounded in ideation, iteration and development, will be the foundation used to gather case studies, best practices, in addition to visual libraries of examples and methods. Another broad and hopeful goal of this research is the creation of a drawing curriculum and handbook for introducing and integrating “design drawing” methods into interaction design programs.

Who Does This Internet Artwork Belong To? A Study on Art Appropriation and Youth Identity in a Digital Age

Laura Scherling
GreenspaceNYC, Co-founder
The New School, Design Lead
Teachers College, Columbia University, Doctoral student

This pilot study explores meaning making in art appropriation practices. As practices of appropriation continue to expand with Internet use, the disciplines that fall under the umbrella of visual arts education also widen. Contemporary Internet artists, such as Ryder Ripps, are influencing changes in artistic production, by experimenting with new media and methods of appropriation. These emerging practices inspire youth to reframe their compositions through the lens of reinterpretation and remix. In order to understand these changes in art appropriation practices, I collect interview and survey data. I present these research findings through a method of constant comparison. Responses suggest a growing intersection between media consumption and production, and contemporary remix culture. In this research, I advocate for dialogue around participatory remix culture and deeper consideration of how it can transform traditional schooling environments.

On Technology, Design and Art: A Reformulation

Alex Liebergesell
Associate Professor
Pratt Institute
Graduate Communications Design

The term “design” (Latin designare, to designate) is defined as “intent.” Technology, from the Greek techné (art, craft), are tools derived from the deliberate application of knowledge. Design and technology are therefore inseparably rooted in their common meaning as the deliberate instantiation of ideas.

Vilém Flusser, in his 1993 essay About the Word Design, explains design as a “bridge” born during the Industrial Revolution, which attempted to close the “sharp division between the world of the arts and that of technology” in place since the Renaissance. For Flusser, design is a reunion of “equals” which makes “a new form of culture possible.”

But is design really a reunion of art and technology? In the face of converging trends in art, technology and design, Flusser’s typology is outmoded. His view still maintains a separation between art and technology, and while he ascribes a strong causal value to design as a cultural arbiter, he over-expresses its dependency on technology and ignores art as an intrinsic expression of technology. In short, neither art or design are defined as technologies, thus rendering his entire equation untenable.

However, if we designate both art and design as technologies, and accept that the former is primarily preoccupied with intrinsic expression and the latter with extrinsic functionalities, we can readily assign technology as the universal constant from which all knowledge, inventions, and creative expressions — in effect, all culture — emerges. By assigning equal value to art and design as manifestations of technology, we can better grasp the convergence in methods and intent that are common to these disciplines today. Moreover, this alternative formula provides room and equal footing for liberal arts and social science co-products such as philosophy, political theory and the institutions which sustain them, all key technologies and human inventions essential for design and artistic development.

Improving Cybermedia Literacy In Art Education Through Internet Art: A Study on Adolescent Perspectives

Laura Scherling
GreenspaceNYC, Co-founder
The New School, Design Lead
Teachers College, Columbia University, Doctoral student 

By fostering cyberliteracy in the arts, educators and their students can examine the digital artifacts of our time and embrace a dialogue that addresses the profound effects that digital art, such as Internet artwork, is having on youth culture in formal and informal learning environments. This research, through a series of interviews with four adolescent participants who have grown up as digital natives, explores an enhanced focus on cyberliteracy in visual arts education, on both the part of students and educators. Four major themes are explored: cybermedia literacy in art education, adolescent Internet use, the emotional and psychosocial development of the adolescent, and online identity construction.