You Look Like The Right Type

Mark Addison Smith
Assistant Professor
Electronic Design and Multimedia
The City College of New York, CUNY

An illustration manifests “thought” through the viewer’s decoding of visual-based representation—be it text-based, image-based, or a combination of both. Logocentrism holds that original thought generates a need for spoken communication and, in turn, speech generates a need for writing. In a daily ritual since 2008, I redraw exact-dialogue fragments of overheard conversations as 7×11-inch India ink illustrations (combining direct-quote text with visual and tonal embellishment) and combine the single illustrations into larger, theme-based conversations between people who have never met or exchanged words. When amassed together as modular narratives, my black and white drawings—collectively titled You Look Like The Right Type—start having grayscale conversations with one another across time, place, age, and gender (the who, what, when, where, why, and how of journalistic-narrative documentation). And the audience, as interlocutor, triangulates the conversation by reading that which was once spoken and making their own non-linear, grayscale associations between text, image, and completion of what’s left unsaid. Thus, original thought emerges not only through my reinterpretation of other voices, but also through z-axis, non-linear readability (or, Scott McCloud’s “infinite canvas”).

In his 1967 text, Of Grammatology, Derrida argues for a definition of grammatology in which written language is not derivative of spoken language, but, rather, the two become independent, legitimate signifiers for original thought. Thus, the written word (including text-based illustration) can be understood from a stance as comprehensive as the spoken word. Within my You Look Like The Right Type series, I’ve been archiving daily conversation fragments as black and white illustrations since 2008 in a ritualistic effort to not only bring permanence to the spoken form, but also to manifest original thought—via the recycled thoughts of others—within illustrated type-and-image works on paper. In keeping with the principles outlined in Derrida’s text, I argue—using my archive of 3,000+ illustrations coupled with theories of documentary-style narrative, montage editing, logocentrism, and the z-axis of non-linear comic paneling—that spoken language and written language are autonomous and equal forms of communication, feeding off of one another to generate new storytelling.

An archive of these daily works can be found at YouLookLikeTheRightType.com.

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.

Membit: A Magic Time Machine

Jay Van Buren
Artist, Designer
CEO and Founder, Early-Adopter.com LLC
Co-Founder and CEO, Membit Inc.

Places are part of our identity. Our memories and experiences are tied to places, and yet in a world where we increasingly use digital means for everything, there’s no good way to mark a place as special to us, or to connect with the other people for whom that place matters. GPS is insufficiently precise and computer-vision-based augmented reality depends upon some kind of physical marker, a poster, a plaque, or other demarcation.

Membit allows people to annotate a location with precisely placed, augmented content without using computer vision. It uses the patented “human positioning system” which works anywhere.

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.