Uncovering Classical Painting Through Design Process and Artifacts

Zachary Winegardner
MFA Candidate
The Ohio State University

This research is being conducted to investigate the question of “how can digital design tools and critical making uncover and inspire the presentation of complex information in classical paintings?” This approach is practice led research, in which a process of making serves as the primary generation of methods of inquiry and new information about the subject matter. This process consists of a series of technical creations culminating in a design research artifact. The artifact itself is a 3D virtual environment that mimics the scene represented in Jacques Louis David’s neoclassical painting, Oath of the Horatii. The artifact is able to both generate new questions and serve as a means to investigate them. One example of this is the posing of proportional human models to match the painting’s posed figures. Curiosities and discrepancies took form during this attempt and warranted further investigation. By using the 3D scene with an overlaying image plane of the painting to compare arm lengths, I was able to evaluate the comparison between the painting’s proportions and correct 3D human proportions to discover that David greatly manipulates his figures.

This study is significant to me because the process of making in a 3D medium generated questions that I would not normally find myself asking, and the further investigation of these questions through making led to new information on a painting that I was already very familiar with. This demonstrates how critical making can lead to new knowledge for design researchers. It is also significant in educational spaces by exemplifying a process in which the method of discovery can influence the presentation of information. The experiential learning occurring in this research will be carried through into the design of the presented artifact, which will aid in the understanding of complex paintings.

Design Practice Intervention: Experimental Approaches to Mapping Different Data

Rachele Riley
Assistant Professor
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

As a graphic designer and researcher, I am focused on probing the visual language of maps and developing experimental strategies for representing geographical space, myth, and the dynamics of meaning. In this presentation, I will share two current design research projects in which different methodologies are used. Ranging from the poetic and language-based framework to precision in mapping and library/archival research, my interests lie in uncovering official and unofficial data, and in mapping ephemeralities at multiple scales. The first project I will present is The Evolution of Silence, which visualizes the information and location of over eight hundred nuclear detonations that occurred in Yucca Flat of the Nevada Test Site. The project embodies a shifting perception of conflict and control, and visualizes the environmental and mythic transformation of a contested landscape. The second is a series of projects called Different Data (a collaborative research project with Joshua Singer and Dan McCafferty) in which critical design methods are applied to the collection, manipulation, and interpretation of data of various environments. The Different Data project is executed in real-time as public working demonstrations and involves a high-degree of fluidity and in-the-moment discussion among ourselves, as collaborators—as we work to combine layers that are evolving, imaginary, emotional, and disorienting. Both projects intervene in the traditional understanding of graphic design. By working to situate the viewer in a reflective space, these projects provide open-ended experiences and ‘seamful’ (as opposed to ‘seamless’) constructions. My presentation will offer insight into these projects as examples of graphic design as a critical design practice.