Tangible Type with 3D printing

The first phase of a research project to develop and find the place of the emerging technologies in typography

Taekyeom Lee
Assistant Professor
Illinois State University

Technology and design have been in a symbiotic relationship, and the demand for the typography with 3D printing has already arrived. Like the digital revolution with the introduction of personal computers generated radical changes in typography, the new digital fabrication techniques urge designers and educators to embrace the new possibilities. As 3D printing has become more refined, efficient, and accessible, what designers can do with the new printing technology? This project is the first phase of a research project to develop and find the place of the emerging technologies in typography.

Designers can use a variety of printing techniques to produce visual materials and to solve visual problems. 3D printing can change the notion of printed text and how we experience materialized type since the tangible type does not lie on the static surface or live on-screen as a mirrored image. 3D printed tangible type acquires characteristics such as dimension, structure, materiality, and even physical interactivity. For this project, various conventional and unconventional materials in 3D printing were used to explore both the challenges and potential for typography. 3D printed tangible type not only amplified visual but physical interactions. The tangible type provides engaging tactile experiences, which would be more intuitive, expressive, and memorable. It also became relatively challenging to ensure the legibility of the written text and write a long text. More investigations should be followed as the technology will get more refined. This project could be inspirational for both professional practices and educational settings, such as typography, graphic design, and digital fabrication courses. As the outcome provides three-dimensional experience and substance, a new application of this design could be used for spatial typography and developed for people with vision impairment.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 6.3: Fordham University on May 16, 2019.

[Dis]embodied Senses: Interaction Beyond the Screen

research shows virtual connections has led to negative impacts on mental and physical well-being

Tristen Click
Graduate student
Vermont College of Fine Arts

Connection—here defined as experience, learning, socializing—is one of the primary drivers of human social behavior; over the past decade, we have experienced a major paradigm shift in how we connect. One main driver behind this change is advancing technology—primarily our reliance on smartphones and the internet. We have replaced physical connection with virtual connection, and while this has provided some societal advances and benefits, research shows this also has led to negative impacts on mental and physical well-being.

Perhaps inevitably technology will continue to advance at a rapid pace. Can we embrace this change while simultaneously being mindful of design methods for reconnecting the physical and the virtual beyond the screen, through the use of the full multisensory experience? Would this enhanced experience improve our sense of connection?

As designers we often limit ourselves to the visual—form, texture, color—but we are surrounded by options for using mixed reality. Alexa, Siri, and other sources of conversational design, as well as advanced haptics (vibrating phones, for example) are cases in point. In a visually overstimulated world what would happen if designers more deeply considered all five senses?

The author’s recent body of work investigates these questions through a variety of methods and tools including Makey Makeys, conductive ink, Play-Doh, scratch-and-sniff wallpaper, and video explorations. Designers communicate and build connection(s) through their work. Immersive experiences can build connections by having no (or low) barriers to entry, creating layers of meaning, and engaging all of the senses. In this presentation, the author will showcase her extensive research and body of work titled “[Dis]embodied Senses” which seeks to address some of these questions. Additionally, she will showcase simple methods and tools that can be used for prototyping sensory experiences both in the classroom and in one’s design practice.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 6.3: Fordham University on May 16, 2019.

The Fusion of Art, Science and Technology

The integration of artistic expression into current technological design methods.

Min Kyong Pak
Assistant Professor
University of Southern Indiana

In our high-tech modern world, scientists and artists push the limits of fusion and innovation to create new avant-garde narratives, emerging formats, and technological platforms. Technology and medium are constantly evolving. The demand for better quality in new media, storytelling and medium continue to evolve. Examples of new media include artificial intelligence, augmented reality, data visualization, interactive media, human-computer interface, video games, and virtual reality. In order to create this new media, artists are required to use code, data, and algorithms.

Storytelling is not merely confined to spoken or written words. There are many ways by which a designer can tell a story. A designer can exploit cutting-edge advances in science and technology to tell a story with artistic influence. My interest is to integrate artistic expression into current technological design methods. This project will give a voice to ideas that touch and affect us on a daily basis, search for who we are, and relate to our environmental world around us. The result is to infuse art, technology, and culture in the context of a community or geographical location. The greatest work of art connects and engages with our senses, heart, soul, and mind.

We live in a complex world. The digital age provides us with many opportunities to rebuild and adapt to an ever-evolving continuum. Both art and science are forms of exploration. Designers explore innovative designs, and scientists find the answers. Both transform reality and innovation to push our expectations and imaginations. My vision is to bridge the gap between art and science to create the best 21st century design. I believe the fusion of art, science, and technology is transformative and revolutionary.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 6.2: CAA 2020 Conference Chicago on February 14, 2020.

Wearable Workshops

As computing becomes more integrated into our environment and body, how is our behavior changing?

LeAnne Wagner
Professional Lecturer
School of Design
DePaul University

As computing becomes more integrated into our environment and body, how is our behavior changing? How do we, as users, adapt to the technology and how does it affect our expression and movement? Over the past year, these questions have been explored through collaboration with dancers and designers to create wearable art pieces that challenge the control dynamic between technology and dancer. As part of that exploration, a series of workshops and classes has been offered to help demystify the creation of wearable electronics and controllers in effort to put these tools in the hands of designers, artists, and students. Some of the topics of the workshops have included creating wearable game controllers, musical instruments, and dance. The creations are simple, but open the door to further exploration of controlling and questioning the technology that is increasingly present in our lives. This talk will share what people have created in these workshops and the inquiry that is derived from the process. The tools used to experiment with basic electronics and wearables will also be discussed, leaving the audience with resources to continue the investigation. 

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 5.1: DePaul University on October 27, 2018.

How AI is Changing Design

Scott Theisen
Executive Creative Director
Deloitte Digital

Everyday a few more pieces of software and technology are being worked on, distributed and connected using some flavor of AI. What does this mean for how we design artifacts, software and services? What might this mean for us as professionals? How might this start to change our perception of ourselves? This talk will highlight some of the new, fascinating and scary ways AI is already affecting us.

Like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, consumer AI technologies have had to deal with unforeseen implications of its creation and deployment, when put in the hands of their millions of users. Design bias and human needs have created issues that reveal the designers immaturity with the medium.

Software manufacturers deploying AI to generate content, mathematically analyze our requests and respond to our input. How is this influencing our ideas, our culture and the choices we make? With computer vision that can process incomprehensible data, rapid iteration that can outperform human limitations… AI is present in our daily lives and shaping the future in which we will live.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 5.1: DePaul University on October 27, 2018.

Leveraging the Smartphone as a Teaching Tool

Heather Snyder-Quinn
Professional Lecturer
DePaul University
College of Computing and Digital Media
School of Design

Heather Snyder-Quinn 
Professional Lecturer
DePaul University 
College of Computing and Digital Media 
School of Design

Educators are often frustrated with students’ constant attachment to their smartphones. But why do we assume the smartphone isn’t a creative tool akin to a pencil or brush—a simple way of seeing and interpreting the world around us?

As the world of design vacillates forever between the digital and analog, it’s imperative that students (and educators) understand an ever-expanding array of principles. In the words of Seymour Papert: “The role of the teacher is to create the conditions for invention rather than provide ready-made knowledge.” And as classroom content grows, the best thing we can teach students is how to be adaptive and curious thinkers.

Students can best embrace uncertainty and find comfort in a process of discovery by exploring and pushing the boundaries of the familiar. This is where the phone excels as a teaching tool. Analogous to the way a drawing teacher encourages mark-making with a branch or one’s foot, we can use a smartphone’s features in unintended ways that harness its power as a creative tool by altering our own expectations.

The smartphone is a device that most students have as an extension of their hand (though we must be vigilant of our own assumptions from privilege). Once students learn to use the smartphone in unintended and perceptively novel ways, they can extend this method to both past technologies and those yet to be imagined. By having students hack, make, and create in this manner, we are teaching them to think beyond the hand and machine, to the tool that has not yet been discovered.

Lastly, by exploring/investigating the capabilities of, and ever-present reliance upon our smartphones, we can raise awareness and open the classroom conversation to discuss ethical implications in design, including privilege, accessibility, inclusion, privacy and addiction.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 4.2: CAA 2018 Conference Los Angeles on February 24, 2018.

Theorizing Fashiontech as an Emerging Design Practice

Anne Galperin
Associate Professor
Graphic Design
SUNY New Paltz

Like so many other endeavors contemporary designers find themselves involved in, fashiontech (a marriage of conventional apparel and electronic/digital technology for fun and/or function) unites a variety of professionals in collaboration. Experience and interaction designers, industrial and fashion designers, engineers, programmers and users all have a role to play in the conceptualization and creation of fabrics, garments, hardware, and programming.

Hybrid practices such as this one require new theoretical frameworks in order to describe, understand and innovate in emerging fields.

As an initial step toward the creation of a such a framework for fashiontech, selected concepts originating in areas as diverse as tangible computing, fashion, semiotics, sociology, women’s studies, craft and maker culture will be described, compared and contrasted. (This will not exclude issues of concern in the apparel, technology and design industries including unsustainable or ethically compromised resource production, labor, and manufacturing, and the planned obsolescence typical of both fashion and technology.)

This synthetic construction is intended to be useful to students, educators and makers in fashiontech-related fields as they envision, create and theorize about such garments. As a demonstration the framework will be used to analyze and position pivotal fashiontech garments, one possible example being the Cute Circuit-designed dress Katy Perry wore to the 2010 Met Costume Institute Gala.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 4.0: SUNY New Paltz on September 9, 2017.

The Avant-Garde of Iranian Graphic Design

Pouya Jahanshahi
Assistant Professor of Graphic Design
Department of Art, Graphic Design and Art History
Oklahoma State University

The advent of the Apple Macintosh brought about a rapid flow of technological change which affected almost every part of visual communication arena, in one way or another. Since the start of this digital revolution, most graphic design communities around the world succeeded in maintaining their national identities, while implementing the technological changes into their industries, hence joining the global world of graphic design. However, because of challenges related to mark-making and the specifics of calligraphic-based scripts, Iranian typography – and by extension graphic design – struggled to maintain and its rich historic traditions and visual aesthetics, as Perso-Arabic characters necessitated a process of digitization for use in dominant graphic software applications of the time.

Furthermore, during this global digital revolution, various socio-political and technological circumstances resulted in the isolation of the Iranian graphic design arena from the global culture, for more than a decade. More recently, the dusk of 20th-century, brought forth an impenitent generation of innovative thinkers and designers, keen to define their lost identity. Through inwards nationalistic perspectives as well as technical and conceptual innovations, this generation made giant leaps and set forth a trajectory toward joining the global graphic design arena.

This research delves into the nuanced traditions of Iranian calligraphy and the struggle for its adaption to western printing technologies. Specifically, it focuses on the process, and the eventual arrival of what may be referred to as a hybrid graphic form – one comprising of the traditional eastern calligraphic forms and nuances, merged with the characteristics found in western typographic structures and letterform design.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 3.2: Parsons Integrated Design on Thursday, Feb 16, 2017.

How Much is Too Much?

Mark Zurolo
Associate Professor Graphic Design, UConn Storrs
Liz DeLuna
Associate Professor Graphic Design, St. John’s University

Motion design has evolved into a discipline that requires a complex skill set including, but not limited to, an expert command of typography and illustration, technical ability including expertise in software, understanding of narrative structures, an animator’s sense of motion, timing and sound, and formal design acumen. Whew! That’s a lot. Motion graphics emerged from graphic design with pioneers like Saul Bass, trained as a traditional graphic designers who saw graphic design not as static compositions, but kinetic orchestrations captured in a moment of stasis. New technologies have created not only the potential for new visual languages, but entirely new skill sets. Who is best equipped to wield these languages? What should they learn and how should they learn it? Taste or Technology? Software or gestalt? Is the horizon endless or ending? This presentation will explore techniques and briefs that investigate strategies for creating thoughtful and articulate skill sets driven by the principles of graphic design in the context of motion.

 

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 3.0: Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) on Saturday, Sept 24, 2016.

Design Criticism in Search of a Platform

Dr. Gaia Scagnetti
Assistant Professor
Graduate Communication Design
Pratt Institute

By definition criticism presents negative connotations. In philosophical terms, criticism is not an action but a method of systematic analysis of a written, oral and visual discourse. It involves merit recognition and it means a methodical practice of doubt. Design criticism has had a short life story and never reached the popularity of Architecture or Art criticism, Film or Literary criticism. Probing design work is perceived as a threat, especially in a time when liking is the expected way of supporting peers both within and outside of social networks. To like and express appreciation for the work of others is a consolidated strategy to get noticed and welcomed in a community of practice, especially among the young generation.

Support is rarely shown through critical encouragement and is mostly communicated through unconditional recommendations; endorsement is seen as a currency to be exchanged regardless of the intrinsic value of a certain production. The problem gets exacerbated by the platforms we use to contribute to disciplinary conversations: symposia, conferences, talks are now always recorded and publicly streamed. This public exposure does not support attempts to make critical analyses; streaming is an opportunity for advertising others or yourself, your connections and your relevancy. Public speeches are opportunities to create connections the so called shoutout to other projects, friends or celebrities. In a time where positivity is the currency nobody wants to practice doubt.

We can consider the process of criticism to be equivalent to making strategic decisions it is a part of how we govern ourselves. Strategies are rarely discussed out in the public, but within a dedicated environment where the social rules of conduct are made explicit and intentions are shared. Similarly, design criticism should be fostered and cultivated within purposebuilt platforms. Design criticism needs a home more than ever. Analysing, considering or dissecting design discourse is a contribution to the politics of truth and criticism is the art of not being governed quite so much.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 2.1: Pratt Institute, Graduate Communications Design on Saturday, October 24, 2015.