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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

 

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.

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.