Research & Enquiry Reflective Statement

This reflective statement will attempt to establish and analyze my methodology for this module. It will examine the ways I have developed solutions and explore the advantages and disadvantages encountered in the way I work. Some aspects of my method are similar to those put forward by Gillian Rose in Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to the Interpretation of Visual Materials. Namely, Semiology – how images make meaning (Rose, 2011: 69) and Discourse Analysis – an exploration of how images construct views of the social world. (Rose, 2011: 140). In brief, my method of research involved four stages.

The first stage, information gathering and selection, identified and examined the work of several practitioners and visual artefacts. I found that I learnt more from reading than observation and my process of selecting sources depended on the depth of information and knowledge about a particular subject. Once I found that source to have the best explanation and references compared to other sources, I would then consider that to be a good source. I also found that reading about other artists’ experiences gave me a better understanding about process. I even went a step further in gathering information by attempting to contact two of the artists whose work I came across, Tim Gaze and Saki Mafundikwa. They wrote to me and provided very useful information. The second stage of the process, analysis, included the application of critical theory and debate. I considered context when looking at theories and examples. My research centered on ideas of a universal language that is gestural and typographic at the same time, therefore, a visual and theoretical analysis was undertaken of gestural and writing systems as well as asemic writing. This led to further ideas of Universality. The third stage, synthesis, focused on practical exploration and experimentation and the convergence of two or more areas in a creative way to generate meaning. Once I started the practical experiments I found it easier to draw connections between different things. The forth and final stage looked at potential applications of the visual outcomes generated. Two outcomes had the potential for signage, packaging as well as branding.

During my research I acquired a breadth of knowledge about a wide range of subjects which has given me the potential for making unexpected connections. While I had ideas relating to typography, there was not a specific visual outcome or goal in mind. It emerged as my research progressed. However, while my research has led me to some very interesting ideas, there were also challenges. I kept getting distracted by new research and became overwhelmed at times. As a result, this did not allow me time to focus my investigation and develop ideas to the extent that I wanted to. Despite this, I still developed a critical inquisitiveness which made me appreciate where my research stood in relation to theory and how practice is informed by research.

Bibliography

Rose, G. (2011) ‘Semiology: Laying bare the prejudices beneath the smooth surface of the beautiful’ and ‘Discourse analysis 1: text, intertextuality and context’ in Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to the Interpretation of Visual Materials. London: Sage Publications Ltd.

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Towards a Utopian Vision of a Unified Humanity

In an earlier post I’ve already established that Asemic Writing is something which looks like a form of writing but which you cannot read. Asemic artist Michael Jacobson further elaborates by saying “…that asemic writing is a shadow, impression, and abstraction of conventional writing.” “It uses the constraints of writerly gestures and the full developments of abstract art to divulge its main purpose: total freedom beyond literary expression,” he said. The idea of a creating meaning by way of “Aesthetic intuition and by verbal expression” I found interesting because then it renders all readers equal.

In my research I discovered that early modernists did not see the value or need for such writing believing it served no purpose in a world where communication through language was key. Many of them saw it as purely decorative. However recent views and ideas on the subject are being recognised via literature and exhibits.

An extraordinary exhibit I recently came across was a 75-foot high art installation by New York-based artist Wenda Gu titled United Nations – Bable of the Millennium. Gu collected hair from 352 barber shops and hair salons from 18 different countries over a period of 20 years. The concept was to merge language and culture together through the form of hair. The 100 panels are all woven together and feature scripted lettering made out of hair based on Chinese, English, Hindi and Arabic. The installation is part of the permeant collection at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

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http://creativeroots.org/2013/11/united-nations-project-babel-millennium/

Links to earlier experimentation with Pseudo Writing

In an online article on Gu’s exhibit, David Cateforis, associate professor of Art History at the University of Kansas, says Gu’s work “embodies the concept of babel in its profusion of 116 rectangular panels incorporating nonsensical, invented scripts based on chinese, english, hindi, and arabic characters, and on a synthesis of chinese and english. This nonsensical writing has its roots in Gu’s initial experimentation with pseudo-seal scripts in china the mid-1980s which helped to make his reputation as a leader of the so-called ’85 art new wave in China.”

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Wenda Gu, Mythos of Lost Dynasties, 1983-87

The scripts in the united nations work he says “frustrate the ability of viewers to read them and, in Gu’s terms, “evoke the limitations of human knowledge.” Gu hopes also that these unreadable scripts will help prepare viewers for entry into what he calls an “unknown world” – a utopian world, perhaps, that cannot be described or defined by any written language.

Cateforis believes that Gu’s intentions though unifying in vision, “seems depressingly out of reach in our present era of worldwide racial, ethnic, religious, and cultural tensions – tensions that often erupt in atrocious and tragic violence such as the attacks of september 11, 2001 and the ongoing bloodshed in the middle east and elsewhere.” However, adding, “but it is precisely because the present situation does seem so dire that we desperately need art like Wenda Gu’s to help us imagine something better, and to encourage us all to work towards it.”

http://www.wendagu.com/publications/on-wenda-gu/david-kunitz.html

In reflecting on Gu’s work I recognise that scale, the materials used as well as the space exhibited has an impact on the viewer. These together form the catalyst for Gu’s message to be communicated. However, it is the ideas of Universality which Gu expresses so eloquently in his exhibit that I find most appealing and inspiring.

Cross Cultural Communication Design – interiors and branding

Following on my ideas of Universality and cross cultural communication with a typographic aesthetic, I came across this example of typography being applied to interior design.

LAH! Restaurant, Madrid

http://www.ilmiodesign.com/interiores/8-lah.html

Spanish interior architects Ilmio Design designed the interior of the restaurant. The restaurant merges different cultures, customs and languages from the region. As a feature, wood panels are place throughout the space with different Asian scripts laser cut out of them, particularly Thai, Cambodian and Jawi words (the latter is the ancient alphabet used in Malaysia and Indonesia).

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The Arabesque influence

Having done several experiments and development of potential themes for my FAT1 research (some of which will be the focus in my next module) I will be focusing on outcomes. These outcomes will be along the lines of signage, branding or design.

I have identified several examples as inspiration.

While doing investigations for Visual Signifiers of Cultures and Asemic Writing, I became very interested in Arabesque, Arabic Calligraphy and Geometry as these were areas that provided context for my experiments. Therefore a further investigation into their application to potential outcomes I thought would be useful to my research and future projects.

Here artist Muhammad Abdulmateen has created several Arabesque designs. According to Abulmateen, “Arabesque is an artistic motif that is characterised by the application of repeating geometric forms and fancifully Arabic Calligraphy.”

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Source:

https://www.behance.net/gallery/Arabesque/1032279

Branding

The rebranding of Dubai International Airport

The Design is characteristic of Islamic patterns, however, it also incorporates the idea of a compass rosette. The designers also had a version that incorporated a globe-like element further reinforcing the idea of “global reach”.

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Source:

http://ministryoftype.co.uk/words/article/a_kaleidoscope_of_planes/

Visual Identity

The Bahrain National Museum Visual Identity by Tarek Atrissi

http://blog.atrissi.com

At first glance the logo reminded me somewhat of the QR code (Quick Response Code) which is now common in customer advertising and applicable to smartphones. This I thought gave the design a modern edge, although this resemblance to the QR code was not the artist’s intention.

According to Artrissi, the architecture of the Museum was the inspiration for the project. The building consists of three cubical structures attached to each other. The squarish floorplan of the building, he said, was the basis of the graphic element adopted for the logo.

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The three Arabic words of the museum’s name were designed in a square kufi Arabic calligraphy style to fill in the squarish forms in the logo.

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Square or geometric Kufic is a very simplified rectangular style of Kufic widely used for tiling. In Iran sometimes entire buildings are covered with tiles spelling sacred names like those of God, Muhammad and Ali in square Kufic, a technique known as banna’i.

http://books.google.tt/books?id=un4WcfEASZwC&pg=PA212&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false

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The result is a logo that is typographic and incorporates the museum’s iconic architecture which forms the basis of an identity system further developed for the museum.

Through this exploration I have a greater appreciation of semiotic principles. The above example shows that the designer has instil work with references that enable a design to communicate multiple layers of meaning to the viewer.

According to the Fundamentals of Graphic Design, “When images are developed through the application of semiotic principles, a graphic device can be made more tha it would appear to be at first glance. The type of image, its style and presentation, its quality and how it has been reproduced can all add layers of meaning to the overall design, drawing different meanings from the context in which it is placed.”

Bibliography

Harris P., Ambrose G. (2009) The Fundamentals of Graphic Design, Lausanne: AVA Publishing, 192