Task 8 – Deconstruction

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I started right away by drawing a mind map of everything I had found out during my essay research. I thought a lot about the themes and what people might have been thinking or feeling during that time to get some ideas out for how to present my piece. I picked out the theme of paranoia as the key idea for my work. It’s something which I think everyone would have experienced at that time, and is an interesting concept to try and portray.

I used the CCTV camera as the symbol for paranoia. I used it because it’s something that started in the seventies and is something we all recognise. I tried something with the idea of the two sides looking at each other with cameras above some warheads, so playing with the idea of who’s really the enemy, both sides equally dangerous and paranoid.

I’m very happy with the outcome of this task, I used a Photoshop template to put my design on a book cover, which makes it especially nice. The design is very punchy and I think that the placement of the text is nice and balanced. I’m happy with the little subtle design of the rocket, going round onto the spine. It took a few attempts to get this to match up, but now it works it looks great. The back cover is also very convincing too, especially after adding the barcode. The camera pattern looks like a nice wallpaper or something, but then when you look closer you get the realisation of being watched.

Task 7 – Word and Image

This task is all about anchoring image and text together for enhanced effect. The use of metaphors and visual rhetoric, pairing image and text to specify meaning. Without text, an image is polysemic – it can have many meanings, so a reader can interpret it in any number of ways. Partnering it with text means that the designer has control over what’s interpreted and can give meaning and a message to a spread.

Initially, I wanted to focus on the concept of propaganda vs advertising, something I touched on in my essay. I was thinking about doing adverts for things like missiles and other weapons of war in a nice modern style, to bring it into the contemporary so that readers can kind of grasp what the meaning is. I also thought about doing a very literal comparison, putting the USA on one side of the page and USSR on the other.

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After some sketches, I decided that this might not look so effective, so I shifted it over to the idea of impending doom – the Defcon system used in America, even today, to denote the level of danger present. I also picked out the radiation/ nuclear symbol as a key piece of semiotics for my spreads as it’s something most people recognise and have certain associations of danger and death with it. The word Defcon in fact became my magazine title because it’s a common element and is weirdly a catchy word, short and punchy, which is perfect for a title.

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Over time, I developed the piece as shown above. I used the descriptions of the Defcon levels on the cover as a more subtle way of describing the Defcon system than just writing the definitions. I used the Buran USSR font to really get the Soviet feel going on. I used the radiation symbol as a large element rather than a small logo, which I really like. It creates these interesting shapes which the text goes around. I am particularly happy with the last two spreads, with the symbol splitting down the page. I placed an image in the container on the left and copied the shape to put a red multiply filter going over it. I left the little quote inside it under the filter too, having red text looks really strong, all this feeling of war and danger. I am especially happy with this task, I spent a lot of time working on the design of the text, trying to make the interplay of the images and symbols with the text as effective as possible. The weakest page is the third, I still think the space is a little unbalanced between the text inside the symbol and the white space above it, but even so it works quite well.

Defcon_Final

Task 6 – Conversation

The idea of this task is to represent a conversation between two people typographically. So to me that means capturing things like the tone of voice, personality, maybe body language, setting and atmosphere. Whatever I choose I have to recreate that scene just using text.

After some searching, I settled on the interrogation at the start of Blade Runner, between Holden and Leon.

http://www.devo.com/bladerunner/sector/2/interrogation.html

The scene is dimly lit, in an interrogation room. It’s a cross between a corporate environment, with a desk and fancy chairs, and a basement – tiny windows letting in only enough rays of light to pick up their faces behind dust and the smoke of Holden’s cigarette. The movie’s genre is cyberpunk, and is one that I’m very familiar with, so hopefully I’ll be able to convey a snapshot of the emotion and atmosphere going on in the film. Holden is the interrogator, a clean shaven man in a suit. He’s a cold, professional man, almost completely in control. It’s his job to work out if Leon is a replicant or not (synthetic human who may be dangerous) so he’s trying to keep the situation as clinical and procedural as possible. On the other side of the table, Leon is dressed in what appears to be hospital garb. He’s stubbly and generally takes the appearance of a slob. In the way he speaks, he’s almost childlike, questioning Holden’s process, trying to annoy him. He knows that if he fails the questioning he’ll be found out and killed, so there’s this element of tension too. He plays this off well until the end, where he’s forced to give an emotional response that he simply can’t do, so snaps and completely coldly kills Holden (spoilers). Towards the end, there’s this realisation from Holden that he’s dealing with a replicant, which is why he asks the final question about Leon’s mother.

[initial couple of sketches]

I did a lot of writing to summarise the themes of the scene and the conversation, but even so I struggled to make ideas that were interesting. I’m still at a bit of a loss, the only way I can imagine is writing this almost as a script and then tweaking the text to convey the different tones going on.

Development (PDF)

In the end, I switched it to white text on black, which I actually really like. This is much more in keeping with the cyberpunk theme of Blade Runner, the film is all at night from what I remember, always dark with neon lights. I tried making an ascii title “Voight-Kampff” (the name of the machine) but I couldn’t stop it from skewing the text all weirdly, so in the end I made it more distorted and I actually think this works quite nicely. I made it grey and going vertically up the page which works really nicely as a background, balancing out the white text filling the left hand side. This gives it depth, implying a 3D space, like the dark interrogation room where you can’t quite tell how big the room is. I used binary on the left to kind of show where input was being made, so it’s a series of eight zeroes repeated six times until someone speaks and then it’s their name in binary. It’s six times simply because “Holden” is six letters and I wanted them all to align vertically, like a massiev repeating pattern and forming strange kinds of rivers in the numbers, like errors in the code almost. I like this concept; it sort of reflects the humanity of the Replicants, even though they’re machines, they want to be human and have lives.

Convo_V5 (PDF, Final version)

Task 5 – Hypermedia Space

To begin with, I found this brief incredibly confusing. Following a talk from Mark though, I understood more about the concept of a ‘hypermedia blueprint’ – it’s about breaking down a piece of work, be it print or digital, and creating a map which shows all the individual parts of it. So for a book it might be split into cover, preface, chapters, titles, body and so on until the back cover. It’s interesting because you have to decide a point at which to stop compartmentalising and breaking things down – how detailed do you go?

I chose a book “Pentagram marks” by the Pentagram design agency, a catalogue of logos they’ve designed. I start by breaking it down into thumbnail sketches describing the content, to see what repeating themes there were, to see what ways I could change the way it’s represented. Unsurprisingly the majority of the book was filled with logos, each page following the same format of a centralised monochrome logo with a caption of the company and its description. I then moved on to trying to categorise the logos into what their main focus was. I used the categories of type, lines, grid, picture and fill. I only got so far with this because it was taking forever, I reached page 85 out of something like 200 (there are no page numbers in the book).

I had a few ideas beginning to pop up, but I did some mind mapping in order to generate more solid ideas.

I also thought about doing a flow chart which could give people a route to finding certain logos. I found this didn’t go so well because many of the logos cross over categories, and then the main problem was that there are no page numbers so how am I supposed to direct readers to go find logos?

As I wrote in my sketchbook: On balance, I think I’m going to use the horizontal version in landscape. I know it omits some of the information in the book (preface & address), but I think it works much more strongly as a landscape piece. It’s more like the idea of hanging the labels up too. The lines going down would be both the company name and its purpose, so I’m using both lines on each page.

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I think the final outcome is alright, but not amazing. I think the main problem was I chose a book with very little written information so I couldn’t break down pages rather than the book as a whole. Visually, I think it’s quite nice, there’s a nice balance between the big title and the thin sans serif labels hanging underneath. I kept the whole piece in sans serif and black & white to make the style in keeping with the book. I like that part conceptually, but in the final piece it’s kind of boring really. I couldn’t add anything stylistically or change colours because I would be deviating from the style of the book too much and it would be hard to get a sense that they’re linked. If I were to have some of the ‘hanging’ text smaller or lighter shades to make it seem more 3-dimensional then I would be forcing the reader to read the ones that look closer, so I would be forcing my own ideas of what order to read them in rather than letting viewers pick any random part out for themselves.

Task 4 – Visual Grammar

Task 4-1

(Thank you wordpress for arranging that really nicely)

I used the images in a newspaper to draw out where the eye would look first. I joined them up with lines to show the path and the way the eye flicks back and forth, always focusing on the images. I included some of the paragraph breaks/ splits between business cards too to keep the verticality/ column form of the newspaper. Same reasoning for the choice of using greyscale.

 

Task 4-2

This task was to fit 1000 words on an A4 page and make it nice and legible.

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I got it to fit, looking back now I should have gone even smaller, but I did present the text in a nice way, as well as being reasonably interesting to look at in my opinion.