Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Reading Response: Design Agitation + Visualizing a Revolution + Design of Dissent

Design Agitation
Social and political propaganda is not a new idea. It began to resonate with the public through the invention of the printing press continued to spread as print technology developed and as new visual languages are introduced to the public. One of the greatest examples of this is through the constructivist movement where politics and revolution were expressed through art and design. This informed the movement that later spread to other creative outlets such as industrial design, textiles, film, and architecture. The poster was considered a "highly persuasive" tool in advertising and is exemplified through movements like Suffrage and WWI posters. Some graphic artists exposed and fought issues such as economic crisis and fascism by exposing the world around them with such reality that they were banned from exhibiting or distribution. But propaganda and visual language can be used for good and evil as seen through Hitler's design identity in the Third Reich and later in post-war consumerism.

Described as the Norman Rockwell of the ghetto, Douglas was responsible for creating and maintaining the identity of The Black Panther. How great would it be to become know as the most prolific and persistent graphic agitator of a movement? Douglas embodied this by exposing the struggles of the people while maintaining their dignity. He recognized the effective ability of imagery, graphic communication of ideas, and the use of semiotics, even in black and white, to empower a community.

Design's function, although similar to art, provides a strategic, time-conscious ability to transform silent truth into public truth, then collective truth. Great political movements have been marked by this process.

"So great is our knowledge, in the early years of the 21st Century, of all that has come before us, so vast is our experience of both human success and also staggering, holocaustic failure, and so sophisticated is our understanding of how little we understand, how vaguely we understand, that a toxic cynicism pervades our spirit, shutting down our capacity for faith, for hope, for imagining change--and consequently shutting down our passion, our imagination. These posters, these works of art have a restorative power." Tony Kushner

Glaser argues that dissent is the desire for human equality, but that it can have positive and negative implications. Dissent protects democracy. This is seen in belief systems such as religion and politics as well as other social forms of organized opinion. This is a form of activism where designers should resolve to become conscious of their ability to communicate (for good and evil). According to Glaser, protecting democracy in this way is the only hope we have.

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