1.4 – 1.5 Form + Content (or structure) = Graphic Design

RISD GD Studio Providence, RI

1.4 Form
Ephemera Collection is just a small sampling of everyday objects that inspire me; initially, they inspire me in a formalist tradition—how something is made, looks or feels based on my canon of aesthetics: imperfect surfaces, vernacular typography, kitsch iconography, repetition, scale, nostalgia. I take great pleasure looking at these objects; first, in their indeterminate haphazard state in my studio. Second, understanding that creating them in an organized poster composition decontextualizes each object; thus, each signifies structure and meaning. As contemporary artist Deborah Fausch states “The very act of labeling a part of experience as ‘everyday’ alters its fluid character and its immersion in an ongoing stream of events; substituting a hypostasized mental object formed according to the rules governing theoretical operations.” Therefore, I feel nothing is really an everyday object. Everything has meaning and falls under the umbrella of structuralism no matter how mundane.

1.5 Structure
Structuralism is a theoretical paradigm that emphasizes that elements of culture must be understood in terms of their relationship to a larger, overarching system or “structure.” Alternately, philosopher Simon Blackburn summarizes Structuralism as “the belief that phenomena of human life are not intelligible except through their interrelations. These relations constitute a structure, and behind local variations in the surface phenomena there are constant laws of abstract culture.”

Form + Content (or structure) = Graphic Design is nothing new, but my work aims at being conscious that we are completely surrounded by these elements everyday. Furthermore, it is not just about the function of the object or how it looks, but the intangible lives in how it feels. I ask myself metaphysical and epistemological questions when observing these things. Why is that object inspiring? Where does this inspiration come from? This is where the Japanese tradition of Wabi-Sabi plays an important role in my methodology.

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1.6 – 1.7 Wabi-Sabi

macro corner

Wabi-Sabi can be called a comprehensive aesthetic system. The more systematic and clearly defined the components of an aesthetic system are, the more conceptual handles, the more ways it refers back to fundamentals, the more useful it is.

Metaphysical Basis
– Things are either devolving toward, or evolving from nothingness

Spiritual Values
– Truth comes from the observation of nature
– “Greatness” exists in the inconspicuous and overlooked details
– Beauty can be coaxed out of ugliness

State of Mind
– Acceptance of the inevitable
– Appreciation of the cosmic order

Moral Precepts
– Get rid of all that is unnecessary
– Focus on the intrinsic and ignore material hierarchy

Material Qualities
– The suggestion of natural process
– Irregular
– Intimate
– Unpretentious
– Earthy
– Murky
– Simple

Wabi-Sabi suggests that beauty is a dynamic event that occurs between you and something else. Beauty can spontaneously occur at any moment given the proper circumstances, context, or point of view. Beauty is thus an altered state of consciousness, an extraordinary moment of poetry and grace. — Leonard Koren

1.7 Aesthetics
These Wabi-Sabi principles are a guiding light in terms of how I approach seeing and experiencing my environment. Ultimately my inspiration comes from what I see and accumulate from my surroundings. I do this as much as I can to make up for what I don’t know. Since there is so much knowledge that I crave, it’s nice to know there are endless points of inspiration. As novelist William Burroughs asserts, “What I want to do is to learn to see more what’s out there, to look outside, to achieve as far as possible a complete awareness of surroundings.”

Hélène Cixous, Without End — no — State of Drawingness — no, rather: The Executioner’s Taking off

In an attempt to put some writing up here is a recent response to a reading by Hélène Cixous.

This article was again very timely within this later stage of writing my thesis. I just finished my eighteenth version of my abstract and my thirty-seventh thesis title+: I was totally finished three versions and two blog posts ago. Now I feel like it’s finally going in the right direction, or so I think. I love how Cixous uses the analogy of writing and drawing, but I’m not sure if I totally relate to it. I believe writing and drawing are both iterative processes, but for me, drawing is a much more liberating experience. Literary and linguistic structures inhibit my writing process even though I know that I must keep writing even if it is out of my comfort zone. As Cixous states …as soon as we draw, as soon as we follow the pen, we advance into the unknown1… I agree with and enjoy this metaphor, but I wish I could feel as comfortable exploring with the written word as I do with the drawing process. I like how I’m writing right now. I enjoy free-associating and writing about my struggle with the writing process. It feels honest and liberating, using writing as a sketch with no particular purpose or end. I like when Cixous observes …to think there are those who seek the finished. Those who seek to portray clearly; the most properly.2 My thesis is one of methodology and not process, although process is involved. I enjoy the distinct definitions between the two: Methodology, a body of methods, rules, and postulates that a discipline employs: a particular procedure or set of procedures. Process a series of actions or operations bringing about an end to an end; also, in manufacturing, a continuous operation or treatment. In other words, a methodology is a box of tools to be used however/whenever one wishes. A process is an instruction book, the step-by-step kind. I am not necessarily looking for a finished outcome but for an action that will inspire someone else to take the next step in the method.

1-2 Hélène Cixous, Without End — no — State of Drawingness — no, rather: The Executioner’s Taking off