The internet of places field project gave me reason to return to my studies in regards to coding. Working with Arduinos was a good way to learn python- like coding, as it produced physical results that made learning and trouble shooting more simple than an error message would on a pure coding platform. It gave me a good basis to investigate several different coding languages afterwards; I am now starting to become proficient in python as well as HTML and CSS. My plan over summer is to dive into alternate website coding platforms, such as Ruby on rails and even more in- depth coding languages and processes such as SQL. This of course, feeds very neatly into my subject area. Whilst I am enjoying the print based work I tend to focus on in graphics, I am acutely aware the that future of the medium is completely digital. The more fluent I become in all kinds of coding, the better I am going to do in my future career in design. I plan to use skills to create a technically impressive website for my portfolio work over summer. I currently have a website designed in Adobe Portfolio, but elements of design are completely impossible using this program which I know now from my own learning of HTML and CSS are simple fixes by looking at the code itself. Over summer I will be making my own website as a project.
The significance of information project was challenging for me. I found it surprisingly hard to find ways to display numerical information in a meaningful and new way; I found it difficult to move away from “re- skinned” versions of traditional charts; Trying to display information in the most efficient way always just seemed to lead back to what ended being very much like types of charts I have seen. Researching pictorial information designers such as Sarah Illenberger, however, helped; they brought some intrigue back to the medium whilst using standard and functional graph constructs. My exploration of photography in this unit is something that strongly influenced my following persuasion project within subject. Before the field project I would not have considered using photography that I had captured myself in any of my work; specifically, because I had exactly zero confidence in my photography skills. I learned a lot during the significance of information project in regards to techniques for studio photography as well as how to use a camera properly. These skills directly allowed me to use photography for my subject work.
Overall, it was an advantageous year of field, specifically for helping me learn new technical skills I had not properly explored before. Field has allowed me to be more experimental and create in mediums outside of my comfort zone, without fear of it being too low quality thanks to my inexperience. This has therefore been beneficial for building my confidence as well as my ability to produce higher quality work in these mediums.
Following meetings & research, I felt ready to create an animation for posting on Derwen’s social media. I spent some time writing script for animation, and working up a storyboard. Theres will be a little bit more information on this in my R&D pdf. Either way, I worked out the shots I would need to get, cut out the appropriate paper- chains and booked out a place in the edit suites at university.
This is what a day of work got me:
Find original animation Post a link here.
What I’ve learned
Making my first and rough stop motion animation will be a necessary step in producing a decent final outcome; there was plenty I did wrong just because of lack of experience and not knowing exactly what to prepare for. For my second iteration I ‘m going to be much better prepared; I’ve spent some money on some nice black card, I’ve made sure I booked out a different edit suite, and I’ve prepared a lot more figures too. I wanted to produce an effect where a character shrank into nothing, and I thought I would be able to do that with a bit of sneaky zoomingand cutting down the model with paper but it didn’t quite turn out how I wanted. I have come up with a better solution on my second pass.
For my second term, I chose the field module The Significance of Information. I have had a particular interest in data art ever since I saw the Big Bang Data exhibition in London around a year ago, so picking The Significance of Information seemed an obvious choice for field. Whilst the exhibitions at Big Bang Data, such as Dear Data by Stefanie Posavec and Giorgia Lupi certainly fired up my interest in data art to begin with, my focus and ideas surrounding the topic shifted steadily from ‘Big Data’ shown at the Big Bang exhibit to data visualisation as a whole, from the likes of David McCandless and multiple sources on the Information Is Beautiful Awards website. I ended up taking particular inspiration from photographical data visualizers Peter Olsen and Sarah Illenberger.
I found working with data a lot harder than I had anticipated. It was hard to configure novel ways of displaying data- sets without resorting to run-of-the-mill graphs, perhaps with just a graphical coating to it. I also found working with photography a challenge. A lot of my ideas going into the photography studio required me to set up specific shots which I had worked out and planned in theory but were actually very hard to pull off in practice; this lead me down the route of configuring my posters in Photoshop instead which lead to slightly less experimental outcomes than I would have liked. I am however happy that I used photography. I think it would have been very easy to make a vector- based infographic style visualisation; this would have played more to my strengths, even. I wanted to explore something more outside of my comfort zone for this project, however, even though my lack of experience in the medium may have been my downfall.
Going forwards, I want to revisit this project starting in the photography studio; I think with some more prep- time and a new set of McDonald’s fast food I could reattempt some of the more difficult shots, with as much done in- situ rather than on Photoshop as possible. Perhaps before that, an overhaul of my visual system itself wouldn’t go amiss; I am not sure that the link between Americanism, fast- food and terrorism is apparent enough. I need to sit down and think of a way to create a greater link between the themes in order to make the posters more successful. This may even be as simple as making changes to the copy.
I think my primary take- away from this field module is an appreciation for data visualisation; as a graphic designer I have experience encoding messages visually using visual metaphore and storytelling, and I think doing this with statistics to form a greater message is only a couple degrees of separation from this. This module has encouraged me to continue to explore data visualisation as a creative anvenue; I have plans outside of this project to continue to refine my abilities to code so I can write something to pull masses of data from internet based sources and work with that, possibly as a portfolio piece.
My field module in the first term, The Internet of Places, put me in a group with one other graphic designer and a product designer. Tasked with creating some sort of electronic piece that involved two or more applications communicating, we discussed many different ideas taking inspiration from lectures from Ingrid Murphy and Paul Granjon as well as our own experiences in our subject and, in my case, Constellation too. We took a long time to settle on one idea as no one was forceful or took particular charge. Maybe our own politeness and happiness to go along with whatever slowed us down somewhat. I felt like I ended up taking charge of the group somewhat, particularly in organising time for us to work together, as contrasting timetables and heavy subject workload sometimes made this difficult.
We ended up settling on the idea of creating a drawing robot that ceases operation when being observed. We realised that this simple logic coding could allow observing humans to project an entire personality onto an inanimate object; just discussing the idea lead to us referring to it as a “shy” robot quite early on. I will be able to use my knowledge of processing to directly assist in the creation of code for our robot, as well as my own personal knowledge of HTML and Python coding in aide of general comprehension of the task. I also think that taking on a 3D rather than a 2D project can only be beneficial in terms of my own spatial thinking for graphic design.
I think the idea of taking a simple behaviour; i.e. the robot ceasing moving when being observed, and having that be extrapolated within someone’s mind to have a greater attached meaning, intended by the creator, is exactly how graphic communication works when its done well. You could say that our robot is based on a very graphic design orientated style of thinking, thanks to my input. It kind of ties back into constellation and my stud of the writing of Juhani Pallasmaa and his idea of all creative disciplines being mediums of cognition; I suppose in this circumstance I applied my graphic design centred cognition to a more technological application rather than print or screen.
My contribution of the concept of a shy robot was somewhat influenced by the Critical Design work of Dunne & Raby, something I again studied in my constellation module. Whilst the robot may not explore the failings of the design industry to produce work aimed at any less than perfect elements of human nature, I feel like the way we want to use simple design to create a greater effect in observers is something that was a result of my exposure to Dunne & Raby.
There was a great challenge in this project for me in expanding my knowledge to electronics, rather than just programming. Whilst I have good comprehension of programming languages when I try to learn them, I find myself less able to deal with the physical production of circuitry. This is unusual as circuitry seems in many ways to be almost like a physical version of a coding language yet I still find myself spending much longer than anticipating creating simple circuitry with my Arduino.