In December 2017, I completed a part-time MA in Graphic Media Design at the London College of Communication, University of the Arts: London, whilst continuing my professional book design practice.
I knew the place well, in fact I had originally studied in the very same building at the Elephant & Castle, in the late 1980’s, early-90’s, when it was then known as The London College of Printing.
One of the first things I was made aware of through this post graduate study, was a noticing of the obvious. Goethe once stated that ‘the hardest things to see is what is in front of your eyes.’ Here was a case in point; whereby it suddenly dawned upon me that I had in fact been very much part of the digital revolution which accelerated whilst I was still studying in the 80s and the reverberations of which are still ongoing today.
Through reading an article by Andrew Blauvelt entitled Tool (Or, post-production for the Graphic Designer) 2011, I learned, or should I say ‘had it confirmed,’ that Graphic Design – my own milieu – had in fact been the very first industry to become almost fully digitised, and democratised; in that it was subsequently made widely available to the masses. After all, we’re all graphic designers and photographers these days aren’t we? Even if we’re simply arranging our online social media profile.
'We become what we behold. We shape our tools and then our tools shape us'
Culkin, Father J. and McLuhan, M. (1967)
When I started out, my desk-top or drawing board, was an expanse of space cluttered with various tools to help me craft my work. Many of these are still with me, but they’re rarely used. *see pics above this text.
As U.S. graphic designer Ed Fella once stated, whilst observing a photographic montage of his own old work-space from the 1970s '...everything on the desk-top has virtually disappeared, only the coffee cup remains...’
He was of course referring to what initially started out as a Desktop Publishing revolution which was driven by such crucial factors as the arrival of the Apple Macintosh. Through to the internet of today and the fact that most designing nowadays can almost be completely carried out on a laptop, tablet, even an iphone.
Blauvelt made me think about the concept of ‘The Tool’ in itself and how it is so crucial to the evolution of mankind in our attempt at controlling our environment.
From the earliest example of a simple, hand-held stone age tool, through to gadgets and implements of varying complexity, size and design. Therefore, I focused my major project upon the concept of ‘The Tool’ and the notion of ‘The Ordinary and Overlooked,’ as many influential utensils often are. This ultimately led to a study based around the seemingly commonplace Shipping Container and a critical address of an invention steeped in relevance and consequence.
The final piece entitled ‘Superabundant Flow’ also
embraces lens media and the moving image as a strategy to critique the phenomena of the steel boxed container which has become so crucial to our daily lives. Whereby Graphic Design, crosses over into multidisciplinary media, and the use of film, photography and typography are all employed as part of an accessible Tool Kit.
Click on these links if you would like to see more
of my design research.
Three short films depict the journey of the commodity. Incorporating simple, vignetted monologues by the workers who physically handle the shipping containers and what's inside them; enormous ships being observed and catalogued from a windy sea shore; through to the pulsating rhythm as the steel boxes pass through railway stations largely unnoticed.
All part of the 'Superabundant Flow'
Click on the links below to view films.
The downloadable pdf below combines the three components submitted as part of my Major Project for MA Graphic Media Design, 2017. Comprising of the Critical Context Paper, Research Portfolio and Critical Rationale.
Project gallery, click arrows below to scroll through.