September 2009

Color of Empire. “Iranian activists — trying to blanket New York City with their trademark green color — lobbied to bathe the top of the Empire State Building in green light all this week during their rallies against Iran’s president, who is visiting the United Nations. The request was rejected. But on Thursday, to the protesters’ delight, it will be green anyway, for another reason: an ‘Emerald Gala’ for the 70th anniversary of the film ‘The Wizard of Oz.’”

In other news, today the building will be lit red and yellow in honor of the 60th anniversary of communist China.  ¶
Color of Cool. “Relying on the centuries-old principle that white objects absorb less heat than dark ones, homeowners like the Waldreps are in the vanguard of a movement embracing ‘cool roofs’ as one of the most affordable weapons against climate change.”  ¶
Color of Slow. “San Francisco transportation planners, looking for a way to make Market Street safer for pedestrians and bicyclists, decided Tuesday to scrap their earlier idea of tinting the asphalt at two dangerous Market Street intersections a brick-red color to grab drivers' attention. After consulting the color chart and state traffic code, they opted for beige.”  ¶
Transition Towns. There’s a movement stirring. Through municipal engagement and intervention, local communities are reengineering their towns to thrive after peak oil and climate change. What started in Wales has spread across the UK, Ireland and the world.  ¶
20 Political Poster Books. Activist, poster artist and book nerd Josh MacPhee posts an annotated list of his twenty favorite books on post-WWII political posters. A great resource!
political-posters.jpg  ¶

The Social Role of the Graphic Designer

Pierre Bernard, co-founder of Grapus and Atelier de Création Graphique, delivered this lecture in Minneapolis in 1991. It was reprinted in Essays on Design I: AGI’s Designers of Influence, London 1997.

Artists have for a long time been heading for ghettos, whether rich or poor. Other people have been subjected to a major mass-media aesthetic — or for the most underprivileged — to its leftovers. Our Western society is working at two different speeds. For the minority, a world of calm has come into being in which design means authentic quality. Art can be part of every life. It is a world in which a materialised and human reality can develop.

For the rest — the majority — what is offered is exactly the opposite. Art is something to be visited in reservations, and spiritual harmony is to be found in other realms, religious or chemical.

Inequality is on the increase. The humanist dream of a unification of our planet’s history in the capitalist logic of multinationals has in practice become a reductive standardization. It has thus been deemed legitimate to give arts and artists the function of entertainment and decoration, while techniques and technicians take care of efficient production.

This division of labour amounts to a complete capitulation as regards the principles on which design is founded. The division between the artist as creator and the artisan as technician has been born again out of the ashes of those founding principles. It marks a return to the Stone Age.

I believe that the single identity of the artist and the technician in the person of the graphic designer forms the basis for his capacity to assert his role strongly — and to take his own specific action as an individual who is a part of civilization. I believe that the social function of the graphic designer is a subject to be approached through opinions and persuasion rather than through logic and knowledge.

“Life will always be hard enough to prevent men from losing the desire for something better,” Maxim Gorky said. The graphic designer’s social responsibility is based on the wish to take part in the creation of a better world. It seems simple to declare such a principle, but given the contradictions of real life, the principle does not lead readily to practical rules of behaviour.

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>  14 September 2009, 1:02 PM | LINK | Filed in

Agitate! Educate! Organize!

agitate.png

My interview with Lincoln Cushing, co-author of Agitate! Educate! Organize!: American Labor Posters is up at Design Observer along with a brief slideshow of selections from the book.

We talk about the book, its origins, and the trouble with political posters.

>  8 September 2009, 10:32 AM | LINK | Filed in , , ,
Union Label Archive. Great online gallery of the visual landscape of US union labels, logos and symbols. Happy Labor Day! (via)
Union Labels  ¶
Design to Improve Life. Winners of the 2009 Index Award have been announced. On top of the list are the wind-up fetal heart rate monitor and an efficient, smokeless indoor stove. See the complete list of finalists for lots of social design product ideas.  ¶


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