Week 2

Practice Lectures

Lecture 2 – Social Change UX

5 points:

“One around understanding contexts and histories; the second around language and voice; the third around engagement, community and ethics; the fourth issue-based projects; and the fifth taking us back to a personal voice from a personal perspective.”

• The key areas this lecture will discuss.

“To understand the world that we live in and to anticipate possible futures, we also need to understand the context and the history of the projects that we’re working on. For me, archives are really important starting points for this. “Archives are not simply passive places of record and storage: they also actively participate in the production of meaning and history.” (Derrida, 1995). Accessing an archive, therefore, means engaging in the process of knowledge creation. The archive can become a “productive space of conflict” (Chateigné and Messen, 2016).”

• Explore archives online and in libraries if possible for my project, what currently exists outside the online world? Email people, network and find out information first hand.

“Diaries and collected diaries through history tend to be of significant or important people, and all too often from a very white male perspective. The Great Diary Project has been set up as a counterpoint to this, to try and capture the social narratives and stories of everyday people throughout history. So far, they’ve collected, I think, nearly 9,000 or 10,000 diaries, and the diaries have been donated to them from ordinary families and communities across the UK. What they provide is an alternative narrative. Voices that are often misheard or misunderstood throughout history and now these diaries are available to researchers and to people interested in the communities around the Bishopsgate, to find these stories and these narratives that tell us something about human existence. Visually, these are extraordinary objects. As a research project, they provide us with an insight not only into written testimonies but how people record, how people note, how people draw, how people think about creating and storing personal narratives.”

• It’s really important to consider when looking at written/reading material, the perspective of the author. Do they have ulterior motives? Are they biased and why? This can heavily sway the context and opinion especially in research.

“…It also raised interesting questions around how language has changed, for the better in many ways. The delving through history was to help me better understand the questions that I was asking. It got to a point where I was saying ‘ok, what do I do next?’ Whilst I was gathering and collecting and collating, I didn’t really know how to process or analyse this information. I hit upon a theory of language and of language research called critical discourse analysis and I used some of these methods and some of these ways of understanding language and analysing language within my own research. I decided to study 100 years of political speeches in the UK. This process took a long time to gather and collect as many political speeches as I could, transcribe them when I needed to and find ways of then analysing them and processing them. Each of these language data sets were organised by decade, allowing me to see the shifting use of language through each period of time. I created this slightly fictitious, slightly speculative formula in order to understand the rhythms and the patterns of language use.”

• It’s great to see how Joe has developed his research even when he wasn’t sure how to continue at one point, and the fact he’s been able to identify a theme to resonate with the language used is really clever.

“From the use of negative references, through to the use of nouns and adjectives, there’s a way of really starting to break down the types of language that were happening in each decade. I then used this material to create and publish my own political statements or newspaper headlines, however you want to see them, and each of these posters [shows image] represented a different decade. From ‘I am for neutrality and any great war’ in the 1910s all the way through to the 2010s ‘we are for more real responsibility for people’. These are abstract fragments of different moments in history, but they allow us to reconsider the types of language that were framing the political debate of each period of time.”

• This is so interesting; identifying the language in each era is a way to reveal our history and how we are evolving as a society. I love the sound of this project and want to find out more. Joe goes on to mention how to then connect back to the audience so has hired an actor to translate this in an effective way to them, which also makes it modern. Politics is a clear way to identify how society has changed and particularly through language, not just verbal but in body language too. Look at the bigger picture.

“The first process of engaging with site and environment is mainly manifested for me through walking. Walking the streets, observing, encountering, disrupting – all ways of finding new perspectives and establishing new ways of understanding the world around us. Quite often the social or political is hidden in plain sight and by walking, either alternatives routes, maybe backwards or using unusual tools or techniques, we can see the world anew.”

• Research Laura Grace Ford:

“Whilst we produced a newspaper that was well-received by the architects and the British Council, it looked like an interesting project from the outside, I’m not sure that we really meaningfully engaged the community in any way. How did the community benefit from the project? What was left behind? Are questions that I think were relatively unaddressed.”

• Really appreciate the project for its worth and what you set out to do – did you achieve what you proposed and solve a problem? It’s so important to reflect and analyse along the way of your journey.

“What is the impact of our involvement in this community? How can the community take a more active role in the development of research? And what happens next? The design team leaves, you leave, how does a community continue the work that you started?”

• Questions to consider when finalising or developing your project. Consider who I work with, and how I can record/document this appropriately.

Six points for report writing to remember

“1. Firstly to look around you, as I said before. To observe the communities and the places where you are to see what issues or subject matter is resonating with you and with others. 
2. Consider the voices and language of others, which voices aren’t being heard? Which voices are more marginalised? Which voices do we need to hear to better understand a particular subject or a particular issue? 
3. The third thing is to design your engagement. How you involve others, how you think about participation or reciprocity? That needs designing. They’re not easy things to do, whether it’s a workshop, an interview, a documentary process, whatever work you want to develop, thinking about how you design that engagement before you start it is really important. 
4. The fourth thing is to definitely think about ethics. What are the ethical implications of your research? This doesn’t have to be an obstacle; it can be a really creative thing. But what is the impact of your research on others, on communities, on individuals? And how can we mitigate those impacts to create a better, more successful project. 
5. The fifth thing, for me – and this is not always an easy thing to do – when you’re working with an issue or cause, what is your position? What is your stance? What is your opinion? And that isn’t to say that it’s right, but it’s important to acknowledge. How do you then interrogate that position? How do you challenge your own perspectives by involving other in your work? 
6. And lastly, as I’ve just mentioned, to use your own story, your own values and your own understanding of the world.”

• And finally, Joe explains that in order for designers to do work and do it well, be passionate about it and consider where you fit in that project. Is it personal, or a goal etc? so it will drive you to do the best work.

Theory Lectures

Lecture 2 – Research Led Report

“Graphic design, I think it does have a history of unionised practice which relates to it coming out of the Crafts Movement, coming out of technical disciplines like printing and pottery and the craft-based occupations which traditionally have been unionised.It’s only since graphic design has been separated from industry, from technical crafts, that you start to lose that sense of history of workers’ rights. It’s old and new. We’ll get to it later, but I think it’s a lot about seeing precedents that have been set, just in terms of general labour rights and ways in which you can conduct co-produced workers’ inquiries, but also looking forwards in terms of a completely different landscape of work. The way in which we obviously work and manage our work and find employment has completely, that’s the thing that’s changed. There’s definitely the change, and it needs to be, we need to be reactive to that change now.”

• Really good starting point for my research – consider how design has developed through history of design to get to the modern day design world. This may also be able to narrow down where we ‘went wrong’ with so much environmental impact too.

“I think that this often happens in other forms of inquiry, like in public health for example. When you go out and collect data, by the time it’s published it’s out of date. There was an interesting presentation thatI watched in a conference a couple of years ago, about this woman that had designed a system where people were contributing to it live and it was evolving.It was published, it was open source, so you could see that live change and people had an active role in contributing to the narrative I suppose.”

Explore some examples of live projects – the ones where people add to it and it becomes a comprehensive database.

Context is really important; give the overall picture and don’t make something sound better than it really is!

An interesting topic to explore would be the generation of graphic designers in our modern world, and why they are mostly under 35:

“I think this really connects again to what we were talking about, the lack of responsibility industrywide to provide support for the health and wellbeing, but also providing the tools in which to succeed in your practice. It also links to graphic design being a very young industry.For us, as graphic design practitioners, the history of it is obviously expansive in terms of visual histories, but as a profession it is a very young industry.It’s a really important time for a workers’ inquiry because now is the opportunity to start addressing some of the structural inequalities or problems.Precisely because we’re such a young industry it could be argued that there’s much more opportunity to change it or transform it, or push it in a different direction.It doesn’t have the baggage of some of the industries where things are supposed to be as they always were.Graphic design, and design and art in general, is constantly changing and offers a good opportunity, a workers’ inquiry can interrupt that process and push it in a different way.”

Overall the examples from this lecture have introduced how research is conducted to form a research led report – and also how important transparency is within the graphic design industry. There’s multiple areas discussed which all highlight the issues designers currently face and how large corporations possibly don’t give enough industry support.