I must say that in the 21 years that I have being teaching, for the most part, I have been unusually blessed in my students, both undergraduate and graduate – but especially graduate. I do not have a lot of them, since I have a bit of a reputation for being a hard-ass when it comes to thesis writing: Although I supervise design projects, I still expect every graduate student who works with me to write a righteous, well referenced thesis that explains and substantiates their thesis project. So, few tend to take the bait. But those who do so, usually turn out remarkable work.
And none more remarkable than Deniz Cem, who developed an evolutionary graphic design system based upon Darwinian theory as his thesis project. Not only did he conceive of the idea and its interface, did a tremendous amount of research related to the theoretical premises of the work, but he also sat down and learned the programming language Processing and actually developed the code that makes the system run.
For several years Cem hesitated publishing Graphagos since he was worried about plagiarism. And justifiably so – the project is one that is innovative enough to whet the appetites of a lot of bad guys out there who may want to hijack it and profit from it. Although this concern is very real and still valid, he has now finally made it public and I am absolutely thrilled to share it. Read more
I have been hammering this into my students’ heads to the point where they all look at each other and grin as soon as I get started on the subject. And now, I think I want to also write about it.
OK folks – as far as I am concerned, the age for painstakingly crafting stuff by hand is over. Finito! Done with! Passe! Fuddy-duddy! And to actually teach people to think of creative activity in terms of doing that? To laud the merits of “craft”? Of toil? Of “no pain no gain”? Not only is this mindset passe, but in terms of creativity I believe that it is also misplaced. “Finding stuff,” looking for “ready-mades,” at least in my experience, will actually enhance creativity, will give you new ideas. Get you to make new connections. Make you do things you weren’t thinking of doing before you stumbled across whatever it is that you stumbled across.
So, we should no longer be teaching our students how to “make stuff,” but instead one of the things that we desperately need to teach them is how to “find stuff.” Learning how to use resources. And not just with a particular objective in mind either. Total free fall, if anything. Get them to wander (ostensibly) aimlessly around stock photography and clip-art sites, check out samples in audio places, hang around download sites to install software that does all kinds of strange stuff. Not because their current project “needs” a specific image or a sound or whatever, but in the spirit of a flaneur wandering around a market. What they find will generate new ideas. New projects. I guarantee it!
But, the idea of “using resources” involves considerably more than wandering around and being a flaneur. It is actually about re-thinking design learning (and for that matter quite a bit of learning in general, I guess) not in terms of making things from scratch, but rather in terms of “modding” existent things. Or (and this one is very important, I think, for the whole future of the graphic design profession) – in terms of making things that others can “mod.”
I just started to make a website for this year’s student work with this wix HTML5 editor that they now have: http://elifayiter.wix.com/suvacd2014. I started out with one of their templates. And ended up with what is in the image above. The point remains however that I did not do this from a blank canvas. I built on someone else’s work. So, it seems to me that, at this stage, in a web design course (for example) we can realistically teach people only one of two things: We can either teach them how to make the actual templates. Or we can teach them how to use already existent templates. But, I honestly do not think that we can justify teaching people to make unique, one of a kind web sites any longer. That ship has sailed… Read more