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WHY WRITE ABOUT DESIGN?

(Progetto Grafico 21)

Design is embedded in a social landscape of shifting relationships between people, media, technology and contexts. It’s the speed and perpetual nature of change that is radically transforming experience. In a culture of perpetual change and possibility – compounded by the ever-updating world of instant digital presence – might critical reflection might be needed more than ever? Or, more simply, might a breathing space be needed more than ever?

In this hi-tec, high-speed world, the realm of design is largely served by a mainstream industry of glossy, “coffee table” publishing, where design is fetishised as iconic imagery, and text is reduced to a series of captions.

Blogging – a symbol for today’s socially mediated world – has become one panacea. Although blogs might contain a patchwork of images and text, this is a temporal process – where meaning unfurls – and that might contribute to the appeal of the blog, and more generally writing, where discussions, and ideas, cangain momentum.

And yet, a problem remains: the temporal space of the screen better serves images, not the word – writing. So, to the question ‘Why write about design?’, we would add, ‘How can low-fi, slow-read text compete?’

Instead of competing with the culture it is writing about, it’s worth asking what a breathing space for designers and consumers of image culture might be like…

We think that writing might be an important sanctuary. If images are so often retina stimuli or fetish fodder, is it possible that writing might linger, soak in, and provide a thoughtful afterlife?

Might writing might bring about a moratorium – a delay or suspension of activity – on the Flashed and Photoshopped screen cultures that dominate design in a digital world?

By Limited Language – Monika Parrinder and Colin Davies
Published in Progetto Grafico 21, 2012, p41-2

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