Exploring the What, Why, Who and How

What

Task 1A requires us to take notice of current issues around the world, and how does design can contribute and care about them to bring a change. According to the United Nations has address issues that transcend national boundaries and cannot be resolved by any one country acting alone. Here are some of the global issues worth taking note of:

  1. Climate Change
  2. Global Waste (contributing to greenhouse gases)
  3. Food
  4. Ageing

Climate change is one of the most significant issues of our time. From the changes in weather patterns such as the Australian Bush Fires, Taal Volcano eruptions and flash flooding around the world. These signs of mother nature being sick will threaten food production and rising sea levels. The negative impacts of climate change rise unprecedented in scale. One of the contributing factors is the rise in greenhouse gases which is due to the following issue, global waste.

According to one of The World Bank What a Waste 2.0:  A Global Snapshot of Solid Waste Management to 2050 report, global waste is expected to grow by 70% unless urgent action is taken. With global annual waste rising to 3.4 billion tonnes over the next 30 years and inappropriate management of waste from undeveloped countries such as incineration are one of the key factors in contributing to climate change. The report also stresses that recycling, reusing and reducing habits from the individual is crucial from an individual perspective to bring about a change.

Another pressing issue would be food. Food wastage and world hunger. These two contrasting issues come hand in hand. With developed nations having ranked in wasting the most food (takeaway culture) and underdeveloped nations having high numbers of malnutrition and hunger. Fortunate to live in a developed country such as Singapore, it is imperative to cultivate an awareness of food scarcity among industries, retailers and consumers as well as finding beneficial use for food that is presently thrown away are useful measures to decrease the number of losses and waste.

All the above brings issues brings me to a cause that is dear to my heart, which is ageing. One of the most significant social transformations of the century is an ageing population. It has several implications on a global scale such as on the financial and labour markets where it creates pressure in countries to have better healthcare, pension and social protection. Three generations living under a roof has brought about the attention of how to care for my grandmother and mother in the future, What if I had become elderly? Do I have supportive measures for myself? How can the elderly age gracefully?

WHY

By 2030, 1 in 5 Singaporean residents will be aged above 65. This phenomenon is also known as the silver tsunami. Upon conducting further research, there are few raising concerns of an ageing population which are loneliness and intergenerational gap. This issue is important as loneliness leads to an increase of suicidal rates among elderly and deteriorate their health where they mostly live alone. Grandparents who do not live with their families away also face the same problem due to the changing family structure from a big generational family to a nuclear family. This would affect the government on an economic perspective as they have to implement fiscal policy on healthcare and senior activity centres. One instance would be the proximity housing grant. From a community and individual perspective would be affecting community spirit and mental health of an individual of losing one of their loved ones.

From an overview of the news article, the general consensus is that there is a need for promoting intergeneration bonding. In my Chinese family, I have been taught 百善孝为先 (filial piety) is regarded of high importance. Where one must respect and care for one’s parents and the elderly. Some benefits can be improved relations and health.

WHO

The target audience would be grandparents and their grandchildren (elderly and youth). The ages range from 45 and above for the elderly and 25 and below for the youth. I would like to propose some intergeneration activities such as cooking or playing games together. The aim is to improve their relationship and understanding for the elderly.

HOW

Letters from Grandma and Grandpa

‘Letters from Grandma and Grandpa’ was launched on Grandparents’ Day, 25 November 2007 by Mr Lim Boon Heng, Minister, Prime Minister’s Office. Together with the Council For Third Age, 938LIVE, Berita Harian, Lianhe Zaobao and Tamil Murasu, NLB published a series of books in Singapore’s four official languages. The books, which carry a collection of letters from grandparents to their grandchildren, showcase the wisdom of the elder generation. Leaving a legacy for future generations to come, the initiative has created opportunities for inter-generational dialogue and the building of stronger family ties.

I appreciate that it has considered translating it into different languages for easier communication towards the elderly. The format of printing a book may be outdated in the current social media climate, but it has maintained an online archive website singaporememory.sg where it stores this information. The cursive font choice for the covers may not be visually friendly for the elderly who reads it. Moreover, the youth are more engaged virtually than reading physical books. There would be a low engagement level from the public.

My Father Tongue website designed by Iluma Design

My Father Tongue is a social campaign in 2016 to revitalise the use of dialects in Singapore among youths. Dialects form an integral part of the nation’s fabric and they help connect us with the pioneer generation and their roots, our own roots and culture as well as people from around the world who speak the same dialect. It has maintained an online website and Facebook page for the public to sign up for. It had received great support from the public. This idea came about from a former senior at NTU 🙂 more can be found in this link.  It has sustained engagement and interest from the general public but subsequently declined due to some administrative matters. The quality of the work can be said it was well put together as the campaign brings about an awareness of dialect to speak to our elderly which brings down the language barrier.

Turning away from local initiatives, there is an app which allows one to keep their memories and share it within immediate family members.

Keepy App

Keepy is an app that allows one to organize, save, privately share, enrich, and treasure your memories. Whether it’s artwork, schoolwork, an award, or a photo, one look back on these special moments for years to come. Although this is not exactly targeting the elderly, it had created a social media platform for family members to share memories with each other. The user experience of the mobile application is easy to navigate and able to foster communication within the family.

Further Sources:

Call to promote inter-generational bonding to boost elderly’s well-being

Committee on Ageing Issues : report on the ageing population

Overview of Singapore Families

Typography Reflection IV

The Art of the Title

Saul Bass was one of the earlier designers in title sequences in films.

The Seven Year Itch (1955) Saul Bass - title sequence

Source: the 20th Century Fox Blu-ray (2017)

I find his designs were very intriguing in capturing the essence of the film and making the viewers expectant and ready to watch the film.

As Saul Bass once said:

“For the average audience, the credits tell them there’s only three minutes left to eat popcorn. I take this ‘dead’ period and try to do more than simply get rid of names that filmgoers aren’t interested in. I aim to set up the audience for what’s coming; make them expectant.”

His creation has pushed the potential can be for main titles in films or even interactive works we see currently. He urges designers, directors, to take advantage of this opportunity in the beginning of a movie and use it to help tell the story or just use it to make something really interesting or beautiful. Perhaps, it has also started advertisements before the premiere of a movie?

Overall, this has opened up another source of inspiration for type and graphics in the area of film title sequences. 🙂

Typography Reflection III

Surrealism and Magritte’s Poetic Strategies

Surrealism is something which is surprising, unexpected or fantastical elements juxtaposed to form a dream-like scene. It was a cultural movement started by Andre Breton in the 1920s.

The realisation that “reality” is not a given constant and that “reality” cannot exist outside of “perception” or the mind. It is also influenced by writings of Sigmund Freud and the idea of our subconscious (Automatism), privileging the subconscious mind or instincts of the artist.

The ideas of surrealism had a far-reaching influence and allowed artists to use more intuition and the element of chance in their work. For instance, artists such as William de Kooning, Francis Bacon, Henry Moore and Picasso. Eventually, surrealist ideas became subsumed under the ideas of Modernism and Abstraction – the idea that it is the artist’s internal vision and personal genius that determines a piece of art.

What intrigued me was the works of Rene Magritte which questioned the reliability of the senses in perceiving reality. Hence I found out about some of his poetic strategies which include: Juxtaposition, Dislocation, Hybridization, Metamorphosis, Effective Affinities, Play of Opposites, Fossilization, Animism, Doubling, Paintings within Paintings, Scale, Simultanism, Copying, Words and Things and Unexplained Narratives.

As you can see from the featured image Golconda (1953), it has used the strategy of Doubling which depicts a scene of nearly identical men dressed in dark overcoats and bowler hats, who seem to be drops of heavy rain. It can be a funny analogy of “it’s raining cat and dogs”?

Typography Reflection II

AEG which represents the initials for the German Allgemeine Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft, or also known as the General Electric Company. They were one of the pioneers in large scale industrial development (industrial revolution), founded in Berlin, Germany in 1883. They produced several patented lightbulbs from Thomas Edison, generators, transformers, and arc lamps. Hence becoming one of the fastest-growing companies and world leader in the production of these goods.

Peter Behrens was then commissioned to design the AEG trademark after doing an excellent work of enhancing and streamlining their lamps (form follows function).  Behrens’ creativity in creating a corporate identity, from logos, advertising material, and company publications with a consistent, unified design. Thus corporate design went on to become a basic element of the philosophy of an industrial company and its brands.

It is very eye-opening to learn that a simple standardization of creating a corporate identity leads to a full branding experience now. Today, the idea of an artist designing commercial, mass-produced objects or housewares is very common. Product lines with major retailers like Giant and Ikea, and as consumers, we are conditioned to look for names and labels. We associate labels with a standard of design and quality, and our fundamental reliance on “name brands” simplifies the daily shopping experience. On the other hand, there’s also a movement “no-brand”, Muji style which could be opposing to a recognizable brand. A food for thought?

 

Reading Assignment: Art and the Internet

With browsing the internet has become more of a mundane activity in our daily lives, it is also appropriate that art has been incorporated into it as well. Several significant publications dedicated to Internet art or “Art and the Internet”, has surfaced on the international market. Publications such as one reviewed here “Art and the Internet” by Phoeboe Stubbs, London Black Dog Publishing in 2014, “You Are Here: Art After the Internet” by Omar Kholeif, Cornerhouse & SPACE in 2014 which is one of a collection from a Berlin symposium and “Mass Effect: Art and the Internet” from Laren Coernell and Ed Halter.

These publications share a common theme of viewing the Internet Art phenomenon at an appropriate distance without questioning the existence of it as one of the major art forms in the current century. As previously mentioned, the Internet has an omnipresence in our lives, the awareness of it has such great power need not be explained. The present and future of Internet Art through the contextualisation of contemporary culture, fine arts, socio and political situation creates new literary and visual achievements.

One of the things is that the art revolving around the Internet usually quite quickly becomes “outdated”. Considering how rapidly the Internet itself is evolving via updated software, shortened visual codes together with our high volume usage of it, how the society and the political context in which it is placed evolve. Thus our perspective towards the internet is changing. Therefore, this printed publication dealing with the issue of “Art and the Internet” may be very quickly transformed into archaic uselessness full of dead links. However, reviewing this publication at a distance proves to be useful in getting deep insights.

From the early 1990s, the Internet has had multiple roles in art, not least in defining several new genres of practitioners, from early networked art to new forms of interactive and participatory works, but also because it is the great aggregator of all art, past and present. Art and the Internet examines the legacy of the Internet on art, and, importantly, illuminates how artists and institutions are using it and why.

One of the texts which struck me was how the Internet has infinite boundaries we could explore to create art. The publication complemented with historical insights and giving emphasis on internet art and gallery systems. The art discourse within Internet Art would be useful in my current group project of a 360-degree website with some sort of gallery system which we hope it’ll work out and make a small impact or impression on the viewers.

 

Typography Reflection I

What captivated and intrigued me the most from the lecture was the Book of Kells. I first learned about it during art history, it is an illuminated manuscript from the 9th century. The Book of Kells is lavishly decorated with intricate details covered in precious materials such as gold leaf and lapis lazuli.

The discovery of it being a major part of typography such as having ascenders and descenders, lower letter case form, use of spaces and punctuation marks. It is also interesting to note that the insular majuscule script appears to be works of at least three different scribes. It must be tiring to write all those 340 folios alone…

My mini takeaway from this would be that the history of typography and design are implemented everywhere around us inspired from the past. The evolution of font and type from the start of petroglyphs, Phoenician language to the current alphabets we use today. Inspired by what the future design brings and what we can be a part of.

Field trip to ArtScience Museum Future World

On 18 September we went to the ArtScience Museum Future World: Where Art Meet Science. Going back to one of my sources of inspiration for interactive art. You can read more about my initial impressions here. Visiting this amazing place for the fourth time!!

The experience of exploring art, science and connections between them which are inextricably bound is expressed in the interactive artworks by teamLab. teamLab is a group of ultra-technologists known for its innovative use of digital technology as a medium for art. They are made up many talented and creative group of artists, engineers, animators and architects. They are constantly breaking new grounds in artistic expression, creating worlds of magic and metaphor.

This field trip gave me an invitation to have fun, play, and to explore, but also to reflect on my own position to the relative world, other people and the universe as I mentioned in my previous reflection. It is a place where art, science and technology meet; a realisation of Leonardo famous maxim, “everything connects”.

Coloured a Fish at the Sketch Aquarium

The one that still inspires me would be the Story of the Time When Gods were Everywhere.

Sijia petting the cow

In this interactive, digitally projected world, visitors can create their own world by touching on the hieroglyphics characters, which then transform into natural elements such as wind, rain, trees and mountains. Hence, acting like “gods”. When one touches a character, the story begins to unfold. The elements of nature that are born from the characters influence each other. For instance, if you touch “earth” and “rain” at the same time, a grass grove would appear. If it snows, the earth would freeze.

I find that this concept of using hieroglyphics and understanding of causal relationships between different elements very intriguing. This artwork also requires collaborative creation which in my opinion very significant in creating an interactive installation. It also educates us about ancient Chinese characters which I find close ties to my roots. Hoping to visit this place again!

Closing off the visit with some selfies!

with Syadza
with Sijia