Through the lens of modernist and postmodernist understanding, what do you think of the current style, movements within graphic design? Name specific works/artists in your analysis.
‘Never before have the conditions of life changed so swiftly and enormously as they have in the last fifty years. We have been carried along and we are only now beginning to realize the force and strength of the storm of change that has come upon us.’ – H.G.Wells (1933). Author, H.G.Wells was acutely aware of the unprecedented transformation of the era of modernism (approx early nineteen hundreds) given the huge changes that were taking place due to the development involving the industrial revolution that gave rise to the widespread use of modern technologies. It was the Bauhaus culture of ‘Form Follows Function’, embodied in Swiss Graphic Design movements of the 1950s. The utopian ideologies lead the way in the representative arts of architecture, art and design. 
Postmodernism was a reaction to the Utopian beliefs of Modernism. It relied on concrete experience rather than abstract principles. This was based on the belief that the outcome of one’s own experience will necessarily be fallible and relative rather than certain and universal. Postmodernism stemmed from a recognition that reality is not simply mirrored in the human understanding of it instead it is constructed as the mind tries to understand its own particular and personal reality. Interpretation, therefore is the essence. Reality only comes into existence through our interpretations of what the world means to each one of us. ‘Postmodernism cannot on its own principles ultimately justify itself any more than can the various metaphysical overviews against which the postmodern mind has defined itself.’- Philosopher, Richard Tarnas.
Current trends in design have created new rules to accommodate the technological trends in design software and possibilities in different new media created thereof. In his review of Rick Poynor’s book on postmodernism, No More Rules, Jeff Keedy (American graphic designer, type designer, writer and educator) adds,’Not just rule breaking, or a discarding of rules, but an exploration, expansion and redefinition of the boundaries of design as a dynamic, self-organising system of possibilities, instead of a top-down hierarchy of rules.’ In his essay titled, ‘Modernism 8.0, ‘ Keedy writes that modernism has gone through a number of versions, exemplified in Dan Friedman’s ‘Radical Modernism’ of 1994, followed by Andrew Blauvelt’s ‘Complex Simplicity’ and so on, until finally arriving at the current version, Modernism 8.0. Current design cultures reflect the influence of the massive changes in the technological sphere. Artist, educator, writer, Kenneth Fitzgerald says, ‘Design continues to be a busy but overly placid, pleasant surface. Our pond remains small and shallow.’ In his essay, ‘Buzz Kill’, he says, ‘ In the near absence of any regular critical review, buzz is the means by which design establishes value. Buzz makes taste. Ambitious designers recognize how the field operates and they shrewdly modulate the hum. If you want to have a career, you have to create your own buzz.’  Stefan Sagmeister, Paula Scher are designers who are unpretentious and honest.The former’s AIGA poster where he painstakingly tattoos his own body which makes for the text and visual of the poster, highlighting the pain that a designer goes through in the process of pursuing design is well…painfully honest and down to earth. However, one could perhaps also skeptically view it as being sensationalist. Its perception. The latter with her forthright and honest views on Helvetica being the typeface for war, in the documentary with the same title to her Citibank logo being the result of many years of practice in order to be able to come up with the logo in the short time that she did.
Today’s design scenario with DIY, sustainability, responsive design among others being buzz words around ideation techniques and approaches, it has become more inclusive with design and its tools/elements now being available to the masses. It has redefined how design is perceived and used by the masses. It has also, in more ways than one, redefined the way designers are now approaching their work.
Do you think that the Postmodernist approach to design is more common among students (in the academic setting) than it is within the professional field of design? Beyond the concept that within the professional world there are client expectations to be met, why do you think this is so? Has some of what we achieved during the Postmodern period receded into the larger corporate needs of design?
Yes, it continues to work to keep the needs of corporate design alive. I personally believe that as long as the corporate sectors in the different areas of product and service do not inculcate a system of sustainable, long term, ethical and empathetic approach towards their approach to manufacturing processes, distribution for sales and marketing, postmodern approaches in design will remain in theory among students and faculty. We may see sparks of it now and then. But by and large, since the corporate sector is where the money is, designers bow down to their demands and needs, however good their intentions may be. I speak from my own personal experience. Creative work, though appreciated, doesn’t pay. At the studio, we struggle to keep creative work alive to keep our idealogies going. However its hard when there are expenses building up and there is the lure of the corporate clients, even though its like selling one’s soul to the devil….
Are you among the designers of the late 80′s and early 90′s that felt that the introduction of digital design tools takes away from some of the authoring nature of the designer within society or do you feel more inclined toward Lorraine Wild’s stance within “On Overcoming Modernism”? Why? Compare either choice with an earlier development in history (example: Gutenberg’s Movable Type Press)
Well I would say I have been fortunate to have been exposed to a time when we used to take bromide prints of type and use rubber solution and set squares to hand align the typefaces on an artwork, doing corrections by hand with ink on images and perhaps sometimes even the type for the headline. It built in me, over time, a better sense of typeface. I find it quite confusing when sometimes I find students, the new ones who’ve just made their foray into design, not having the faintest clue as to which typeface to choose, considering that there are hundreds out there to choose from. Sometimes I find it bewildering that the more choices one has at one’s disposal, the more confused and muddled we get! I saw the advent of computer and computer software exciting. I saw the advent of online world wide web as opening up this massive treasure trove of possibilities in so many new interactions with different platforms, mediums, information etc.
The design software never took away my love for sketching, instead giving me a new avenue to look at when designing and illustrating.
In what ways does simulacra in design enhance our daily lives? In what ways does it harm us? Your answer can go beyond graphic design and encompass areas such as architecture and industrial design.
Simulacra occurs in our daily lives when our interactions, reactions and outcome inspired from culture, mythology, our environment, history, geography, physics, biology….well practically everything that we interact with. And as Jean Beaudrillard mentions, this then becomes our truth in its own right. I am reminded here of Wade’s write-up in our parallel course this semester where we are looking at Gun Control. He mentioned how repeated exposure to similar imagery of the same topic, over time, desensitizes us and we cease to be shocked by it. Images of war from different times, do make us recoil. Yet we are desensitized to the visual imagery to a certain extent given the number of violent video games that exist or given the entertainment pleasure we may get out of watching a Quentin Tarantino movie with squirting make believe blood all over the place. The other day, I was watching a commercial on Indian TV that was for a cell phone company. As a way of highlighting their high resolution screen offering maximum colour fidelity, the commercial uses the rhetoric and metaphor of a firing squad which turns out in the end to be paintball, the game, with a mock set up and a splash of colours. I thought to myself, with all that’s already going on across the globe with the tragedies of war, the fact that we can conceive of games like paintball…and well… use metaphors of firing squads in advertisements….seems a tad insensitive. Or am I being sensitive? It’s a matter of perception…
Another example with simulacra that I would like to mention is the Ba’hai temple in Delhi shaped like a ginormous lotus. On the inside it is a quiet space, like a womb. People strolling in expect to see something more and instead find a quiet place to reflect and meditate. It almost emulates perhaps the quiet insides of a lotus flower…we only tend to look at the outer beauty of the flower and perhaps miss out on the inside silence that it must have. Again, this is just my perception.
Or take for example the headphone designs that emulate the shape of our inner ear in order to create the most ergonomic fit. The design requirement is inspired by the shape of the ear. Everybody’s ears are shaped differently and the design processes take into consideration an average shape that would fit comfortably across all shapes and sizes. So, the headphones, in design parlance, fill up the negative space in our ear. Again, this is my perception.
Or the vaccum cleaner that senses on its own when its reached the end of the room to turn around and continue cleaning, thereby almost emulating someone taking the trouble to clean all corners of the house.
Or in architectural complexes when man made water bodies and water fountains, manicured gardens and planted trees are included, the design is inspired by a need to include simulacra that imitates living within nature, its goodness and abundance.
And so on and so forth.
Community-driven platforms such as Facebook, Tumblr, and Pinterest take on the concept of authorship in a way that has both made design more visible, and harder to protect authorship. Regarding your work as a designer among these networks, in what ways is your work determined by the medium (open to all online) and free from it (intimately your own design) (think along the lines of Modernism and Postmodernism to answer)?
The ideation process can be applied across many platforms that need not include community driven platforms essentially. However, in order to have an outreach and visibility for the work done, one does tend to work towards the newer mediums of interaction along those that have been around. I guess as designers we are constantly looking around for new ways to not only ideate but also in the way we lead it to fruition. The new community driven platforms, according to me, offer a more accessible outreach, which is inclusive. In this sense, it seems to share the ideologies of postmodernism, keeping in mind that Postmodernism stemmed from a recognition that reality is not simply mirrored in the human understanding of it instead it is constructed as the mind tries to understand its own particular and personal reality. Interpretation, therefore is the essence. And as Beaudrillard has mentioned that re-interpretation of a simulacra becomes the re-interpretor’s own truth. Yes, the new platforms do give us a new way of looking at authorship of work. As soon as an image or text or a combination of both are uploaded, its open to re-interpretation and ‘new truths’.
 Corcoran Gallery of Art. Modernism: Designing A New World : 1914-1939. http://www.corcoran.org/modernism/. Web. Accessed on 09.04.2013.
 Postmodernism. http://www.pbs.org/faithandreason/gengloss/postm-body.html. Web. Accessed on 09.04.2013.
 Jeludkov, Anton. New Modernism. Cranbrook Academy of Art. http://jeludkov.com/New_Modernism_Essay.html. Web. Accessed on 09.04.2013.