X, Y, and Z:
Graphic Design in Space
Rhode Island School of Design
Department of Graphic Design
Room 404, Design Center
James Goggin, Assistant Professor
Office hours Thurs 9am–12pm (by appointment)
How might contemporary graphic designers operate at multiple scales with greater awareness of the discipline’s latent anthropometric, spatial, dimensional, and relational capacities? In turn, how might graphic designers more effectively recognise, and experiment with, our role in translating and reproducing such experiences or phenomena (including art, architecture, fashion, writing) into widely-accessible media at different scales and in multiple formats?
This course will involve a range of collaborative exercises, inquiries, experiments, lectures, readings, screenings, site visits, and projects, exploring graphic design as an inherently multidimensional and spatial discipline. 3D, not 2D. Graphic design as object, as projection, as display, as gauge, as structure, as installation, as sound, as architecture. Not just the X and Y, but also the Z axis.
The course’s subtitle is “Graphic Design in Space”, a literal example being Carl Sagan’s “Pioneer Plaque”, the sum of humankind and space travel etched in pictographic form onto a pair of 9 × 6 inch aluminium plaques attached to NASA’s Pioneer 10 probe on its 1972 mission to planet Jupiter. We will also investigate more terrestrial, yet equally literal, types of space and how they relate to the human body: letters, words, paragraphs, pages, screens, rooms, buildings, and cities.
A wide range of periods, fields, and figures will be surveyed and challenged: from the likes of Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, Leonardo da Vinci, and Albrecht Dürer, to Le Corbusier, Charles and Ray Eames, and Fiona Banner. Ultimately, we’ll consider graphic design as an anthropometric system that is not only orthogonal (operating in multiple dimensions), but also orthographic (interpreting and communicating these dimensions through signs and symbols).
Through lectures, readings, screenings, site visits, exercises, and projects we will explore fundamentals of reading, anthropometric scale, movement, measurement, space, materiality, sound, display, and finally “program” in its architectural, curatorial, institutional, and graphic design definitions. We will work towards a final project that will demonstrate all of these projects and their findings in action, while also cataloguing, evaluating, editing, curating, interpreting, reproducting, and displaying the same work for a public audience in simultaneous print, digital, and exhibition forms.
RISD is committed to Social Equality and Inclusion and has a newly-created campus initiative to support this (SEI). It is important to me that students from all diverse backgrounds and perspectives are well-served by this course, that students’ learning needs are addressed both in and out of class, and that the diversity students bring to this class are viewed as a resource, strength, and benefit. I strive to present materials and activities that challenge accepted canons and are respectful and representative of diversity: gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, race, culture, perspective, and other background characteristics. Your suggestions about how to improve the value of diversity in this course are always encouraged and appreciated—for you personally or for other students or student groups. See also: RISD’s non-discrimination policies on titleix.risd.edu.
Conversation, communication, and critique are crucial to this course. All students will be expected to speak openly and contribute to an ongoing, collaborative, supportive dialogue throughout the semester. Students should be prepared and willing to share information and resources during the presentations and reviews.
Readings will be assigned every week. We will discuss the readings in class, in relation to specific historical and contemporary works, and each other’s class work. Students are urged to come to class with quotations, points, excerpts, notes, thoughts, questions, &c., as prompts for in-class discussion. Please be prepared to discuss the texts and wider related issues and ideas.
Students should be actively engaged in researching areas of interest that are introduced in the class. This should be evident from sharing of information through discussion, contributions to a potential studio exhibition and publication, and from presence and participation in studio practice.
Project assignments will progress from in-class workshops to several month-long projects, leading towards a final collaborative publication and exhibition comprising selections of projects from the semester. From small exercises to final project, experimentation and speculation will be encouraged, but bold, polished, thoughtful (effortless, even) execution of each work into a final public form will be of equal importance. Careful consideration of appropriate modes of presentation, even for early sketches and rough research, is encouraged.
RISD is committed to providing equal opportunities for all students. If you are a student with a disability or condition that may require accommodations to complete the requirements of this class, I encourage you to discuss your learning needs with me during the first week of the term. Once an approval letter from the Office of Disability Support Services is submitted, accommodations will be provided as needed. For more information on how to receive accommodations, please contact Disability Support Services at 401 709-8460 or by emailing email@example.com.
Students will be evaluated on contributions to the studio culture (participation in discussions and critiques), personal development (evidence of curiosity, initiative, advanced knowledge, skills, and insights over the course of the term), strength of work (degree of visual and conceptual literacy, quality and depth of ideas & critical thought, and the appropriate, experimental application of your thinking/criticality in completed work at the highest possible standard), and presentation (clear, interesting, rational, honest, engaging articulation of concepts and enlightening interpretations of completed work).
We will conduct a final review of the semester’s work in the context of a small exhibition on the last day of class of the Fall 2018 semester (December 10, 2018). All course projects will be meticulously documented, and submitted to a Google Drive throughout the semester.
Shows exceptional abilities in all areas. High quality work, risk taking and experimentation, receptive to criticism, positive attitude towards learning and the classroom community, 100% attendance, comprehension of core principals and full participation.
Very good, strong, shows a positive attitude toward learning and fullfilment of all class requirements. Finished work and class participation are good, proficient, occasionally quite good, but with room for improvement.
Average, acceptable, but not exceptional in any way.
Failing to grasp the basics, or struggling with completing work, with class attendance, and participation.
Final Grade will be based on these criteria as well as a final portfolio of work turned in at the end of the semester. Keep in mind that any project can be redone or improved upon all throughout the semester. Such improvements will be taken into consideration when grading the final portfolio.
You are expected to show up to every class and to be on time. Late arrival or early departure without my approval will be noted and may impact your grade. If you cannot attend a class due to illness or other special circumstance, you must email me before class. You are allowed one excused absence; after that your grade will be seriously at risk. Pending special or extreme circumstances, this is non-negotiable.
As each assignment concludes, students will meticulously document work and upload to a Google Drive folder containing a portfolio of all of your assignments (in PDF form), as well as materials that document your process. It is important that you save all of your work and not just the final results. Please keep all iterations and versions of projects, sketches, process notes, photography, &c., as well as iterations of your digital files.
You are strongly urged to set up and maintain a solid backup and archiving strategy for your work—while you’re at RISD, and for basic professional practice in the future. Operate on the assumption that your hard drive or computer will go down, usually when you least expect it. You will not be excused for preventable loss of data. Truly effective backing up means three things: on-site (e.g. external USB hard drive on your desk for nightly backup), off-site (e.g. a constant cloud backup service like Backblaze, which I highly recommend, even urge, that you use), and a bootable clone (another local USB hard drive that you back up once a week, as a clone of your drive with which to boot up from another Mac, to get up and running quickly and effortlessly should anything happen to your own Mac). Read more about this so-called three-legged backup strategy here.