X, Y, and Z:
Graphic Design in Space
Rhode Island School of Design
Department of Graphic Design
GRAPH-3113-01, 3 Credits
Design Center Room 404 (Room Not Found)
James Goggin, Associate Professor
Office hours 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.
My aim for students in this class is that, with greater interdisciplinary, contextual, and proprioceptive awareness, you will work towards developing what feminist theorist and architectural historian Jane Rendell has termed a “critical spatial practice” as graphic designers. 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. In parallel with the projects themselves, we’ll deliberately work critically on cataloguing, evaluating, editing, curating, interpreting, reproducing, and displaying the same work for public audience as web and print publications.