Monday, November 24, 2008

Victor Papanek

Victor Papanek
(1927 – 1999)
Born in Vienna, Austria, in 1927, he received private schooling in the U.K, which, according to one of his colleges, accounted for his precise accented English. In the late 1930s, upon his father's death, he and his mother immigrated to America. In New York, Papanek studied design and architecture at Cooper Union. Afterward, he did postgraduate studies at MIT before joining Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West fellowship. Victor Papanek taught at the Ontario College of Art, the Rhode Island School of Design, Purdue University, the California Institute of the Arts (where he was dean), and other places in North America. He headed the design department in the Kansas City Art Institute from 1976 to 1981. In 1981 he became the J.L. Constant Professor of Architecture and Design at the University of Kansas. He also worked, taught, and consulted in England, Yugoslavia, Switzerland, Finland and Australia.

He advocated the adoption of a morally responsible and holistic approach to design, adapting technology to the individual's needs and utilizing the wisdom and experience of other countries, particularly in the developing world. In order to better understand basic human needs and their relationship to design, he studied Oriental, Inuit and Native American cultures and was closely connected to folk arts. Papanek was a design pioneer. He was one of the first industrial designers to critically analyze design as a force for good, suggesting that commercial design was not necessarily the best way to design. He believed that designers and creative professionals have a responsibility and are able to affect real change in the world through good design. He was driven by ethics and better design for society and the world, questioning the common practices of designers at that period. He designed for designing for people with real needs: children, medicine, handicap people, believing that we’re all handicap in some way and that there is no such a thing as a problem “to small for concern”

Victor Papanek’s approach to social engagement of design highly reflects his personal ethic and commitment to society. He was against superficial solutions, meaning they were no solutions at all. He also believed that designers shouldn’t imposed their “good taste” to people from different cultures because they might not relate to the product and might affect the final user’s real needs.

Another important aspect in Victor Papanek’s philosophy was to design to the most simplistic and functional point where the use of resources where taking into count and where the product wouldn’t use fancy packaging in order to make it look more expensive. Victor Papanek ethical driven design was deeply connected to the ethical manage of resources and the products impacts on the environment. His book "Design for the Real World" was first published in 1971, and was immediately a challenge to the world of mainstream commercial design, putting it in line of ethical and political critical observation. He was one of the first people to explore the Life Cycle Analysis, exploring the idea that a product not only had an impact in the environment when it was disposed, but that we also needed to include all the process this product went through to get to our hands.

Decentralization was one of Victor Papanek’s proposals for an environmental solution, thinking that the decentralization would led to a better local autonomy, which was discouraged by modern technology, and also would mean an easier way to implement renewable energy for a small town. By a decentralized design, the final product would be more adequate for the climate of an specific location, size of the city, it would make better use of the recourses in that area such as materials and energy.

One of his designs that clearly reflects his design philosophy is the Batta-Koya, which means, “talking teacher”. The government of Nigeria and Tanzania ask Victor Papanek to find a solution to communicate with their people issues such as public health, birth control, nutrition, agriculture, among others. The problem was that, even though English was the official language, there were 238 native dialects and many of the people in the village were illiterate and the communication of information was based on oral story telling. The solution was to redesign a cassette player that could be at least assemble in those countries with some modifications in order to make it easier to use for the people of the village:
  • Simplification of the mechanisms: there were only two controls: volume and a T-shape on/of switch (which also controlled forward and reverse)
  • The battery case was externalized and held the two batteries in correctly aligned position (eliminating the positive and negative)
  • The housing was made of plastic and with the manufacture capabilities of developing countries
Tapes giving the relevant information in many tribal dialects where the solution to bridged the gap between pre-literate and post-literate information systems and societies.

  • Papanek, Victor (1971). Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change, New York, Pantheon Books .
  • Papanek, Victor & Hennessey, Jim (1973). Nomadic furniture: how to build and where to buy lightweight furniture that folds, collapses, stacks, knocks-down, inflates or can be thrown away and re-cycled, New York, Pantheon Books .
  • Papanek, Victor & Hennessey, Jim (1974). Nomadic Furniture 2, New York, Pantheon Books.
  • Papanek, Victor & Hennessey, Jim (1977). How things don't work, New York, Pantheon Books.
  • Papanek, Victor (1983). Design for Human Scale, New York, Van Nostrand Reinhold.
  • Papanek, Victor (1995). The Green Imperative: Natural Design for the Real World, New York, Thames and Hudson.
  • Title: The Victor Papanek lecture, Source: Design [0011-9245] Platt yr:1991 iss:513 pg:56
  • Title: Victor Papanek, 1925-1998: an alternative view, Source: ID [0894-5373] Caplan yr:1998 vol:45 pg:34

George Nelson

George Nelson (1908-1986)
He was one of the most important icons in Industrial Design in the 20th century. He was not only focus on the actual industrial design part but he was very involved in the part when this profession was starting to emerge and to be defined. He wrote some articles about this subject (among many other subjects) that tried to defined the profession in a critic way. He was very involved in everything that concerned the house and our environment as the man-created world, in where everything that surrounded us was made out of a conscious decision. In order for us to have a better understanding of his design methodology, I will discuss three of his projects: The storage wall, The Omni System/Comprehensive Storage System (CSS), and the Sling Sofa.


The Storage wall consisted in wall that, instead of being just a wall, had all this storage space adequate for the necessities of the consumerist society. There was the necessity of additional storage because basements and attics where disappearing: the new architecture was drawn to low pitch roof and there where smaller modern heating systems that didn't need as much space as they used to.
The design was inspired in app
lied storage solutions from drugstores, hardware stores, grocery store where most of the items fit comfortably on shelves not more that ten inches wide.
It wasn't only a solution for closet space, but organized storage with tube lights, curved corners (for easy cleaning), separated doors, variety in defined spaces – a place for everything.

I chose this project because it’s a definite point in how he became an industrial designer. In some of the books I read, he attributed his career or his path to chance: the way he became an architect, then a writer for Pencil Points, which led him to the publication of the book Tomorrow’s House and to the publication of the “Storage Wall” in Architectural Forum and in Life Magazines. This last publication got him a job in Herman Miller as the design director position. In Herman Miller he not only contributed as a design directo
r with the furniture and product design, but he also implemented the corporate image design, the catalog design and the Herman Miller Philosophy.

Omni System and the Comprehensive Storage System (CSS)

One interesting thing about George Nelson was that DePree was right, he didn’t limit his designs to the traditional materials, he liked to experiment of what would happened if you combined or use substitute materials for different designs. That’s why William E. Dunlap from Aluminum Extrusions Inc. wrote to George Nelson and Charles Eames to ask for their help to look for a new product for the subsidiary Company Aluminum Manufacturing Co. to diversify its output.

George Nelson designed for him a product that was a square-section extruded aluminum pole that could be erected between a floor and a ceiling and held there by springs with no attachment to a wall. The poles where designed to hold any number of components between them – shelves, storage cabinets, files, and could be use in any part of the house, bedrooms, children’s rooms, offices or exhibitions.

“My tought, was that we were going to generate a kind of aluminum lumber, and since, everybody needs storage in their houses, they could just go to the lumber yard and get these elegant poles and shelves and brackets”

There was a mock up of the Omni system showing seven or eight possible configurations built in the Charlotte factory and Nelson took Hugh and Max DePree to a presentation. Dunlap was hopping that Herman Miller would take over the marketing of this system but they didn’t. So he ended up taking the marketing himself (Which George Nelson design the all the graphics for the system, such as letterheads, bills, tags, shipping labels, and even graphics for trucks) and Omni went to sale in Marshall field’s another retail store. But after the DePree brothers saw the apparent success they became interested after all, reminding to George Nelson of his exclusive contract with them, Dunlap suggested that Nelson designed another system for Herman Miller saying that if people saw more systems like his, they would become more familiar and therefore more marketable. The result was the Herman Miller Comprehensive Storage System, which the difference was that the CSS was based on a tube quite different section, and used different connectors; it wasn’t very stable and it took more skills to install that they wanted to. But this design led unexpectedly to advances in office furniture.

Sling Sofa

This idea of usign different materials for product design was also used for the Bubble lamp and for the Sling Sofa. The Sling sofa was the predecessor of the Marshmallow sofa (1956), the problem with the marshmallow sofa was that it was ahead of its time technologically and aesthetically, it was designed over a weekend as a solving problem exercise when a company from Long Island offered this self-skinned injected plastic cushions that needed to be 12in max, but at the end the company couldn’t meet with these specifications so Herman Miller had to manufacture them by hand which lost the hole point of its design, so they stop production of them.
For the Sling sofa on the other hand, the technology to make it was already in use.

The story tells that George Nelson and his wife, Jacqueline, were in the French country side driving in a Citroen “Deux Chevaux” , when George Nelson asked Jaqueline to get out the car, hot and dismayed, she retreated to the shade of a lone tree and watched while he removed the car seat and examined the rubber support that cradled it. Haven’t you noticed? he asked, How comfortable this seat is? And after almost three years of development it leaded to the Sling sofa.

In summary, George Nelson’s work had great influence in the design industry. Not only for his own designs, but also his contribution to define the profession. All the turning points he had during his career and all the information that he gathered during his trips help him to have a deeper understanding for the profession. He got his first break because of the way he wrote what he saw, he had this ability to make his statement clever and objective. He was a very good writer that influenced a lot of people with his articles.

  • The Herman Miller collection : the 1955/1956 catalog / preface by Leslie Piña.
  • Building a new Europe : portraits of modern architects : essays by George Nelson, 1935-1936 / introd George Nelson / by Michael Webb ; edited by Marisa Bartolucci + Raul Cabra.
  • George Nelson : the design of modern design / Stanley Abercrombie ; foreword by Ettore Sottsass, Jr.
  • George Nelson on design.
  • Design in the fifties : when everyone went modern / George H. Marcus.
  • Functionalist design : an ongoing history / George H. Marcus.
  • Nelson, Eames, Girard, Propst : the design process at Herman Miller.
  • How to see : visual adventures in a world God never made / George Nelson.
  • Chairs / edited with an introduction by George Nelson ; with a new introduction by Stanley Abercromb
  • Tomorrow's house; a complete guide for the home-builder.
  • Storage / edited with an introduction by George Nelson.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Will Burtin, or why good designers are good at everything they do

Born in 1908 in Cologne, Germany, Will Burtin was a design pioneer of the 20th century. His design theories and processes affected every area of his life, which brought him great success.

Forgoing formal education after grade 8, Burtin began his career as a typesetter's apprentice during his teens. Realizing early on that methods of communication were changing, he explored new design techniques using sans serif typefaces and asymmetric layout.

Having become a prominent designer in Germany, the Nazis attempted to commission him as the house designer for Hitler. With a Jewish wife, Hilda, and no sympathy for the Nazi regime, Burtin and Hilda fled to the US where they were sponsored by relatives.

Burtin began teaching at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, and was soon drafted into the US Army. There, he designed gunnery training manuals for soldiers. His ability to convey complex instructions using dominant graphics helped keep the lives of many pilots safe.

In the following years, Burtin developed a design philosphy called Integration, in which the designer conveyed information with visual communication that is based on four principal realities.

The four realities:
the reality of man as measure and measurer
the reality of light, color, texture
the reality of space, motion, time
the reality of science

Using this approach to design problems was essentially the birth of what later became known as multimedia. By integrating all four realities into a design solution, Burtin could solve seemingly insoluble puzzles.

Burtin worked with many clients throughout his career, but two of the most notable were Fortune magazine and Upjohn pharmaceuticals.

While working as art director at Fortune, Burtin brought many new design approaches to the field. Competition for readers during the Depression era inspired great advancements in design and use of new techniques.

His copy and illustrations were not just neatly organized, but were presented in counterpoint to each other. One could get the gist of a story by simply following the layout. The text acted as clarification and enforcement of the concepts explained.

Through unprecedented integration of type and image, Burtin was able to graphically communicate complex scientific phenomena and theory.

After his tenure at Fortune, Burtin was the design consultant for Upjohn. Not only pioneering the concept of corporate branding by creating consistent logo and packaging appearance throughout company materials, he also propelled publication design and scientific visualization forward with his work on Scope magazine. Scope presented new scientific and medical developments to physicians simply and clearly.

In addition to his work with Scope, Burtin continued his scientific visualization work with the creation of The Cell, an exhibit/model of a human cell magnified one million times. Scientists were only able to see 2D images of cells through microscopes, and Burtin set out to figure out what a cell looked like in three dimensions.

"Assisted by urgent needs for a better understanding of complex problems in medical science and related research, and supported by a progressive manufacturer, it became possible to select themes and to design educational models of some of the more significant structures and processes of life that had been revealed by science in recent years. The primary value of such models - as well as graphic design work preceding and following them - is that they reduce the time necessary for the study and understanding of a science problem. The secondary value is not less important than the first. It lays in the opportunity to provide a physical and optical orientation that facilitates a better grasp of the inter-relatedness of all parts that make a basic cell - for example - so important for the various chemical functions on which life and health are based."

Will Burtin in Design Responsibility in an Age of Science, typed manuscript pp. 12-13.

His timing was impeccable, as researchers and doctors at the time believed that understanding the anatomy of living cells was key to discovering what ailed them, like cancer. No two scientists agreed on what a three dimensional cell might look like, so Burtin took his comprehensive research and developed a resolution that became wholly respected by the medical community.

Cytology was the "in" science of the time, and the public was fascinated with Burtin's exhibit. His translation of scientific research into a real world model that clearly explained the idea of a cell was immensely successful and did great service to the field of medical research.

What these projects hold in common is clear: through Burtin's intense desire to teach and clarify ideas, he used deep research, intuition and his own theories of integration to make complex information intelligible.

Burtin was so successful in such varied media communication because his thorough research allowed him to make appropriate methodology decisions after a complete evaluation of a problem. Comprehensively understanding the message to communicate allowed Burtin to select the proper materials and processes.

Burtin's contributions to the capabilities of human communication prove that good design can spur serious advancement in any field. And as designers, we can use Burtin's theories and methodologies to inspire our own progress in all areas of life.

Remington, R. Roger and Robert S. P. Fripp. Design and Science: the Life and Work of Will Burtin.

Remington, R. Roger and Barbara J. Hodik. Nine Pioneers in American Graphic Design. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1989.

Other neat facts:

Burtin's second wife was Cipe Pineles.

Burtin is credited with bringing Helvetica to the states.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Irma Boom, Thinkbook

Irma Boom, 1959-Present

Amsterdam Designer, opened her studio in 1991. She is known for her creative reinterpretation of book form, in which aesthetic value is more important than legibility. To understand her work you have to hold it, feel it, flip through the pages to experience the sequence. She insists on shaping the content rather than servicing the clients’ needs.

“He hated it. He told me that it was more my book than his book. And I said, ‘That’s fine. I don’t care. That’s the way it goes.’ I’m not a servant.” About the Otto Truemann book

She did however collaborate with Renee Green to record her exhibition at De Appel Foundation in Amsterdam. This is an example where she had to let go of some of her ideas because her client was also an artist and wanted to have some control.

About Dutch culture: "In the Netherlands, the graphic designer is a well-respected professional; we are used to being given a lot of freedom…culture gets subsidies.”

Irma was part of the First Things First Manifesto in 2000, which was about taking design beyond commercial work and taking responsibility for your work’s impact on culture.

In an interview for Dwell magazine in 2006 Boom said, “I always say, when I’m asked whether the internet means the end of the book, that it really means the beginning of the new book. More books are produced now than ever before, but people use them in a different way. After all, you can read plenty of information on the internet now. Print, however, still looks like the truth.”

Currently teaches at Yale.


Commissioned by Dutch company SHV to create book about its 100 year history. Printed on 100% cotton pages, only 4,000 copies for private distribution, and 500 translated into Chinese. They have controlled the pace of its distribution, with only a few books distributed every year. It needs 500 years to spread to all the places in the world. Weighs about 8 pounds and has 2,136 pages. Had total creative freedom, no budget, and five years to work on it. At times worked 24 hours a day. Boom worked with art historian Johan Pijnappel. Chairman Paul Fentener van Vlissingen chose them because he was so happy with the book they made for his 50th birthday. He told them he wanted an unusual book. Boom says that when they would meet to discuss the progress, they would only talk about ideas and concepts, never the format or design. In an interview for Abitare Boom said, “In my books it doesn’t even matter if you change details. It’s more the total thing that is interesting." She said the book is a specific view on the history of the company. They wanted it to be inspirational and tell the family story.

SHV: family owned business, sells gas and is a chain of wholesale centers, headquarters in Utrecht. Boom moved her office out there and had complete access to all their files. However, there was no organized archive so they spent 3.5 years sorting through the records and researching in different cities. The book, like other books by Boom is organized in reverse chronological order, beginning in 1996 and ending in 1896. Boom tries to convey the human factor as a method for storytelling by using “Reports, speeches, interviews, letters, memos, poems, advertising and photographs of family members, company occasions, employees and facilities and historical events.” The information is not exclusive; Boom made it a point to show the company’s successes and failures. Structure of the book: no headings, large questions scattered throughout, alternates text and image. There are no page numbers and no index. Boom wanted the book to be a voyage, “you find things you don’t want to find, and discoveries happen by coincidence.” Boom has said that you navigate it more like a website than a traditional book, but also that it works like the memory does- the more recent stuff is in the front and is more complex and detailed; then as you get further in time it is more filtered and simple. Boom, “I’m really fond of video images, I put lines in the image to give it a feeling of 1996 and the future.” Typical to Irma’s design is a unique treatment of the edge of the pages. In this book, from one view the colors read as tulips and from the other way you can read a poem by Gerrit Achterberg. In the watermark, “Motivate, Keep things simple, Listen, Learn and React.” The title is hidden: the letters of the word Thinkbook are scattered randomly throughout the book. Her work leaves room for interpretation.

I didn’t think of the audience at all. I thought if it’s good for me, it’s good for them. About Thinkbook

Positive and negative to full freedom (worked overtime, now can’t handle any parameters)


Bilak, P. An interview with Irma Boom, Abitare, no. 405 (April 2001) p219-23

Farrelly, Liz. “When the client is an artist.” Print 52.2 (March 1998): 141. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO.

Hall, Peter, Loose Canon, I.D. Magazine, 47.3 (May 2000) p68 (8)

McCarron, Carolyn, First Things First: A Second Look, Communication Arts, vol.42, no.2 (May-June 2000) pp21-3, 26-7, 30, 32

Poynor, Rick, XXXL, I.D. Magazine, 43n6 (November 1996) pp62 (4)

Rock, Michael, The I.D. Forty, I.D. Magazine, 43.n1 (Jan-Feb 1996) pp 47 (52)

Szita, Jane, Cover Story, Dwell, vol.6 iss.9 (October 2006) p134-140

Fluxus, George Maciunas (1931-1978)

What is Fluxus? What is Art?

Is Peter Related to George Maciunas?

This is a joke.
Jacqueline Abreo
October 2008

Fluxus, George Maciunas

“They said, ‘Hey! -Coffee cups can be more beautiful than fancy sculptures. A kiss in the morning can be more dramatic than a drama by Mr. Fancypants. The sloshing of my foot in my wet boot sounds more beautiful than fancy organ music.’ And when they saw that, it turned their minds on. And they began to ask questions. One question was, ‘Why does everything I see that’s beautiful like cups and kisses and sloshing feet have to be made into just a part of something fancier and bigger? Why can’t I just use it for its own sake?’”

  1. George Maciunas started a magazine called Fluxus in 1961, but the idea of Fluxus became much more. Fluxus was about anti-art, anti-establishment, exploiting things that don’t make sense, making fun of life, jokes, gags, vaudeville. It is not art; not an artist; not a movement. It just is. It has no aim, no function, no purpose. Rather it is an essentialism, nonidentified, random, an attitude towards art.

Fluxus questioned the categories of music, art, and theatre. How can one define the space between the fields? These questions were important in deterring the institutions from limiting the work that was created. Dick Higgins coined the term “intermedia” which blurred the distinction between art and life. Art should not be special or commercial. It’s not just one thing, but instead it is cross disciplinary.

Their work involved conceptual art. A lot of the work is meant to shock. The use of time is always extreme. It is either a very quick simple shock or an exaggerated long period of time. Fluxus derives from the Latin word meaning, “to flow.” Fluxus is always changing and therefore cannot be defined. Fluxus is an event; it is life; it is not a rehearsed theatre. They were heavily influenced by Marcel Duchamp (displayed a urinal in an art gallery) and Dadaism. The work could be defined as concretism, a ‘reaction against abstract formalism.’

Comparing art and art amusement:

Art: professional, elite, exclusive, appears to be complex, intellectual, pretentious, and skillfull, is used to raise value and appear to be rare.

Art-amusement: non-professional, anything can be art and anyone can do it, simple, concerned with insignificances.

2. It is a community, an international network of artists, composers, and designers who blended different media and disciplines. If you asked someone in fluxus: How do you define yourself and your work? They would list a series of professions; painter, poet, performer, all of the above working simultaneously. Some examples of the scope of people and ideas:

Yoko Ono: Music using the sound of a flushing the toilet. She also introduced the idea that others could complete someone else’s work of art, such as her painting ‘to be stepped on’. At the time, this idea of the role of the artist was radically different.

Alison Knowles: Simple directions using found objects involving sound. These works were participatory and performative.

John Cage: Experimental music, explored ideas of chance in art

Ben Vautier: “Art is only a question of signature and date.” “Please look at me.”

Ben Patterson: Paper Piece, the experience of the audience, the kinetic process of making the piece, paper is an instrument anyone can play.

Collectors, such as antique shops, give value to something that should have been thrown away, but it wasn’t and now it is valuable.

3. Manifesto, 1963. Expanded Arts Diagram (detail) by George Maciunas, 1966.

Fluxus (its historical development and relationship to avant-garde movements)

4. George Maciunas was obsessed with documenting, charting history and the development of art. He developed an idea of “Boxes” which was similar to a cabinet with drawers filled with mementos of the time. One example, hair, makes reference to religion and the relics of saints. George wanted to also mock the idea of holy water.

The Boxes derived from an early project, The Case, by George Brecht in 1959, which was a plastic storage box, like a traveling case. Then in 1978 Maciunas developed them into wooden boxes filled with things you would take on a journey back to childhood, such as toys, balls, furry things, etc… Some boxes were simply a collection of hair and dust neatly packaged. Fluxkits were a collection of works, like an encyclopedia. Flux Yearboxes were like portable Fluxus museums. The boxes were hand assembled and meant to be mass produced, and eventually you produce them yourself. Although highly idiosyncratic, ready made ideas were explored. Another idea Maciunas had was to bottle dirty water as perfume He wanted to exploit useless objects and alter objects to make them unuseful. For example, a fan that is as slow as a clock and a clock that is as fast as a fan. The clock doesn’t give time and the fan doesn’t blow wind. More examples include: a box with no void, chairs as events, hear a play but can’t get in, sell 20 tickets to the same seat, foot theatre is performed behind a sheet. Maciunas was obsessed with naming, labeling, collecting, charting and documenting. Everything had a name: Fluxus boxes, Flux-kits, History chart, Fluxus Headquarters.

  1. Photograph of Shigeko Kubota performing her Vagina Painting,
    July 4th, 1965 at Cinemateque, E 4th Street, New York City during Perpetual Fluxus Festival. Photograph by George Maciunas. This proto-feminist work involved the artist painting with a brush that she had fastened to her underpants, moving over the paper she dipped the brush in red paint referencing female sexual attributes and bodily functions. This work redefined action painting using the female anatomy. This reference to the menstrual cycle and procreation of women was a rejection of the female as a muse. She demonstrated woman as the source of her own artistic inspiration. There didn’t have to be a psychological gap between art and life.
  2. Works by Yoko Ono:



Let people copy or photograph you paintings.

Destroy the originals.

1964 spring


Light canvas or any finished painting with a cigarette at any time for any length of time.

See the smoke movement.

The painting ends when the whole canvas or painting is gone.

1961 summer


Leave a piece of canvas or finished painting on the floor or in the street.

1960 winter


Drill two holes into a canvas.

Hang it where you can see the sky.

(Change the place of hanging.

Try both the front and rear windows,

to see if the skies are different.)

1961 summer


Methodology of Ideas:

Relationship between Artists- collectivism favored over individualism

Relationship between Art and Artist- using your body to create art

Relationship between Art and Audience- you become part of the art by participating in it.


Mr. Fluxus : a collective portrait of George Maciunas, 1931- 1978 : based upon personal reminiscences / gathered by Emmett Williams und [i.e. and] Ay-O, and edited by Emmett Williams and Ann Noël. Added title Collective portrait of George Maciunas, 1931-1978 Imprint New York, N.Y. : Thames and Hudson, 1998.

Kellein, Thomas. Title The dream of Fluxus : George Maciunas : an artist's biography / Thomas Kellein ; [translation into English: Fiona Elliott]. Added title George Maciunas, an artist's biography Imprint London ; Bangkok : Edition Hansjörg Mayer : Distributed in the U.S. and Canada by Thames & Hudson, 2007.

Williams, Emmett. Title A flexible history of Fluxus facts and fictions / Emmett Williams. Imprint London : Edition Hansjörg Mayer, 2006.

In the Spirit of Fluxus : published on the occasion of the exhibition ... / organized by Elizabeth Armstrong and Joan Rothfuss ; essays by Simon Anderson ... [et al.]. Edition 1st ed. Imprint Minneapolis : Walker Art Center, c1993.

Kellein, Thomas. Title Fluxus / Thomas Kellein. Imprint London ; New York, N.Y. : Thames and Hudson, 1995.

Higgins, Hannah, 1964- Title Fluxus experience / Hannah Higgins. Imprint Berkeley : University of California Press, c2002.

The Fluxus reader / edited by Ken Friedman. Imprint Chicester, West Sussex ; New York : Academy Editions, 1999, 1998.

Dreyfus, Charles. Title Happenings & fluxus : [exposition] Galerie 1900-2000 du 7 juin au 29 juillet 1989, Galerie du Genie du 8 juin au 18 juillet 1989, Galerie de Poche du 7 juin au 29 juillet 1989 / Charles Dreyfus. Added title Happenings et fluxus Imprint Paris : Galerie 1900-2000 : Galerie du Genie : Galerie de Poche, [1989?]

Hendricks, Jon. Title Fluxus codex / [compiled by] Jon Hendricks ; with an introduction by Robert Pincus-Witten. Imprint Detroit, Mich. : Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection in association with H.N. Abrams, New York, 1988.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Brenda Laurel

Brenda Laurel is writer, researcher, designer and entrepreneur in the fields of human-computer interaction. She received the MFA and PHD in theater from Ohio State University. Well on that time, she began form the basic idea in the field of Human-computer interaction. 1992, Laurel began a four year project with Interval Research Corporation, this led to the 1996 spin-off company Purple Moon, dedicated to producing software and other media targeted at pre-teen girls. 1999 Laurel wrote a book about this experience entitled Utopian Entrepreneur.
Since her main ideas I read in some books can be reflected in the projects of Purple Moon, I choose them as the project I present

1, Purple Moon was a software company. Its games were more or less visual novels. (A visual novel is an interactive fiction game with anime-style art. Most visual novels have multiple storylines and many endings; the game-play mechanic in these cases typically consists of intermittent multiple-choice decision points, where the player selects a direction in which to take the game.)

2, Purple Moon targeted at young girls between the ages of 8 and 14.
Brenda Laurel and her partner said: there should be some game for girls as well if someone can figure out how to do it.

3, The game encouraged values like friendship and decision making.
First story in Purple Moon is Rockett's New School. Rockett Movado arrives at her first day of grade eight at Whistling Pines Jr. High, clearly unfamiliar with anything that goes on around her. The loudspeaker spouts a corny greeting and she begins her day with meeting the sweet, soft-spoken Jessie Marbella. The choices that the player makes from here on determine the revelation of certain plot points and whether or not certain events transpire ……..

Market Research and investigation
This aspect Brenda Laurel wrote in several books. And her idea about research and investigation is greatly reflected and play important role in the projects of Purple Moon.

First, Designer must through investigation to understand the character of female player since the whole game is designed for little girl. And they found girls like certain points where they had a lot of comfort. For example, they were very comfortable with the shopping part, mainly because there was not time pressure. Girls are not good at" do something right now or you're going to die"

Secondly, They want to better invent a narrative world and a diverse cast of characters. So they need interview thousands of kids and better understand their thoughts and life.
The partner Cheskin Research introduced a methodology to achieve this goal. He thought it's not enough to understand people statistically, you need to find out what their lives are really like. Quantitative data alone is not enough, you can not learn much from" none of the above" in the multiple- choice question, Cheskin taught the innovative technique of the photo audit- kids were given disposable cameras to photograph aspects of their lives. Quantitative studies can be used as brackets to guide you in choosing specific research directions, and in the final stages of research they can lend validity to qualitative findings.

This is the diagram to better show the Cheskin’s methodology (picked from Design Research, Utopian Entrepreneur).
The second step means that you wouldn’t yield deep insights if you just use quantitative data alone. If you are studying an identifiable group of people, see their movies, listen to their music, and hang out in places they enjoy.

At last, they use this method, spent six years and 40 million dollar to interview thousands of kids, and they apply what they find and learned to the design of merchandise and web development.

In Laurel’s opinion, the reader plays an active role in constructing the story. Readers find ways to make good stories personally relevant, in interactive media, the reader's role in construction is more pronounced (Narrative intelligence)

At PM designers played with various structures for interactive narrative. This greatly based on the previous investigation.
Grand storytelling: we are all familiar with the sort of grand storytelling that happens at the level of a culture at large, Classical Greek drama, the plays of Shakespeare are of such a scale.
They tested a variety of story-related concepts, including both personal storytelling and folktales,

Finally, Laurel and her partner launched three interconnected businesses- interactive CD-ROM, the purple- website, and an array of purple moon collectibles, Purple Moon website became one of the largest and most active online communities ever to exist on the net.
But at the same time, the company faced much criticism and a sudden bankruptcy in 1999 and merged with Mattel, creators of Barbie, one of the most famous and well-known franchises aimed at young girls.
Just as the dot-economy started spinning straw into gold, purple moon was spending real money to make real products to go onto real shelves in real stores. In investment terms, that was a big mistake. Even though they had an extremely popular Website, the embarrassing detail of real goods prevented them from passing for a dot-company in the venture community. The eight CD-Roms and Website won all kinds of awards but didn't make them profitable in time to satisfy their investors.

Why they did everything right but sales were dismal? Why hasn't anyone made successful computer games for little girls?
Laurel thought it is because she didn’t connect the popular culture well. She said: Philosophical political and spiritual matters are seen to be central to the discourses of the arts and humanities, not the art and popular culture. And she said: One couldn't effectively influence the construction of pop culture until I stopped describing himself as an artist and a political activist (Utopian Entrepreneur)

While maybe the product is good and right, but the Propaganda is not enough, customer have gotten used to connect the computer games with boy, and due to the habit, the game would be sold in male spaces, by male-oriented consumer channels, I mean the retail world. Maybe they need adequate marketing support.

And maybe the product still meet some resistance, after all, to persuade parents to let girl to play computer game is harder. Maybe Parents think Girls shouldn't think about this, and so we shouldn't encourage them to buy the game.

And the appearance design is not good enough, for example, Rockett's New School Maybe has good character design and good narrative structure, but I think the project in 1990s should be more fashion and distinctive. This would attract more customer.

In sum, the game of Purple Moon explores the right direction for girl gamers and recognition of their rights. Laurel and her partner did four years’ intensive research and designed according to this research, as well as tested current production, they discovered a greater depth and diversity among the characters in game.

Between 1999 and 2006, when Laurel taught at the Art Center College of Design, she developed a course called Design Improvisation. The workshop focused first on basic improvisational techniques and theatre games, then on performance ethnography.

This based on such assumption:
When we observe those around us, we see that context creates some common performative and experiential threads among people in any given situation.
According to the well-known James- Lange Theory of Emotion. If we can mimic a person's physical postures, facial expressions and expressive gestures, we can invoke physiological reactions in our own bodies that map to the subject's emotional states.

Objectives of design Improvisation:
1, try to represent characters and to physiologically induce emotional states.

2, let designer notice how a person interacts with a situated context, and design objects and experiences that enable people to perform themselves somewhat differently in those same situations- with greater pleasure, ease or agency.

In Laurel’s course, they first do Performance ethnography. It means you captured an interesting scene on video and can perform it from the perspective of its main character.
Secondly, to speak the character's thoughts aloud as you perform the scene. This method is called "speaking the subtext"-- a technique where actors verbalize the characters' thoughts, interspersed with the actual lines of dialogue. This method can help design students better understand the emotional aspects of the subject's experience. The student is then asked to perform the scene again, improvising solutions to the problems encountered by the original subject. Such performance can stimulate creativity and often lead designers into new solution spaces.