LCC Photography Research Show

21 Mar

LCC Photography Research Show

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This research hub based at London College of Communication (LCC) brings together practitioners and theorists to explore and promote photography as a mode of imaginary thought and its relation to a collective imaginary.

Specifically, we are interested in the increasingly complex research methodologies that underpin fine art photography as a form of knowledge with its own epistemology. Particular emphasis will be given to photographic works that explicitly engage with contemporary thought; theories that engage with contemporary photography; as well as photographic images and philosophies of the image that contribute to how the imaginary is invested in photographic production and the ‘as if’ condition of the photographic image.

The Photography and the Contemporary Imaginary Research Hub builds on LCC’s international reputation for conceptual photography and is organized by Dr Wiebke Leister and Paul Tebbs.

Events

The Photography and the Contemporary Imaginary Research Hub is pleased to announce the second LCC Photography Research Show

Private View: Thursday 27 March 2014, 18.00-20.00 Nursery Gallery, London College of Communication, Elephant & Castle

Jananne Al-Ani . Beverley Carruthers . Robin Silas Christian . Edward Dimsdale . Matthew Hawkins . Claire Hooper . Tom Hunter . Mark Ingham . Melanie King . Wiebke Leister . Dallas Seitz . Sophy Rickett . Tansy Spinks . Monica Takvam . Esther Teichmann . Val Williams .

The Photography and the Contemporary Imaginary Research Hub builds on LCC’s international reputation for conceptual photography. This event is organized by Beverley Carruthers and Wiebke Leister and supported by UAL Communities of Practice funding.

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Graphic Design as Political Practice: A Conversation With Metahaven [Part 1]

16 Feb

Graphic Design as Political Practice: A Conversation With Metahaven [Part 1]

Published on February 14th, 2013

From: http://hyperallergic.com/

Written by: Kyle Chayka

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Installation view of “Metahaven: Islands in the Cloud” at MoMA PS1 (Photo: Matthew Septimus)

Metahaven is an Amsterdam-based design studio made up of its two members and founders, Vinca Kruk and Daniel van der Velden. Yet to describe them simply as a design studio seems misleading. The pair uses graphic design, identity branding, and product development as weapons, harnessing the power of the image in the internet age to design concepts that both signal label and propel political and social change.

Following their fascination with strange political gambits, obscure corners of the internet, and the power of the cloud, Kruk and van der Velden have written essays for e-flux, rebranded the micronation of Sealand, and created salable products for Wikileaks as the organization was just hitting the global scene. On the occasion of their current exhibition at MoMA PS1, I sat down with Metahaven to discuss their history as a studio, the process of working with Julian Assange, and the aesthetics of the dot-com boom. The second part of the interview will be published tomorrow.

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Metahaven infographic from “Captives of the Cloud” (Image via e-flux.com)
Kyle Chayka: How did Metahaven first get started?

Vinca Kruk: We started to collaborate on the Sealand Identity Project, which was to conceive a national identity for the Principality of Sealand, which is a self-proclaimed nation on a former war platform near the coast of the UK. We didn’t stop working on that project, but wanted to keep going with it. That’s what our practice emerged out of. Quite naturally, it wasn’t a formal decision.

Daniel van der Velden: I agree.

KC: How did you first hear about Sealand or start thinking about it?

DV: Towards the end of the dot-com boom at the time I was co-designing a magazine called Archis, which is now called Volume, an architecture journal, and we had a special issue about islands. Sealand emerged in an editorial meeting as an example and then actually the idea came about to think about an identity for this kind of really weird place that no one can actually visit, that’s only accessible through the internet.

Sealand was trying to have its own dot-com business model at the time. So it was really a combination of this idea of sovereignty, self-proclaimed nationhood, in combination with this flawed entrepreneurial dream of starting an offshore business onboard Sealand. I think we were both interested in working on a lyrical aspect of visual identity, something that had to do a lot with heraldry, opulence — something not so minimal. Sealand was a really good launch platform for that. We also had an interest in theory, so it was also a great projection screen for all kinds of theoretical notions of identity and state.

VK: Explorations of theory, nationhood, and statehood, the combination of anarchy and monarchy, and all the contradictions that you find in Sealand as a kind of self-proclaimed state. There’s a strange, almost totalitarian thinking behind it, but it is so lo-fi. People hanging out with beer on a platform like “playing state” in their backyard.

DV: It’s interesting because Roy Bates, the founder of Sealand, recently passed away. The whole idea of Sealand was basically a gift to his wife. So it was his wife Joan, and he was obviously very much in love with her. He gave her this title “princess.” Which is a super-poetic and at the same time totally meaningless title. She doesn’t get any special perks from that other than some sort of fame. It’s interesting that it was done in a pre-internet age so obviously he wouldn’t have done it for, like, followers.

It was an inherently genuine act. That’s what’s great about Sealand.

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Installation view of “Metahaven: Islands in the Cloud” at MoMA PS1 (Photo: Matthew Septimus)

KC: Can you describe what kind of identity you made for Sealand? How did it evolve visually and what was the end product?

VK: What we found interesting about Sealand that it had all the very traditional objects of statehood, like stamps and passports, to prove that Sealand was very legitimate and real. There were also fake Sealand passports circulating. We were interested in creating coins of stamps that wouldn’t really materialize, but would exist virtually. An endless flow of heraldic images that keep going and keep adding to them.

DV: There are the old fixed icons like coins and stamps, but they are charged with stuff that’s actually really unstable, like everything that you find through Google Images. Everything you find about Sealand through Google would be legit to use in the identity for that reason.

So, for example, the landlord of the murderer of Gianni Versace had a fake Sealand passport. So that’s a little chain of events, and because of that link we could use the Versace iconography in the brand. If you Google “Sealand” now, you also get results for “Seal and Heidi Klum,” because Google has changed its algorithms accordingly. So you get lots of images of Seal and Heidi Klum together. Had that had been around at the time, we would have certainly used that.

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“Jewelbox” of Sealand branding (Image via wired.com)
KC: What’s the current state of Sealand?

VK: There was a fire on Sealand a few years ago, so it’s in a bad shape.

DV: People also know that their idea of turning Sealand into a data haven is not working. The P2P file sharing platform,the Pirate Bay, tried to buy Sealand a couple of years back because it still is this kind of internet anarchy symbol. But it’s not working, and I think we predicted that in our essay ‘The Network Ruin.”

KC: Totally, the ruins of the failed utopia are a visual archetype. Through Metahaven, you’re taking on projects that are niche but remain very relevant. How did you develop and run the studio practice.

DV: We are interested in ideas and concepts that require not just visualization but also research. I think that when we decided to we wanted to collaborate further on these things we also were struggling with how to set up a studio. I gave up another practice that I had at the time, which had many clients, in order to completely focus on Metahaven, so we started form scratch — we had nothing. We also had to find clients to sustain this practice. You can’t run your practice on something like Sealand alone. So the first few years were spent on getting that model together, of having commissioned work, combined with longer and shorter term research projects.

VK: I think working on Sealand as a topic was very important because there were so many themes in there that we have continued working on since, in different projects. We started to write much more, we organized conferences. We started working issues like the use of totalitarian architecture in Europe, and how such buildings were re-appropriated as symbols in capitalism. Still architecture, and identity were things we were working on.

KC: It’s interesting that on one hand, there is the commercial need to survive and take on projects and clients, but you also have a split between client work and research projects. How do you guys feel about Metahaven as kind of a business entity?

VK: We don’t really separate it — it’s not like we work on a commission for a client and the next day we do a research project. It very much overlaps, and also the way we talk with clients about commissions is very much how we talk in the studio about how to continue a research project.

DV: I think the notion of proactivity is really important, the notion that you can initiate stuff yourself. It can actually be a project that involves a client. There is the old notion of “pro-bono” work, which is the supposedly ethical counterpart to commercial practice, but in our case you could say that we dedicate a certain amount of research and resources to a potential client or partner that we feel could benefit from that.

That’s how we approached WikiLeaks, for example. Just before their global notoriety, so they were actually still approachable at that time.

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Installation view of “Metahaven: Islands in the Cloud” at MoMA PS1 featuring Wikileaks scarves (Photo: Matthew Septimus)

KC: Wikileaks blew up pretty quickly in terms of global notoriety. Do you mean working on topics that have more real-world impact?

DV: Nobody could have foreseen what happened to WikiLeaks, and the events that unfolded. Of course, it’s impossible for an identity to keep track of all this, so that’s also why we had to change the central question of the project, moving into something that was much more about products, merchandising — because what they needed most was money. Then of course we solved that in a completely non-straightforward way. We did stuff that obviously was very different form what they had in mind originally.

KC: What kind of things did Wikileaks have in mind for themselves?

DV: The sort of stuff you see in their official merchandising store.

KC: Instead, you made some more upscale items for them, like a Chanel-style scarf. What’s the story behind that?

DV: The notion of the scarf talks about opacity and transparency, which is exactly what they are about.

VK: Something that’s kind of glamorous, and you could wear it both as a luxury item, but also use it to cover your face.

DV: There’s also the cheapness of glamour. There is something about WikiLeaks that echoes cheap, fake imports—like a revolt of the means of production over the brand image. That’s why we had that Louis Vuitton play with the “WL” logo in one of the earlier scarves. WikiLeaks is about a notion of democratic access to value. This is something that we wanted to bring out a little bit.

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A Wikileaks scarf by Metahaven, featuring their logo (Image courtesy Metahaven, photo Meinke Klein)

KC: How difficult was it to actually communicate with Wikileaks, given their secrecy? Did you have any contact with Julian Assange himself?

VK: It basically started with us sending them an email in mid-2010 saying, “Hey, we would like to work on your identity, would you be up for it?” We got a reply back two hours later. The email said, “Great, we have a shortage of such things.” The e-mail was signed with “JA.” So that was enough for us to get started because they opened up the possibility to do something.

Then they started releasing the cables, and communication became very difficult. It took some time to get back touch with them, which eventually happened. We met with them and showed what we had done.

DV: Then, in that meeting, what we had been doing was sort of brushed aside, which was completely predictable. Some of the stuff we did which was brushed aside is in the show.

KC: Which parts?

DV: The identity part basically. Then we decided that pursuing tee shirts and mugs was really the way to go. We had a dialogue over the specific designs later on that was very productive.

VK: What we really understood during that meeting was that they have a problem surviving financially because of a blockade by MasterCard, VISA and PayPal. Selling merchandising is an important way for WikiLeaks to raise money, so basically that was the only thing they felt they needed designed.

DV: There’s a lot of criticism about this. They seem so focused on money sometimes that you feel it’s actually not benefiting the people who care for Wikileaks. These are not necessarily people who have lots of money. So if you force someone to support an organization by buying a mug you’re basically molding that person into a consumer role.

We found that the leaks are to WikiLeaks what tour dates are to a band, so basically our t-shirts present different important leaks, one per t-shirt.

Part two of Hyperallergic’s interview with Metahaven was published on Friday, February 15, 2013, “Graphic Design as Political Practice: A Conversation with Metahaven [Part 2].”

Metahaven: Islands in the Cloud runs at MoMA PS1 (22-25 Jackson Ave, Long Island City) through April 1.

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David Hammons performing ‘Bliz-aard Ball Sale’

31 Dec

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David Hammons performing ‘Bliz-aard Ball Sale’ (1983), Cooper Square, New York City
Courtesy Migros Museum, Zurich © David Hammons. Photo: Dawood Bey

From An Interview with David Hammons:

1. I CAN’T STAND ART ACTUALLY. I’VE NEVER, EVER LIKED ART, EVER. I NEVER TOOK IT IN SCHOOL.

2. WHEN I WAS IN CALIFORNIA, ARTISTS WOULD WORK FOR YEARS AND NEVER HAVE A SHOW. SO SHOWING HAS NEVER BEEN THAT IMPORTANT TO ME. WE USED TO CUSS PEOPLE OUT: PEOPLE WHO BOUGHT OUR WORK, DEALERS, ETC., BECAUSE THAT PART OF BEING AN ARTIST WAS ALWAYS A JOKE TO US.

WHEN I CAME TO NEW YORK, I DIDN’T SEE ANY OF THAT. EVERYBODY WAS JUST GROVELING AND TOMMING, ANYTHING TO BE IN THE ROOM WITH SOMEBODY WITH SOME MONEY. THERE WERE NO BAD GUYS HERE; SO I SAID, “LET ME BE A BAD GUY,” OR ATTEMPT TO BE A BAD GUY, OR PLAY WITH THE BAD AREAS AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS.

3. I WAS TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHY BLACK PEOPLE WERE CALLED SPADES, AS OPPOSED TO CLUBS. BECAUSE I REMEMBER BEING CALLED A SPADE ONCE, AND I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT IT MEANT; NIGGER I KNEW BUT SPADE I STILL DON’T. SO I TOOK THE SHAPE, AND STARTED PAINTING IT.

4. I JUST LOVE THE HOUSES IN THE SOUTH, THE WAY THEY BUILT THEM. THAT NEGRITUDE ARCHITECTURE. I REALLY LOVE TO WATCH THE WAY BLACK PEOPLE MAKE THINGS, HOUSES OR MAGAZINE STANDS IN HARLEM, FOR INSTANCE. JUST THE WAY WE USE CARPENTRY. NOTHING FITS, BUT EVERYTHING WORKS. THE DOOR CLOSES, IT KEEPS THINGS FROM COMING THROUGH. BUT IT DOESN’T HAVE THAT NEATNESS ABOUT IT, THE WAY WHITE PEOPLE PUT THINGS TOGETHER; EVERYTHING IS A THIRTY-SECOND OF AN INCH OFF.

5. THAT’S WHY I LIKE DOING STUFF BETTER ON THE STREET, BECAUSE THE ART BECOMES JUST ONE OF THE OBJECTS THAT’S IN THE PATH OF YOUR EVERYDAY EXISTENCE. IT’S WHAT YOU MOVE THROUGH, AND IT DOESN’T HAVE ANY SENIORITY OVER ANYTHING ELSE.

THOSE PIECES WERE ALL ABOUT MAKING SURE THAT THE BLACK VIEWER HAD A REFLECTION OF HIMSELF IN THE WORK. WHITE VIEWERS HAVE TO LOOK AT SOMEONE ELSE’S CULTURE IN THOSE PIECES AND SEE VERY LITTLE OF THEMSELVES IN IT.

6. ANYONE WHO DECIDES TO BE AN ARTIST SHOULD REALIZE THAT IT’S A POVERTY TRIP. TO GO INTO THIS PROFESSION IS LIKE GOING INTO THE MONASTERY OR SOMETHING; IT’S A VOW OF POVERTY I ALWAYS THOUGHT. TO BE AN ARTIST AND NOT EVEN TO DEAL WITH THAT POVERTY THING, THAT’S A WASTE OF TIME; OR TO BE AROUND PEOPLE COMPLAINING ABOUT THAT.

MY KEY IS TO TAKE AS MUCH MONEY HOME AS POSSIBLE. ABANDON ANY ART FORM THAT COSTS TOO MUCH. INSIST THAT IT’S AS CHEAP AS POSSIBLE IS NUMBER ONE AND ALSO THAT IT’S AESTHETICALLY CORRECT. AFTER THAT ANYTHING GOES. AND THAT KEEPS EVERYTHING INTERESTING FOR ME.

7. I DON’T KNOW WHAT MY WORK IS. I HAVE TO WAIT TO HEAR THAT FROM SOMEONE.

I WOULD LIKE TO BURN THE PIECE. I THINK THAT WOULD BE NICE VISUALLY. VIDEOTAPE THE BURNING OF IT. AND SHOOT SOME SLIDES. THE SLIDES WOULD THEN BE A PIECE IN ITSELF. I’M GETTING INTO THAT NOW: THE SLIDES ARE THE ART PIECES AND THE ART PIECES DON’T EXIST.

8. IF YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE THEN IT’S EASY TO MAKE ART. MOST PEOPLE ARE REALLY CONCERNED ABOUT THEIR IMAGE. ARTISTS HAVE ALLOWED THEMSELVES TO BE BOXED IN BY SAYING “YES” ALL THE TIME BECAUSE THEY WANT TO BE SEEN, AND THEY SHOULD BE SAYING “NO.” I DO MY STREET ART MAINLY TO KEEP ROOTED IN THAT “WHO I AM.” BECAUSE THE ONLY THING THAT’S REALLY GOING ON IS IN THE STREET; THAT’S WHERE SOMETHING IS REALLY HAPPENING. IT ISN’T HAPPENING IN THESE GALLERIES.

9. DOING THINGS IN THE STREET IS MORE POWERFUL THAN ART I THINK. BECAUSE ART HAS GOTTEN SO….I DON’T KNOW WHAT THE FUCK ART IS ABOUT NOW. IT DOESN’T DO ANYTHING. LIKE MALCOLM X SAID, IT’S LIKE NOVOCAINE. IT USED TO WAKE YOU UP BUT NOW IT PUTS YOU TO SLEEP. I THINK THAT ART NOW IS PUTTING PEOPLE TO SLEEP. THERE’S SO MUCH OF IT AROUND IN THIS TOWN THAT IT DOESN’T MEAN ANYTHING. THAT’S WHY THE ARTIST HAS TO BE VERY CAREFUL WHAT HE SHOWS AND WHEN HE SHOWS NOW. BECAUSE THE PEOPLE AREN’T REALLY LOOKING AT ART, THEY’RE LOOKING AT EACH OTHER AND EACH OTHER’S CLOTHES AND EACH OTHER’S HAIRCUTS.

10. THE ART AUDIENCE IS THE WORST AUDIENCE IN THE WORLD. IT’S OVERLY EDUCATED, IT’S CONSERVATIVE, IT’S OUT TO CRITICIZE NOT TO UNDERSTAND, AND IT NEVER HAS ANY FUN. WHY SHOULD I SPEND MY TIME PLAYING TO THAT AUDIENCE?

DAVID HAMMONS 1986

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2012 in review

31 Dec

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 850 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

From Wish You Were Here? to GAMSWEN… Mark Ingham

6 Dec

Journal of Writing in Creative Practice

From Wish You Were Here? to GAMSWEN and onto Designed Dissertations: Connecting the design studio with writing in design
Author:  Mark Ingham 
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This review describes the evolution of three art and design ‘writing’ projects delivered during the contextual studies courses of the undergraduate Graphic and Digital Design and 3D Digital Design and Animation programmes in the then Communication Media for Design Department in the University of Greenwich’s School of Architecture, Design and Construction. This review briefly tells the story of how and why these projects have developed over the past five years. 

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ISSN: 17535190
Online ISSN: 17535204
First published in 2008
3 Issues per volume
Volume 5 Issue 2

Cover Date: November 2012

Contents
Writing GOLD: A celebration of writing at Goldsmiths
Authors:  Marl’ene Edwin

Page Start: 175
View Header/Abstract   purchase PDF

Fragmented temp(oralities): A Caribbean perspective of time in literature and art

Page Start: 189
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How to write the perfect beginning and end
Authors:  Naomi Folb And  Aby Watson

Page Start: 205
View Header/Abstract   purchase PDF

Learning from the past to challenge the contemporary context of design: A collaborative enquiry investigating the effect of time on the design process
Authors:  Svenja Bickert And  Edward Johansson

Page Start: 223
View Header/Abstract   purchase PDF

Contours and shadows of selfreflection: Creating a ‘Narrative Hologram’

Page Start: 239
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The art of letters: An epic journey of intimate thought and exchange

Page Start: 251
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No one expects the design inquisition: Searching for a metaphorical solution for thinking, researching and writing through design
Authors:  Julia Lockheart And  Maziar Raein

Page Start: 275
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Making the workshop work: A dialogue between Alke Gröppel-Wegener and Pat Francis

Page Start: 291
View Header/Abstract   purchase PDF

From Wish You Were Here? to GAMSWEN and onto Designed Dissertations: Connecting the design studio with writing in design
Authors:  Mark Ingham 

Page Start: 301
View Header/Abstract   purchase PDF

Practice Ph.D.s, regulation and the elusive Type C
Authors:  Rebekka Kill

Page Start: 319
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BOOK REVIEW
Authors:  Joan Turner

Page Start: 325
View Header/Abstract   purchase PDF

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What is Design Thinking Anyway?

16 Feb

Roger Martin from: http://observatory.designobserver.com/entry.html?entry=11097


The Design of Business

Design thinking, as a concept, has been slowly evolving and coalescing over the past decade. One popular definition is that design thinking means thinking as a designer would, which is about as circular as a definition can be. More concretely, Tim Brown of IDEO has written that design thinking is “a discipline that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity.” [1] A person or organization instilled with that discipline is constantly seeking a fruitful balance between reliability and validity, between art and science, between intuition and analytics, and between exploration and exploitation. The design-thinking organization applies the designer’s most crucial tool to the problems of business. That tool is abductive reasoning.  

Don’t feel bad if you’re not familiar with the term. Formal logic isn’t systematically taught in our North American educational system, except to students of philosophy or the history of science. The vast majority of students are exposed to formal logic only by inference and then only to the two dominant forms of logic — deductive reasoning and inductive reasoning. Those two modes, grounded in the scientific tradition, allow the speaker to declare at the end of the reasoning process that a statement is true or false.

Deductive logic — the logic of what must be — reasons from the general to the specific. If the general rule is that all crows are black, and I see a brown bird, I can declare deductively that this bird is not a crow.

Inductive logic — the logic of what is operative — reasons from the specific to the general. If I study sales per square foot across a thousand stores and find a pattern that suggests stores in small towns generate significantly higher sales per square foot than stores in cities, I can inductively declare that small towns are my more valuable market.
Deduction and induction are reasoning tools of immense power. As knowledge has advanced, our civilization has accumulated more deductive rules from which to reason. In field after field, we stand on the shoulders of the giants who have come before us. And advances in statistical methods have furnished us with ever more powerful tools for reasoning inductively. Thirty years ago, few in a boardroom would have dared to cite the R2 of regression analysis, but now the statistical tools behind this form of induction are relatively common in business settings. So it is no wonder that deduction and induction hold privileged places in the classroom and, inevitably, the boardroom as the preeminent tools for making an argument and proving a case.
Yet a reasoning toolbox that holds only deduction and induction is incomplete. Toward the end of the nineteenth century, American philosophers such as William James and John Dewey began to explore the limits of formal declarative logic — that is, inductive and deductive reasoning. They were less interested in how one declares a statement true or false than in the process by which we come to know and understand. To them, the acquisition of knowledge was not an abstract, purely conceptual exercise, but one involving interaction with and inquiry into the world around them. Understanding did not entail progress toward an absolute truth but rather an evolving interaction with a context or environment.  

James, Dewey, and their circle became known as the American pragmatist philosophers, so called because they argued that one could gain understanding only through one’s own experiences. Among these early pragmatists, perhaps the greatest of them and certainly the most intriguing was Charles Sanders Peirce. Peirce (rhymes with “terse”) was fascinated by the origins of new ideas and came to believe that they did not emerge from the conventional forms of declarative logic. In fact, he argued that no new idea could be proved deductively or inductively using past data. Moreover, if new ideas were not the product of the two accepted forms of logic, he reasoned, there must be a third fundamental logical mode. New ideas came into being, Peirce posited, by way of “logical leaps of the mind.” New ideas arose when a thinker observed data (or even a single data point) that didn’t fit with the existing model or models. The thinker sought to make sense of the observation by making what Peirce called an “inference to the best explanation.” The true first step of reasoning, he concluded, was not observation but wondering. Peirce named his form of reasoning abductive logic. It is not declarative reasoning; its goal is not to declare a conclusion to be true or false. It is modal reasoning; its goal is to posit what could possibly be true. (For further information, see “Why You’ve Never Heard of Charles Sanders Peirce.”)

Whether they realize it or not, designers live in Peirce’s world of abduction; they actively look for new data points, challenge accepted explanations, and infer possible new worlds. By doing so, they scare the hell out of a lot of businesspeople. For a middle manager forced to deal with flighty, exuberant “creative types,” who seem to regard prevailing wisdom as a mere trifle and deadlines as an inconvenience, the admonition to “be like a designer” is tantamount to saying “be less productive, less efficient, more subversive, and more flaky” — not an attractive proposition. And it is a fair critique that abduction can lead to poor results; unproved inferences might lead to success in time, but then again, they might not.

Some abductive thinkers fail to heed Brown’s requirement that the design must be matched to what is technologically feasible, launching products that do not yet have supporting technology. Consider the software designers who inferred from the growth of the Internet that consumers would want to do all their shopping online, from pet supplies to toys to groceries. Online security and back-end infrastructure had not yet caught up to their ideas, dooming them to failure.

Other abductive thinkers fail to address Brown’s second requirement: that the innovation must make business sense. Looking back on the dot-com crash, Michael Dell, founder of Dell, argues that little has changed. “Still today in our industry, if you go to a trade show, you walk around and you will find a lot of technology for which there is no problem that exists,” he says. “It’s like, ‘Hey, look at this, we’ve got a great solution and there is no problem to solve here.’ ” [2] Think of the Apple Newton, the world’s first portable data assistant. Launched in 1993, it utterly flopped. According RIM’s Lazaridis, it was a failure of abduction. “It had no future,” he argues. “What problem did it solve? What value did it create? It was a research project. What could you do with it that you couldn’t do with a laptop? Nothing. And everything you could do with it, you could do better with a laptop.” Apple Computer (as it was known then) wasn’t wrong when it inferred that customers would value a small, portable, digital assistant, but it didn’t ultimately deliver a solution that matched the insight.

So the prescription is not to embrace abduction to the exclusion of deduction and induction, nor is it to bet the farm on loose abductive inferences. Rather, it is to strive for balance. Proponents of design thinking in business recognize that abduction is almost entirely marginalized in the modern corporation and take it upon themselves to make their companies hospitable to it. They choose to embrace a form of logic that doesn’t generate proof and operates in the realm of what might be — a realm beyond the reach of data from the past.

That’s a risk many leaders won’t take. Making Peirce’s logical leaps is not consistent or reliable; nor does it faithfully adhere to predetermined budgets. But the far greater risk is to maintain an environment hostile to abductive reasoning, the proverbial lifeblood of design thinkers and the design of business. Without the logic of what might be, a corporation can only refine its current heuristic or algorithm, leaving it at the mercy of competitors that look upstream to find a more powerful route out of the mystery or a clever new way to drive the prevailing heuristic to algorithm. Embracing abduction as the coequal of deduction and induction is in the interest of every corporation that wants to prosper from design thinking, and every person who wants to be a design thinker.

“What is Design Thinking” is an excerpt from Roger Martin’s new book The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage (Harvard Business Press, 2009).

Notes
1 Tim Brown, “Design Thinking. ” Harvard Business Review, June 2008. p. 86.

2 Michael Dell, in conversation with the author as part of the Rotman School of Management’s Integrative Thinking Experts Speaker Series, September 21, 2004.

I Heart Design

26 Jan

Cover of I Heart Design, edited by Steven Heller and published by Rockport (2011)

From: http://observersroom.designobserver.com/oblog/entry.html?entry=24188


Certificate of Approval

My father acquired this print (and several more like it) in a collection he bought from the estate of a friend in France: a certificate of approval for a pharmaceutical product, combining official stamps, labels, and signatures — a visual testament to the due diligence of a battalion of government bureaucrats who were, one can only assume, its intended audience.

It is, of course, so much more than this — a composition of stunning modernity, especially given that it was produced at the end of the nineteenth century. The print is dated 1889 — the same year that marked the Exposition Universelle in Paris, the inauguration of the Eiffel Tower and the opening of the Moulin Rouge. (Van Gogh painted Starry Night in 1889, too.) A good quarter-century before Saul Steinberg would begin making his mixed media collages, this stunning piece of graphic design gestures at once to the formality of the past and the uncertainty of its future: centered and serious, yet marginally askew and surprisingly dynamic, it’s both classical and modern. It may just be my favorite thing, ever.

The above text is an excerpt from the book I Heart Design (Rockport 2011), the book features eighty different designers, writing about their favorite piece of design. This excerpt appears here with the publishers permission.

Just in Time

19 Jan

Just in Time, or A Short History of Production

London

A book printed through a printing chain made of four desktop printers using four different colors and technologies dated from 1880 to 1976. A production process that brings together small scale and large scale production, two sides of the same history.

  • MAGENTA (Stencil duplicator, 1880)
  • CYAN (Spirit duplicator, 1923)
  • BLACK (Laser printer, 1969)
  • YELLOW (Inkjet printer, 1976)
  • 210 x 297 mm
  • 42 pages
  • 100 copies
  • english

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*New Hand in Date*

29 Nov

All your work for Art and Design in Context will now be handed in on or before Tuesday January 11 2011 by 4pm.

You have to submit The Website of the work you have done this term in Art and Design in Context, with your Political Cartoons, Wish You Were Here, Time Travel Projects.  Name clearly on the front page of  the  Website and 3 pages to be printed off and submitted with the header sheet to Lauren at the Architecture and Construction Reception desk.

Your Time Travel Presentation will now be on Monday 13 December.


175322 Time Travel and Wish You Were Here DESI 1115 Art & Design in Context 1 MB Ingham 11/01/2011
175323 Time Travel and Wish You Were Here DESI 1109 Art & Design in Context (30 credits) MB Ingham
11/01/2011

Research in Action

15 Nov

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