Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Enjoy your panic

The assignment for today's lesson of Graphic Design was pretty difficult: we had to choose a picture that we had affinity with. This picture had to be put in a 3x3 grid, constantly altering its meaning, like so:

Enhance the message of the photo Change the message of the photo Diminish the message of the photo
By adding an element By adding an element By adding an element
By taking out an element By taking out an element By taking out an element
By exchanging an element By exchanging an element By exchanging an element

We learned that it is very difficult to pick a photograph that is right for this assignment. Some photos are fine the way they are, and do not easily benefit from adding, taking out or exchanging elements, since it doesn't help to enhance their meaning. With these kind of photos, it is difficult to find the right element to add or take out. When adding or exchanging an element, you also have to be very careful not to alter the meaning of the photo when you only want to enhance it. For example, there was a photo of a woman leaning against a wall, apparently waiting for something or watching something. The person who showed this picture decided to add a bus stop sign above the woman to enhance the message. What he actually had done was deciding for us what the picture should mean. In the original, the viewer would wander what the woman is doing: is she waiting for some friend of her? Is she watching a fight? Is she looking at her children walking away? All those scenarios would have been possible with the original picture, but not in the "enhanced" version.

Another lesson we have learned is that it is very difficult to diminish or erase the message from a photo, because every visual object has at least some meaning. For example, when you have a picture portraying a man standing in front of a building, and you take out the man, the picture is still about the building, thus having a meaning.

Our teacher was glad that we had had difficulties with the assignment, and told us to "enjoy our panic", because it shows that graphical editing is not an easy task.To illustrate this, he ended the lesson with a lecture on the book he had created for Industrial Design. Some seemingly simple pages would take him three days or more to get exactly right. He had completed the whole book in 2 years time. This lesson really made me appreciate the layout of books and other forms of visual communication more, and it helped to open my eye to the small details that are present everywhere in graphical work just to make the visual presentation feel right.

Next week we have to combine our second assignment (which was to fix a letter in a typeface) with the current assignment. We have to choose two photos and two verbs and put them in a grid of 2x2. The result is two different photos with the same text on the first row, and those same photos with a different text on the second row.

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