‘At this moment, I not only realize the power storytelling has to connect all of us as human beings but the responsibility that comes with this power. It can become incredibly dangerous when our stories are rewritten or ignored, because when we are denied identity, we become invisible. We’re all storytellers. Reclaiming our narratives and just listening to each other’s can create a portal that can transcend time itself.’ — Kayla Briët
When there is a medical emergency on board a flight, the pilot will ask if there is a doctor on board. At no time will a doctor think to themselves that they are not employed by the airline and not currently on duty, instead, they are expected to leap into action and do what is considered ‘right’ which is to say, administer medical help. Why do we expect that from doctors but not designers?
Is a graphic designer an active creator of visual culture or a reactive curator and synthesiser of cultural influences? What responsibilities and possibilities do the discipline and the practitioners have to reflect culture outside of their own?
Should design and by extension designers create participatory spaces aimed at capturing voices beyond their own – should they be a tool for creation rather than the creators? Should they be in service to a community and a more passive participant in the creation of content?
How can graphic design become a meaningful part of the culture in the age of social media? Is graphic design more reactive to culture than an active creator, does is propagate culture rather than create it. Am I or do I want to be a curator or creator? And what does that mean?
Is there now a lack of shared location-based culture which in turns leads to a lack of community and responses to crises. Cultural globalism and global culturalism have led to fractured local services and institutions. Mural and public art – however many times digitally shared – perhaps strive to create local and location-specific shared visual culture.
If culture is shared, promoted and propagated through the metaphorical and literal filters and lenses of social media – can this mendacity really be a healthy or even efficient way of building a culture? The only location-based visuals are at best advertisements. And advertisements are and have always been aspirational at best, cynical and full of false worlds and promises at their worst.
‘…a systematic way of dealing with hazards and insecurities induced and introduced by modernisation itself…surges of technological rationalization and changes in work and organization, but beyond that includes much more: the change in societal characteristics and normal biographies, changes in lifestyle and forms of love, change in the structures of power and influence, in the forms of political repression and participation, in views of reality and in the norms of knowledge. In social science’s understanding of modernity, the plough, the steam locomotive and the microchip are visible indicators of a much deeper process, which comprises and reshapes the entire social structure.’ (Beck, 1992)
Technological advances will lead to more globalisation and automation in (once) creative industries. Does graphic design owe it to humanity to create human cultural artefacts and be a curator of all peoples’ cultures?
‘Normal brain functions depends on the social web around us. Our neurons require other people’s neurons to thrive and survive. ‘
The Brain, David Eagleman
The above image of the plane, shows an early example of survivorship bias, the red dots signify places where the plane has been struck by enemy bullets. However, it only tracks data from planes that returned to base. it doesn’t mean, planes were never struck in places where there are no red dots, it means, that when struck in those places, the plane would not survive. Similarly, when we look back at history and culture, all we have to judge it by are the artefacts that survive, or that were created in the first place, and more often than not they were created by and for a privileged class. A longer way of saying that history is written by the victors (not Winston Churchill)
Does design have a responsibility to create a more inclusive cultural representation moving forward, while also amending the errors and omissions of the past? And what is a designer’s role when dealing with cultures beyond their own?
L. William Youngdahl
Man Ray, rayographs