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  1. 1. Presentation ScriptSlide 3What does practice over theory really look like? Well, one example would bethe kind of design work that comes out of crowdsourcing sites, where thefunctionality of something like a web page design is more important than anyconceptual or meaningful associations.For instance, this web template comes from a crowdsourcing site that actuallystates, “Fancy a cookie? Obviously, you can just replace the cookies, easilychange colors and use it for a motor oil company” reinforcing that the content ofthe page is meaningless, and the practical execution is the important part of thedesign.Slide 5Design frequently serves the needs of business, which is focused on buyingand selling commodities. Hence the resulting design and intended messagebecome part of the product: commodified.As in this example of a popular toothpaste package. The design works in that itsells the product, so in that sense it is effective. But is it innovative or interesting?Not necessarily.and the reason for this is …Slide 6Commodification relies on quantifiable approaches –basing conclusions onproven, measurable results. The logic is: what has worked in the past willcontinue to be effective.Slide 7But the strength of designers is that they rely on "abductive reasoning– the logicof what might be. This is the art of creating something thats never been before.The vocabulary isnt important, but the underlying concept is:Designers dontcopy, they create.In an atmosphere where known results are favored, creativity is stifled.Additionally, in atmospheres where extrinsic rewards are emphasized, creativity
  2. 2. is once again stifled.Slide 8This is because true creativity and innovation also rely on Intrinsic Motivation: Aterm coined by Daniel H. Pink in his book, Drive. Pink describes thisphenomenon as"When people are driven by the joy of discovery and the challenge of creation astheir sole reward."Creativity thrives when people, and even monkeys have intrinsic motivation.Intrinsic motivation was discovered as a motivational theory when a group ofmonkeys were placed in a setting each with their own puzzle to solve. Much tothe scientists surprise, they monkeys immediately began playing with thecontraptions with an intensity of drive and focus which led them to solve thepuzzles quickly without any external reward. This led scientists to believe that themonkeys were "intrinsically motivated" to solve the puzzles.In searching for a research approach that can encourage this type of creativeenvironment, we can look to other disciplinesSlide 10In many disciplines, the prevailing method of exploring and furthering the aims ofpractice is approached through Pure Research. This type of research is oftenemployed in the natural and social sciences, and serves to provide a groundworkof knowledge from which to move forward with practice.Slide 11Pasteur discovered that dead or attenuated organisms can produce antibodieswithin blood serum. He discovered this accidentally while experimenting withpathogens and chickens. He injected the chickens with a virus, expecting toinfect them, but found that they developed an immunity. They only became sickbriefly and quickly thereafter recovered completely.The discovery of this principle greatly advanced science and led Jonas Salk to beable to create a vaccine for polio years later.
  3. 3. Slide 12Another example of pure research can be found in sociology, where thisapproach to research represents the primary way that the field is advanced.In the late 1800s Emile Durkheim studied suicide rates among differentpopulations of people, postulating that suicide is as much a result of ones socialenvironment as it is of mental illness. He came up with the term "anomie" and"anomie suicide" to describe a person who becomes suicidal as a result of notfitting into society. As you can see, this idea continues to be utilized widely today,such as in the instance of the Columbine killings.(Durkheim formed a hypothesis that stated that when social conditions failto provide people with the necessary social goals and/or rules their socio-psychological health is impaired, and this increases instances of suicide.He coined the term Anomie to refer to sudden changes in economic statusof an individual that might set off suicidal impulses and further hypothesizedabout the effects of religion on mitigating these factors.)(Segueway to fine art….)The tradition of fine art is a studio tradition.Fine artists often seek grants, attendresidencies, or build time for exploration into their regular studio practice.A body of work is often started with no pre-determined goal or outcome. Thefocus is on the process rather than the product.Process art is a great example of this kind of work, and is comprised of works byartists like Jackson Pollock and John Cage. It was practiced primarily in the 60sand 70s but continues to be an influential methodology today. In this type of workthe process becomes more important than the outcome and involves a great dealof open exploration.Slide 13John Cage invented the prepared piano, the mesostic poem and was a pioneerof performance art. He developed methodologies for producing work whichconsisted of games of chance such as the I Ching and drew on his study ofBuddhist and Indian philosophies for a great deal of his work. He is alsoattributed with defining avante-garde music.
  4. 4. Slide 14Jackson Pollock invented "action painting" which is a method of painting thatreveals the artists process in its active strokes that document or mimic themovement of the artist.The discovery of many different communicative modes and also of materials hasarisen from pure research in process art.Pure research has also been employed design, and one of the best examples ofthat can be found in the experiments conducted at the Bauhaus.Slide 15Pure Research in Design. Annie Albers was an educator and textiles designer atthe Bauhaus who advocated for experimentation in her work and the work of herstudents. She stated:“Unburdened by any considerations of practical application, [...} uninhibitedplay with materials resulted in amazing objects, striking in their newness ofconception in regard to use of color and compositional elements––objects ofoften quite barbaric beauty.”The principles of composition and formal approaches discovered in this type ofplay led her to come to important conclusions about methodologies that werelater used in her and her students work.–––––––––––––So what does this mean for communications design today? As Im sure you haveall experienced, the practice of communications design is often pursued withinthe constraints of tight deadlines and budgets, which rarely allows for the pursuitof exploratory projects.My proposal is that communications design should be continuously exploredoutside of professional practice using pure research.To demonstrate the possibilities inherent in this type of research, I will propose aseries of exploratory projects both independent and collaborative and will publishthe findings in order to share the knowledge gained with other practitioners.Possible Projects:
  5. 5. Syntactigrams - exploring the structural creation of meaning through play withlanguage and visual signifiers.Can colors and images replace words, and if so what is the result of theirmeaning both contextually and historically?