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Information Design and the Grotesque


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Information design (ID) aspires to an objective representation of memory, to “induce the viewer to think about the substance rather than about methodology” (Tufte), its materiality invisible to its ideas, a way to find truth in a world of shadows. ID is a dialogue where the data has become active, used rather than read. Use and usability require an efficiency that simplifies complex ideas (Nielsen, Neurath) in an attempt to create a frictionless communication of content in a world where computers are invisibly embedded into the fabric of society, silently collecting and analysing data (Weiser, 1991).

With increased concerns over privacy should these processes be invisible and quiet? Could the design play with the complex ideas and its own materiality to create a discourse around the vitality of digital memory?

From grottoes to cathedrals the grotesque has celebrated invention and questioned authority with a fart and a wink. Loud, funny and playful the grotesque contrasts the muted simplicity of ID, it could throttle the efficient consumption of information and create time for the consumer to consider and distinguish between layers of data. In ID the grotesque could play with its materials and induce the viewer to think about the impact of the methodology.

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Information Design and the Grotesque

  1. 1. Information design and the grotesque
  2. 2. Google Calendar
  3. 3. GoogleMaterialDesign
  4. 4. Windows 10
  5. 5. Gerd Arntz web archive
  6. 6. Gerd Arntz Illustrations for the socialist union magazine Die Proletarische Revolution, 1928
  7. 7. Information is beautiful
  9. 9. Preview Audiences User Testing
  10. 10. Types of display design in black-on-white version: numerical design (top); analogue design (middle); ambient design (bottom) Bath University.
  11. 11. Conclusion: The numerical design was the all-round winner in task performance, leading to enhanced communication of energy-use changes compared to the analogue and ambient designs. Chiang, T., Natarajan, S. and Walker, I. (2012) ‘A laboratory test of the efficacy of energy display interface design’, Energy and Buildings, 55, pp. 471–480. doi: 10.1016/j.enbuild.2012.07.026.
  12. 12. Types of display design in black-on-white version: numerical design (top); analogue design (middle); ambient design (bottom) Bath University.
  13. 13. Grotesque Grotto-esque
  14. 14. LuttrellPsalterc.1325-1335
  15. 15. LuttrellPsalterc.1325-1335
  16. 16. Joris Hoefnagel about 1591 – 1596 Mira Calligraphiae Monumenta
  17. 17. ArentvanBoltens1604-1616
  18. 18. BasilWolverton1909-1978
  19. 19. Ken Reid 1970s
  20. 20. f.150v Luttrell Psalter c. 1325-1335 Cylinder Complex by Basil Wolverton 1972
  21. 21. World War 2 Malaria leaflet by Theodor Geisel AKA Dr Seuss
  22. 22. M16ManualbyWillEisner
  23. 23. Freedom Fighters comic produced by the CIA to undermine the Sandinista Government
  24. 24. a 16-page comic book published in 1957 by the Fellowship of Reconcilation
  25. 25. Boiling line
  26. 26. ticketing
  27. 27. Gerd Arntz