The Language of Design Communication is conceived of as the basic unit to the study of graphic/communication design theory in the Master of Design Program. Some of the ground we cover here assumes knowledge of semiotics, rhetoric and code, and many of the basic texts are shared between the two units.
This course tries to address what is unique about communication design as a special sort of discipline and hopefully clears away some of the myths and idealism that dogs much design theory and writing.
The first module starts by asking ‘what is graphic design?’. I suspect that we are all design professionals who at least relate to graphic design enough to be taking this subject, so no matter what our diverse backgrounds, we should all have a working knowledge of communication design as a subject of appraisal. Let's call this our naïve position. Step by step I will ask you to document this position, compare yours with the others, and then provide you with some challenging and expanding perspectives. You will also be asked to consider graphic design from the perspectives of production and consumption. This will be carried out via the discussion board, readings and the writing of a communication design manifesto informed by your thought, discussion, idealism and research.
The second module moves on to the idea of the visual. Visualization is a universal element of all applications of communication design, and, as we see our special knowledge applied to ever more diverse media and applications, we are all the time marrying the visual to an increasing array of complimentary and simultaneous messages delivered over different times, spaces and sensory extensions. Visual identity is multi-faceted, especially in an area with a tradition as long as graphic design. Our starting point will be a structural one. Rarely do we have the opportunity to produce communication design for a naïve market. So the creation of visual identity in graphic design involves a complex knowledge of what already exists, in order that we might innovate a new and differentiated identity. We will also explore where innovation comes from. Does innovation come from within the designer or from the outside world?
The third module looks at the different and changing media forms that graphic design constantly has to relate and adapt to. Media forms are a useful way of understanding graphic design as an interface between the media audience and the changing technological environments and requirements that create them. It is huge enough for graphic designers to be forced to produce artwork via whole new medias of production as has happened in the last twenty or so years. And yet this change is minor compared to our comprehension of the new media we are working in and what is happening to the changing role of the old medias we have left behind. To successfully entice the reader in the old media was difficult enough, but to entertain the viewer of the new seems at times to be so much more challenging.
At the completion of this course, students should be able to:
- think more objectively about the role, definition and function of graphic and/or communication design.
- distinguish the meaning of design from the perspectives of the producer and the consumer
- develop a more sophisticated idea of visual meaning: how visual information communicates; the effect of simultaneous messages from extra-visual senses; the structure of visual messages
- understand in more detail the idea of visual identity, as it is one of the major roles of communication designers
- discuss the idea of media form and its effect on design production and reception (as well, we will investigate the effect of technological change on the media and the response of design to these changes)
- discuss the difference in reception of the reader/consumer to different media forms.