Hi all,

just a quick outline summary of the main points of my piece, to reinforce to myself the key points I’m trying to convey.

Key point is that Title sequences are regarded as marginal but they are not.

I will show how and why title sequences are crucial markers zones or spaces for manipulation and input by designers.

Titles are key focal points to enable navigation of cultural sphere to lead to more effective use by designers in working with film directors but crucially in opening up new possibilities for their use with other cultural experiences in the future.

Key Points about why title sequences are not marginal but significant:

1- Role in representing the film/film director/studio

2- Role as compressed semiotically rich experimental space so allows manipulation of codes and meanings in a way less restricted and more nuanced than trailers

3- The cultural products which they represent are key to self expression and identity formation – via the exercise of taste in consumer society and notions of cultural capital. Title sequences are important taste markers to locate film and viewer within the cultural and social landscape. Taste operates both socially but also as a self-reflexive mechanism on identity.

4- Although they appear inaccessible prior to choice in fact they are not. Why? Because of extended world of reviewing/explosion in reviewing forms via internet, blogging etc they quickly become part of the total film experience that is then reviewed and broadcast or shared – influencing choice and consumption.

Title sequences are therefore in fact just as visible as the film itself and available as a very compressed, persuasive, subtle and flexible tool to be used by film makers / cultural experience producers. Designers have a big role to play in this medium so full of potential.





The following is a list of films I’ve used as an analysis in my Visual Summary about shared codes and tropes which help viewers to locate films within genres and sub genres:

Gattaca –

Existenz –

Terminator Salvation –

I Robot –

War of the Worlds –

Moon – (scroll down)





All of the following characteristics help viewers to locate these films within film culture as “high quality” or “serious” science fiction:



Abstraction – textural or patterned, or graphic, often dark, but mostly amorphous, never fully clear.

Emergence out of parts, or dissolving transitions – fragments and unclear elements, creating a whole which is frequently no more revealing – still leaves a question mark. But a recognisable question mark such as the title of the film.

Intense evocation of mystery

Teasing lack of information yet showing elements of the diegesis, mostly these elements are relatively unrecognisable – we really don’t know what we’re looking at, or what it might actually mean until the titles are done – the tension of disorientation

Relatively monotone in colour – serious, ascetic, sophisticatedly pared back

Where music has been used: discordant, disconcerting, eery, suspenseful, epic, indeterminate soundtrack or serious sonorous thoughtful paced music (high proportion of orchestral pieces)

Allusions to universal notions, of unreality – which again ties in with the use of abstract composition and movement. These are perhaps references to possibilities of interior or profound meaning.



The future as an otherworldly, unknowable, mysterious place

The darkness underpinning utopia – all is not what it appears to be

Disorientation and complexity

Our known world of the present is less exciting but actually relatively comfortable

As I’ve developed my argument through the process of actually writing, rather that doing a plan first (maybe this hasn’t been the easiest way to do this…), I’m posting my draft up here, in case anyone has the patience or is curious enough to want to read it.

Any comments very welcome, although don’t feel obligated – I am putting it up also as a record on the blog of the development of my thinking, as the next stage on from my previous post with its list of seemingly unconnected questions.

PS – I’ve not yet included any of my quotes or references to the title sequences I will be using as illustrations…

Thanks all 🙂


Title sequences, synonymous with cinema but also now becoming more elaborately used in television, can be seen as part of the packaging of films and programmes, an expected prelude to watching the main piece. We only see them once we’ve chosen to watch a film, but this does not necessarily mean they are not influential in our initial decision on whether to / what to view. They are also an inextricable framing element without which the film/programme has not actually begun, and without which a film would seem incomplete.

So in what way are title sequences important in the process by which film/tv or other cultural artefacts are commodified – turned into marketable/sellable commodities? Are title sequences a worthwhile space in which designers can work? What possibilities could lie ahead for title sequences?

What does a title sequence do anyway?

Title sequences “…[focus] on the the situation of distractedness and diverging expectations, namely, in providing a focus that allows for a transition into the movie.” They are a lead in to the film, and point to it’s genre, its mood, and influence the expectations of the audience so that these can be satisfied by the film. [Reading the Title Sequence, p.44]

[incomplete as yet]

Title sequences map out the landscape of choice

Title sequences have a role in influencing the expectations of a viewer and are an important part of the packaging of films and programmes. While some titles are very functional and basic involving the bare minimum of typographic intrusion, they are often more elaborate and can be a paradigmatic introduction or frame to the viewing experience.  Much of Saul Bass’ work has been said to embody this and some of his work has become seen as iconically representing the films it precedes – acting as a recognisable shorthand or a sign standing in for the film or making it immediately recognisable.

Wherever a title sequence falls on the scale from quietly unobtrusive to stylistically or narratively overt, the opening sequence helps to establish or reinforce a film or programme’s location within the cinematic or televisual cultural space too – it has the potential to communicate what the film stands for, what values, tropes, cultural codes, myths, and connotations the film is alluding to.

This has important consequences as they help to clarify to viewers in precise yet subtle ways how to categorise the film – in its most basic way in terms of confirming genre, using established “codes” shared with the title sequences of films in the same genre, and “codes” used in other genres and films.

The evolution of these codes throughout a film genre’s emergence/development, involved the repeated use of similar imagery/treatments, referring to the same categories of cultural ideas – for example the wide arid expanses of the American West standing in for the genre of Westerns, together with references to frontier risk taking, independent self-sufficiency, the border between civilisation and the wild.  It is this intertextual relationship of cross-fertilised messages and codes between films within and outside a genre which gives title sequences their power of “pointing” at the meanings of a film using what might be termed a shared language of visual codes, together with newly introduced syntax specific to the film – which in turn may be reused, appropriated, referred to by other films, and which may therefore emerge as new codes or syntax for future genres or sub-genres.

At a meta level the waymarkers within title sequences are a kind of dynamic language which describes or maps out what we could call the choice-landscape of film or television. At the level of an individual film, it helps us to locate it relative to other films – to navigate the choice-landscape. But what is the wider system in which viewers go about choosing what they want to watch?

The mechanism of choice

We are acculturated to the societies we live in – consciously and more unconsciously aware of the fundamental assumptions, and choices of value and belief inherent in living in them. We’re also on some scale of being conscious / articulate / or critical in terms of our visual / televisual / filmic / and information literacy. As such we’re aware of what we like culturally and have a fairly developed understanding of the choices available when we choose to view something on TV / a film / go to the theatre and so on.

In addition to being aware of the choice-landscape and the location of possible choices within it, our choice is based on what we like. What exactly is that based on? It seems to be some amorphous sum-total effect of our alignments to and reactions to those values / ideologies / tropes within our wider culture. These being underpinned at any particular time by our individual contexts – intellectual capital, psychological makeup, economic situation, our interrelationships with others, our cultural capital.

How is having choice important to us? In whatever system we live in, having choices and making decisions about what we choose (or the illusion of choice) is fundamental to our sense of self-determination / free will / agency – that we are the agents of change directing some part of the course of our lives. In capitalist societies consumer choice is particularly fundamental to the system – the proposition is that we exercise our free-will by having an abundance of choice which represents a wide horizon of possibilities. By making choices from this wide range of possibilities we feel like we are in some way exercising our freedom.

This feeds the cycle of consumption as we consume products and services, and in a neutral interpretation, advertising is the intermediary between producers and consumers, facilitating this exchange by providing “information” to consumers about products/services. A less neutral interpretation would be the continual manufacturing of desire, which involves the devaluing of existing products and the promotion of the new.

Having taste is no longer a matter of taste

It used to be that taste was Taste with a capital T. It referred to elitist notions of connoisseurship and narrow definitions of correctness based on specialist knowledge. It seems to be the case now that taste is not reserved for the connoisseur in the sense that everyone is expected to have some, and is expected to have their own portfolio of preferences as a means of expressing themselves.

Consumer choice seems to have expanded logarithmically in the past 30 years, in particular in step with China’s economic unshackling under Deng Xiaoping, and China’s imminent rise to become the world’s largest economy in a few years from now. Amongst other factors including massive economic growth in the leading economies over this period, this hyper-inflation of choice as part of the acceleration of the consumption cycle has meant that we have come to expect enormous choice as a norm.

This has changed our habits – a large proportion of us in the rich developed countries express ourselves increasingly via consumption – the items and services we buy are expressions of our taste, personal constellations of products acting as cultural signifiers and signifiers of personal meaning. We express ourselves not only to others but probably more importantly (as perennially with clothing and adornment) – to ourselves. We make, reinforce, manage our identities via taste – it has become the glue of self-hood for many of us to an increasing degree.

Commodification: titles and taste

So mass populations having been exposed to excessive choice have developed a taste for taste, and the phenomenon of taste as a mechanism for self-expression and identity making in turn drives consumption. The positioning of entertainments such as film and television within society as valued cultural fields intensifies their importance to us as signifiers of our cultural capital. Title sequences in their role as part of the packaging of film and television arguably offer the most nuanced space for locating a film/programme within cinema or TV. They do so in the following ways…

[Discussion about role of TS as being both packaging and part of packaging

Discussion about internet, reviews, and word of mouth – ie that TS perhaps matters more now that before

Also role of TS in terms of incompleteness without one and the pressure to polish the product

Discuss the TS as a conflicted space – with conflicting roles, but also because of it’s odd in-between-ness, a space for experimentation and risk-taking

Possible importance of the once-removed – ie that titles may sometimes have more impact in a different medium than live-action.]


Titles offer the the potential to provide a nuanced and compressed space in which films, television, and possibly other cultural products can be measured/judged/weighed within viewers systems of taste. Taste is a key driver of the consumption of cultural products, via the intertwining of fundamental drives to form our identites, with consumption of cultural products which act as signifiers – viewers systems of taste are the crucial mechanism by which film and television culture are commodified.

An awareness of how title sequences function to locate a film/programme within the choice-landscape of film/television could help designers to understand better the importance of including genre-pointers and other established or common or shared “codes”.

[incomplete as yet]

Hello guys!

I wanted to do something about graphic elements in title sequences, since is related to my MPP, and i developed the subject of my essay after reading the “Am I type?” text where the author analyzes typography also related to the cinema, talking about title sequences. This is a draft of the structure and the contents of my essay.


Title sequences sometimes use only typographic elements to convey the message, just text that moves. Different movements have different meanings and evoke different emotions.

What does a certain movement want to tell us?

What does a text moving vertically express and how is it different from a lateral movement?

In my essay i will explain the meaning of different movements (toward the camera, away from camera, vertical, downward, from left to right, from right to left) and i’ll support them with examples.


Kinetic typography has been defended as “…the integration of “typography and motion” or “text that moves otherwise changes over time”.” (Browne, 2007).

Roland Bathes (1977) theory suggests that text can be a representation of an image, this insinuates that text has the same properties as an image and can symbolise messages and semiotics. This theory can be applied to all signifiers to find meaning in objects within the title sequence.

The first title sequence to animate type in a subject-appropriate way was Gone with the Wind, with titles that gust on and off the screen, italicized as if by sheer gale force.

Example of kinetic typography: North by northwest


– figures moving toward camera (heighten drama): Crash (1996)

– figures moving away from camera (increase a sense of sadness and romance): -still have to find it-

– vertical movements (aspiration, joy, power, and authority): Catch me if you can

– downward movements (grief, death, insignificance, depression, weakness): -still have to find it-

– Movement from left to right (psychologically natural): Down with love

– Movement from right to left (tense and uncomfortable): Psycho (1960)

Hello all,

I’m determined to somehow integrate my MPP interest in title sequences into this 1.2 essay and as such am trying to put a shape around a bunch of thoughts (well questions actually) to do with T.S.’s. Somehow I need to come up with a theoretical approach to my investigations – one that has relevance to graphic design discourse rather than just film theory or wider cultural discourse.

So to begin I’m afraid I’m going to splurge a pile of questions which have occurred to me further to reading and research. If you have any opinions or thoughts about how I might hammer this into some kind of shape, I’d welcome them.

To what extent can title sequences be more than packaging? What is the value of them as packaging – how do they extend the identity or brand of a film?

How do they function as waymarkers of taste and category? How does this help them commodify these cultural artefacts?

How can graphic design have a material effect on their success? What exactly is a successful title sequence? How do we measure this?

What could title sequences do if graphic design played a more significant role in their conception and realisation? How does this relate to authorship?

To what extent are they separate from films and how does this affect their modes of operation within culture? How do they speak for a film? How could they do so in the future and what conditions would enable this? Expanded cinema needs expanded titles?

What media can titles be applied to? Film, tv, events, theatre, books, e-books, feature articles?

What could designers do with more freedom/power in the equation?

To what extent is it preferable to use alternative media to represent other media? Eg illustration to represent live action, typography to represent live action. Is once removed more engaging?

Why do we need a prelude, something to signal that we should ready ourselves, something to get us in the mood? Why is the frame necessary? Is the frame integral to the “picture”? Derrida and parergonal (ie Kant’s parerga)?

Are titles an aesthetic “polish” that we are increasingly expecting? Are films unfinished without a pyrotechnic display to kick them off? How is ornament and framing important and how does it function and operate? Do we need to understand this better? Rescuing title sequences from the margins.

How do we manage our cultural identities through the films we watch and how therefore does a title sequence help us confirm or classify a film’s total experience?

How is a t s typographic sensibility distinct from the narrative sequences and time experience of a film? Even where live action is the dominant feature of the t s?

Hi everybody,

Thanks to all of you for your comments, these were really helpful. Now I have clear what I want to research, so my essay has changed a little bit, but in some aspects continue being related to the precious one.

This is my essay structure, all of your comments are more than welcome:

Research question

Are human values re-emerging in the contemporary graphic design practice?


-Brief description telling about what I am researching, Why graphic designers are reverting back 

to works with a handmade touch?

– Look  for aspects like handmade typography and investigate the relation of the aesthetic used nowadays in    relation to past movements/methods.

– What offer a handmade work in regards to add value to the form / design?

– What can offer a handmade work to the result of a design that modern proccess / digital work don’t offer?

– Look at works of contemporary graphic designers to see how this use is applied.

Some examples:


– Do a research of brands which are taking inspiration of the use of handmade / DIY stuff.

Here you can see some examples:

Advertising campaign:

Nike: Make it count 2012

Urban Outfitters new logo 2011:

Books you can buy in Sixpack France shop inspired by zines.

Questions to develop my conclusion

Is all of this just a question of trend where graphic designers are trying to be “differents”(not using just computer)in a digital era? Are the big business (like the examples of brands I put above: nike, sixpack, urban outfitters…) destroying the handmade aesthetic?

Hello again!

On my previous post, I’ve mentioned about the subject that I want to make research and write about. However, we have a 2000 words limit and a title like Socially Responsible Design contains so many issues and sub titles that cannot be fully covered in 2000 words. So I divided my subject into three specific titles. I’ll choose one and go for it. I’d really appreciate if you help me choosing it with your feedbacks. Under each three title, you can see some research about 500 words (I didn’t include the course key texts, to share alternative approaches and resources). The second one seems the most possible nominee for now, but I’m looking for your opinions. I know it’s a bit too long, you can just give them a swift look instead of reading the whole bulky paragraphs 🙂

1) First Things First Manifesto (1964 and 2000)

The First Things First manifesto was written and proclaimed at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, on an evening in December 1963, and published in January 1964 by Ken Garland. Ken Garland studied in graphic design at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, London, in the 1950s. Then he became the Art Editor of Design magazine from 1956-62, before leaving for establishing his own graphic design studio called Ken Garland and Associates. Some of his well-known clients are Paramount Pictures, The Science Museum, and Cambridge University Press. He has written many articles to design periodicals and lectured widely in Europe, America and Asia. Garland says that the reverberations of the manifesto are still being perceived. His manifesto “First Things First” was a reaction against the rich and well endowed Britain of the 60s. The manifesto was making a critique of the field “design”, which had become lazy and uncritical. Ken Garland and some graphic designers (over 400 people) who backed the manifesto argued that design is not a neutral, value-free process. First Things First took action against the consumerist culture that was purely concerned about buying and selling goods. One of the promoters of the manifesto was Tonny Benn, a radical left-wing activist who published it entirely in the Guardian newspaper.

In 1999, The First Things First 2000 (an updated version of the earlier First Things First) was written and launched by Adbuster magazine. Adbusters Media Foundation is a non-profit, anti-consumerist organization founded in 1989 by Kalle Lasn and Bill Schmalz. The organization describes itself as “a global network of artists, activists, writers, pranksters, students, educators and entrepreneurs who want to advance the new social activist movement of the information age” The foundation publishes Adbusters, a reader-supported activist magazine, devoted to several social and political causes. Adbusters has also launched some international social marketing campaigns like “Buy Nothing Day” and “TV Turnoff Week”. Founder Kate Lasn explains the foundation’s goal. “Advertisers have taken over everything, and there is a belief that the $450bn-a-year advertising industry may have peaked. It’s time for the backlash, and that backlash is the clean mental environment.” (Verna 2006) There are some other social activist design publications like No Logo, Geez magazine and Stay Free! Magazine. First Things First 2000 manifesto was signed by 33 people from the international design community (many of them are famous graphic designers, like Jonathan Barnbrook, Milton Glaser and Steven Heller).  The manifesto was published and translated in many other magazines and books around the world. “The manifesto could not fail to make waves when it was republished precisely because it stands in stark contrast to the stock-in-trade of many design magazines.” (Baugnet 2003, 96) Its aim is the same as its earlier version; generating a discussion about the graphic design profession’s priorities. Interest in the manifesto was rekindled with this second edition. Some designers welcomed and backed this attempt while some rejected it. The partner of the New York office of Pentagram (a famous collaborative and interdisciplinary design studio that have offices in London, New York, San Francisco, Austin and Berlin) Michael Bierut is taking a negative public position on the manifesto. In his article, he criticizes the signatories of the manifesto because “they have specialized in [designing] extraordinarily beautiful things for the cultural elite, not the denizens of your local 7-Eleven.” (Soar et al. 2002) The 2000 version of First Things First is nearly the same as the earlier version

2) Graphic Design’s Social Content as a Form of Social Production Instead of Commodification

As visuality is an overpowering concept and a powerful medium for communication, it is quite possible to make use of design that attends to social needs rather than servicing only to the prescriptions of capitalist consumption. Anne Bush, a chairperson of the graphic design program at the University of Hawaii, handles the designer as master communicator, the problem solver. “Yet, communication is dialogic. It depends on exchange. Thus, a more accurate understanding of visual communication invokes not only the voices of designers, but the voices of designers in concert with the voices of the audience.” (Bush 2003, 26) This dialogical process that Bush suggests, handles visual communication as a social activity. “To teach social responsibility, then, is in part to foster an understanding of visual communication as exchange and to understand that such exchanges are never entirely predictable or neat.” (Bush 2003, 26) For her, the designer is not the sole determinant, but rather a participant through these dialogues.

Susan Szenasy is the chief editor of the New York City-based magazine Metropolis (it’s a magazine of architecture, culture and design). She describes design as a noble and necessary human activity. In her article, she mostly mentions about environmental and ecological issues. When it comes to ecology and animal rights, most of the fashion students are good examples for the design attitude of today. Susan Szenasy observes that they see themselves as slaves of seasonal trends and fickle consumers, they believe that there’s nothing any designer can do about ecological problems. To make living in the fashion industry, they think that they need to figure out how to make money and how to become stars. For Szenasy, a sixties idealist, it’s possible to turn that ugly world into something more beautiful. However, her ideas are evaluated by her students as a naive dream.

For graphic designers who are interested and active in social causes, there is always a disconnection between the graphic design work he/she is doing and the willingness to contribute to a larger community. But the deviation between the world of business and the world of community service makes it hard to turn the life and work into something more seamless. Milton Glaser anticipates this kind conundrum: “Designers per se are usually in a very weak position in regard to what they do; they don’t make the determinations, they don’t decide what is to be sold, they don’t decide on the strategy or the objectives very often. They are, to a large extent, at the end of a long process where these essential decisions have been made by others… Designers have to recognize that their role has become … a mediation between clients and an audience, where they act more like telephone lines than they do like initiators.” (Soar et al. 2002)

3) Design for Corporate (Do Designers Have to Consider Deeply About Their Clients?)

Brand is the most important piece of property in the globalization race. What does brand valuation do for a corporation? Corporations need brand assessments to encourage investors, preserve loans, and attract consumers. Through the concept of property, brands need to be carried on, and they desire growth. Graphic design is one of the most significant players in this globalization race. Corporate design is discussed in relation to client satisfaction and project briefs. But what if a graphic designer interrogates himself/herself and refuses to work with corporates, because of the personal ideological reasons? Michael Schmidt, an associate professor of graphic design at University of Memphis, claims that in the 1990s graphic design lost its thirst for ideological debate. “Globalization, on the other hand, is replete with ideological riptides… Debate is the key; more of us need to come to the table.” (Schmidt 2003, 119)

Nancy Bernard, director of collaboration for the Palo Alto branding firm comes up with a term called “reality branding”. She is not one of the idealist ones who is dedicated to change the world with their design skills. “Who ever said that graphic design could change the world, anyway? Have you seen the world lately? It’s huge!” (Bernard 2003, 87) She believes that the messages that graphic designers deliver aren’t all that powerful, whether they are commercial or informational. “People only care about them when they’re actively looking for an LCD monitor or the way to San Jose. The rest of the time they’re a kind of chattering background tappity-tap.” (Bernard 2003, 88) Graphic Design doesn’t have much to do in the context of social and cultural responsibility. Design itself can be visually satisfactory, conceptually incisive, or emotionally alive and it can of course give pleasure, so it’s better for the environment to make good designs than lousy and boring graphics, but that’s all. Nancy Bernard considers design at the bottom of the capitalist food chain. Audiences don’t know and care about who the designers are. The people who hire them are also thinking that what they do is unimportant and stupid. So isn’t there anything for designers to do if they want to involve in the social improvement? Reality branding is Bernard’s suggestion for designers who ‘care’. She describes this movement as a “do-what-you-can-with-what-you-have manifesto”. Aim of the reality branding is simply doing the work completely real. Designers have the right to choose not to lie. Reality branding is against the generic designs (turning the client into a commodity or anything), just giving the message on real value. “Make it honest. Make it relevant. Avoid hyperbole. Be respectful. Don’t be afraid to project a vivid personality. And don’t be afraid to let design inform the other disciplines in the brand system.” (Bernard 2003, 88) In reality branding, the main responsibility is to make sure the organization delivers on its promises. According to Nancy Bernard, a graphic designer has to commit himself/herself to seek the truth, illuminate it with suitable ethical standards and advocate it. Reality branding has to be honest and it should reflect the real value of the goods. “If the product is frivolous, don’t pretend that it’s serious; if the organizational culture is obsessed with technology, don’t pretend it’s about people; if someone else’s stuff is pretty much the same as yours, don’t pretend that it’s unique. Find something else about the organization that no one else can claim.” (Bernard 2003, 89) But don’t these ideas push back the design? Bernard also brings forward a solution to these kind of worries. “If design tests show that people don’t respond to a position, advocate a new position; if pre-research shows that people don’t actually like or need the product, advocate a product re-design; if the brand discovery interviews show that company has an attitude problem, get the word out, and challenge management to find out what’s eating their employees.” (Bernard 2003, 90) Briefly, Nancy Bernard comes up with something really reasonable and simple. Graphic design can at least create honest and more relevant communications.


Rahul Verna. “How Clean Is Your Mind?” The Guardian, January 9, 2006, Media section.

Julie Baugnet, Citizen Designer, ed. Steven Heller and Veronique Vienne (Allworth Communications, Inc., 2003),96.

Matthew Soar et al., “The First Things First Manifesto and the Politics of Culture

Anne Bush, Citizen Designer, ed. Steven Heller and Veronique Vienne (Allworth Communications, Inc., 2003),26.

Michael Schmidt, Citizen Designer, ed. Steven Heller and Veronique Vienne (Allworth Communications, Inc., 2003),119.

Nancy Bernard, Citizen Designer, ed. Steven Heller and Veronique Vienne (Allworth Communications, Inc., 2003),87.

Nancy Bernard, Citizen Designer, ed. Steven Heller and Veronique Vienne (Allworth Communications, Inc., 2003),88.

Nancy Bernard, Citizen Designer, ed. Steven Heller and Veronique Vienne (Allworth Communications, Inc., 2003),89.

Nancy Bernard, Citizen Designer, ed. Steven Heller and Veronique Vienne (Allworth Communications, Inc., 2003),90.

lenses for retro and kitsch

Hi guys –

This is one of my final stuff for my essay ;

In my opinion, the whole point of retro and kitsch, it is a matter of taste. Fundamental to any understanding of kitsch and retro is the idea of taste. What is taste? “Taste, of course, is the faculty we posses for enjoying and discerning beauty. Like any exercise of judgement, decisions as to what is tasteful and what is not are based upon an amalgam of influences from different times and different places.’ Page 6 – kitsch in sync.

The same applies to retro. What I already said about retro; it can be a longing to an another decade, and that is a matter of taste. Retro seems, like kitsch, to be a taste-related issue too.


It is hard to make a difference between kitsch and retro. Is retro the cool cousin of kitsch or is kitsch the jovial cousin of retro? It is a matter of taste, it is about how you can look to things with a lens. Kitsch and retro may be lenses which through their difference allow us to see how we are – by looking askance. It is also how the audience watch the films. People influence each other about taste.


If over a number of years a film has become associated with kitsch or fallen into the category of kitsch – and this has become the case because this is widely accepted – then perhaps it has accrued a range of connotations over that time as it has become strongly associated with a set of values. Maybe an exaggerated set of values.

My 1.2 essay is about Technology in Graphic Design
Any suggestions are more that welcome!

Research question: Are algorithms killing the graphic design practice?

The graphic design practice, like many other fields, has being deeply and widely transformed by the emergence of new technologies.
If in the past century the work of the graphic designer was close to the illustrator in present times it is strongly linked to computer science. Graphic designers now work on websites, software interfaces, together with other new tasks. As a result, technology has come to play a much more important role in design. Some scholars and professionals have discussed the close relation between technology and design, and have also questioned where this brings the profession. Are the identity and role of the graphic designer being transformed? Is the essence of the design practice changing substantially? Is it for good or for bad?
It seems that the proliferation and generalisation of new technologies is allowing those users with no design background to take away from the work traditionally performed by graphic designers. What will be the main role o the graphic designer in the future, is it becoming something purely technical role as it is loosing its artistic nature? This leads to another important question: How should educational programs balance the need to teach the basic principles of the design with teaching more practical skills like the use of software packages? How can educational institutions successfully adapt to this dynamic context? The algorisms are behind any computer programme used in the field of graphic design, since photo manipulation to web design and motion graphics. Now, the question to be answered is to what extent will these algorithms terminate the graphic design practice to reduce it to a simple sequence of computer skills.

Hi everybody,

I am going to expand this brief information of my research paper as soon as possible, but I want to write it down now for any comments from you and I’d really appreciate any feedbacks. I have lots of distractions (that I have nothing to do with it) nowadays and i am looking for a little gap to write it for a while, now I’m going to do it quickly and come back for further writings.


What is the position of a designer in society, to effect the cultural environment and enrich the social values?

Introduction for my research area

The well-known American graphic designer Milton Glaser often says “Good design is good citizenship.” This statement brings the question “What is good design?” firstly. Does form and aesthetic perfection make design ‘good’, or is it faultless conception and intelligent usability?

Nevertheless, one can be a great successful designer without necessarily being a ‘good citizen’. But good design has the power of adding value to society, effecting the cultural envelope directly. So it can be said that, design and citizenship must go hand in hand. With the term ‘citizenship’, Milton Glaser aim at ethics, morality and social conscience.

Thinking of design for corporations, what is the responsibility of a designer if design is innocent but the client is tainted? Being amenable to some moral standard is the key. According to a big amount of theorists, designers, artists etc; a designer should be professionally, socially and culturally responsible for the impact of his/her design on the citizenry.

The certain truth is; beauty makes people feel good and satisfy their senses. Being around something that is beautiful encourages people emotionally, sensually and intellectually. This situation can be defined as a ‘multimedia experience’. During our educations of communication and design, we have learned how to criticize form and create good ones. Filling the base is the hardest part, because sometimes it can be too personal to be taught in school. When aesthetics serve a certain thing, beauty gets clear of being luxurous or insignificant.

As beauty has such power on people, what is the position of a designer in society, to effect the cultural environment and enrich the social values? When issues like morality, ethic and responsibility are taken into account, the first issues to be considered are corporate design, consumerist society (global economy as well), graphic design’s social content as a form of social production, ethical and social responsibilities, and the power of graphic design.

Some problematics that I want to exchange ideas with you 

For you who have read the First Things First Manifesto, do you think that it is an idealism that is impossible and impractical to live up to on an everyday scale?

Is it a good thing to seperate our work from the social context in which it is received and from the purpose it serves?

Is it possible to  earn a good living by working for companies that are not obviously out to poison the world (although they may have their tacky sides), and at the same time work with those whose critical view on the bigger picture you share, as Max Bruinsma mentions in his article Culture Agents?

How can a graphic designer be a part of the public debate? What is the most appropriate and powerful medium, audience, environment, abilities etc.?

How did “mass design production” (technology, softwares) affect the ethical values of the graphic designer?

Hi everybody,

this is a short view of my essay, I would like to share it with you because I want to know if it is a good theme to investigate, therefore, I will appreciate all of your opinions, thanks.

Research question:

Typography in zines and contemporary magazines: A space to explore


Due to my interest in typography, editorial design and zines, I would like to research into the use of contemporary typography and layout.

Having said this, I will look about the use of typography in the context of the history of zines (from the 80’s up to date)

First, I will look for information about relevants typographers from the past like David Carson and Neville Brody (who I think have had a great impact in the work of new graphic artists), but also I will look for contemporary  graphic designers / studios like Hort (who are the ones I am interested  in and I think they are relevants in the subject I am looking into).

By other hand, will put some examples of new graphic designers who are taking inspiration from the concept of zines.

After this, I will investigate why nowadays graphic designers are reverting back to handmade typography and the mix of it with digital typography (which is very present in zines and contemporary magazines) In addition to finding the qualities, methods and applications of hand drawn typography.

My essay is very related to my major proposal but in Unit 1.2 I am going to be focus on typographic aspects and my major proposal is more related to small-press, indie publishing and DIY culture, so doing this research is going to give more knowledge about one theme I am going to explore in my Unit 1.3.

Hi all, I’m going to write a sort of scheme for what I have thought to develop for my research… I read screen and rethoric text and also I have followed carefully the posts you wrote in here about those themes..


First of all I need some helps to define better my research question, I thought “In these days which is the best way to communicate?”.. the aim beyond this question would be, in this time, where you can find thousands ways to show what you want to say, which is the best one? or better, which is the right way to do it without being polluted by dangerous effects on your mind and to look serious and professional?

( any suggestions about the right way to write the question are seriously accepted because I find difficult compress all those intentions in only one phrase)

I would like to start speaking about mainstream systems of communication and than give examples and comments regarding especially our fields ( communication wants to mean: advertising and every way to promote it).

so, writing a short scheme

– Net 2.0 ( its structure designed to facilitate consumption ( the logic of “clicks” on websites)–> the use of rethoric understood as use of emotional images to improve that phenomenon)
-Forms of communications, then printed (magazines, flyers, books, posters, etc) or digital ( socialnetworks, advertising on banners, youtube, pop-up, etc). About socialnetworks give some reflections on their negative effects on people, loneliness, neurosis, curiosity, the loss of old way to live into a group of friends and share with them particular moments, and even the loss of concentrations (mentioning Nick Bell).

-Positive aspects, my personal opinion about all this forms, especially about the effect of Web 2.0 on our life

– Start developing a strategy of communication using like solid basics what I have read into Bonsiepe and Ehses’ articles. So have a strong clear Idea, have a good use of rethoric understood as a powerful mix between what you want to say and what you are showing, know ever the needs of your public, show a strong figure of you and your work.

This is going to be strongly related to my 1.3 because in that I would explain my will to find a personal style of work, etc, etc.. so this research could help me to clarify ideas…

what do you think about it? I am really scared to do a wrong essay or going off the brief..

I will wait for your feedbacks, thank you very much, for me this 1.2 is being really difficult!!!! :p


[I was slightly inspired by ‘What the Internet is doing to our brains‘ by Ncholas Carr and ‘Thinkin is so over‘ by John-Paul Flintoff so I decided to dig in this topic]

According to James Hall’s article ‘Printed book sales slump’ on The Telegraph 08 Mar 2012, during the first eight weeks of 2012, the sales of printed books in UK including novels, non-fictions and children’s books fell by 4.7 million to 25 million a half million fewer than the opening weeks of 2011. The fall in sales of physical books has been attributed to the rapidly-growing popularity of Kindles and other e-readers, which display virtual books that are downloaded from the internet.

The fact mentioned above is a proof of how internet and new technology have been affecting our reading habit and some people are actually predicting that possibly in ten years or so electronic text including books, magazines and newspapers will soon replace tangible printed matters. However, there are always two types of thought on this issue: one prefers the eco-friendly and convenient reading devices while the other one keeps arguing that paper is far better and no matter how advanced technology will be, readers will never stop reading on paper.

Here I am going to analyze three main reasons leading to the latter type of thought.

First of all, there have been many studies which concluded that reading on screen reduces our reading speed as well as accuracy. In the review Reading from paper versus screens: a critical review of the empirical literature [1992], Dillon stated:” By far the most common experimental finding is that silent reading from screen is significantly slower than reading from paper (Kak,1981; Muter et al, 1982; Wright and Lickorish,1983; Gould and Grischkowsky, 1984; Smedshammar et al 1989). Figures vary according to means of calculation and experimental design but the evidence suggests a performance deficit of between 20% and 30% when reading from screen”.

Moreover, screen reading also brings distraction, therefore leads to bad reading habit. There is a fact that we are losing the ability of deep reading and concentrating and that has actually happened to me. For instance, I was reading an article on iPad about  ‘how to stay healthy’ when I saw a list of ‘healthy’ cooking recipes on the side which led me to another article full of recipes. Then, from one of those recipes I would go the shopping list page and the next one could be ‘where to buy them’ or even ‘stores closed down after failing food quality checks’. The process would be carried on until I totally lost track of what I was intending to read from the beginning or, maybe, when a notification of Smurfs’ Village game appeared. So, at the end of the day, I would not bother coming back to read that ‘how to stay healthy’ article anymore. Gloria Mark once mentioned this problem in her article ‘The Effects of Perpetual Distraction’ [The New York Times, October 14, 2009]: “My own research shows that people are continually distracted when working with digital information. They switch simple activities an average of every three minutes (e.g. reading email or IM) and switch projects about every 10 and a half minutes. It’s just not possible to engage in deep thought about a topic when we’re switching so rapidly.” Hyperlinks and notifications surely bring you to information faster but is also more of a distraction.

Finally, the most common reason that makes several readers prefer physical printed things is that they just simply love the feeling of holding a tangible object and when they read a book, they are “handling a specific object in a specific time and place. The fact that when the book was taken off the shelf it still says the same thing – that’s reassuring.” [Jonathan Franzen: E-books are damaging society, The Telegraph, 29 Jan 2012]. In ‘The Future of the Book as Viewed from Inside a Tornado’, Timothy Barrett also predicted that the reading device in the future “will be handmade. There are many excuses for cutting corners or making hybrids that are partly handmade, but when we encounter an object that embodies and epitomizes what the book has meant through the majority of its existence, very likely it will have been made by hand. […] The ability to emit this presence, this authenticity more than any technical attributes is what makes the handmade thing unique and precious.”

[I’m thinking of an argument essay about both of good and bad sides of screen reading but I don’t know if 2000 words will be enough, what do you think? Any comment will be appreciated, thanks.]

This is what I’ve got so far…I’m more concerned about the limiting word count (hence the rather small essay structure and chapters)! Any suggestions welcome!

Research Question

To what extent does brand credibility and reputation contribute to the longevity of a television channel?


Brief overview of current market, how many channels, terrestrial vs digital (well established vs new).

Chapter One – Branding and Rhetoric 

The consequences of promises and breaking them, i.e. credibility and reputation. Notes from discourses linking advertising/marketing that can apply to TV channels. (Cialdini, Bell)

Chapter Two – Case Study – Failures – ITV Digital/Bravo (UK)

ITV Digital – Tried to capitalise on introduction of digital television, attempt to use ITV brand to piggyback its credentials/reputation. This was the origins of the PG Tips Monkey and Jonny Vegas!

Advert for ITV Digital

Bravo – Multiple revamps through its history. Rebrand that simply did not work, rise of other digital channels which appealed to same male demographic. BSkyB, who took over Bravo when it bought TV Living Group, said it was too similar to Sky 1’s demographic.

The final moments of Bravo

Chapter Three – Case Study – Successes – Dave/Fox

Dave – UKTV-G2…dying channel, “invisible”, strong programming content, weak identity. Success led to the whole of UKTV’s portfolio to be rebranded. Many awards won. (Link with Bravo rebrands)

Dave’s Elephant Ident

Fox – The curse of “the fourth television network” broken by Fox. Strong programming from The Simpsons in 1990 led to the surge in reputation of delivering quality content and the poaching of NFL from NBC. In 2008, it overtook the big three as the most watched network.


Weigh up contribution of credibility/reputation for each example.

(Case Studies)

Positive: Dave (from unknown to UKTV whole rebrand – broadcaster of the year), Fox Broadcasting Network (first US network to break “the Big Three” since 1986), Seven Network (rebrand to challenge top Australian Channel, Channel 9), Channel 5 (rebrand, new programming to entice younger audiences as well as from multi platform users, still trying to find its identity)

Negative:  ITV Digital (trying to tap into the digital market), Bravo (despite being well established, it closed in 2011, 7 months after a rebrand), Setenta (big promises for an already saturated market, poor business model like ITV Digital)