Mary Lim

Saturday, April 05, 2014

aesthetic apparatus

The Aesthetic Apparatus workshop was not at all what I expected, in a good way. We started the day with a presentation by Dan. He talked about the rules of copyright infringement and the conditions of fair use. The hazy line between what's considered fair use and not is troublesome and, I realize, something that is evidently not clearly defined. Since it is a fabrication of society and depends on cultural implications, fair use is nothing but rules with made up standards. An example is Shepherd Fairey's promotional material for Barack Obama's presidential campaign. We discussed over the question if Fairey's use of Mannie Garcia's photograph was considered copyright infringement. Was the photograph considered "art" and was Dan's laziness in not taking the next step to gain copyrights to the image factors of fair use? How closely did he copy the photograph? Dan then asked us to intentionally make work that was clearly not fair use: we cut up images from magazines and newspapers and tried to think in the opposite way. Instead of trying to draw inspiration from something, we had to try to think of ways how to steal someone's work. It was an interesting and new way to approach design.

Dan then showed us a clip of graphic designer Sister Mary Corita, a nun whose background gave her insight on how to design. Some words of hers that stood out to me are "don't try to create and analyze at the same time." I realized that a lot of design is based on the unconscious. Why is it that our best ideas are the ones made last minute or the ones that did not take as much thinking? Dan said he usually tries word associations with drawing out ideas. I think it's a reason why design seems so inherent and seamlessly integrated in society. "Of course that makes sense: an invisible bike helmet that fills with air at impact." Dan then asked us to make work with our brains shut off. A shape of a figure was no longer a person, but an interesting combination of round and straight lines. An image was no longer an image, but blobs of color and compositions. So we cut up magazines again, but this time, with no concept, and letting our unconscious drive our actions.

Overall, I realized that when designing, I think too much. It's hard for me to design on impulse and improvisation because for me, everything needs to make sense and connect together. This way of thinking isn't necessarily a bad thing, however, it can be an obstacle when trying to be innovative and creative. Both creativity and aesthetics are essential to design. I didn't create anything aesthetically pleasing; it was all about the idea of how to push conventions. In a way, this workshop served as a new way to think. Dan told us to "Do things that are uncomfortable for you." In order to become a better designer, I have to get out of my comfort zone and try new ways of how to draw inspiration.

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