MA Graphic Media Design


Course Philosophy

MA Graphic Media Design welcomes curious, thoughtful and critical participants.

Rooted in the logic of critical thinking through critical making, MA Graphic Media Design participants deal with timely challenges (course and self-initiated) through a broad range of processes and media. Employing established and emergent methods and technologies, we work towards producing new and unlikely perspectives on and for the world.

This practice-led, research-oriented design course is delivered in two modes to accommodate the varied requirements and aspirations of the contemporary practitioner – full-time (45 weeks) and part-time (80 weeks * this mode concludes in 2018).

Participants within the course are situated within a progressive site of award-winning pedagogic development and critical subject debate. An integrated approach to theory and practice threads through the course delivered by an accomplished course team of awarded design practitioners, published researchers and experienced educators. Leading critical thinkers, design practitioners, critics and writers are frequent guests and correspondents to the course.

Though challenging, our approach offers a distinct opportunity to develop a cogent body of work that is relative and progressive. Our graduates enter into complex contexts with curiosity and confidence, informed by in-depth subject knowledge, advanced design skills and a resilient attitude.

Course Leader

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London College of Communication
University of The Arts London
Elephant and Castle
London SE1 6SB
020 7514 6901

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Site design and build: Oliver Smith


  • Project


    DAMNED GREEN is a publication that sits within a larger research project titled The Green Book, The Red Book, and The Blue Book. The research is positioned within the field of political design, and is intended as a think tank for ideas about power and leadership, the status quo and subversion, representation and reproduction. The key inquiry of the research is to establish the original network behind the production and diffusion of The Green Book, the ideological frame of former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

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  • Project

    Better Babies / Higher Humans

    Better Babies/Higher Humans is a Design Fiction narrative that combines visual language and digital interactivity to expose gene editing as a controversial technology for designing human beings in the near future. Which limits should be defined between curing hereditary diseases and ‘enhancing’ genetic traits that are subject to personal preferences? The project methodology is based on research through design: a critical language is formed from the visual analysis of historic and contemporary artefacts associated with eugenics and the biotech industry. The final outcome illustrates a scenario in which a new form of eugenic rhetoric is employed to promote the commercialisation of gene editing.

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  • Project

    A Common Practice presents an intention, a methodology and a terrain. It is a proposition for a design studio and ongoing research inquiry which takes the context of accelerated culture as its starting point. It explores the methodology of digression and association to reshape practice around values of the common(s). The briefly vacant site,, marks the terrain of anticipated dialogue, which will emerge through writing, intimate conversations and group discussions. The project framework – roam, traverse and trespass – is navigated through an expanding index, and prompt us to rethink relations to self, labour and the commons. Website evolving in conversation with Jake Dow-Smith

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  • Project

    Flash study

    A dummy hand grenade from the film 'Full Metal Jacket' is held in the Stanley Kubrick Archive at London College of Communication. The status of this object has been used as a case study to address a broader research question: ‘How can the perception of an object be problematized through graphic design?’

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  • Project

    Superabundant Flow

    The simplest and most ordinary of objects can enable us to look at things differently. Focussing upon something as seemingly commonplace as a shipping container, the intent of my project is to critically address an invention which is actually steeped in relevance and consequence. Three short films depict the journey of the commodity. Incorporating simple, vignetted monologues by the workers who physically handle the steel boxes and what’s inside them; enormous ships being observed and catalogued from a windy sea shore; through to the pulsating rhythm as containers pass through railway stations largely unnoticed. All part of the ‘Superabundant Flow.’

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  • Project

    Here be Dragons

    Here be Dragons is a book that describes Terra Ignota, a mysterious island, autonomous from the rest of the world – ‘Mainland’ – and alien to the notions of law and government. The expression ‘Here be Dragons’, in fact, refers to the medieval cartographers’ practice of decorating maps with terrifying creatures representing what might be lurking in uncharted territories. Terra Ignota, however, is not a far away land in an undefined past; it is, instead, a physical representation of how the darknet is being represented by the media. The book creates a parallelism between the fascination and terror of remote lands in the past, and the spread of exaggerated fantasies and fears around the darknet today.

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  • Project

    Expanding the Field of Architectural Publishing

    EF—AP is an open platform for the dissemination of discourse on architectural publishing. It aims to gather diverse practices about the discipline that push forward its boundaries and establish discussions with transversal fields of practice. The project establishes a methodology in which the speculative publication is the source for discussions, research and conversations. The results are subsequently distilled into a collection of separate publications which are ready to be updated, contested, and subverted.

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  • Project

    The Order of Critical Shape Givers

    The Order of Critical Shape Givers is part of a larger research about contemporary ‘ugly’ aesthetics in critical graphic design practices. Based on a speculative approach, the project unfolds a possible/plausible narrative where graphic designers are forced—by the progeny of the current populist, anti-globalisation, and anti-cultural movements—to retaliate behind visual esotericism to express their critical voice. Through the conception of ideological artefacts of a fictitious secret society of graphic designers, The Order of Critical Shape Givers explores the paradoxical qualities of ‘ugly’ aesthetics, both gathering and fascinating while isolating and barren.

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  • Project


    Our perception of food is greatly influenced by how it looks. I am suggesting we use this knowledge to help people make better choices around food. This project also touches upon some of the concerns around the food industry: Food scares make us doubt what a healthy diet is, we waste loads of food and the food industry is the main cause of many environmental issues. Designers have a growing responsibility to facilitate change. If what we see has such an important role, could the appearance of food guide us to a healthier, more responsible and more sustainable diet?

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  • Project

    Leisure This Way

    Leisure This Way explores how the boundaries of work and leisure time are continually shifting due to the expectations associated with both terms and their environments. Experience Factories are environments which provide (and capitalise on) a steady stream of pleasurable experiences to a society that has come to expect them. These Experience Factories prompt, capture and distract audiences whilst providing as many options for leisure as possible. Within the publication, writing is accompanied by three visual essays that utilise Westfield London as a case study to highlight the semiotics of the leisure industry and its ability to control consumers’ actions and time.

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  • Project

    ~ Exploring cross-signification, shifting meaning & punctuational appropriation in a digital age

    This project uses the tilde (~) to discuss diverse historical, linguistic and social themes. Not having as fixed a meaning as, for instance, the question mark, frees ~ up to be used in many ways – be that in mathematics, programming or joking around on twitter. The process begins by considering how graphic marks come to carry meaning, and whether or not their shape influences how we attribute meaning to them. It goes on to explore several of the more widely-used or important historical meanings of the tilde (abbreviation, approximation, destruction, elongation, sarcasm/irony), connecting associated themes to discuss wider contemporary communication behaviours.

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  • Project


    HANTIN is a hybrid modular typeface that combines of Hangul and Latin letter forms and writing systems. This typeface enables a reader to understand Latin phonetic sounds without needing to study English beforehand. Conversely, the typeface also allows a reader to understand Korean phonetic sounds without the need to study Korean. HANTIN consist of two distinct styles: HANTIN A and HANTIN B. HANTIN A is arranged by following the Korean writing system and allows English speakers to read Korean. HANTIN B writes both alphabets in the linear Latin writing system. In this way, Korean speakers can read Latin letters. This typeface is for the Korean or Latin speakers who want to know or learn about the other’s language.

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  • Project

    Aggregate of Artefacts

    My objective is to question and reveal what seems to have ceased to astonish us within the everyday, provoking alternative ways of perceiving and questioning what it is that consumes our space. The method of ‘defamiliarisation’ has been a key theory that has informed my work, that is, ‘making strange’ by presenting common things in unexpected or confusing ways in order to delay and enhance perception of the familiar. Collecting disregarded printed matter, I organize and assemble my material deciding how it is to be read, negotiating between the process of intervention and its presentation.

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  • Project

    Sociolegal Model Making

    This project is rooted in my identity as professor of law specialising in ‘sociolegal’ research — that is, research that interprets law as a social phenomenon. It explores the risks and rewards of using design-based strategies, especially model-making, to enhance sociolegal research. The practical resolution is a set of five artefacts held in an online repository that are designed to be easily printed on A4 by sociolegal researchers, and are intended to provoke and facilitate their first steps into model-making. The project draws on experimentation involving around 100 other researchers; and literature and practice from social, policy, industrial and graphic design.

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MA Graphic Media Design Full Time 2017

MA Graphic Media Design Full Time 2016


Announcements, Events, Projects

Something or Other — Nina Paim

We are very pleased to welcome Nina Paim to the Something or Other series on ‘Uncertainty’ on Wednesday 17 May, 5pm, Lecture Theatre B. Learning from Niggli: thoughts on…

We are very pleased to welcome Nina Paim to the Something or Other series on ‘Uncertainty’ on Wednesday 17 May, 5pm, Lecture Theatre B.

Learning from Niggli: thoughts on design publishing
Nowadays the field of design publishing seems to be increasingly binary. On one side are the big giants seizing the market on a global scale — and on the other the independent publishers, largely dependent on cultural funding. But what exactly is there in the middle? And how has the field of design publishing evolved in the past decades? By investigating the case of a single publishing house, this presentation will be an exercise in metonymy. We will look at Verlag Arthur Niggli, a publisher which is nowadays mostly remembered for a series of — very successful — typography and design manuals, but with an overall backlist that remains largely unknown. From a prehistory dating back to a printer-publisher during Switzerland’s ‘Golden Age’ of publishing, via the energy and struggles of the post-war, the internationalisation of the 1980s and finally today’s imperative of amalgamation, Niggli’s trajectory encapsulates many developments that affected the field of publishing in general.

Niggli_overview_02 Niggli_overview_01

Nina Paim is a Brazilian designer, researcher, curator, and educator living and working in Switzerland. Her work usually involves many others and revolves around notions of directing, supporting, and collaborating. As a researcher, Paim is interested in brushing the history of design “against the grain”, looking into blind spots and unexplored narratives. After a detour into economics and philosophy, Nina studied graphic design at Esdi (BR) and the Gerrit Rietveld Academie (NL). Her bachelor project was the “Escola Aberta”, a temporary and free-of-charge design school, which took place in Rio de Janeiro in August 2012. In 2014, Paim curated the exhibition “Taking a Line for a Walk” at the 26th International Biennial of Graphic Design Brno, which dealt with the subject of assignments in design education, and for which she was awarded a Swiss Design Awards in 2015. In 2017, Paim concluded her MA in design research at the Hochschule der Künste Bern (CH), investigating the history and publishing strategies of Verlag Arthur Niggli.


A Line Which Forms A Volume

A Line Which Forms a Volume* is a critical reader and symposium of graphic design-led research that is edited, written, designed and published by participants of the MA Graphic Media Design (MAGMD) course at London College of Communication (LCC).

The concept for A Line Which Forms a Volume belongs to the French novelist and essayist, Michel Butor. ‘Listen to someone making a speech’, Butor wrote in his essay ‘The Book as Object’, ‘every word follows one other, precedes one other. As a result, they take their places along a line activated by a meaning, along an axis.’ The best way to store such a line — ‘such a “thread”’ — he states is to ‘roll it up’. By definition we know that a ‘volume’ — from the Latin, volvere — means ‘to roll’, because that was the way written matter was once stored. But there is also volume in the sense of an occupied or enclosed space, and in the quantity or power of sound. This publication lays claim to all of these definitions.

We intend for this research to be public — voluble — and to resonate. As a record, this publication tracks the reeling of ideas between texts, splicing them together with graphic devices and conceptual links to form a continuous line. ‘Writing’s first advantage, as we all know, is that it enables language to last’, explains Butor, ‘leaving accessible to our eyes what our ears would already have missed’. A Line Which Forms a Volume has formed and filled a space for MA Graphic Media Design research at London College of Communication. This is the first issue but not the last. The editorial team, designers and the group of participants who contribute to each issue will roll-over, gain momentum and continue with lines of inquiry, narrative threads, or any other metaphorical unravelling of graphic design research that they choose.

The first edition of A Line Which Forms a Volume launched at a symposium on December 6, 2017, held at LCC. Current participants who have been published in the first edition presented abstracts from their research at the symposium. They spoke alongside guest speakers who informed the lines of participant inquiry and contributed written responses for the publication, situating emergent research within the wider scope of design research and publishing.

STUART BERTOLOTTI-BAILEY shared how his experience as a designer, writer, editor, publisher, curator and director have evolved from and into each other through Dot Dot Dot, Dexter Sinister, The Serving Library and the ICA.

CATE RICKARDS expounded her MA research The Shadow for the Thing which studies a dummy hand grenade from the Stanley Kubrick Archive to consider how the perception of an object might be problematised through graphic design.

ELEANOR VONNE BROWN described how her role as a curator, of The Publication as Practice series and X-Operative, has contributed to building a community for education, production and exchange.

ALDO CAPRINI gave insight to his MA research which uses Gaddafi’s political primer ‘The Green Book’ to analyse and visualise how objects become rhetorical instruments to manifest ideology.

JACK SELF introduced the activities of the REAL Foundation and Real Review, sharing how his role as a curator, writer, editor, publisher and architect concurrently inform each other.

SOPHIE DEMAY presented a series of video interludes exploring radical pedagogy through Augusto Boal’s figure of the Joker.

With great thanks to Bryony Quinn (editorial advisor), Wayne Daly and Claire Lyon, Daly-Lyon (design advisors).

The Animal Issue

Kiki Chang

‘The zoo cannot but disappoint. The public purpose of zoos is to offer visitors the opportunity to look at animals. Yet nowhere in a zoo can a stranger encounter the look of an animal. At the most, the animal’s gaze flickers and passes on. They look sideways. They look blindly beyond. They scan mechanically. They have been immunised to encounter, because nothing can any more occupy a central place in their attention.’—J. Berger  [1]

Berger, J. (2009). Why Look at Animals? London: Penguin.

As an interdisciplinary activist movement that began in the 21st century, Critical Animal Studies proposes an engaged philosophical understanding of animals. The field is concerned with the issue of depriving animals of their original habitats—in other words, it’s a critique on the captive state of animals. However, it is not only in zoos that animals are ‘captured’. As real animals started disappearing from the natural world, they have increasingly been presented as subjects in the virtual media. We see images of animals on the Internet, in print and in many other kinds of media, and the presence of animals on these platforms can be seen as a form of captivity.

In zoos, the barrier between the animal and the human form a strong metaphor of control, framing, and distance. Throughout this project, an editorial design methodology has been used to form a conceptual link between the audience and the zoo, starting with the concept of barriers. By translating the physicality of barriers into the graphical elements of editorial design, the idea of the frame and the breaking of the frame are explored through different grids, typesetting, and layouts.

Tiger Cam. [Screen capture taken
23 Oct 2017] Edinburgh Zoo. (Available at:

Tiger Cam. [Screen capture taken
22 Oct 2017] Edinburgh Zoo. (Available at:

Another key element of this project focuses on the idea of ‘absence’. In John Berger’s Why Look at Animals?, he argues that the artificial environment of the zoo is illusory. The images, products and captive animals are all a reproduction of the real animals, to which humans have lost their proximity. By taking live-streamed webcam footage from zoos and systematically capturing images when the animals are absent from the frame, the viewer is forced to search for the animals, emulating the experience of visiting a zoo. This narrative conveys a sense of alienation and the continuous disappointment of not seeing what people expect to see.

Hantin: A Hybrid Modular Typeface Design for Multilingual Typography

Da Chung

HANTIN is a hybrid modular typeface that combines Hangul (Korean) and Latin letterforms and writing systems. This typeface enables a reader to understand Latin phonetic sounds without needing to study English beforehand. Conversely, the typeface also allows a reader to understand Korean phonetic sounds without the need to study Korean.

An illustrated example of the mixture of Korean and Latin phonetic sound that shows ㅅ equals A and S equals ㅏ and, together, SA = 사.

HANTIN is a response to the multilingual phenomena of several languages being used simultaneously in a single piece of visual communication. Nowadays, different typefaces are frequently seen together and this is having a growing influence on the basics of written communication. In countries where alphabets are not Roman, the contrast is remarkable. It is common to see advertisements, signposts, publications, and newspapers in more than one language – especially in Korea where English can be seen everywhere.

As a bilingual speaker of Korean and English, I intuitively link Latin and Hangul alphabets by the similarity of their shapes or phonetic sounds.

A glyph from HANTIN A that overlays ㅎ and H.

The word ‘Hangul’ set in HANTIN A and the word ‘Latin’ set in HANTIN B.

For example: equals A and S equals and, together, SA equals . Because of the common features in these phonograms, I found this to be a very interesting way to address the phenomena of bilingual speaking and reading.

HANTIN consists of two distinct styles: HANTIN A and HANTIN B. HANTIN A is arranged by following the Korean writing system and allows English speakers to read Korean. The Korean writing system is a phonemic writing system that arranges consonants and vowels —horizontally or vertically, up or down—which gives individual words in Hangul their distinctive forms. HANTIN B writes both alphabets in the linear Latin writing system. This way, Korean speakers can read Latin letters.

In HANTIN A, the phonetic sounds represented by Korean characters are matched with Latin letter counterparts. The HANTIN A alphabet is produced by over-laying glyphs with corresponding sounds. For instance, is a Hangul consonant; its phonetic sound matches the Latin letter H. Thus, in the HANTIN A, the sound ‘huh’ will appear in an overlaid form of and H.

An example of a word written in HANTIN A. This word means ‘type’ in Korean, which
is phonetically pronounced ‘hwal ja’.

An example of a word written in HANTIN B. This word is ‘cat’ in Latin which is phonetically pronounced as ‘캣’ in Korean.

In HANTIN B the process is reversed: the phonetic sounds that are represented by specific Latin letters are matched with corresponding sounds in Hangul. Each letterform in the HANTIN B alphabet is also created by overlaying the two glyphs that share phonetic sounds.

Despite their connection with similar phonetic sounds, HANTIN A and HANTIN B alphabets are quite different because individual letters in the Latin alphabet have more than one sound, while Korean characters represent only one sound. For instance, the letter A can be read as different sounds depending on its location in a word. Thus, in HANTIN B, A is matched with five different Hangul vowels.

HANTIN is a font in the usual sense, but it can also be used to transliterate Korean into Latin and vice versa. This typeface is for Korean or English speakers who want to know or learn about the other’s language.

Better Babies, Higher Humans

Andy Renmei

The following text appeared in a press release distributed by the Higher Humans Genetics Institute

‘HHGI can help you to give your child the best possible chance in life’—F. Galtom [1]

The veracity of its claims is yet to be ascertained, pending juridical enquiry.

Better Babies Calculator (BBcalc) is a digital application developed and introduced by the Higher Humans Genetics Institute (HHGI).

BBcalc offers parents around the world the chance to design their children to be the ‘Better Babies’ of the future. The application collects information about the physical identity of each user and by applying our unique algorithm, BBcalc suggests three exclusive enhancement templates that best match those features. It also allows users to compare, edit and select baby options according to personal preference, regional popularity and global genetic scores.

As part of the full Higher Humans experience, BBcalc is at the centre of the customer journey. The main benefit of BBcalc is to provide an effective, comprehensive, and accessible quotation service for our babies, resulting in a quicker decision-making process, and an increase in customer confidence levels.

The BBcalc experience is immersive and personal. In four easy steps, the user answers a series of short questions regarding the physical attributes they would like to enhance in their baby such as body shape, gender, skin colour, and facial features. All interactive elements are designed using basic shapes and simple blocks of colour to create an abstract language that protects user anonymity while delivering a rich array of personalisation options.

At the final stage of the BBcalc experience, a report is generated that includes a straightforward evaluation and easy price comparison of baby enhancement options. The options are based on an assimilation of the characteristics selected by the user during the BBcalc experience. BBcalc highlights what qualities can be enhanced from parent to child, making sure that the best traits are passed on with the choice of three individually priced templates.

After the report has been issued, the BBcalc application presents the user with a live quotation of their perfect baby. Attributes such as body shape, sexuality and gender can be adjusted according to user preferences–the price will be automatically updated on the application. Once the desired baby template is selected, a unique order code is generated with instructions to follow.

For lower income families, HHGI provides financial support through the Help to Enhance Scheme.

HHGI: we make miracles happen.

Sociolegal Model Making: a Proposition

Amanda Perry-Kessaris

The text below, extracted from an artefact that takes the form of an open letter, is part of a project exploring the benefits and risks of using design-based strategies, specifically model making, to enhance sociolegal research; that is, a particular kind of legal research in which law is systematically reinterpreted as a social phenomenon. [1] The letter is intended to be distributed to and printed by sociolegal researchers to begin provoking and facilitating them into model making.

Cotterrell, R. (1998) ‘Why must legal ideas be interpreted sociologically?’, Journal of Law and Society, 25 (2).


If we approach sociolegal research as if it is itself a social phenomenon, then we can begin to reframe it through design-based practices such as model making, improve its quality, and render it more of a communal resource.

We, sociolegal researchers, are distinguished by our commitment to approaching law as a fundamentally social phenomenon. [2]  Many of us understand law as having the potential to act as a ‘communal resource’. By this we mean that law can support relations that are trusting, stable and, therefore, productive. It can do this by provoking participation in different forms of social life, and by facilitating the expression and co-ordination of values and interests that are central to those forms of social life.

Cotterrell, R. (2008) Living Law Aldershot: Ashgate; Perry-Kessaris, A. (2015) ‘Approaching the econo-socio-legal’ Annual Review of Law & Social Science, 11 (16).

Prefiguring a Research Project, 3 October 2017.

Despite our social understanding of law, we, sociolegal researchers, tend to approach our research individualistically. We do not share our process, nor do we tend to share the products of that process in ways that are particularly accessible to non-specialists. If we want our work to be widely appreciated, and to be useful, this needs to change. Making things visible and tangible can help.

This project is about getting us—sociolegal researchers—to use physical models to discover and show—to ourselves and to others—how we are approaching our research and why we are approaching it in this way, and to imagine alternatives.

Lego Workshop, 28 March 2017.

Begin making your research visible and tangible with a visit to the project repository;

A Site [3]  – where you can download and print:

A Guide – In which three forms of model making are explained.

A Space – In which to place sociolegal models.

A Context – In which the theory and practice informing the project are introduced.

A Portfolio – In which the project design process is visualised.

See before you try via the Sociolegal Model Making video collection.

Share your experiences whenever and however you can. [4]

Twitter: @aperrykessaris #sociolegalmodelmaking

Introducing the Epic Struggle of an Apple Calendar User

Louise Courtois

Ancient Egyptian time-reading tools were based on moon cycles. Because moon cycles influenced the annual flooding of the Nile.

So it affected agriculture.

So it affected the economy.

So it affected livelihoods.

So it affected peoples’ conception of time.

Makes sense, right?

Today, the structure for reading time,

Which sometimes jingles in your pocket,

To let you know that you are late,

Was established by a Pope.

In 1582.

Oh, and guess what?

Pope Gregory actually updated

the Julian calendar.

By making a 0.002% adjustment

to the length of a year

And the Julian calendar was a correction

of the Roman calendar.

Created in the 1st century BCE.


Isn’t the whole idea of our current Gregorian

calendar based on the fact that it started

on 1st of January 1?

But was it not created BCE?

A year lasts 365.2422 days.

Does it make sense?

Does it really have to be that way?

Let’s say that this structure of time

is nonsense.

By this logic, time management

methods are absurd.

How can you manage time?

‘Time flies’, right?

You can use a digital calendar,

Build your own piece of nonsense.

But really it won’t change anything.

A year lasts 365.2422 days.

Sure, you can add events here and there.

Arrange the blocks of time.

Move them around.

Even pick some lovely colours!


I don’t want to annoy you.

Not you especially.

But this is exactly what absurdist

fiction does.

And looking at the digital calendar through

an absurdist lens is my strategy.

As I’d like to show you how absurd

your calendar is.

I’ve been playing with the features of

the Apple digital calendar.

Because it’s absurd.

Do you know absurdist fiction?

The post-war ‘Theatre of the Absurd’?

The insights we can draw from absurdist fiction

are actually pretty similar to our situation.

There is a rule, an illogical rule.

And the characters have to follow it.

So I have to follow it.

Even if I don’t really know why.

I am wondering about my power over this rule.

About my power over the calendar grid.

About my power over its features.

What power over my time do I have as I arrange

event blocks on a calendar grid

Or get a new time management app?

Just to be more efficient.

But time flies! Fast.

Really fast.

I have made a body of videos online.

Where you can see how much I am

struggling with the Apple calendar.

There are three videos.

So, was the 1st of January 1, a Monday?

Maybe it was.

Maybe it wasn’t.

Do you want to know?

It’s online actually.

I’d like calendar users to wonder.

Time is universal, and so is the Internet.



Here be Dragons: The Geography of Terra Ignota

Eugenia Luchetta

The starting point of an atlas, with the aim of popularising the discovery of an unknown land on the planet, should include a detailed map with meticulous geographic descriptions. Nevertheless, this atlas does not simply deal with the exploration of a remote and difficult to reach island. Indeed, this island does not come under any domain of what is known. Unknown is its shape, unknown is its location, unknown is the journey to reach it. An unknown land. Terra Ignota. Like matter that needs manipulating, like clay, waiting for its final shape to be defined.


But where is this island? How can we be sure it exists if it has no shape and no location? The mystery of this ambiguous space begins here.


Nobody knows how the island was created, or whether it is natural or artificial. What is known from several exploratory accounts, however, is that the geographic characteristics of the island have never settled. In order to escape from the control and surveillance of Mainland, the island is in constant movement. Adventurers recount that at every turn of the tide, an internal procedure so sophisticated and incredible that no one has ever been able to understand or break it, determines the borders and the coordinates of the island, which suddenly disappears and reappears elsewhere. A string of eleven random ciphers is believed to be at the origin of the coordinates, whereas it is hypothesised by Mainland studies that a more complex and longer code could determine the shape.


Here be Dragons is a book that describes Terra Ignota, a mysterious island, autonomous from the rest of the world—‘Mainland’—and alien to the notions of law and government.Terra Ignota, however, is not a far away land in an undefined past. It is, instead, a physical representation of what the darknet is perceived as today. Here be Dragons creates a parallelism between the fascination and terror of remote lands in the past, and the spread of fantasies and fears of the darknet today.

The text above is an excerpt from the first chapter of Here be Dragons, which illustrates the geography of Terra Ignota. The narrative of a remote island where location and shape are shrouded in mystery, broken by an incongruous element: the ‘string of eleven random ciphers’. In fact, this number is an IP address.

When browsing the darknet, before it reaches its final destination, each request travels through a number of relays with different IP addresses. The IP address and, therefore the geolocation of the source, is never revealed during the process.

The parallelism is developed in a similar manner in the following chapters. The second chapter, ‘Nocturnality’, deals with the flora characterised by intricate roots digging deep down underground, representing the rhizomatic and chaotic navigation experience of the darknet. An account of the evil and elusive inhabitants, ‘Shadow People’, follows. The forth chapter, ‘Pirate Utopia’, defines the social structure of the island: Terra Ignota is an anarchic land. The influence of successful black markets, despite their short lives, is so strong that they assume a status comparable to dynasties (as inspired by the fame of legendary darknet market, Silk Road). The book concludes with ‘Spirituality’, a chapter dedicated to paranormal beliefs held by inhabitants which reflect the urban legends that are spread throughout the darknet.

The Plaza

Richard Ashton







































































Lines Not Short, Not Straight, Crossing and Touching

Bec Worth

Despite, or perhaps because of its infrequent appearance in the landscape of everyday language, the verb traverse pleases both the ear and the mind. Tongue pressed briefly to the roof of the mouth, T–R–A, like a plucked guitar. Then a bitten lip, a fling and a hiss, V–ER–SE. My delivery is voiced with an emphasis on the second syllable, TRA–VERSE, disclosing geographic origins and at the same time performing. A phoneme thrown, outstretched, into the nearby yonder.

To traverse is, at the very least, to set out. The Oxford English Dictionary outlines it as to ‘travel across or through’, which points past any modest beginning to a centre. But what is the quantifiable breadth of across? And what, in fact, are we travelling through? If I step onto the porch, have I traversed? Or must I also progress past the door? And the foyer? And the hall? It’s difficult to comprehend the scope of this centre in an age that offers return flights to Ibiza for the price of a Uniqlo t-shirt.

To engender a less culturally-specific appreciation, it’s worth recalling the origins of the word ‘travel’, which finds its roots in 14th century Middle English as the not-too-distant travailen, ‘to make a journey’. This was adapted from the original ‘to toil, labour’, as all journeys in the Middle Ages were inherently arduous. Going even further, via Old French, we come to the Vulgar Latin tripalium, ‘instrument of torture’ – which is still applicable when flying Ryanair.

Synonyms for traverse present themselves as interchangeable cut-ups pairing journey/pass/go and across/through/over. Negotiate is an exception to this rule and is arguably more telling in its implication of opposition. Walking for fourteen days across the mountainous interior of Corsica reveals a traverse to be equally painful and pleasurable. A dawn start is rewarded by cool air pressing into sleepy skin. The demands of an ascent become peripheral as the sun spills silently over a peak. A heavy body folds, satisfied, into afternoon slumber. To traverse is to journey with a certain amount of endurance.

On implementing Sol Lewitt’s instructions for Wall Drawing #65, draughtsman David Schulman recalls ‘signals of discomfort became an unconscious time clock determining when I would stop and step back from the drawing. Walking up the ramp to look at the drawing from a distance provided momentary relief from the physical strain… Keeping my body totally active in an almost involuntary way – in a sense, totally relaxed my mind. When my mind became relaxed, thoughts would flow at a smoother and fast pace.’ [1]

Goldsmith, K. (2011) Uncreative Writing, New York, Columbia University Press.

Returning to the centre, which could navigate up, down and around. A traverse could advance slowly, possibly sidling, possibly cunning, toward its intended destination. And like your hold luggage, the completion of a journey might not be location-specific. We might traverse toward an endpoint that isn’t fixed or, if walking is the end in itself, we’ve arrived as soon as we set out.

In an increasingly dematerialised and production-oriented environment, how might the act of traversing inform the possibilities of labour? In Wanderlust: A History of Walking Rebecca Solnit writes, ‘walking shares with making and working that crucial element of engagement of the body and the mind with the world, of knowing the world through the body and the body through the world’. [2]

Solnit, R. (2014) Wanderlust: A History of Walking, London: Granta Books.

Damned Green

Aldo Caprini

The Green Book is a literal book and rhetorical device that was used by Gaddafi to rule over Libya during a period bookended by two revolutions. In 1969, the Libyan dictator took power after a military coup that he led as Colonel—deposing the old monarch, King Idris I—and he was, in turn, overthrown during the Libyan Civil War in 2011. During his dictatorship, The Green Book became the basic element of Gaddafi’s ideological apparatus, even more so than his political programme.

The content of what would become The Green Book is an elaboration of a series of speeches that Gaddafi gave, starting in the port city of Zawiya in 1971, alongside descriptions of his short, abortive effort at popular rule.

Gaddafi was meaning to replace the incremental efforts of past governments through reform of Libya’s political and economic structures. However, in August 1975, a coup attempt was made against him. It was then that the dictator seized the opportunity to push forward his revolutionary agenda. All that was missing was a coherent ideological treatise that could serve as a guideline for this revolution: within a few weeks of the August 1975 coup, extracts from The Green Book were first printed in the regime newspaper, al-Fajr al-Jadid.

As part of the dominant ideology, the book was an attempt to transform Libya and its citizens into an active mechanism for creating a stateless society. The Green Book was published originally in two different volumes released in 1976, 1977, and combined into one volume in 1979. Each volume contained common themes: a distrust of the hierarchical, bureaucratic structures inherent in modern states, and Gaddafi’s abhorrence towards the presence of intermediaries who prevented individuals from directly managing their own lives. Above all else, the Libyan leader himself clearly viewed The Green Book as a manifesto for action.

Extracts of the book were broadcast daily on television and radio; conferences and seminars were constantly held at schools and universities. Slogans from the book could be seen everywhere: on the exterior walls of public buildings, on billboards in the streets, at the entrance to Tripoli Airport. The Green Book became the pillar of Gaddafi’s rule: a monument in its image.

One of the key symbols of The Green Book was represented by The World Centre for Studies and Research of The Green Book in Tripoli (which also had branches in Sabha, Sirt, Benghazi, and AlBayda). Since its establishment during the 1980s, the centre published thousands of editions and studies on The Green Book. They were dedicated to researching this ideological subject through large seminars that they organised abroad, and through the publication of articles in huge volumes that sometimes reached 800 pages. By 2011, all of the centres were destroyed and in ruins.

The utopian aspirations described in The Green Book that were presented as the only way to an egalitarian society, remained simple theories. In reality this turned into oppression, torture and mass murder.

For this reason, in 2011, during Libyan Civil War, one of the targets, for those who pursued freedom from the regime, was to condemn The Green Book and erase the ideas it represented from the memory of the country.

36 years after its first publication, The Green Book once again assumed a prominent role inspiring dissidents against the dictator—it became a symbol of struggle against the dictatorship. The most recognisable attribute of Gaddafi’s regime became a major contributor to the fall of the longest serving dictator in African postcolonial history.

DAMNED GREEN is a publication that sits within a larger research project titled The Green Book, The Red Book, and The Blue Book. [1]  This project is positioned in an area of study known as political design, and is intended as a think tank for ideas about power and leadership, the status quo and subversion, representation and reproduction. The key inquiry of the research is to establish the original network behind the production and diffusion of The Green Book.

The Green Book, The Red Book, and The Blue Book is a descriptive title for this research project that refers to a monument in Tripoli that was toppled in 2011 during the Libyan Civil War. This monument is lost.

A key example from the research that features in DAMNED GREEN, refers to the concept of damnatio memoriae —a Latin phrase that translates as ‘condemnation of memory’. In Roman times, it was a form of dishonour that could be passed by the Senate on traitors or other people who brought discredit to the Roman State. Damnatio memoriae was widely enacted against The Green Book. Across Libya, in the wake of the 2011 uprising, monuments, centres, and slogans were destroyed.

AHYBXT Tripoli, Libya. Qadhafi Green Book Monument at Traffic Roundabout.

Within a graphic design context, this process of damnatio memoriae reiterates a key notion put forward by the design theorist Tony Fry that ‘every design either serves or subverts the status quo.’ [2] Throughout DAMNED GREEN, there are examples of before and after images of The Green Book monuments, the World Centre for Studies and Research of The Green Book, and of Gaddafi’s own image. The research takes a broad design view that exists between two moments; before and after the capturing of photographic images, and the time between the 1969 and 2011 revolutions. The idea of damnatio memoriae is used to speculate about what occurred in the span of time between these events and these images.

Fry, T. ‘The Archeworks. Papers’, Design Issues: Volume 23, Number 3, MIT Press.


The last image of Gaddafi alive, captured from footage of his killing in October 2011, has been printed onto the transparent cover of DAMNED GREEN. Here the image assumes the role of a protective, ideological film over the contents of the book and, at the same moment, depicts the process of damnatio memoriae in action.

On Waviness

Louise Evans

The following text is an extract from a series of essays that deal with the tilde (~), its place in shifting conventions of communication and status as a mark with many meanings.

Consider this punctuation mark: ~

Let’s examine its shape.

What does it suggest?

What is the character of this character?

Waviness, or not-straightness, can be associated with imprecision. Movement, specifically wiggliness, is perhaps connotative of liveliness – it could be cheeky, slippery or evasive. Perhaps it is like the vibrations of an earthquake, shifting ground, destabilising known values.

Eric Gill famously wrote that ‘letters are things, not pictures of things’. [1] It’s a fact, however, that they once emerged from pictures of things. An experiment might be to take this mark ~ (the tilde), which particularly lends itself to being considered as an image, and analyse what it is telling us.

Gill, E. (2013) Essay on Typography. London: Penguin Classics.

In ‘The Rhetoric of the Image’, Roland Barthes offers a structure for breaking down the many ways in which image and text in an advertisement convey meaning to us. [2]  He starts by identifying three types of message within the image: the linguistic message (the text), the symbolic message (connotations and connections hinted at by the image) and the literal message (in which, for instance, an image of a tomato literally represents a tomato).

Barthes, R. (1977) ‘The Rhetoric of the Image’ in Image Music Text, trans. S. Heath. London: Harper Collins.

When using Barthes’ framework to consider what ~ might signify as an image, things are made extra-interesting by the fact that the linguistic message (whatever punctuational use the ~ has been put to) and the symbolic message (whatever its form suggests to any individual reader) are tightly rolled into one. So it’s inevitable that we must consider whether the shape of a mark affects the meaning that is read from it: what came first, the shape or the meaning?

Systematic alteration of the tilde’s form to test at what point it becomes something else.

Adorno sees on the face of a punctuation mark—its ‘physiognomy’—an inseparable link to its syntactic function. [3] In this case punctuation has personality, and therefore sentience, and it has agency to enact its own agenda on the characters it is paired with. But to see a mark and take some sense or meaning from it, it must be recognisable, must fit a certain convention; must be discernibly one thing and not another. When is a punctuation mark not a punctuation mark? What are the tolerances—the permissable limits of variations—within which it can be read as such?

Adorno, T. (1991) ‘Punctuation Marks’ in Notes to Literature, Vol. 1, ed. R. Tiesdemann, trans. S. Weber Nicholsen. New York: Columbia University Press.

There are places where you’d expect to find a punctuation mark, and places where you would not. Context, scale, dimensionality, exact form: if enough of these variables are changed does it cease to be a piece of punctuation? A grapheme?

Is this a punctuation mark? A sculpture? An image of a sculptural punctuation mark?

Has it become a sculpture, a pattern, just a wiggly line? And what of that exact form? A character can go about in the disguise of many different glyphs. What makes them all related? What makes each a tilde, and not something else? Is there a point at which a mark has moved so far away from the convention that, despite the presence of all possible helpful contextual clues, it cannot be recognised? What is it then?

To function properly, punctuation needs to convey the same thing to many. A character with multiplicitous shapes might also, inevitably, have multiplicitous meanings.


The Shadow for the Thing

Cate Rickards

The dummy hand grenade held in the Stanley Kubrick Archive at LCC is a copy of a copy. We find its blueprint in the hands of a Mormon gun maker. Moulded into one piece, it is an imitation of a United States training grenade named the MK1A1, [1]  itself a close replica of the MK2 grenade. [2]

1. Department of Defence (1994) TM 43-0001-29 Army Ammunition Data Sheets For Grenades [ebook], Cloudcroft: MilSpecManuals.

2. McCullough, J (2010) Ultimate Guide to U.S. Army Combat Skills, Tactics, and Techniques, New York: Skyhorse Publishing.

The original MK2 was a fragmentation type anti-personnel hand grenade designed in 1918 by John Moses Browning.

John Moses Browning’s father was one of tens of thousands of Mormons who fled from Illinois to the dust bowl of Utah to escape persecution in 1846. Browning’s father established a gunsmith shop in the wild and lawless frontier town of Ogden in 1852, where his son became an apprentice at six years old. The MK2 quickly became standard issue in the US. Manufactured in massive quantities, it was used during American combat in six wars from 1918 to 1969, including the Vietnam War.

Not only can the grenade from the Stanley Kubrick Archive be linked to a person, but also to a landscape. Writing in 1872, Mark Twain recorded his semi-autobiographical experiences of the Great Salt Lake in his book Roughing It:

‘Imagine a vast, waveless ocean stricken dead and turned to ashes; imagine this solemn waste tufted with ash-dusted sage-bushes; imagine the lifeless silence and solitude that belong to such a place. The sun beats down… there is not the faintest breath of air stirring; there is not a merciful shred of cloud in all the brilliant firmament… there is not a sound—not a sigh—not a whisper—not a buzz, or a whir of wings, or distant pipe of bird.’ [3]

Twain, M (1872) Roughing It.


Photography: Cate Rickards and Veronika Papp

The idea of the biography of an object can be traced to the 1960s, when the concept of chaîne opératoire was formed by French archaeologists.  [4] Initially chaîne opératoire was used as a way of chronologically studying the stages of tool production. For example, as a means of understanding the evolution of lithic (stone) tools. This was subsequently extended to an analysis of the ‘social life’ of an object, which gave weight to its symbolic significance and a link to human actions and behaviours. The meaning of an object may be manipulated throughout its life history as it is exchanged, adapted physically and presented or used in new contexts.

Ashby, S (2011) Artefact Biographies: Implications for the curation of archaeological ivories, Available at: biographies final doc.

By understanding the processes inherent in tool production, archaeologists can determine the development of the technology and in doing so understand the ancient culture that surrounded it.

Functioning as a loose biography, this text is an extension of one of several stories drawn from research surrounding a dummy hand grenade in the Stanley Kubrick Archive.

Each story relates directly or indirectly to the form, display, and very existence of this object. In the context of the chaîne opératoire, the manufacture, circulation, ownership, and presentation of this object all affect the way in which it is understood.

Set in the printed form of a monograph, these stories function as brief captions or as ‘monostitches’—single metrical line poems [5]  —and give context to a visual photo essay. As poems, they are deliberately fragmentary, suggesting the contents blown from a detonated device.

Hocquard, E. Royet-Journoud, C. (2015) Monostitches/ One-line Poems, Portland: Yale Union. Available at: poems.

Sugar Trails

Kritika Jhunjhunwala

In his book Sugar: The world corrupted, from slavery to obesity, James Walvin wrote ‘as people have known for millennia, sweetness is the most basic form of tastiness and pleasure itself. The story of sugar, and of mankind’s desire for sweetness in food and drink is a compelling, though confusing story. It is also an historical story’. [1] We can only understand our contemporary dietary concern with sugar by coming to terms with the relationship between society and sweetness over the last two centuries. This relationship is too often viewed in fragments, which gives the sugar network its shrouded personality. This project, sugar trails…, aims to be a space for connection and contemplation by lifting the shroud and promoting the visibility of these networks.

Walvin, J. (2017). Sugar: The World Corrupted, from Slavery to Obesity.London: Little, Brown Book Group.

sugar trails… is an enquiry into network theory that uses design research to map the historical and contemporary paper trail of sugar and its network, from 1700 to the present day. The research aims to situate the role and influence of sugar in our present-day lives, in order to connect the threads that run between politics, capitalism, racism and morality. The outcome is an archive-like collection in nine volumes (labelled I–IX), which are segregated by narrative and defined by strategies that form a network of content, connecting events and artefacts from history and the present. The archive network is the result of a graphic design enquiry into less visible patterns that would help to clearly position the role of sugar in contemporary society.

Each volume is dedicated to a specific artefact (or artefacts) from a distinct period in the history of sugar. These periods of sugar are classified according to their geography: from the origin of sugar in the Far East, to it is cultivation through the slave trade and propagation throughout the British colonies, and finally to the New World with Christopher Columbus. Each artefact (labelled A–X) is presented and discussed chronologically, forming connections with other significant events and artefacts in later volumes. For example, Volume IV looks at Pure, White and Deadly: The Problem of Sugar by Robert Ludwig [2] , which is a key artefact from the 1970s. This book explained the dietary issues with sugar in a time when the sugar lobby was pushing it into diets and consumable products, and would mislead nutritional science for decades to come. As late as 2016, artefacts that came to be known as ‘sugar papers’ (featured in Volume V) accounted for the chain of events and institutions responsible for this manipulation.

Yudkin, J. (1972). Pure, White and Deadly. London: Viking.

To widen the scope of the network beyond the archive, essential discussions and lectures are included in each volume alongside historical and cultural texts. For example, extracts from James Walvin’s Sugar: The world corrupted, from slavery to obesity are used to interject between volumes and navigate the wider contexts of the slave trade and contemporary nutrition and obesity.

In an attempt to analyse its history, the reader is inevitably pointed towards the geographical journey of sugar from the East to the West along a path known as ‘The Triangular Trade’. In sugar trails…, this path is represented through the running trails of type across each volume, repeating and overlaying images and other graphic devices used to create wider connections between individual volumes and artefacts. In particular, the outer and inner edges of pages become spaces to build references that direct the reader to specific points in the network, offering an additional method to navigate sugar trails… through reading. These strategies for guiding the reader in the network can be thought of as an endeavour of graphic design to demystify the shrouded network of sugar in modern society in the form of a networked study of networks.

A World of Swinging, Berthing, and Powered Indirects

James Fraser

26.10.2017 Felixstowe, Suffolk

It’s 7am and the OOCL [1] Japan, one of the largest container ships in the world today, capable of carrying over 20,000 shipping containers, is safely moored and unloading her cargo via the huge cranes in Berth 9 at the Port of Felixstowe.

OOCL – Orient Overseas Container Line is a Hong Kong based container–shipping company. The OOCL Japan was launched this year and is one of three sister ships of a planned six in total, which are currently the world’s largest container vessels.

‘We all missed her actual arrival, it was dark anyway’, claims Dean Cable as he greets me, offering his hand. Dean is a self-confessed ‘ship-spotter’, a filmmaker, and a self-taught ‘outsider expert’ in the field of local shipping and the workings of the port.

We are standing on a pier in the shadow of the ship, at a spot known as Landguard Point. It’s a piece of jutting land that creates a natural harbour and it is the key reason why the largest container port in Britain is located here. It also offers an ideal vantage point to view the flow of ships entering and leaving Felixstowe.

It is from here that Dean fastidiously records the ships and makes notes, which he publishes online along with his films. Here anyone can stop, gaze, and marvel at the seemingly ordinary yet incredible spectacle that takes place daily.

Dean has featured in one of my own short films, and I’m back here to ask him a few questions about some of the unusual ‘swinging and berthing’ techniques performed by the relatively small, yet powerful, tugboats that pull and push the giant ships around.

With the aid of Dean’s hand-crafted model of a container ship and my hastily sketched map chalked directly onto the small pier, we stand on the wind-swept coastline as he patiently explains the action taking place behind us. ‘You want to ask me about the “powered indirect”?’ he asks. This perilous–looking manoeuvre takes place to the aft, stern, or ‘back end’ of the ship (to you and me). That particular action features in one of my films, so I nod and he continues.

‘The tug fast aft of the ship moves out on the starboard quarter’—the right hand side—‘at full line load, which is around 95–110 tonnes, and the tugs produce a fifteen degree angle when they assist the ship with a powered indirect. Most of the pilots that take the larger 18,000+teu’—twenty foot equivalent unit—‘like to have either Svitzer Deben or Svitzer Kent’—the tug boats—‘at the stern to help with the corner. Sometimes a second tug would position on the port side and push up at a 45 degree angle to help steer around the corner.’

I could sort of see what he was describing, but this highlights exactly what my research is attempting to make clear. I am asking my reader/viewer to look beyond this technical data and terminology which is centred around the movement of containerised cargo, the journey of the commodity. To the average person this is seemingly dull, unfathomable jargon and not worthy of attention.

There is, undoubtedly, a disconnect as to where all this ‘stuff’ actually comes from, how this superabundance flows and crucially how important it is to our culture. My project focuses on this unusual choreography that is taking place in front of me at Felixstowe, and the epic cinematic scale of it. After all, the arrival of more than 20,000 shipping containers to facilitate the nation’s craving for mass consumption is certainly worthy of attention.

The Aggregate of Artefacts

Suzanne Green

In the beginning I did not know why I collected junk mail and other disregarded printed matter. On reflection I was sympathetic of, and attracted to, its lowly and humble status, and to how little attention and respect its aesthetic and functional qualities received. In Species of Spaces and other Pieces, [1]  Georges Perec systematically deals with the documentation of accumulation, applying constraints to his process as a means of triggering ideas and inspiration. He asked ‘how should we take account of, question, describe what happens everyday and recurs everyday’. Junk mail and other pieces of ephemeral printed matter occupy our space without question. This prompted me to consider our habitual responses, and how we address certain familiar and ubiquitous objects with customary, fixed, and established routines.

Perec, G. (2008) Species of Spaces and Other Pieces, London: Penguin Classics.

Graphic design as a tool for intervention can be used to question and draw attention to the everyday accumulation of printed matter. Intervention can be interpreted as interfering or subverting, which are themes inherent in the theory of defamiliarisation. Therefore, using intervention strategies throughout the design process provides a foundation for the varied methods and propositions that have advanced my research. Methods such as isolating, rescaling, stacking, and constructing typologies can create a space for critical reflection.

By using the method of stacking, I have created an assemblage of junk mail, revealing only the spines in a colour-coded order reminiscent of a geological stratum. Like the layers of rock compressed beneath the surface of the earth, each piece, format and colour contributes to a larger pattern that tells a story of us, both as individuals and as a collective. The archaeological definition of stratum is aptly given as ‘the aggregate of artefacts’,  [2]    and other remains found on a site, which are considered material evidence in support of a theory concerning the cultures that once inhabited an area. Through stacking, this once overlooked and ignored ephemeron has been given monumental status. It creates, a perhaps, unsettling moment of confusion as the viewer tries to establish its content. This image not only suggests layers of material, naturally or artificially formed, but evokes the levels of class to which people are assigned according to their social status, education, or income: members of other ‘social strata’.

Aggregate of Artefacts. Collins English Dictionary—Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers

This sculpture is the result of more than two years of conscientiously collecting junk mail; a kind of archaeological dig into the present that has evolved into an assemblage through the process of stacking, building, and layering. Framing the material in the most appropriate way, the camera has an important part to play in the defamiliarisation of junk mail. The angle invites the viewer to look upwards as if providing a visual record, like a geologic timescale, thereby chronologically describing the timing and relationships of events that have occurred since I started collecting the junk mail.

The process of collecting is a time-based, linear procedure. Compiling and assembling my collection of junk mail, and considering the logic and treatment of the material, gives order to my design process, and my ideas about time.

The Appearance and Disappearance of Women in Western Advertising Published in Saudi Arabia

Fatma Al Mansoury

The focus of The Appearance and Disappearance of Women is on understanding the ways Western brands advertise in Saudi Arabia. In particular, the research considers how the role of women is compromised during the process of cultural conversion – when a medium is translated from one culture to another – specifically through post-production of photographic imagery. The research is concerned with feminism and social change in the Middle East, and discusses the cross-cultural dialogue between Western and Eastern cultures. The project is targeted at art directors, editors, photographers and strategists who shape the future image of the Saudi woman in advertising.

Women can be represented in advertising in Saudi Arabia, but sexuality is a taboo subject. For many Western advertisers, there is a misconception of Saudi ideologies, and not enough while also bending their brand values when put in a challenging position.

One particular research experiment I conducted was to contrast the Swedish and Saudi version of the IKEA catalogue from 2012. This particular iteration touches on the merging of two cultures and the manipulation of images that happens in the process. From a personal perspective, it also explores my own Swedish and Saudi background, and the struggle of balancing two conflicting cultures. Interestingly, the Arabic version of IKEA uses the feminine form of particular words in its language to target women directly, because they are seen as home keepers. This is an important point to make in this study, as the act of removing the mother from the published family image is contradictory since women are targeted but not visualised.

My research started as a four-frame comparison and finally became an appropriation of the physical form of the IKEA catalogue. By creating a 100-page sequence, the application of transparency was used to show a woman disappearing as you flip through the catalogue. This flipbook was user tested: some readers understood the critical intention but others asked if I had airbrushed the women out. This meant that I had to include far more context to facilitate a more refined and developed discussion of censorship in the world of advertising. This is a result of our biased and pervasive assumptions about postproduction methods, and Western misconceptions about the representation of women in Saudi Arabia.

Reading Books as Networks

Alessia Muscas

Post-digital, being in an advanced state of the digital, is a condition that implies a more conscious understanding and use of technologies, the effects of which are becoming more and more determinant on society. [1]  The way we inform and entertain ourselves is changing. In the case of the book, factors such as the massive growth of daily data consumption, as well as the captivating multimedial and social features of our increasingly virtual lives, have lead us to question whether the book is still a suitable format to convey information.

Cramer F. (2014) ‘What is “Post-digital?”, A Peer-Reviewed Journal About, The Post-Digital Research, Issue 1 Volume 3, available at:

My research demonstrates that when it results from a critical and thoughtful process of conception and production, the book is still the most effective data carrier. However, its evolution, diversity, and flexibility need to be better acknowledged in order to fully exploit its potential. A key aspect of the current state of publishing is that the book is no longer defined by its medium. Paper won’t be substituted by the digital, but rather they will coexist, sometimes in different spheres, sometimes morphing.

Today, the integration of technology into books lacks criticality. Instead, they are superficial add-ons, sterile high-tech features that do not enhance the narrative or the engagement with the reader.

An effective perspective to adopt when analysing the current state of books is to focus on how we experience them. Through this focus, the fluidity of the relationship of books and technology is more evident. It’s important to acknowledge, however, that this discussion is not about format. Arguably the way we read both printed and digital books is increasingly similar due to the general impact of digital technology. For instance, reading a printed book does not prevent us from checking our smartphone or laptop at the same time.

The influence of technology will increasingly be absorbed into books: reading is now a continuous and transversal process of scanning, assessing, sharing, noting, talking, adding, watching, writing, reacting, etc. Through additional layers of information we acquire from platforms like Wikipedia or Google Maps, we create an augmented understanding of a story.

We no longer experience the book as an individual object detached from its environment, but rather as a network in which the ‘traditional’ book is the central element of a dispersed and complex system. A system that includes digital and analogue activities, as well as multimedial data. It is said that since the start of the digital age, people no longer read. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In reaction to the digital environment, reading as an activity has become more fragmented, dynamic, and faster. The human brain has efficiently faced the massive increase of information we access everyday and has learned to skim. Skimming allows a reader to gloss over texts, spotting key-words, and developing connections instead of attempting to digest everything word by word.

Furthermore, because this information comes in many shapes—written, visual, audible, tactile, in motion—we have learnt to process varied triggers simultaneously. The result, according to Alice Bell, is that ‘readers may be listeners, viewers, players, performers, humans, avatars, characters, cowriters, or collectors.’ [2]

van de Wiel L. (2011) ‘Context is Queen, Content is King’.In Blauvelt, A. et al (Eds.) I Read Where I Am: Exploring New Informations Cultures. Breda: Vlaiz.

In terms of the reading experience, it’s evident that the digital is changing books. This condition challenges the common opinion that books are static, not suitable with technologies and even likely to disappear in the future. Indeed, when this new paradigm is critically unfolded in the form of the book, the result in any format and medium cannot be obsolete.

Architectural Publishing in the Expanded Field

Carlos Romo-Melgar

Expanding the Field of Architectural Publishing (EF—AP) proposes a new role for speculative graphic design in the definition of publishing processes. The speculative publications are seen as devices that switch the traditional workflow of publishing—the one that provides publishing responses to existing sets of data or problems—by positioning the conceptual design stage first, and postponing the editorial until the conclusion of that initial stage. The alteration in the order of procedures brings with it an ontological shift. The definition of publishing, in the context of EF—AP, is challenged, and the traditional roles become much more dispersed than in a traditional publishing setting. Within this framework, the role of speculative publications is to provoke discussion, and questions around the meaning and forms of architectural publishing. The results of these discussions are then distilled into a collection of small booklets with homogeneous characteristics. EF—AP proposes a definition of the term ‘publication’ as always unfinished, and is rather a sum of processes than the creation of individual artefacts. The final object of production can be understood as the baton used in a relay race; an object that can be continued, as well as being augmented or modified by others.

The methodology employed by EF—AP is an attempt to expose areas for collective expansion in the field of architectural publishing. This publishing project also makes distinctions about how we understand certain roles and ideas that relate to publishing: knowledge as a fluid matter; the authority as peer; the reader as participant. The expansions of the field are multiple and happen within different rooms, they partially overlap and create dissonance in their interpretation.

To date, EF—AP has started with four speculations that have prompted eighteen different booklets containing essays and interviews that create conditions for new speculations and discussions. Three of the speculations follow traditional formats where contents are held: a newspaper, a leaflet and an activity book. They experiment with different understandings of expansion: agency, critique, readership. However, the fourth round of speculations proposes an expansion of the formats for architectural publishing.

Covers is a speculative publication that aims to expand the format and production techniques of architectural publishing. It takes the form of a collection of scarves that establish an analogy between façade tectonics in buildings, and the primarily superficial role of scarves worn on the human body. On one side, the scarves use common verbs that state what the façade does: disguise, expose, enclose, assemble, reveal, and include. The other side features an abstract illustration of the building. This bi-faced narration feeds into the intentions of the speculative publication. Each scarf was designed in collaboration with six architectural offices, and a selection of façades from contemporary architecture. Foremost, this speculation addresses architects and encourages them to share their productions in a less controlled way, contaminating them with the tools of other creative fields. Secondly, the speculation is a development of a very aestheticised version of an architectural representation. This aims to attract members of the public, who do not usually relate to the field of architectural publishing, and to create simplified points of entry into the disciplinary debate.

The four speculations unravel a process of discussion and research that frames the places where these publications sit. The text that follows is an adapted excerpt from an interview with Dr Atxu Amann, professor at the Superior Technical School of Architecture of Madrid (ETSAM), where she teaches initial modules, and coordinates MA and doctorate programmes in architectural communication.

Carlos Romo-Melgar: One of the ideas that I’m putting forward in Expanding the Field of Architectural Publishing is a greater understanding of the concept of post-disciplinarity. We’re too caught up in academic frameworks that are rigid, outdated and prescriptive. When you leave university and enter real life, you begin

to define your professional profile. It is true that architecture necessarily entails a certain set of legal requirements, licenses, and technicalities, however, after my own personal experience—I left architecture for graphic design, and in the meantime flirted with other, similar disciplines—I’ve realised that it’s all the same thing on an intellectual level.

Atxu Amann: Of course! When we were to set up our studio, Nico and Andrés (the other two members) came back to Madrid after doing an MA course in Columbia and military service, respectively. They found me working as the co-director of the magazine for the Higher Council of Architects Associations (CSCAE). That was what put food on the table for us at the very beginning. Afterwards, we spent some years working as graphic designers, putting together designs for IFEMA  [1]  , and ended up designing exhibitions; we never actually decided to become graphic designers. Then, I was hired to teach at a fashion design university, and the rest of the team subsequently joined me. We spent some years at different places and, in the meantime, I was appointed director of editorial design for the Community of Madrid. Finally, we got to teach at ETSAM. Because of all these experiences, I hardly ever talk about architecture. I prefer to discuss the architectural. I share Morales’ understanding of the architectural: it is a cross-sectional condition that arises from applying a strategic order to something. Results depend on which tools and materials you might decide to use in that process. Maybe that’s a very old-fashioned way of viewing architecture, but in my opinion there’s no difference between designing a doorknob, a sink, or a building. For me, the important thing is the projective intelligence that we learn in architecture education. That skill allows us to foresee an alternative present. It shows us how to unfold complex processes, which require a certain level of technical skill, and material knowledge. It doesn’t matter whether you’re putting together a publication or a building; it’s all the same.

IFEMA is Madrid’s Trade Fair Institution

CR: So do you think that architecture professionals run the risk of being left behind if they don’t bring themselves up to date and accept a hybrid reality?

AA: Whether we want it to or not, change is going to happen because there are a huge number of architects. If we assume that 30% of future architects are going to be trained to construct a building, the other 70% will have to train themselves for any one of the different jobs that they will have during their lives. The only thing that university can teach you is how to adapt, and how to learn on your own, the projective intelligence, which at its core is basically a way of managing information: knowing how to conduct a specific complexity.

CR: Following this prognosis, it can be disheartening to weigh up the real return on all that invested time in our education. It is true that with the changes that have been made to the training programme in Spain, we are taking the discipline forwards. However, I think in my time, architecture was taught a bit more generically.

AA: Well, architecture is a generic discipline.

CR: Do you think so?

AA: Yes. Society isn’t asking us to be experts in one specific thing when they say that we need a specific training programme for working with heritage buildings. I always think that it needs to be something additional, rather than something that replaces the basic training. When you finish your generic degree—when you’ve got your projective intelligence—you know how to read the real world. If, after that, you decide that you want to design pencil sharpeners, then great. You will need to understand the materiality of pencil sharpeners, how they are made, etc. You don’t need to be an expert but to work with others who are not architects, that is the difference. The key is to find out how to link our knowledge with that of other disciplines, and to learn how they intertwine. I’m not suggesting that we break the architectural foundations of our training, but that we expand them, and contaminate them.

CR: I’m interested in this idea of the architectural approach as a system of mediation, rather than as a medium or a subject matter.

AA: It’s got a lot to do with the distinction that exists between politics and the political, and between architecture and the architectural. Politics refers to the laws that govern our bodies. Architecture is a discipline. The architectural, just like the political, refers to agency, the possibility of certain things happening to those bodies.

CR: To further explore this idea of agency—of the political—part of the MA Graphic Media Design project that we’re doing this interview for questions the idea of ‘the academic’. Not just the concept of the university as the seat of everything academic, but also academia as a system. I think that it’s got some largely evolutionary methods: legitimation, referencing, creation of evidence… They’re more evolutionary than disruptive. I always think that the contemporary, the cutting-edge can be found in disruption, in the need to break the prejudices and the preconceptions that limit us. This is one of the reasons why I put forward speculation as a valid methodology, beyond ‘scientific’ experimentation.

AA: I’m 100% with you on this. Out of the seven subjects that I teach, I would always choose ‘Speculations Workshop’ as my favourite. It’s a module in which there’s no criticism and no grades; we don’t even have the roles of professors and students. We achieve the module objectives by means of action: by destroying a social imaginary, by learning how to teach/learn possibilities, and by developing strategies. All this, without any subject matter or a curriculum at all. We’re living in a time in which you can download any and all information from the Internet. Teaching has turned into time management. I don’t think that it would make much sense right now to ponder the future of academia, because academia is living on borrowed time. Academia is no longer able to offer actual subject matter. Me, you, your son or mine, the dog – we can download all subject matter from the Internet. The only thing that we can try to teach is a capacity for independent learning, for intersectionality, for hybridisation, for interpretation, for translation, for postproduction, for management. I don’t think contents are relevant anymore.

CR: And then, we can’t find a job.

AA: Of course! The thing is, learning happens in other places. At some point, the concept of ‘university’ is going to atomise, expand, and increase. Just like what’s happened with the concepts of ‘house’ or ‘city’, the concept of ‘university’ is going to shake off all its old associations. We’re not going to stop learning – that would be impossible for us. We’re designed to learn. Obviously, this worry is more relevant to you because you’re young. From a critical position, you’ve got a vested interest in knowing what the new learning environments are going to be. My advice to you would be that instead of worrying about the unknown, you begin the change yourself. That’s why I agree with your idea about the role of speculations. I used to go to thousands of meetings about educational innovation. I actually founded the group for educational innovation. And what did all that get me? Nothing. On the other hand, when I created the speculation workshop, I realised that the participants were learning things that went above and beyond the standard framework. I believe that it’s your task to create this space, and this time for learning, which dismantles the existing model.

If Fidelity

Laurène Ruimy

Today, every book is just a click away. We download classics from Shakespeare, Molière, and Homer in seconds. This is why now more than ever, we need to question the legitimacy of what we read. The aim of this project, If fidelity, is to make the reader pause and consider the evolution of a given text, to question its authorship, and to highlight the contributions brought to it by translators, editors, and ultimately the readers.

In his essay ‘Las Versiones Homéricas’, Jorge Luis Borges questions the many different versions of Homer’s texts: ‘Which of these many translations is faithful? the reader might ask. I repeat: none or all of them.’ [1] The translator is like an author and every author writes with intention, thus making each written piece subjective. The reader contributes to the evolution of a text and adds a particular subjectivity to the version that they are reading at that time.

Borges, J.L. (1932) ‘Las Versiones Homéricas’.In Discusión. Buenos Aires: Manuel Gleizer.

If fidelity presents a first edition of ‘Las Versiones Homéricas’ [2] in English next to Borges’ original in Spanish. Furthermore, the first edition English text is compared to an edited version in English—as a way to contextualise commentary from Borges on the nature of each translation—and other material that relates to each version of the text: publisher details, covers, translator details, dates.

Borges, J.L. and Levine, J.L. (1992) ‘Some Versions of Homer’.In PMLA, Vol. 107 No.5.

To demonstrate this, If fidelity has been divided in two branches. The first looks at the evolutionary metamorphosis of edited and translated texts through layering—specifically folding—of material; a research-through-making strategy to progressively prototype an outcome. The second is a distillation and evaluation of the translator’s editorial choices by making connections and comparisons between the different translations. It is through these two branches that the project conveys, as Borges put it in ‘Las Versiones Homéricas’, ‘our superstition that translations are inferior—reinforced by the age-old Italian adage traduttore traditore [3] —is the result of our naïveté: all great works that we turn to time and again seem unalterable and definitive.’

From Italian ‘translating is betraying’

By experimenting with the notion of evolution, the focus of this project is to form physical and typographical layers that form a strategy to compare translations and a reading order to approach the different versions. Parity between translations can be achieved by putting them side-by-side. By treating them graphically in the same way, we can begin to compare them more objectively. The contextual material—Borges’ commentary, book covers, translator details—can be observed through the use of different methods. Folding and playing with the opacity of the page, gives many possibilities for the compositions. A single fold can be used to layer information and keep a certain manoeuvrability to the book, while French folding can allow up to five layers of content. Inside the folds, the reader can ‘discover’ new information regarding the translation that appears on the outside.

The Whiter White

Zen Du

By naming white, the action of giving it a designation has ‘cropped’ it. This project, Whiter White, uses stills taken from short films as a way of questioning the concept of a naming system for white; with the intention of revealing the variability and fragility of this system.

Naming white is a limitation, but it can also be subverted and used to our advantage in this project where the naming—or the ‘cropping’—of white is used as conceptual and literal action.

In On Photography[1] , Susan Sontag conveys an idea about the photograph as ‘not an image, an interpretation of the real; it is also a trace, something directly stenciled off the real’. Seen as a photograph, a still preserves short moments that are otherwise impossible to remember from a film, and because of this isolation, they will not be connected with any other background or emotion.

Sontag, S. (2010). On Photography. New York: Picador [u.a.].

A still might be cropped to focus a viewer’s attention, to tell a story or to remove unnecessary or misleading information. Harold Evans suggests in his book Pictures on a Page [2] that ‘while there is perhaps a province in which the photograph can tell us nothing more than what we see with our own eyes, there is another in which it proves to us how little our eyes often permit us to use’.

Evans, H. (1997). Pictures on a Page: Photo-Journalism, Graphics and Picture Editing. 2nd ed. London, England: PIMLICO.

A History of Art in Three Colours-White. (2012). [film] Directed by J. Fox. UK: BBC.
Chasing Ice. (2012). [film] Directed by J. Orlowski. United States: Submarine Deluxe.
Photo of the Month. (1993). Professional Photographer, Issue 1.

By using these stills, these ‘crops’ of white, and by repeating them, different readings can be made of the same material. Repetition emphasises the fragility of white and the ease with which ideas of white can be manipulated.

Uglicality, new aesthetic in the age of nihilism

Héloïse d’Almeida

The world is currently facing a storm of anti-globalization, populism and anti-cultural political movements. In such a time graphic designers need to rethink the way they talk about themselves within a wider societal scope. Especially as difficult and ugly aesthetics are one of the tools used most when communicating with one another.

Difficult and ugly aesthetics have been inherited by a post-modern tradition of creatives who want to subvert the ontological barriers of a profession that is obliged to pleasing the masses. However, in the current epoch, the notion of ugly aesthetics is also being challenged more than ever before.  [1]   The mixing of cultural and social backgrounds is pushing back again and again the boundaries of bad taste. And now a new tendency to mix ugly, kitsch, vulgar visuals with erudite, sophisticated and elitist ideas has emerged in the sphere of design. This trend can be referred to as ‘Uglicality’.

Eco, U. (2011) On Ugliness, MacLehose Press. According to Eco there is three types of ugliness in arts: the manifestations of ugliness, formal ugliness and artistic ugliness. Ugly aesthetics occur in the latter. It is a sum of specific visual characteristics; similar to a semiotic system that exploits unconventional, gruesome, strange, disturbing, disruptive, subversive reactions from the viewer.

The term is born from a combination of ‘ugly’—a value system based on perceptive factors—and ‘criticality’—the expression of a disagreement with any given system, institution or thought. Uglicality thus designates works and practices that articulate the use of ugliness to convey a critical thought by creating a rift in meaning, or adding a new layer of sense.

Uglicality is a term invented for this research on contemporary aesthetics in critical/speculative design practices. It can be read alongside such terms as ‘criticool’ (Laranjo, 2015)[2] or ‘pretty ugly’ (Gestalten, 2012). [3] Where ‘criticool’ denounced contemporary aesthetics as vague and vain, and ‘pretty ugly’ negated the ontologically destructive power of ugliness by taming it into a pleasing, trendy commodity, Uglicality claims both those visual qualities as the visual signifiers of a critical voice/content.

2. Laranjo, F. (2015) Critical Everything, Grafik. []. ‘Criticool’ refers to the visual language used by a designer or studio when investigating a social, political and cultural issue. The term articulates a critique towards a critical intention that fails to express itself by being stuck in a state of visual indefinability. It defines a failed connection between form and content.

3. Gestalten (2012) Pretty Ugly, Visual Rebellion in Design, Two Points.Net. ‘Pretty cool’ is a term coined to describe the production of ugly visuals in the framework of a graphic design commissioned work. The ‘pretty’ soothes the use of ‘ugly’, and the ‘ugly’ adds an edgy feeling to the use of ‘pretty’, which, as something nice, is often found boring by self-indulgent creatives.

Uglicality is an expression of disagreement against established institutions, instances of abuse of power and social injustices. In a historical sense we can trace the first use of ugly aesthetics as a subversive force back to the work of early 20th century avant-garde art movements, and the period during which they rebelled against governmental and cultural co-opted ways of thinking.

Uglicality manifests itself in the presence of critical or speculative works.
The visual part of the production is layered in a complex and saturated composition: multiplication of recurrent patterns, typographic symbols, as well as tasteless colour combinations give an impression of chaos—a lack of hierarchy.

Fig.1: Screen capture of website [accessed 23.10.2017]. The website has an issue with hierarchization of the information. This results in a feeling of visual chaos.

A distinction can be made as to the species of Uglicality one can face.
The first is called Accidental Ugliness Aesthetics. [FIG.1][FIG.2] This initial species emerges from amateur work, a lack of skill or knowledge of conventions, or even a failed production. It is often embodied by a poor use of default settings, a lack of harmony in colour palettes, a poor hierarchization of the information, etc.

Fig. 2: Yungterra (2014) Graphic Design Is My Passion [meme]. In opposition to fig.1, the design has impact because of its simplicity. However, the choices made in this design are building the strangest combination between the different elements. The intentions are not clear: is it ironic? Naïve? Genuine?

The second species of Uglicality is Intentional Ugliness Aesthetics. This secondary type can also be referred to as grotesque works. [FIG. 3][FIG.4] Projects that fall under this categorisation cultivate a strange, unconventional, provocative style by which they deliver their content. Intentional Ugliness Aesthetics is embodied by layered and overlaid works that mix figuration and abstraction, high-end 3D resolution renders, and pixelated textures. Almost schizophrenic, the aesthetic of the second species of Uglicality is made up of contradictions and is balanced between extremes.

Fig. 3: Pinar&Viola (2011) Until We Bleed. The artists articulate a critique towards the current political state of the European Union through saturated, 3D-spaced, digital visuals.

Any categorisation of Uglicality manifests itself in visuals that we cannot break down into digestible units. At the crossroads of maximalism and bad execution, ugly aesthetics offers a wide range of visual productions throughout various media and disciplines. Visually, Uglicality explores the fascination of looking at something that the mind does not comprehend.

Fig. 4 : Metahaven (2013) Islands in the Cloud, exhibited in MoMa: New York. Both species of Uglicality play on the saturation, visual dissonance, and legibility of the design productions.


Zack Wellin

When we log on to a website, we put on a glass mask. We are reconstituted as the user, an aggregate profile of all the data we share and receive across a network. A tactile flesh and an organic web of neural pathways imprint onto the metallic megastructure of implacable ones and zeros. Electrons slide across beams of copper, encoding likes and dislikes, interests, and behaviour patterns as the end product of a thousand yes/no answers calibrated mathematically into measurable types. And then these data ghosts, the synthetic outlines of who we are, are exchanged across the application layer of a thousand humming servers in refrigerated warehouses and prepared for retransmission as targeted content provision.






When we are reconfigured as the ‘user’, the act of imprinting redefines us. The inherent dictates of the software platform delineate our range of possible behaviours as predetermined actions and reactions—reply/retweet/like—but also reconstruct our motivations. What do we want? Likes? Retweets? Reblogs? The architecture of the platform insists on specific motivations that propel our networked social existence.

An automated HTTP POST request with a JSON payload arrives on Apple’s servers via the push notification API, which is delivered to your router via undersea transatlantic cables. The request is then translated into a short sequence of radio waves that is picked up by an iPhone’s internal Wi-Fi radio antenna. A popup appears on the screen. ‘XXX has liked your status.’ Your eyes focus on the screen and exocytosis begins. Millions of synaptic vesicles release dopamine molecules into minute synaptic clefts. The neurotransmitter immediately binds to cell surface receptors, generating a warm sense of pleasure and wellbeing. Approval, the basic stimulus of interpersonal interaction, distilled into a single click of a button. [1]

Südhof, T. C.(1995) ‘The Synaptic Vesicle Cycle: A Cascade of Protein–Protein Interactions.’ Nature 375.

We construct our network masks piecemeal—post by post—accumulating a range of interpolated datasets. The social architecture of the platform emerges from its technological architecture and from here our newly reconstituted selves emerge; a face in a mask.

Now we project ourselves onto the network as data masks, but long before the advent of digital technology we projected onto imagined demons. Stating our moral ambivalences in the terms of ‘possession’ and blaming our counter-social impulses on beings beyond ourselves.











Projecting onto beings of our own imagination gave us some degree of control over our externalised selves. Now, projecting onto networks controlled by others, we have relinquished this control. Who we are has always, to an extent, been determined by where we find ourselves.Who are we now is being increasingly determined by the networks we use.

Current reading, watching, listening in the MAGMD studio

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