Thursday, September 25, 2008
OBJECT & SYSTEM :: A Transmedia Design Project (in progress)
Here is a work in progress for my Transmedia Design class.
Assignment: Communicate the meaning of the words "Object" and "System" using print as a medium and only typography as a method.
In my research on the topic I found this summary of Ferdinand de Saussure's words on written language: "The sign has no life apart from the system or 'structure' that frames it." This made me think of the relationship between an object and a system, and how one cannot be defined without referencing the other. In a sense, every object is made up of a system of objects interacting with each other, and every system is described by the objects that are a part of it. This led me to think of the idea of how the letter, as an arbitrary object, gains meaning as a part of the alphabet and subsequently as part of a word. I decided to take the concept of letter(object) and the alphabet(system) and explore ways of communicating this in print form.
I came up with the following ideas:
1- Stack all the letters of the alphabet on top of each other at 20% opacity and see what "ghost form" emerges.
2- Using two posters juxtapose the bump to the braille system on two posters.
3- Use type as line to create a flatpack object that can be assembled by reading the lines.
4- Compose a large halftone letterform where each dot is an individual letter.
5- Arrange text in an illusion that represents 3D-cubes and spells out the word "system".
6- Create a word illusion with the words "object" and "system" by combining them into a single form.
After receiving feedback on these ideas I decided to proceed with the braille idea and the flatpack idea. I then made rough comps.
Moving forward, I did some research on de Sausser's writings about written letters and systems, and looked at readymech.com for inspiration on flatpack toys. After finding the content I needed I decided to research braille printing technology and found that it is very difficult to achieve in large format. I spoke with one of the MDP(Media Design Program) instructors who did a thesis on braille. He recommended using the campus laser cutter and creating a mold on which I could place a sheet of paper and rub to create the bumps.
With that I aimed to create a sample that I could experiment with and therefore spent an afternoon in the laser cutting lab. Using the window as a light board and that backside of a Sharpie as a mezzotint tool, I rubbed the paper on top of where the holes were located on the laser-cut acrylic. I tried a variety of paper weights and with 2 ply bristol it yielded a favorable result.
I also spent a night designing the flatpack toy based on a template by readymech.com. The tiny text used to create the lines was the directions for assembling the piece, for example, "1. Cut along this line using an x-acto blade and a straight ruler," or "score fold score fold score fold."
Lastly, I presented both these ideas in a more finalized comp form to the class for feedback. The next step is to move forward with the actual production of these ideas until they reach presentation quality. I will post again at that point. Wish me luck.