Tag Archives: visual communication

The cutting edge in visual communication.

I can remember when the most exciting thing to happen on the internet was sending an email, and waiting a week to get a response because the other person wasn’t attached to it. Now we have the entire world’s knowledge tucked away in a super computer in my pocket. My children now speak in acronyms, they send photos with filters and talk to each other through a service called Discord. I used to laugh at my mother unable to program the VHS machine, and here I am barely keeping up with the technological advances since the mid noughties. I Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to my heart’s content, often having holidays from Facebook before my iPad flies through a double glazed window. Asking a forty year old what is cutting edge will certainly give a different answer to an eighteen year old.

I can remember my son showing me Snapchat a few years ago and being amazed at the filters. I understand how complex the coding must be, a distinct mix of artificial intelligence to identify the faces in the camera, and augmented reality to overlay a filter of ears or horror masks. I thought this was cutting edge, but as I research the latest developments in augmented reality I am increasingly excited about how augmented, and increasingly virtual reality will increase the sphere of possibilities in visual communication.

Microsoft talks about their contract with the US military, and how augmented reality will be able to give them real time information about the environment they are in (Forbes, 2019). As Walmart talks about using VR technologies to train the customer-focused staff of the future, I wonder when mainstream education will be better customised to the student. When the digital knowledge of the world is linked with personalised training programmes, and augmented or virtual reality systems, surely that will provide us with students educated for an ever changing jobs market? I’m already stunned at the levels of VR ready machines already available for home use, from the playstation through to personal computers and even mobile phones. I can already purchase STEM based kits for my son, which come with Google Cardboard so he can see science experiments in a VR classroom.

When you start to investigate the equipment and discover that Facebook bought Oculus in 2016 you realise that there are clearly more communication ideas in the pipeline. To be able to have coffee with a friend who lives on the other side of the world would truly make Marshall McLuhan’s idea of the ‘global village’ a reality (Explorations, CBC, 18 May 1960). We are seeing the emergence of the global village, how communications, both visual and auditory, are connecting people at a phenomenal rate around the world. We are seeing protests becoming global, not local, we can see how a pussy protest in the US travelled over the pond to the UK and happened here too, at the same time. How the yellow jackets of France were able to join in the People’s assembly protest in London, and correct people online as they tried to co-opt the message.

I am reminded of the yahoo chat rooms in the emerging days of the internet and wonder if the conversations over my son’s discord server aren’t just the same conversations wrapped in a better technology. Hopefully, once the cutting edge of the technology dulls a bit, we can use this technology to connect the world in ways that improves living conditions for the whole globe, and not just the ones in their ivory towers.

International Flag of Planet Earth


My mind map on knitting.

My initial research shows the ‘Make do and Mend’ campaign in the second world war, however it soon becomes apparent this was all fabric, and not the knitting circles I was thinking about. My further research reveals that it was in world war one that there was a knitting drive. A huge campaign world wide to supply our front line soldiers with ‘comforts’ to keep them warm. A recent social media project, Centenary Stitches (Lawrence, 2016)¬†to recreate the actual patterns for a film gained a lot of support, both from knitters and finance through Kickstarter.

A screenshot taken from a film shown through the Imperial War Museum's archives. The image shows an outdoor classroom of girls knitting.
Girls knitting ‘comforts’ in a London school.

My own misadventures into knitting have always ended rather quickly. My mother is an avid knitter, and she has attempted to teach me many times. Although my grandmother also knitted, she never did gain a love for it like my mother. My mother has a briefcase full of patterns dating back to the 60s and 70s. It seems baby jackets and leggings have never gone out of fashion. I, on the other hand, find the smaller needles too complicated to use. I did eventually learn to knit, but it was a stallholder at a craft fair at the NEC who taught me to knit a rug. Much larger wool, much larger needles. I love the advent of needle-less knitting, using your arms. Giant balls of merino wool and the physical making of a scarf or blanket. No specialist equipment needed.

Arm knitting, the art of knitting without needles.

I think knitting was stereotypically associated with the elderly, however I think that was more because of the propaganda during the war instilling a ‘make your own’ mentality. With the advent of mass produced clothing, partly due to the manufacturing techniques needed during the second world war to keep up with uniform requirements (Clouting, 2018), I think we’ve lost that ability to make our own. The new push for better quality and longer lasting clothing, along with the reuse, reduce and recycle campaign, is returning us to this make do and mend mindset. It’s not that knitting ever died, but there is a distinct revival, even the mainstream media pumping us full of the mental health advantages of knitting (Ritschel, 2018).

The ever-changing landscape of newness.

As I go to explore the world of advertisements, something I haven’t explored since my business management degree in 2009, I expect to see VR content, or adverts aimed at ‘on demand’ or serial fast forwarders. Instead I’m met with projection mapping. This is the art of placing an advert or digital art installation on a still object by designing it for the specific surface area. You couldn’t get more time and place specific, it is generated for a specific event, from hotel openings, festivals or the Super Bowl.

It reminds me of sci-fi movies from the last few decades, where holographic advertisements hover around people going about their daily business. Where space and air have become monetised in the capitalist society’s demand for new products, new expenditure, new gadgets, new, new, new. The shiny and bling of a new purchase sold as retail therapy, how a new credit card is available, just sign here.

Sold to companies as an alternative to the millennials ‘refusal’ to spend money on objects, projection mapping is marketed as an immersive experience instead of something to gather dust on a shelf (Furlong, 2018).

Considering the technology has been used for half a century you would think that it would have lost the excitement which was evident with the first projections. However as technology has developed, so has the projectors and software used in the illuminations. The modern rendition of interactive animations and art installations are far removed from Disney’s talking heads in 1969 (Integrate Expo, 2018).

I’m reminded of my earlier research into VR advertisements and realise this could be a stepping stone. Fully immersive experiences, but still trapped within a building, dome or on a wall. Is this a gentle nudge to the general population towards virtual reality? As headsets reduce in price, and the technology of household computers increases, it’s very possible that VR will take over from projection mapping. It is, after all, the same skillset needed to build the 3d environments for virtual reality, spatial awareness, user journey and three dimensional design.

Mixed Messages

In this blog I shall be comparing typographical message with the actual words in the message.

Photo of text from a course book.
Creative Arts Today, 2017, Visual Communication
  1. The first message is encouraging visitors to enjoy their stay. This looks, from the typeface, to be a heritage or historic place. It’s reminds me of calligraphy.
  2. This message has an urgency to it, however I find the typeface at odds with the message. It’s an older typeface, and not one usually associated with danger messages. At a glance people might not read it as it looks like an informational notice as opposed to a hazard warning.
  3. This typeface is a typewriter font, one which suggests that although these people are professionals, it’s in funky way as opposed to a serious way. Maybe a collective of authors?
  4. The message states Luxury, however the typeface is slightly arabic/egyptian. From this visual statement I’d expect the supplier of the luxury to be from overseas.
  5. The simplicity of this typeface suggests that these are home made crafts. There has been a growth in the hand made/home made craft sectors and the debate continues as to the difference between hand crafted and home made products. This typeface would suggest the later.

This exercise has reminded me, and my husband, of this meme which circulated on Facebook and Reddit. I think it illustrates the point well.