It Started Out as a Joke...

614Letter J

Hand drawn Carnival-style letterform for Project 1 of my thesis. By Saskia van Kampen

Project 1 for my thesis was inspired by the Materiality: Objects and Idioms in Historical Studies of Science and Technology Conference held at York University on May 2–4, 2013. Kristen Haring, a historian of science and

technology whose interests reach across disciplinary boundaries, looks at handcrafting history by combining the binary systems of Morse code and knitting in order to conduct research through making. Haring learned mores code and knit situations as she experienced them replacing long and short dashes with knit and purl stitches. By utilizing this process she was able to understand the practice of using a binary system for communication.

  At one point she stated about her project that “it started out as a joke.” This comment upholds the stigma of the handmade being “less than” which was the focus of Project 1

Project 1 looks at handcraft and the intuitive process, which attempts to put words to craft knowledge. The project is inclusive of sonic and haptic methodologies. The process of making a poster was put into words, divided into levels of decision-making (conceptualization, composition, colour, typography, and media) and recorded in overlapping vocals.

This project was not successful because the overlapping voices became congested and unintelligible. In order to explore another way of displaying this information the words were scripted as if composed on a musical staff with the stages of the poster shown in connection with the process. Also not successful as seen in the image below.

616Script Detail

My constant struggle for "perfection" in my design work discounted much of the results of my intuitive impulses thus revealing some deep-rooted personal barriers in my design process. The poster started off as an oil pastel rendering of carnivalesque letterforms. The bright colours and spontaneity of the pastel media evoked a "clownish" message, which I was incapable of accepting as a final design. 

613Saskia van Kampen Pastel rendering of Joke for first draft of the poster for project 1. By Saskia van Kampen

The smudging and rough quality was bothersome so I discarded it and instead I laser cut the letterforms out of illustration board, spay painted them white and phgotographed them. 

615Joke Saskia van KampenPhotograph of laser cut letterforms. By Saskia van Kampen

The documenting of this process, however unsucessful in accomplishing my initial intent, did create awareness around my subconscious biases regarding the difference between art and design.