Breaking the grid. Print & the global village. We are our own grid.

How can print respond in an age of instantaneous connectivity.

Is the alphabet as necessary as it was?

Generations have come and gone since Soviet constructivism, the Bauhaus and the Swiss schools and subsequently the way humans absorb and relate to information has radically altered. Each new medium changes the way humans relate to and absorb the world around them. These pervasive mediums literally alter us and becomes part of us, they change the way we think and the neurology of our brains. It would have been incredulous for designers working in the 1950's in a print dominated world to have imagined television or the Internet and how saturated the generations hence were to become in information.

When grid systems were developed, print was the dominant medium of communication as it had been for the previous 500 years. The audience for print had been the same for half a millennia and the way that audience consumed information had remained the same. Seventy years further on the audience is a world away from the one for whom those communication structures and systems were developed. Humans now, read books, listen to music, browse their smartphones, check twitter feeds and update their Facebook pages all virtually simultaneously. This bombardment of our senses and our subsequent neurological development to cope with it and adapt to it have made us a different type of information consumer. We now fill in gaps, can dispense with alphabets and replace words with symbols. We communicate in broken text speak, absorb thousands of visual messages per day and are fundamentally different from those only one generation removed.

We become the technology that predominates, so the way we interface with information alters us as a result. Print in a global, always on, always connected global village no longer has the place it did. It was Twitter, Facebook and You Tube that contributed to the Arab Spring not column inches. It was the immediacy and the instantaneous fragmented conversations, messages, and images that were absorbed as a disembodied whole. We are the generation that amalgamates ambiguity and makes sense of the disparate and fills in the gaps.

We are the grid. We pull information from everywhere and align it, sort it and respond to it. What we absorb becomes the experience. The advertisement for the car is the adventure not the car itself. So how can print be anything more than a pause button in a speed of light information loop. How does it stay current and how does it integrate with other mediums that have now surpassed it in terms of consumption and perceived relevance.

Can it remain as this organised grid system when the audience consumes information in the majority of cases in far from non linear structures. Will it be the polite guest at the noisy dinner party condemned to its formality and wish for a more organised world when chaos and our ability to absorb and adapt to it have passed at warp speed to another place altogether.

These are just some initial thoughts and designs as I come to the beginning of the Visual Communication module.





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