Archive for the 'Digital' Category

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Beauty is in the Stack: Michael Oswell and Scott King

Beauty is in the Stack: Michael Oswell and Scott King... Tickets, Glasgow - Eventbrite

Beauty is in the Stack: Michael Oswell and Scott King.

Part of the preview events for It’s Not Very Nice That, a forthcoming exhibition at the Lighthouse, Michael Oswell and Scott King will discuss their recent projects. This talk is the first in a series of events that run alongside the exhibition, and which will be posted on, when the organiser gets organised.

The exhibition opening follows the talk, to which everyone is very much invited.

Supported by the Design School, Glasgow School of Art

This event will take place in Gallery 1 at the Lighthouse. Doors 5:30pm.

Image: Libcom Anniversary Poster (Michael Oswell)

Political Colours

In an idle moment, and spurred on by Malcolm showing me a faux-letterpress pro-independence poster, I thought it might be interesting to look at the other design indicators currently being deployed by the two sides in the independence debate.

First up are the new year broadcasts by the ‘Better Together” campaign and the current Scottish Government.



Both deploy a fairly traditional set up, talking to camera, though Alec Salmond’s video is intercut with more footage. Alistair Darling is set up in the corner of (presumably) his living room, while Salmond has opted for a more evocative setting of an exhibition on Scottish history, presumably trying to promote a sense of trustworthy erudition, and the idea that Scottish folk invented everything, ever. The typography is unremarkable, Salmond opting for the system default ‘Verdana’, by Matthew Carter, and the Better Together campaign going for a passable though ultimately forgettable modern slab serif/sans combo.

But maybe we need to dig a little deeper. What better tool to do this than the Gaussian Blur function of Adobe Photoshop CS6. Passing these two images through a Gaussian filter set to 18.9 (18/9/2014 being the date of the referendum of course, such is the conceptual integrity of this post), we get the following results:



What is immediately apparent is that both deploy a little blue/white in the bottom right corners, though more striking is the fact that Darling’s slightly creepy green and red stocking/jesters hat still makes its presence felt, even through the Gaussian fog. Salmond looks like he is standing next to the very edge of a big Union Jack.

Finally this is what the images look like with the classic 50% opacity overlay, perhaps not better together.


Addendum: In other news, and in another project that I will probably never get round to doing, I’d like to make a new responsive Scottish web typeface in three weights: Devo, Devo-Max and Indy. This would be a web-only typeface that responds automatically to currently polling and adjusts its own weight. As per usual I don’t have the faintest idea how to achieve this technically, so any pointers welcome.

Inspiration, Manipulation

“We’ll have Google Glass, but we’ll still have ‘business-casual'”

This video is currently doing the rounds. Bratton is perhaps saying what we all think and feel, but after initially faltering a little, does it in a very convincing and coherent way. A slight tangent, but wonder if it’s linked in some way to this article, many parts of which I disagree with: Why being nice in the online world is no bad thing.

Feral Studio Workshop 21+22 Oct


Workshop 001:

Mon 21st and Tue 22nd Oct
with Lizzie Malcolm/
‘Patterns and Parameters’
taking place in SWG3 studios
15 places, allocated on first come first served basis. Sign up (via the VLE) opens at 10am on monday morning (14th oct).

Starting from before computers, this workshop will introduce the relationship between code and creativity, specifically the concept of parametric design, and generative patterns.

We will look beyond software that has been made for design and explore ways to use computation as a tool in the creative process.

Beginning with a simple pattern generation program in the Processing language, we will manipulate input, process and output to build a generative visual system.

Sign up: opens, via the VLE design school community, at 10am on Mon 14th Oct.

Note: If you sign up for this event, you need to commit to being available 9am-5pm on both the mon 21st and tue 22nd Oct. 2013.

This event is mainly aimed at 3rd and 4th year undergrad students in order to fit around FOCI days etc, but there will be other events later in the year timed to suit other year groups.

The public event attached to this workshop is open to everybody, and is free but ticketed:

Issue 1: Beijing

Concrete Flux 流泥 is a multi-media, multi-disciplinary online journal, (edited by Solveig Suess, Vis-com-des person), which takes as its subject matter China’s hyper-fast emerging urban spaces, their meaning and one’s everyday experiences of them. They believe that a new configuration of space through urbanisation will lead to a new configuration of society. Their aim, then, is to contribute to some understanding of or gain insight into what these spaces, which seem to emerge faster than our minds can log and assess, may mean. Issue 1: Beijing is now live.

Facebook Analog Research Laboratory

Screen Shot 2013-08-27 at 23.40.31

Facebook Analog Research Laboratory is, well, odd. Wired magazine, the breathless pronouncers of all that is ‘new’, write about it here. At first glance it would appear that to enter this ‘research lab’ you need to be able to convincingly pretend to yourself that it is 1953, be comfortable with the idea of ‘self-help’, and have read all editions to date of The Little Book of Calm. From the image above, and those in the link, you’ll see that all boxes are ticked. Proofing press (with new lick of paint) – tick!, fixie – tick!, Miley Cyrus (hang on, is this some kind of topical bandwagon jumping? -ed), weird distinction between analog [sic] and digital – tick!…

I am on Facebook, but I really don’t get it, and all this makes me wonder what dynamics are at play here? If it’s a desire to seem human, handmade, authentic, then is that desperation or pure cynicism? Is the supposed reverence of ‘traditional’ tools and techniques an attempt to search for some inspiration, or filling a worrying void in someones life and experiences? I find facebook, from a user perspective, to be a strange combination of simultaneously compelling and boring experiences. This kind of cultish hipster fetishism pushes me one step closer to web suicide 2.0


Two completely unrelated things i’ve just looked at on the internet; ARC – Journal of the Royal College of Art (they have a new website) and

New journalistic low for the ol’ blog.

Situation Room

From the comments; “…the benefit of living in an urban environment are the social discrepant events that propel society forward – these “collisions” between disparate power structures and groups that shape our cultures and social innovations – this proposal effectively wants to eradicate this necessarily messy conflict and “negate authorship” – which is extremely alarming – because then it becomes impossible to pinpoint who is really behind the green curtain.”

via Whos Your Data? Urban Design in the New Soft City: Places: Design Observer.


Fascinating and relevant: Making Democracy Legible: A Defiant Typeface — via The Gradient, Walker Art Center.

MakLab Glasgow

Our friends at MakLab, Scotland’s first open access digital fabrication workshop, have been chosen as a finalist for the Google UK Global Impact Awards with nine other innovative social enterprises from the UK. If you would like to vote for them you can do so here, and help support this emerging facility for designers and makers.

Social Networking With The Living Dead

“Dedbullets is a software construct. A generative identity. He reads my blog, and my twitter feed, and any other textual content we point him at. He munches it, remixes it and spits it back out in the form of tweets. For extra authenticity he has, at times, been allowed access to posts I haven’t made public, so occasionally quotes content I’ve never before shared. If his tweets sound like the kind of thing I’d say, it’s because they are the kind of thing I’d say.”

via Social Networking With The Living Dead – Matt Pearson (@zenbullets).

Speculative Everything


Speculative Everything – Anthony Dunne at Resonate 2013 .

TBTB* (or Hyper/Links)

*TBTB or ‘Too Busy To Blog’ is a symptom of modern life whereby sufferers experience a chronic build-up of hyperlinks that can only be dealt with by a long, disjointed and dissociative blog-post. The following are all reference points and links that have come up through, or as a result of, studio discussions over the last term or so. The approach borrows a little from the excellent things.

We begin with objects that are ‘alive‘. Pipilotti Rist. The Form of the Book, Book. Facebook’s social graph and the exploitation of ‘weak-links‘, (and an amazing resource of freely available critical writing on the subject). Danah Boyds early, but influential essay on myspace, facebook and class divisions. If you’re not paying for it, you’re the product“, which echoes something Serra said. Unlike Us?

Elsewhere in the world, a dataset speaks a thousand words, and we can (thanks to Paula Scher) track the deterioration of a blog comment thread.

To architecture, the power of the manifesto, and the politics (to be viewed with the utmost criticality) of ‘progress’. Ant Farms, ‘fake’ villages (and more); Clip/Stamp/Fold, and the Fountainhead in 5 seconds.

Live surfaces, media surfaces. Augmented reality (think ‘clinic brief‘). Reality reality (think ‘everything else‘). Razzle Dazzle, and the New Aesthetic. Pixel Sorting for Dummies.

No-brow culture (E4?) and cutting through the clutter. A brand is nothing, wanting to be everything. Unexpected Creativity.

A long way from heterotopia? The anti-library, and Benjamin, unpacking. Perspectives on reading. Information Landscapes (of 1994). The Library of Babel. Unreliable narrators. Authentic translation.

Meanwhile, ballet meets synchronised swimming, or fashion? And movement, underwater. (‘Gorgeous’ say CraveOnline, Sally worked on this’ say

Laika, Neutral, UniversTypeface as programme (my machines). Printing as process, (and just-in-the-nick-of-time). The computational and generative, meets InDesign. Calligraphic lettering. And this article by Robin Kinross offers some interesting insights about the work of Wim Crouwel.

An Open School might look a bit like this.

Dominic Wilcox + MakLab – A Feral Studio

Dominic Wilcox + MakLab is the next Feral Studio event, tickets available from that link there. Sign-up for the workshop, which will run on monday and tuesday (4th and 5th march) will be open at 10am tomorrow (Tues 26th Feb), to my usual email address.

Little Printer: Behind the Scenes

This in-depth article about Little Printer looks at the process behind the product, (which is probably more of an indication of future products than a fait-accompli), with some really interesting observations about design process, ‘discipline’ and more.

Finding Reason

Maybe streamlining is the last thing a zine-maker should be thinking about? via Anonymous-Press – Streamlining the process of zine making.

James Bridle, The New Aesthetic, Etc.

Kimberley asked me to post this months ago, in relation to a project that has long since passed. I’ve only just got round to it. Awful.

(This project by James Bridle is also amusing: #rorschmap: Street View Edition )

Aaron Swartz

Cory Doctorow writes a thoughtful and insightful article in relation to the sad news about Aaron Swartz, and his important and inspiring work.

Powers of Ten (Revisited by FutureFarmers)

SF MOMA have some great videos. Here Future Farmers look at a retake of the Powers of Ten by Eames

Self-answering question spotted on directors monitor (twice)

From Brother Printer Orchestra behind the scenes (more)