Research methodologies

My feedback suggested that I start to look at research methodologies and get to grips with them. So, last night I found the wonderful book VISUAL RESEARCH: AN INTRODUCTION TO RESEARCH METHODOLOGIES IN GRAPHIC DESIGN (Noble and Bestley) and went through the whole thing making notes:

Granted, I have not yet applied this to my own work, but it’s a start. Here are a few quotes that I can use:

“designers can also operate as mediators – that they can take responsibility for the content and context of a message as well as the more traditional means of communication. The focus for the designer might be on the transmission of their own ideas and messages, without the need for a client or commissioner, but sill remaining fixed on the effectiveness of communicating with an audience.” (Page 43)

“Type carries a resonance with its intended audience – not only does it carry meaning through the content of the written words themselves, it also communicates through composition and the semiotic reading of type as image.” (Page 63)

“Designers have a responsibility to create work which is both accessible and understandable to its intended audience.” (Page 72)

“Barnes was interested in displaying alternative visual signs that demonstrated human intervention and the traces of its use as both a social and an architectural space.”(Page 72)

“The recognition that designed objects exist within a social structure, and are read by their receivers from a particular cultural perspective, is central to an understanding of audience-specific graphic design. While certain forms of graphic design may offer some claim to the modernist objectives of universality and mass communication, much contemporary design work operates within more limited boundaries. As such, a sense of familiarity with the graphic languages already understood by the target audience is crucial to the development of effective design solutions” (Page 121)

“Necessity, budget and the speed of production can play a major role in limiting the range of materials selected to complete a project.” (Page 147)

(Noble, I. and Bestley, R., 2004. Visual Research. Lausanne: Ava Publishing SA.)

All of these I have collected into a Word document of quotes for my Critical Report, of course using proper Harvard referencing).

Followup needed

  • Situationists and the Power of Maps by Denis Word
  • Swiss lingist “Language can be understood as a system of signs
  • Rubbish theory by Michael Thompson
  • Post structuralism and deconstruction
  • Derrida on Grammatology

Rhetoric of Neutrality

This is an example led piece that concludes that “Nothing is free of rhetoric, that visual manifestations emerge from particular historical circumstances, that ideological vacuums do not exist” (Page 29, JSTOR)

Kinross, R., 1985. The Rhetoric of Neutrality. Design Issues, [online] 2(2), p.18. Available at: <https://www.jstor.org/stable/1511415&gt; [Accessed 7 January 2021]. (Kinross, 1985)

Thinking about ethnography

I’m trying to think more out loud about the research methodologies I am employing, sometimes without realising, and sometimes without noting it. I’ve also faced some barriers with regards to Covid-19 restrictions and wanting to be safe, but also with deadlines this is the time that I want people to be able to going out exploring and reporting back to me, but they can’t. By analysing my own position, I hope to move forward with my plan and get others involved, somehow.

I am in Walthamstow, its own area of London that is well connected to the centre but far enough out to foster its own identity. I live here, and I am studying here, and this have been able to form my own impression of the area and its typographic environment. However, I am not integrated into the community by any means. My family does not reside here, and friends I have in the locale have been made through activities or employment completely separate to Walthamstow. This separation gives me the advantage of some degree of objectivity bevcause I am not embedded into one particular section of the community and can therefore see across them and over barriers.

That doesn’t mean that I am objective, by any means. I cannot be, and I need to be aware of being white, middle-class, mono-lingual and English within a multicultural community. I do have blindness that I need to overcome.

The disadvantages of me not being integrated into the community are that I have no established network through which to learn from or to spread the project through. This comes from internal and external factors. Internal factors include me not putting myself out there and being comfortable to make conversations that lead to conversations. External factors include that I moved to the area from a way away just as I started this course. Working full time and studying aren’t conducive to outside socialising at 60+ hours a week. Additionally, some opportunities such as zoom calls (important to my next point) have been at the same time as my course commitments. The Covid-19 outbreak has restricted groups and casual communication: people are far less likely to stop and talk to strangers considering that the virus is airborne. Opportunities to sit and chat to people in pubs, cafes and parks have also been reduced.

Virtual groups, for imnstance the Artillery Arts online group I went to, tend to be people all very much in the same boat as me (wanted to facilitate) rather than to join in, and also very similar to me socially. Efforts to contact volunteer and council services have gone answered, even with many prompts, because services have come under immense strain and jobs have been furloughed and people still in roles overstretched.

So … all these might seem like complaints but they are issues that have genuinely hindered the primary research of my project. How am I going to surmount them?

I noted (somewhere on the blog) about my conversation with Artillery Arts, a local arts facilitation company. This was in October, so post-lockdown 1.0 and life was opening up but infection numbers were rising again. They said that Zoom (and alike) meetings and sessions were initially very well attended, but as life pressures set in people dropped off and were less likely to engage this way. Zoom meetings do seem an easy way to go, but require a lot of effort, as I saw when attending Sarah Hyndmann’s TypeTasting sessions. They also attract people already interested in typography and I want to include people outside of that.

I’m still thinking how to make this work in this environment, and I need to go and do more research!

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