Visual Order Image:
The completion of the three tasks gave us an idea, how the three variables - distance, value and scale, affect the word relationships of 'away from' (far) and 'near to' (close) in a given format. All the variables were trying to create 'emphasis' (a principle of design) for each word, against the posed questions in their respective groups.
'Emphasis indicates the most important element on the page based on the message one wants to communicate. It could be said as the element which stands out and gets noticed first. The most emphasized visual element in design is called the focal point, because it attracts the viewer’s attention first'. (Resnick, 2003)*.
Therefore, we understand that emphasis creates an order of importance for the content (information). Every information that has to be communicated will usually have an order of importance (in the hierarchy of the content or the context to which it relates). It could also be defined as the starting point or the reference point to begin, within each chunk of information. Moreover, when information needs persuasion this visual hierarchy becomes much more crucial. As graphic designers, we create these hierarchies in given contextual constraints to ease retrieval of information for the user. This hierarchy is achieved by employing elements and principles of design to one’s advantage.
a. Employ line (an element of design) in the background of your solution, in high key, to emphasize your name. Use the line to enhance "maximum" perception of distance. Your use of line should not disturb readability and legibility of the solution. Clue - Attempt to alter the topology of white space to visualize depth.
b. Create emphasis for your 'Name' using the variable distance, you are not allowed to change the font. Only variable of distance can be altered to your advantage. Questions to be answered will be the same.
c. Fill the whole background with 100% (k) black and try to emphasize your name. (You are allowed to use all three variables to achieve your solution, but you are not allowed to change the font). Questions to be answered will remain the same.
*Elizabeth Resnick, Design for Communication, Conceptual Graphic Design Basics
John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Pg. 24, 2003. ISBN- O 471 41829 3.
• 4a Solution:
4a Feedback Image:
What is distance?
Distance is the relation of two elements with each other or with relation of one to the other in the context of reference points (to begin with) being different.
The figure above is an excellent solution which enhances the perception of distance. It would have been nice to see the enhancement to its maximum extent as defined in the objective. Rather than trying to increase the distance in the two dimensional plane formed by these words this solution introduces a new dimension in the whole background with the orientation of these concentric rings which till now had been just flat white space. If orientation had been given importance then the words would have flown in accordance with the concentric rings, further emphasizing Kshitij. This leads us to another quest. Are distance and depth interrelated?
• 4b Solution - Part 1:
The direction of reading is a visual habit that strongly influences perception. In due course of time this habit becomes stronger because of the experience of reading. It deeply imprints itself upon on our visual behaviour. It guides our eyes not only when reading, but also influences the pattern of our attention while looking at pictures. (Zwimpfer, 2001).
The solution provided in the (figure below) is poles apart. The subject has plotted an imaginary horizontal axis across the format with relation to his name assuming that the user would identify this axis to retrieve answers from the designed solution. Even if this is considered true, assuming the subject’s point of view, the relationship between the three words birthday, birth date, and death has altered, compared to his solution in task1. Apart from this it may be difficult for the user to immediately perceive the imaginary axis visualized by the subject.
Overall, this seems a promising solution and an innovative approach compared to other obvious solutions. The word ‘Kshitij’ could have been emphasized even more if it divided the white above and below unequally (i.e., pushing the word ‘Kshitij’ upwards). We also notice that with respect to solution in task 1 the word birthday was closer to his name than the words birthrate and death. This relationship has changed in this solution.
• 4b Solution - Part 2:
Why alternatives are not explored where the distance could have been less yet far off and distance could be more and yet too close? We need innovation in solutions. Why orientations and scales are not used to advantage? Why value of mother and father is the same contradicting your previous solutions?
• 4c Solution - Part 2:
The objective of this task was to answer the questions in relation to 'kshitij. This makes us wonder as to why gradation was not used effectively to orient the variables of scale and value to a curvy linear path which leads to the word 'Kshitij'. This solution, then could have resulted into a sparkle effect, using all the variables to converge into a single focal point. This would have also negated the need to increase the scale 'Kshitij' to such an extent; instead it could have been smaller and yet more emphasized.
Repetition creates interest. The purpose of emphasizing the word 'Kshitij has been achieved. What purpose does this linear gradation serve? Does the linear nature of gradation answer the questions relating to the words better or it is just meant to create interest?.
Task 4 assigned three tasks to be completed- a, b and c. Each task has its own objective. In tasks on value and scale variable, the topology of white space went unexplored, so the task 4a sets the constraint of adding lines in the background, in high key to maximize the perception of distance (in order to make students experience it).
Although solutions were not so satisfactory, one of the solution from a student fulfills the desired objective. He had not maximized the perception of distance to its fullest extent, but had introduced a new dimension of depth. Concentric circles in a three dimensional plane is a solution to enhance the depth to its maximum. Concentric rings and radiating lines were created to enhance emphasis, but could not create maximum depth. If they had been more in number, it could have enhanced the solution and guided user in better visual judgments. Introduction of background to affect perception of these elements on a two dimensional plane was the main objective of this task.
In task 4b1 the aim was to introduce- emphasis, using space. The constraint of distance as a variable was kept constant and the subject was told to emphasize the central word.
Task 4c has reversed the background. This results in a different manner of creating emphasis and perception which till now had been explored only on an empty, white space. One needs to explore freely, in order to use all the variables to their fullest potential.
• Reasoning and Meta-Reasoning:
Amount of time spent to achieve a solution with the help of software is translated by the student into effort. Problem lies in distribution of time spent on the effort, i.e. (struggling with the software) vs the time spent towards thinking about the task.
After a long pause… I commented to a student work. That’s an obvious solution. The student replied obvious? But… I did fulfill the criteria of your assignment. What do you mean by obvious?
• What’s very obvious for all of us?
(Apart from the given assignment) May be what we have learnt previously that is very obvious, or when we throw up a ball it comes down. It’s obvious. Sunrise and sunset is obvious. Yes…? So, of which result is known is obvious?
But when obvious concludes as the result of the given problem, is it boring? Yes Maybe! Why? As it’s repetitive. So repetition is not interesting.
• Ok, let’s put it this way:
Repetitive here states that the conceptual model is clear, there are no new challenges to be encountered for a mind to search for or even to create interest about the situation, unless the same (obvious) situation becomes an exception in a particular context. For example: sunset though obvious also becomes visually interesting. The support of so many variables, (colour, arrangement of clouds created by the winds, grey scales hues and saturations) acting together in a unique fashion to create a (whole) sunset for that particular time of the day to make it an interesting and as an event obvious because it is repetitive. The act is same, representation differs.
The instructor said, “your solution was obvious, generate more alternatives for the same solution”. Student is frustrated, because he has completed the task based on the assignment criteria, which when fulfilled, the assignment is over. The student thinks what else the instructor wants from him to be explored?
• If we think this situation as a problem, where does the problem lie?
In problem solving one always assumes certain boundaries. Such boundaries make it much easier to solve the problem by reducing the area within which the problem solving has to take place. Close ended assignments are therefore well accepted by students, but the problem is that these assignments create limits that are self imposed, hindering explorations. Moreover they are imposed on no stronger grounds than that of personal convenience.
• So now what to do?
I can say generate more alternatives, but just to say generate three more alternatives does not suffice the urge to explore.
Visual investigations ( urge to explore) in most of the solutions related to graphic design problems, neither lie on the scale of very high order , which can be termed as obvious, nor on the creation of maximum chaos ( with exceptions). These are generally plotted between these two extremes. Therefore instead of saying generate three more alternatives, which at times is confusing for a student landing him into a junction of crossroads, where it is difficult for him to decide which path to take for directions. But if one says generate two solutions to a given problem, one very obvious and other not so obvious…
Sounds interesting as a thought to be experimented with.
• For Example:
A student might start generating a solution which is very obvious, based on the given criteria. For example, if one has to create a predefined visual order with written text as a material to explore, he would use the variables value and scale to generate the that visual order through type (from dark to light and big to small) which might lead into an obvious solution. Because everyone in the class would apply same approach for the solution (high order). A not so obvious solution on the other hand might result into a chaos. Why? As a not so obvious solution will be based on the reference of the obvious solution.
• But then how will we benefit from this?
See, in both the cases the instructor can easily explain the student that the student has to generate a third solution that lies between high order and chaos.( obvious and not so obvious). But in that case there is still a question to be answered, suppose, if someone generates a solution which lies between these two? Accepted, well and good that will serve as an example of exploration. One more query? Who decides what is the solution, obvious, not so obvious or in between, is it not subjective. Yes, this problem can occur, but the instructor has to take a call because he has decided the learning outcome of the planned task.
The answer lies in asking a question, rather than saying just generate three alternatives to your solution.
One can say generate an obvious and not a so obvious solution. It becomes a comfortable task for a vertical thinker because he lies on the scale of good and bad and gets criteria for exploration by definition of boundaries.
Arguable statements occur in tasks which include explorations. Arguable statements are usually created by exploratory assignments because they lack contexts. Such statements find themselves difficult to reach an agreement and if by chance they reach one they create win or lose situations between the instructor and student , which can never be conducive to learning.
• References and Foot-Notes:
1For the first time the change in orientation was experimented by one of the nine students, all working on the same problem. Due to this an added element of persuasion in the solution was noticed. The student had managed to uncover a solution that actually lay between the scale of high order and high chaos, balance itself to stand out amongst rest of the solutions. This solution had challenged other student’s complacency in executing their solutions, beyond mere accomplishment of the given criteria.
Exploration can only result out of passion and constructive arguments.
(Edward De bono, Lateral thinking : creativity step by step, challenging assumptions. Pg. 93)