Navegar na maionese > Surf the mayonnaise

We were asked to prepare and present three research ideas / questions in a mini pecha kucha (as if a standard pecha kucha wasn’t sadistic enough!). I’ve failed miserably keeping my ideas in 10 slides, even worse explaining them on 20 seconds per slide. On the bright side, I did manage to organize some of the loose concepts I had been working on, and present them as research possibilities for my quest to immortality.

Here is a reflection on what I’ve presented in class.

.
.


 ..

#1. Opening Titles
The main subjects of this presentation were the internet as a territory, and graphic translation as a research field. A screenshot of google translate seemed to be a good metaphor for introducing such ideas.

..
.MA_2.2_PECHAKUCHA_25-10-14

.
.
.

#2. Old devils
I felt like it was important to explain where I’m coming from. Having been through the process of submitting a research proposal before, it actually turned out quite useful to check which were my interests when I’ve wrote it three years ago.
Back in 2011 I was researching about the technological amplification of printed communication systems. This project was being developed under an internship at Atelier Martino&Jaña, and applied to the context of the 2012 European Capital of Culture in Guimarães. In other words, I was integrated in a team who was looking at the ways we can use digital technology to interact with the traditional print formats and materials, using it as a characteristic of the very own visual identity of the system developed to communicate the ECC’s programme and activities. In a time where QR codes were the standard to establish those links, we did develop an alternative technology to make those connections, and some very interesting interaction platforms. Sadly, there weren’t enough funds to implement it, and the whole project went back to the drawer.

..

MA_2.2_PECHAKUCHA_25-10-142

.
.
.

#3. Reversed Interests
When I’ve compared what I was developing back in 2011 to the things that interest me the most today, I’ve noticed that there has been a sort of inversion in the way I am motivated for research. I used to be interested in understanding how new media and technology can amplify and enhance traditional printed media, today I am much more excited about the ways printed media can actually traduce digital content.

..

MA_2.2_PECHAKUCHA_25-10-143

.
.
.

#4. The internet – Land of the free, home of the uncatalogable
The internet is a messy place. I love its openness and its spread. I also love its schizophrenic transmorphic nature. The amount of available data defies the immensity of the universe itself. But can we honestly say that it has never been so easy to access content as it is now on the web? Not even a monkey would question that. Though, I don’t believe the answer to be so black on white as it might seem on first glance. Yes, it is easy to find things on the internet. It is in fact so easy that we’re creating the idea that if something doesn’t exist online, it doesn’t exist at all. And it better be on the first page of google, because one can’t be hassled to spend more than a minute looking for it. We can easily find all sorts of things, from Shakespeare to pictures of people wearing christmas knits. It is so unbelievably easy to find things on the internet, that it actually gets hard to find what we’re really looking for. This could be a problem! However, I don’t believe it to be a simple matter of curation or content filtering, but more of a series of issues related to dimension, navigation and ultimately tangibility. Internet’s very own mutant structure makes things constantly change places. Beyond that, it constantly changes the way we access things. It is almost as if you have to drive back home on your daily commute and your place’s location changes everyday. Not only doesn’t its location stay fixed, so do the roads, traffic system and vehicles mutate with it. Sounds complex, it is in fact complex (a lot more than what I’ve described or can actually understand), yet people actually navigate through it effortlessly. That means we’re doing some incredibly good work with interfaces for the web. But what about content cataloguing? I wouldn’t take the risk of having to find where my home is located every single day..

..

MA_2.2_PECHAKUCHA_25-10-144

.
.
.

#5. I print, therefore I am
Keeping the focus on the internet as a territory, I’ve recently come across something that could only be invented by germans, and guess what, it is a word. “Internetausdrucker” is a term usually applied to people who can’t manage to read on the internet, or most accurately on screens, and therefore have to print a webpage’s contents in order to do so on paper. Despite being generically associated with a negative connotation, I’ve adopted this idea with great enthusiasm. Printing content is still our cultural benchmark for consuming information on a controlled interface. What these people are actually doing is intuitively getting contents from the internet and transforming them back to a form close to the one their most familiar with when it comes to reading, the book. One they can physically interact with, one that doesn’t change when they engage with it. This immediately started ringing a million bells in my head. I’m interested on the internet. Even more interest on printing the internet.

..

MA_2.2_PECHAKUCHA_25-10-145

.
.
.

#6 – 7. Digital Prints Wonderland
If printing the internet is the way to go, next thing to decide is what to print. Having a self diagnosed image junk addiction, I spend a lot of my online time wandering around heavy image deposits and platforms. From straight out graphic design inspiration blogs, to absolutely nonsense collections of bizarre photographs, I enjoy it all. The most endless, the merrier. In a way, I’ve always been fascinated and intrigued by the amount of effort people put into reuniting all these materials. If you consider flickr as an example, there is an endless number of individuals, groups and institutions, putting together the most amazing sets of printed materials from older times. And they have it all, from photographs, to matchboxes, playing cards to type specimens, calendars to vintage magazine ads and posters, it just never ends. This means some people are actually taking a lot of their time, scanning or photographing these things from its original physical existence, and freely share them across the internet. It’s insane! Plus, one of the things I have always enjoyed about these platforms for imagery sharing, is that people also upload bits and pieces from their personal lives. It is very common to find photographs of someone enjoying some good quality time at their Hawaiian vacation side by side with a set of etchings from the 18th century. Or their cats next to a set of scientific illustrations explaining the procedures for arm amputation in pre-victorian medicine (I actually just made that one up, but it isn’t as far fetched as it sounds). And this is lovely. This is exactly the sort of democracy the internet brings to its users. People don’t feel they need to have the formalism of a museum. Not everything needs to be catalogued and displayed with the rigour expected from a reputable institution. People don’t feel they have to follow a curatorial line of reasoning. They like and have access to these things, and they share them. Just as they share other personal aspects of their life. This lead me to the first research question.

..

MA_2.2_PECHAKUCHA_25-10-146 MA_2.2_PECHAKUCHA_25-10-147

.
.
.

#8. Research question #1

How can a specific online collection be sorted, catalogued and printed?
What sort of existence would this online collections have if they were printed? Can you make a catalogue from this archives? How would it work and what would it look like?

..

MA_2.2_PECHAKUCHA_25-10-148

.
.
.

#9. Dumb and dumber
Everyone loves stories from crazy clients. I remember reading one of those tales on Clients from Hell (or a similar website), where a client was complaining to the designer that he could just not see the animation of a banner he commissioned working when he printed the gif out. I got a big and loud laugh out of it, yet somehow I’ve kept the story stuck in my head. What if the client was right? What if we could really print gif animations? It should be possible with e-paper and similar technologies, but the idea of printing gifs on standard technology was something that kept surfacing into my drawer of questions to research.

..

MA_2.2_PECHAKUCHA_25-10-149

.
.
.

#10. Gifs make the world go around
Those who don’t like gifs should burn in hell. This isn’t on the bible, but it should be. Gifs are to the internet (and its humour) as the moustache was to Chaplin, or more appropriately, as captions are to silent movies, on a reversed mechanic. In a time where navigating on the web mostly means scrolling down, jumping from link to link, and fast reading a couple of headlines so you can scroll down again, gif animations stand out as a mean to grab one’s attention, and a way to display animated content without having to load an entire video. They have become one of the internet’s most valuable and used tools, and there are numerous websites dedicated exclusively to collecting or producing them. Are gifs worth analysing? I believe so. Would this be a proper presentation talking about gifs without showing some examples? Absolutely not.

A lot of gifs are self referential or explore internet jokes.

1_selfreferential

Some others are used to show significant historical events.

2_historical

Sometimes gifs are used as educational resources.

3_educational 4_educational 5_educational

Other times, gifs simply replicate animation clips.

6_loopanimations 7_loopanimations

Can be used to display artwork pieces.

8_artworkdisplay

Or to make fun of artwork pieces.

9_subvertculture

Mostly they’re used to make people laugh. And by doing that, Gifs are helping to build an archive of the internet’s collective memory.

10_collectivememory 11_collectivememory 12_collectivememory

But can they change media? Can we take them out of their ephemeral existence by transporting them into a different context?

13_placeinprinthistory

.
.
.

#11 – 12. Framing each frame 
To further pursue this idea, I’ve started a visual test by opening one gif on photoshop. There, each frame is allocated to a layer, and quite a lot of things change when you look at it this way. First, the overall pace of the animation heavily slows down. We do take a lot more time looking at each frame and comparing it to the one next to it. To my eyes, there even seems to exist a wider gap between frames, as the hands holding the paper sculpture appear to be making bigger position jumps between frames. Second, the action isn’t so understandable or the way we perceive it changes dramatically, probably due to the effect of reading it at a different speed. Third, you can’t miss the effect compression has on each frame. They affect the clean mood of the image when compared to the first frame (the one on the left, on its original size). A lot more exercises are due to be done to further test this format, yet this first attempt clearly reveals that your perception of a given animation changes when you change the media it is being reproduced at. This is not something new, nor even unexpected. It does however, provide clues for interesting ground to cover.

..

MA_2.2_PECHAKUCHA_25-10-1411

..

Another interesting aspect of breaking down contents of digital nature is looking at its physical characteristics. Each of these files has a format, size, resolution, bit rate and duration. The gif format is actually quite limited when it comes to color reproduction, limiting each frame to 256 RGB colours. These are all characteristics that can be very interesting to work with when you’re framing your research under visual translation. I quite like the look of the color tables for each frame, as can be seen below, and it definitely is something I’m going to start testing and experimenting with soon.

..

MA_2.2_PECHAKUCHA_25-10-1412

.
.
.

#13. Research question #2

How can GIFs be printed? Can you make a GIFs book? Does it make any sense?
How does the printing process affect their contents? Is there room to physically reproduce this declared digital format?

..

MA_2.2_PECHAKUCHA_25-10-1413

.
.
.

#14. Error 404

I haven’t really got a third research question.
At the time being, I hadn’t properly explored another path to the point of transforming it into a research question.
I do have some other interests that with further investment could prove themselves as proper possibilities for investigation.

..

MA_2.2_PECHAKUCHA_25-10-1414

.
.
.

#15. Pixel by Pixel  
This is really turning out to be a geek presentation. Internet, gifs, and now retro games and computer aesthetics. What can I say in my defense? I’m an 80’s kid! I grew up with these things! And I’m very nostalgic about 8-bit computer aesthetics! I used to spend a lot of time staring at the title screens of the games I used to play, and have quite enjoyed the environment you used to get immersed into when playing. Games used to be simple and rely on smart mechanics to make up for the poor graphic performance computers and consoles were able to output. Still, this is looking like a very long shot.

On the other end, computer interfaces seem to have more connections to the premises I am developing on the previous research questions. I keep thinking that nowadays we spend a huge amount of our time engaging with a computer, or any sort of smart digital technological device. Computers are todays interface for contents. Just as books used to be (an in my opinion, still keep a very significant role in todays time). A huge amount of research has been done into studying, cataloguing, analysing and recreating the book as an interface. I don’t feel quite the same amount of effort is being put into understanding how the visual environment we have been interacting with when it comes to using computers. In a way, breaking down operating system interfaces throughout time, analysing how their menus, windows, icons, scroll bars, buttons were designed, might look like a pertinent research exercise. One I still have to further investigate and formulate, yet one that could shape up into something quite exciting.

..

MA_2.2_PECHAKUCHA_25-10-1415

.
.
.

#16 – 17. Sweet smell of type in the morning  
Typography and lettering in movies and comics have probably been worked, re worked and even worked again when it comes to visual research. Still, I’m a graphic designer, I’m a visual consumer, and I obviously have a thing for display lettering. Finding a new angle to approach such subjects could provide an interesting topic for a theme filled with eye candy. Still, at the time being, it is an idea staying in the backstage.

..

MA_2.2_PECHAKUCHA_25-10-1416 MA_2.2_PECHAKUCHA_25-10-1417

Hello world!

If you’ve arrived to this blog, you probably clicked on the wrong button. From all the places on the internet you could have gone to, you did end up here. Now that’s some tough luck! If you are looking for good well written information on design research, there is plenty of it on the blender front page, and a whole universe of useful links. If you insist on reading further on, this is the place where I’ll regularly report the journey into getting my very own MA in communication trophy. Thinking, testing, writing and thinking all back again should pretty much be the way this place is going to work. Hopefully it will work out good. If you made it reading this far, you do deserve your very own trophy as well. Welcome to my MA in visual communication 2nd year web journal.

4001_1_large