Visualizing Guns Violence
At Rutgers University-Newark and within the Graphic Design Program, we offer two courses that focus on community-based (the Design Consortium) and research-oriented (Visual Means) activities. These classes are part of a larger initiative, and art incubator called Express Newark, where community and the university interact, collaborate and co-create.
In addition to the DC and VM courses, we offer an advanced design studio course that focuses on unique design applications through the use of the letterpress printing process, also located at Express Newark. This coming spring, I will be teaching the letterpress course, and in the following fall, I will teach the Visual Means course. Within both classes, I will be looking to develop different ways of visualizing gun violence.
Gun violence is one of the most critical and complex issues we currently face in the United States. Rutgers University has recently created the New Jersey’s Center on Gun Violence. The center’s mission looks to “conduct interdisciplinary research on the causes, consequences, and solutions to gun-related violence while respecting the rights of legal, safe gun ownership and use.” Within the Visual Means course, I plan to work with researchers from this center on developing ways of visualizing the complicated and overwhelming data disconnect between research and public understanding of gun rights, safety, and violence.
What I plan to do with this Learning Lab is to use it as a repository of images, concepts, facts, texts, and web-based information. In the coming months, I will develop a pedagogical approach that weaves together methods of research, visualization, and implementation into various applications of visual communication and graphic form. The Learning Lab will grow as our knowledge about this subject increases and while documenting our process of research, visualization, and implementation.
Step 1 - Learning Lab
We will use the Learning Lab as a repository for our impressions and image collections that show the different ways in which guns have been woven into the mythology of America and seen in our collective culture. Using different lenses such as art, film, photography, sculpture, advertising, satirical cartoons, comics, pop culture, propaganda, and protest, my students and I will attempt to take apart and reconstruct our understanding of the many issues surrounding this divisive topic.
Visualization and typographic experimentation
Step 2 - Weather Report
Dan Friedman, American, 1945–1995
While teaching at Yale University, Dan Friedman developed a teaching method that is still used in many schools today—the Weather Report. Through a series of detailed parameters, students will be asked to create different permutations that experiment with various interpretations and hierarchies. As students advance through this assignment, the limitations are slowly lifted, and students begin to generate solutions that are more and more expressive, dynamic, and experimental. Using this method, students will experiment with various hierarchies and typographic solutions—setting the stage for the letterpress printing process.
Step 3 - Letterpress process
Working with content generated from our research, relevant information, thought-provoking content, quotes, or statistics, students will explore various methods of experimenting with typographic structure and syntax. Using the Learning Lab, students will be exposed to the dynamic work of the Futurists, Constructivists, the Bauhaus, late Modernists, and the explosive typography of the New Wave designers.
Designers would include:
Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Italian, 1876–1944
The Futurists were known (amongst other things) for the emotive and expressive typography.
El Lissitzky, Russian, 1890–1941
Russian Constructivism who experimented with developing a universal language based on simple shapes and reductive color.
Ladislav Sutnar, Czechoslovakian, 1897–1976
Sutnar’s visual communication often explains complex information and concepts unambiguously and with a spartan efficiency. The Constructivist brought great structure and organization to their typographic messages through minimal means in an attempt to generate a universal visual vocabulary.
Herbert Bayer, Austrian, 1900–1985
Jan Tschichold, German, 1902–1974
Max Bill, German, 1908–1994
At the Bauhaus and through its influences, designers brought together various conceptual approaches to the organization and implementation of articulate typographic applications.
Alvin Lustig, American, 1915–1955
American designer Alvin Lustig (along with Paul Rand, Bradbury Thompson, Lester Beall, Ladislav Sutnar, and others) was instrumental in developing a mature, Modern approach inspired by Europe to American graphic design and typography.
Wolfgang Weingart, German, 1941–
Teaches at the Basel School of Design and separating himself from some of Late Modernist’s more restrictive characteristics while redefining for himself an expressive typographic approach through experimentation and practice.
April Greiman, American, 1948–
Inspired by Armin Hofmann and Wolfgang Weingart and her experiences in Europe at the Basel School of Design, Greiman brought a fresh and unique perspective to graphic design within the United States.
Bruce Licher, American, 1958–
American typographer and letterpress designer that works within the traditions of letterpress printing while pushing the edges of typography, unique form, and graphic design applications.
Professor Ned Drew
Graphic Design Faculty
Founding Director of The Design Consortium & XPress | Center for Typography initiatives at Express Newark
Read More »