Lecture for RMIT University as part of the Communication Design Studies lecture series
“This poster is a product of collective world-making, the sort of collectivity which moves every one of us, as individuals and as a culture, and is transformative.”—Avram Finkelstein.
At the invitation of Dr Nicola St John and with the support of Zenobia Ahmed and Nina Gibbes, I presented a lecture on graphic design as tool of queer protest, starting with the Act Up movement in the 1980s and veering wildly around from the origin and evolution of the pink triangle as signifier of queer struggles, to current day use of typeface design technologies as urgent archives of protest movements and moments; visiting with Guerilla Girls, Genderfail and more along the way.
Note: This lecture was updated in 2023 in collaboration with Courtney Bree.
Expanded publishing Advanced Communication Design MA program for RMIT University’s Communication Design MA programme
Making Known' was a 7-week programme, initiated in 2022, with the aim of involving students in a deepening investigation into how a publishing imprint for a Communication Design MA department might manifest. ¶ Expansive definitions of publishing were delved into, as well as the various commons and ecosystems publishing enables designers to inhabit. ¶ The result was a richly diverse series of publication proposals ranging from: a thermal-printed print publication, sealed in a tin, designed to fade over time on the theme of impermanence; a wilfully diverse series of pamphlets exploring feminist concerns through an exploration of formats surrounding the cookbook; a comprehensive annual publishing programme interspersed over the course of a year accumulating in an annual publication and archive and more.
“Communicating and Making Publics”
Expanded publishing report prepared for RMIT university’s Communication Design MA programme
A report on embedded publishing imprint within design academic study and institutional structures, including extensive research and examples of associated programmes around the globe. ¶ This was also an opportunity to capture positive developments in the field of exhibiting academic projects instigated by Covid restrictions. ¶ If you’re interested in reading a copy get in touch.
“Yaluk Langa: Designing on Country”
Way-finding and identity design sprint studio with Hiede Museum of Modern Art for RMIT University’s Communication Design MA programme
RMIT’s industry partnership programme can yield some suitably challenging briefs for Communication Design MA participants. ¶ In collaboration with Heide Museum of Modern Art, 1st year students were introduced—not only to wayfinding for cultural institutions—but also the sensitivities involved in addressing indigenous concerns against the backdrop of Australia’s damaging and pervasive colonial legacy. ¶ To help facilitate this, students were asked to address design and ‘othering’ via Ece Canli’s essay, ‘Master’s Tools, Monster’s Tools’ as featured in the Glossary of Undisciplined Design (Spector Books, 2021) as well as investigating indigenous definitions around ‘Country’ starting with Dr Danièle Hromek’s writings and projects. ¶ As well as presenting wayfinding proposal work to our client, a postcard series was produced and distributed via P.O.D. in response to the texts.
“Designing Distribution, Distributed Design”
Expanded publishing design sprint studio with RMIT’s ‘Art: History + Theory + Cultures’ program for RMIT University’s Communication Design MA programme
In conjunction with the RMIT Fine Art department—and working mostly online due to Covid protocols—Communication Design MA students were asked to come up with a digital first publication to replace a previous physical incarnation, compiling material produced by Fine Arts students over the course of a year. ¶ Because these essays would not be available until after the assignment had concluded, Communication Design MA participants did their own research into topics to be discussed within the publication in order to build bridges between individual Art and Design practices. ¶ Students were also tasked with forming ‘publishing houses’ in order to work together on their proposals, taking into account legacies around online and multi-media publications. ¶ This would lead to one ‘house’ being selected to continue the project once contributions were in. This group would go on to form a studio and take on further digital publication work.
“The Book to Come”
Expanded publishing design sprint studio for RMIT University’s Communication Design MA programme
A brief to create a format for an online ‘multi-media’ publication spurred investigations into exploded definitions around the publication, focusing on distribution as design tool or practise. ¶ This studio included a deep dive into the history and legacy of the book as a technology and speculative works looking at possible future evolutions. ¶ Communication Design MA participants were tasked with producing a proposal for a contemporary take on a ‘multi-media’ publication with one proposal selected by an external client to develop the project further.
“Writing on Air”
Workshop and radio programme with Zeniya Vreugdenhil.
Writing on Air took the form of a live discussion and workshop manifesting independent and combined research around the representation (and tangibility) of borders and the act of writing. ¶ Writing on Air was produced in collaboration with Zeniya Vreugdenhil with Pete Fung joining our ‘on air’ conversation. ¶ Both the broadcast and writing prompts workshop were included as part of the Design Academy Eindhoven 2020 Graduation Show programme and Moving in Stasis show held at Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam.
“Typography in/as Commons”
Experimental Typography Workshop studio program for RMIT University’s Communication Design MA programme
The Experimental Type Workshop is a studio-based programme for Communication Design MA participants at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. The programme has been hosted by a number of studio leads since its inception including Stuart Geddes, Vincent Chan and Fayen d'Evie. The programme also has the rare distinction, within Australia, of having helped develop the skills and careers of many super capable type designers currently working locally and internationally. ¶ During my semester as studio lead I challenged students to pay sharp attention to ‘typography in the commons’. Three overarching assignments were set, alongside a series of practical ‘in studio’ tasks that offered a variety of means to creating sets of practical letterforms. ¶ We began by ‘Identifying the Commons’—a physical commons was selected and an alphabet derived from the shapes and forms encountered there. These alphabets were then compiled into publications and made available during Melbourne’s Art Book Fair at NGV. ¶ For the 2nd assignment students were tasked with ‘Building a Commons’ around collective investigations. An experimental typography lexicon was produced and made available online via Are.na, along with a series of physical and digital publications based on this. ¶ The 3rd assignment, ‘Branding the Commons’ speculated on how unexpected commons utilised typography to help identify themselves. Participants chose to typographically brand a wide range of entities from online games to political parties to fictional works to web browsers, personal archives and more.