Monday, November 29, 2010

Design Danger

Design should come with a warning: may sway user interests, views, purchasing habits, lifestyle or perception of the world. Humans as a general rule are visually oriented creatures thus empowering the beauty of good design and its capacity to create change. As many designers in the film Objectified expressed; it is important to operate with a social and economic and environmental conscious when designing objects especially those made for mass consumption. Culture and the constituents of culture are ever changing. Designers have a heavy impact on which direction this shift takes both aesthetically and conceptually and thus have a responsibility to society. However, not all designers are aware or, are conscious of but are not concerned with cognizant design. Propaganda posters are a prime example of designers who are aware of the power of visual stimulation and exploit it on behalf of the government or other special interest groups. Despite the seemingly harmless aim to rally support for a cause, which appears just; stereotypes and prejudices, are formed due to the target enemy of the propaganda posters. In the World War One American Propaganda poster above we see a monstrous Ape against a dark sky, city ruins, his mouth open and drooling and holding a threatening club while maintaining characteristics that link him to foreign German enemies. He is holding an obviously distressed lady liberty and stomping on the word “America”. The poster has only eight printed words yet is able to relay powerful messages. This single poster is not only encouraging enlistment but is facilitating war efforts through dehumanization and generalization and categorization of an entire country. Nowhere are the words "German" or "Germany" printed on the page but through small indicators such as the ape's helmet one can infer who the beast represents. Perhaps the designers of this poster were under the impression that they were simply carrying out their patriotic duty by creating an enlistment poster or perhaps they knew exactly what they were indoctrinating their viewers with. Regardless, design is dangerously misused and through a single image creates feelings of animosity towards an entire country.

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