dis•enchanted | Begum Gorgulicten

dis•enchanted examines the interconnected relations and the hidden notions around commodities through the lens of philosophy and critical design. Its focus is on self-consciousness.

The capitalist mode of consumption glorifies products through channels of media, trends and advertising methods such as manipulated images, distorted slogans, embellished store displays, saturated colours. This glorification manipulates consumers by casts an illusion—almost like an enchantment—over the true function of products, to serve consumers’ needs: it replaces reality with the false truths, actual needs with artificial ones and use-value with exchange value, thereby creating a state of hyperreality.

Distinguishing hyperreality from reality is possible by examining the steps in the evolution of the human-commodity relationship, beginning with the creation of an idea, its promotion, the commodification of that idea and the mass production of the resulting commodities and finally the sales of these commodities. After this project guides its viewers through all of the steps that are enumerated above, they will experience the stratification associated with the enchantment of human-commodity relation. Once they become aware of the enchantment of commodities and realize if and why they truly need these commodities, their enchantment will be broken and consumption will become conscious and free.

“Nothing is wholly obvious without becoming enigmatic. Reality itself is too obvious to be true.”                              -Jean Baudrillard

STEP 1:

Creation of an idea

The living room is the heart of a house, it is the place where everyone in the house spends time together or where one can host their loved ones. Thus, the living room creates an opportunity for its owners to showcase their most precious possessions, in other words to create their own spectacle. This is why I chose to create my art piece in the form of a living room, to make sure that its audience can create a relation between the artwork and their everyday life. However, the truth about the living room is hidden by the spectacle—the truth that it was created with the sole purpose of being commercialized—through its representation as a precious work of art.

STEP 2:

Promotion

An exhibition catalogue gathers the introductory descriptions about the critical apparatus behind the art pieces and their images, which are showcased during an exhibition. Thus, I used the exhibition catalogue as a way to legitimize the furniture pieces as a valuable collective art piece. In other words, I increased the value of the living room and promoted it through the exhibition catalogue. 

STEP 3:

Commodification

A t-shirt is a commodity that has a potential to be printed on and altered easily. This is why a t-shirt can be used as an advertising tool, a collateral of a brand, a fashion piece or simply as a cover for the body and so on.  I altered simple black t-shirts as representations of the commodification and as the decontextualization of the art piece. Through the t-shirts the art piece was commercialized and transformed from being an art piece into a commodity.

STEP 4:

Mass Production

In the digital age, online platforms are one of the easiest ways to commercialize and sell mass produced product, this is the reason why I created a website to sell the t-shirts. Since the aim of this project is not to encourage people to stop consuming but to question their everyday purchases and make conscious decisions, I set the pricing of the t-shirts in the mid range and make them economically accessible in order to allow a wide range of consumers to think about the dilemma between purchasing them or not. 

Thank you for your interest in my work!

If you would like to be a part of the discussion regarding dis•enchanted or to know more about my work, click the button below to visit my website.

begumgorgulicten.com

Objects That Talk! | Wan-Ya (Megan) Chen

Overview


Objects that Talk! is a print publication that is dedicated towards re-examining the souvenirs in our lives. How do everyday objects, practices, foods, and rituals become anchors for cultural histories — both personal and shared amongst a collective group of individuals?

By sourcing stories from the community, Objects That Talk! is a publication series that showcases how everyday diasporic objects can be reclaimed in a way to shape alternative ideas of cultural history and authenticity. With each newspaper taking on the form of an individual’s story, audience members are invited to read and collect the stories to take home.

Stories sourced from multiple people in the community. Many thanks to Alex Bloom, Carol Yin, Byron Camacho, Selena Ho, and Pablo Clairmont Salvatierra for taking the time to share their experiences with me!

Scroll down to the very bottom to read each story! 


Final Deliverables: Series of six 22″ x 17″ single sheet newspapers, RISO printed on newsprint and Canson 20lb paper, editions of 100

Creative Direction, Typography, Print & Publication Design, Copy Editing, RISO Print Production, Illustration

how can I employ design to share stories about cultural identity in a way that is reflective and representative of their complexity, humanity, and individuality?

Some objects in my life that inspired me to think about the nature behind everyday objects and the stories they tell.

(Left to right) a jar of tiger balm, lucky cat statue, and Taiwan’s famous ChiaTe Pineapple Shortcake

So what? 


Growing up, I remember being constantly annoyed and slightly embarrassed at how “Asian” I was…which led to me spending lots of time pushing away my heritage – so much so that by the time I became interested in reclaiming that part of my identity, I felt a bit hopeless, given the fact that I knew almost nothing about the Taiwanese part of myself. Was it too late? It felt like it was. Years of stubbornly refusing to pay attention in Chinese school had led to broken mandarin, which just widened the communication gap. Years of awkward teen angst also meant not wanting to talk to my parents – much less inquire and listen to their immigration stories. 

Which brings us here today. I was curious about this question of “is it too late? Because, if I’m being honest, it wasn’t like I knew absolutely nothing about my Taiwanese heritage. How had I come to possess these different fragments of my culture? As I began to dive deeper, I thought about how, growing up, and even today, I often associated the “Taiwanese” part of myself with certain practices, rituals, foods, and objects. 


As someone who has come to associate her cultural identity with certain objects and practices, I was curious to see if that was the case for others with hyphenated identities as well.


I also think about what it means to live in a country like Canada that is often touted as a multicultural ideal. While we are lucky in so many ways, it seems like national multiculturalism only values cultures as novelty acts, food in the ethnic aisle, and costumes on holidays, while skipping over the often turbulent history and unresolved narratives of lived experiences. In fact, we don’t often think of personal stories as a part of Canada’s history at all. Although often used as signifiers of our own alienation, perhaps everyday diasporic objects can be reclaimed in a way to shape alternative ideas of cultural history and authenticity.

Process


Large format newspapers gave me room to tell each person’s story (with the depth and detail I wanted), and also allowed for accessibility when it came to reaching a wider audience. By not creating a precious and expensive singular book object and instead opting for a lo-fi mass produced newspaper, I could print out multiple copies on a small budget and distribute them quickly — all without sacrificing any quality, since the RISO inks always turn out pigmented and bright.

Next Steps


Along with the newspapers themselves, I also printed some “extras” that would fold into each story. Below, you can see examples of what I eventually hope to produce for each story: large format reproductions of photos, illustrations, recipes, etc. will act as inserts to bring to life each featured object.


(Below, starting from the top) Illustration of tiger balm for Objects That Talk! Foreword, 8.5″ x 11″ poster

4-colour faux CMYK RISO print of my own family’s restaurant, an insert meant for Issue #5 of Objects That Talk! The Lucky Cat, 8.5″ x 11″

Hello there!


Megan Chen is a Communication Designer & Illustrator currently based in Vancouver, BC.

Her work includes print & publication design, illustration, creative direction, and type design. At the moment, she’s especially fond of collaborative projects that use design as a vehicle to examine cultural identity and social issues. 

She’s worked with The Health Design LabG Day for GirlsLunapadsImagine Create Media, and Contrast Collective.

megchen.com

u/s_as_(me)mes | Alex Westcott

u/s_as_(me)mes

This project further explores how we use written and visual rhetoric to articulate and perpetuate cultural identity within the context of a digital age. 

Introduction

To me as a communication designer but also as a person existing in the world, language is interesting. It’s at the heart of everything that we say, do, behave, think, perceive or interpretit’s important. Languageboth written and visualis inherently meaningful, and can be both influential and powerful. This project further explores how we use written and visual rhetoric to articulate and perpetuate cultural identity within the context of a digital age.

What's a Meme?

A meme is a unit of cultural information that can take the form of an idea, behaviour, or
phrase that is replicated and transmitted from one person to another through use of rhetoric.

What's rhetoric?

Rhetoric is the art of persuasive speaking or writing and can be used as a tool to investigate the ways in which visual or written language is used to form identity.

Why am I doing this?

During a deeper investigation of communication and language within the conditions of digital Western society, the meme as a mode of communicating cultural information came up in casual conversation with a studio mate. The meme came into the discussion jokingly, but eventually became the focus of this project. It has been said that culture can be reconstituted through language by means of communication, perpetuation and transmission, and the meme seemed a compelling, current example of that idea in action. 

The research began with drawing upon the potential parallels between the Internet meme, politics, propaganda, and pedagogy and the roles they play in mobilizing cultural information. While memes can be light and funny and enjoyable, there is substantial precedence to suggest that they are far more than that. They are rhetorical and cultural texts that can have problematic social or political implications, and we should take them more seriously.

All internet memes have several distinguishing features, regardless of their format...

Feature one

The first is distinct recognizability. The transmission of memes online is of a higher quality and accuracy in its derision because digitization enables lossless transfers of information.

Feature two

The second is longevity which refers to the reality that information can be stored indefinitely in numerous archives in digital space. So a meme once put online will be transmitted between users in high fidelity, quickly circulated in other places on the Internet but not at your discretion: when you delete the original, it’s never really gone.

Feature three

The third is replicability. The number of memetic derivatives made within a unit of time is increased because the Internet facilitates effortless and speedy diffusion of content.

TECHNOLOGY & THE DIGITAL REALM OF THE INTERNET

Memes have become a large part of cultural discourse. 

Based on the meme’s original, pre-internet definition as being an agent of cultural transmission and unit of cultural inheritance, it could have been almost anything. In the early 70s a meme was a book, or a song, or something like religion and legal policy. Not pictures of cats saying things.

Scholars in the field of communication considered memes largely irrelevant prior to the 21st century. Now that 59% of the global population actively uses the internet, the investigation of internet memes and their capabilities is becoming even more important.

DECIDING TO MAKE A BOOK

The form, why?

Throughout the process of this project, questioning the motivation behind making a book over perhaps another more digital form confronted me regularly by peers, mentors or savy outsiders—this was valuable feedback, especially given the subject matter of my work and it was taken into consideration on more than one occasion this year. So, why I’ve addressed the problem space in this way is a valid question.

In the simplest way possible, I decided to make a book because often the online world (which is very real) feels ever-changing, intangible and fleeting. This book contrasts the way we use written and visual rhetoric to articulate and perpetuate cultural identity or information in a digital age by existing in a physical form that is, only what it is. Chronicled in the form of a timeline, this book archives some of the ways that memes, from their “origin” in 1976 to January of 2020, have propagated or circulated themes of racism, sexism, homophobia, stereotyping and othering. Us As Memes documents some of the most long-standing and defining issues of human life since the very first differentiation of “us” and “them”.

Thanks for taking a look. :)

If you'd like to see my process work, or a digital copy of Us As Memes, as it has yet to be printed, please get in touch.


Pressed Ephemera | Christine Fwu

Pressed Ephemera

A Critical Look into “What Used to Be”

Pressed Ephemera examines the intention, meaning, and care behind printed precedents. It is a research and process based project that begins with an exploration of how history has affected the ideals and aesthetics of print design in each time period. The project then moves into the most meaningful and important aspect: the making & the experience. In order to capture the limitations of the past, I went on a journey of following old processes. Each period and its printing method has been meticulously researched, explored, and printed with different materials. The results are a series of intriguing and handmade ephemera.

View the presentation here.

View the process book here.

View the journal here.

The final project piece are two Pressed Ephemera metal stamps that I made for the foil stamping process! This logomark can be used on cards, and it would be used on the cover of my process book.

In this project page, I will take you through Ikigai Exercises that led me into my project, to creating Printed History pieces that take on the design styles of each period, and the Old Processes that show my process and experience of making. Then finally, the final Multimedia Posters and Process Pieces & Tags are displayed. The Postcards at the end are takeways for the project that give a sneak peak into the design styles and experiences of making from the multimedia posters.

I hope you will enjoy diving back to a time when creation was well thought out, cared for, and meaningful. Hopefully you will find appreciation and curiosity in being immersed in all of the printed ephemera, as much as I did.

Print, Handmade Processes, Research & Process,
Typography, Creative Direction, Critical Design,
Exhibition Design, Experience Design

Core Typeface
— Adobe Jenson Pro: Robert Slimbach, based on Nicolas Jenson (1470)

metal stamps: magnesium die + aluminum block
foil stamper · assorted metallic foils


Ikigai Exercises

Below are four project exercises aimed at exploring my thesis idea and diving right into making generatively. Ikigai is also known as “the meaning of life”; if one succeeds in each of these four sectors then one would lead a fulfilled, rewarding, and valuable life as a whole. These mini projects helped me to to reflect on the value and importance of my project through making. Through these explorations, I became certain that I wanted to do this project.

What You Love

I really love flowers and my thesis looks into design styles of the past. So I made a floral Tetley tea box redesigned in old style.

Paper packaging was popular in the past as they could be reused and recycled. Tin packaging was also used abundantly as they could be kept around the house to hold other objects. For future explorations, I could create a stencil and paint on a tin can or box.

What You’re Good At

I am good at planning, organizing, and making calendars. For this exercise, I made a daily challenge calendar of design’s past with prompts everyday to explore this topic.

Using the form of an advent calendar, which was first made in Germany in 1851, everyday is an open door to a new challenge that was helping me to direct my research.

What The World Needs

When thinking about what the world needs, I realized that much of the general public lacks appreciation and curiosity. To generate more of this, I decided to create a little exhibition that includes a typewriter, old books and objects, and an interactive section with metal type and foil stamp samples.

I made a Retro & Vintage Night poster, along with tickets to this little event. I also made a Little Book of Oldstyle Designs to showcase design styles through periods of time.

What Makes You Money

For what can me money, I was thinking about how dissemination to a wider audience can get people to start seeing the value in old objects and ephemera.

The website mockup I have created includes the history of each of the periods, designed in the style of that time. It would also have a shop section where people could purchase old style objects and ephemera.


Printed History

These Printed History (digital laser prints) showcase the design styles and history of each period. My project timeline begins with the Renaissance period (1400–1600), through to the Enlightenment period (1700), and ends off with the Decorative Arts period (1800). Through my research, I looked into the printed forms that existed each period, designed in that context, and included its history as text for these printed pieces of ephemera.


Old Processes

The Old Processes (handmade prints) display the printed history pieces that are remade by hand through Letterpress & Etching, Silkscreen, and Cyanotype. Through my experience of making, I learned to take time and to think critically about each design decision I was making. I became more careful and thoughtful in my work throughout all of these processes.

Letterpress & Etching · Process

Silkscreen · Process

Cyanotype · Process


Posters & Process Pieces + Tags

These multimedia posters invite you to interact and engage with each period and their handmade prints! The process pieces + tags will take you through numerous iterations, and they embrace the imperfections that are a result of these handmade processes.

Note: Many other print processes exist in each of these periods, but these are the ones I have chosen due to accessibility and my interest.

digital prints: colour laser prints
handmade prints: letterpress & etching, silkscreen, cyanotype

Multimedia Posters

Process Pieces & Tags · Letterpress & Etching

Process Pieces & Tags · Silkscreen

Process Pieces & Tags · Cyanotype


Postcard Takeaways

These postcards are the takeaways at my exhibition. The portrait ones with Design Style talk about type and how aesthetics were affected by history and ideals of the time. On the other hand, the landscape ones with Old Processes
talk about the making process with each of the printing methods.

Christine Fwu


I am a communication designer with a focus in print & publication design, visual identity, creative direction, and typography. I am driven by the generative process of design, its multifaceted nature, and the meaningful conversations that are produced from it.

My interest lies in leveraging critical thinking and history to inform my practice and design. The intrinsic meaning and beauty in handmade processes intrigue me and I am always looking for opportunities to integrate them into my ideation and production. In creating purposeful designs and systems, I enjoy using story-telling and co-design methods for engagement and collaboration.