06 September, 2014

Ulrike Felsing - Dynamic Identities in Cultural and Public Contexts

Last week’s posts about Karl Gerstner reminded me of this book. Dynamic Identities in Cultural and Public Contexts (2010) is less of a design book, and more of an academic research paper on dynamic logo design, in which the author categorizes the different qualities of computational and generative identities.

I see a clear line to Karl Gerstner’s work on modular design systems, and many of his design products could have been featured in this book. Although the book has many real-world design examples, I find the quality of them a bit lacking. This could be because the field of generative design often leans more towards trends and technical ambitions than actual good design. I show some of that work in my lecture on dynamic logos (although that link mostly has notes for myself).

One of the more interesting logos in the book is the visual identity for Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. I had the chance to see it in person during last year’s Eyeo Festival, and it’s quite interesting. The logo is built around the custom Walker typeface created for the center in 1995, and a custom piece of software that generates these word collages. Every character in the alphabet is mapped to a word (d is design, e is exhibitions, etc), and a new visual can quickly be generated by pressing a few keys on a keyboard. The horizontal structure of the identity is also perfect for leading visitors through the hallways of the building.

In a field where critical thinking is often neglected (“Hey look, I splattered a canvas with an algorithm!”), I welcome this book with open arms.