Artifice, the semiosphere, and counter-consciousness (or) a model for a counter-design and design research

Joshua Singer


If we are to find a future in the practice of design (this paper limits itself to graphic design and design research) which aims to assist in the evolution of culture (as opposed to perpetuating the “closed” stabilizing system of culture and language, the persistent heterogeneity, conventions and givens), design might pivot (a designerly thing, as simple as to turn as a slight of hand or as a playful manipulation as in Détournement) to a critical and discursive practice of counter-design. Abandoning the territory of commercial practice for an experimental counter-practice, design becomes an active agent in the “open” system of culture and facilitates the adaptation and evolution of culture to new forms. While the call for new critical practices of design is nothing new, (Margolin 2003) there is a scarcity of models. This exploratory paper postulates a model, one of counter-graphic design constructed by theories of semiotic space, graphic design as a language of artifice, and transformative counterconsciousness.

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