Nami-newproject proposal

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Why do you want to make?

As someone who has been studying Graphic design and working with it, I’ve been striving to find a way to be financially independent, not leaving the design industry. I am pretty much convinced that I position myself as a graphic designer, especially a web publisher, and will be working in the mainstream design industry.
It’s not hard for me to imagine most of my future tasks will be likely to embody websites with certain styles of aesthetic, formats, and functions, which are given by clients for obvious commercial purposes. From a realistic point of view, most of these works wouldn't offer me space for innovative and challenging design approaches.
But then I am, and will be, one of the designers feeling sorry about the repetitions of all the identical websites. It's quite obvious that certain types of flat and conventional design languages are dominating the commercial design practice. And I wonder how I will deal with(adjust) my vague reluctance to the standardised visual culture while working there. Thus my project will be an exploration of adjusting my stance as a web designer, handling a dilemma between my regrets about the lack of diversity in web today and the demands of the industry.
I believe this project will be a crucial process to help myself navigate my future career with balanced attitudes.

What and how do you want to make?

I expect ulmimate outcomes of my project will be a participatory workshop, accompanying an archival website which I document my exploration around my research.
The Target audiences of the workshop will be web designers and developers in the industry, sharing a similar feeling with me.
The idea of the activity at the (final graduation) workshop isn't yet sharp.
But I'm thinking that I firstly will open a few small workshops to get insight how I (and people like me) can deal with prejudgements or reluctance about the conventional visual cultures in the web market.
Throughout the small workshops, I will be creating a toolkit (or a pallete) of ui/ux elements. Which could slightly help web designers ease frustrations in their practices. At the final workshop, this toolkit will be tested, implemented, and discussed.

    Desk research: Reading
  • Collecting commercial website examples that I've been observed
  • Analysing their layouts (, which will be mostly shown with images that I make)
  • Looking into small graphic elements in the web: ex) Icons, the shape of profile picture, effects when clicking a menu, etc, and how do designers and developers perceive this?
  • To understand the roots of uniformity of the web culture: research about template market + CMS + Material Design(Webdesign guideline by Google)
  • Reading UI/UX/graphic design research in the web context (e.g. https://uxmovement.com/content/why-circular-profile-pictures-accentuate-faces/)


    Field research: Interviewing experts in the industry and testing through small workshops

    1) Interview designers and developers in the industry

  • How's a practical process of their works (structure of the company, tools they use...), their perceptions of it?
  • In which way do they refer design/technical frameworks?
  • How are css/javascript frameworks helpful/frustrative for them?
  • How do they deal with their personal desires in design practive and granted tasks?
  • Have they ever felt some burn out in the industry? If so why? And how did they manage the stress?

  • 2) Workshops

  • WORKSHOP #1. (04 Dec 2021) Opened an online workshop to discuss the culture of current commercial web design culture.
    I give participants a list of websites then let them explore/observe for 20 minutes. They take notes at a pad: [1]
    Then we discuss all the observations. If time allows, participants will put their thoughts into a few Boostrap HTML layouts. <-(This HTML making activity didn't happen due to the time limit. But the discussion itself was super fruitful!!!)

  • >WORKSHOP #2. If you can make small changes? (In the end of Jan 2022)
    Let’s see if ‘making a small/subtle change to the common graphic elements’ could give us (me + designers feeling the same with me) fresh impressions on the web culture today.
    Create a palette with what they made.

  • >WORKSHOP #3. Collage experiment (In the mid of Feb 2022)
    Curious if web designers can make something a little more interesting web pages, sticking to the conventional graphic ui/ux elements. Let’s see what I and people (graphic designers + gd students) could make by collaging the common visual elements.

  • >WORKSHOP #4. Discussion session
    Invite the participants for the workshop #2 & #3 and discuss how they could balance between accessible(easy) design and experimental design


Throughout these activities, the activity at the final workshop will be shaped.
The archival web will play a role of documentation as a conjunctive context of how my research fragments are placed.
It will be a good format for me to see how each research process will be mapped out to each other.

A few examples of archival websites are displayed below.

Example of archival web from Soyunparrrk.com
Example of archival web from Soyunparrrk.com
Example of archival web from nweb.club
Example of archival web from studio-otto.com




Timeline

Oct 2021˜ Dec 2021:

  • Investigating the connection between Flat design motto and the web industry market
  • Collecting examples of the identicalweb design I have meant (also mobile layouts)

  • Nov 2021 - Dec 2021

  • E-mailing to designers and developers that I'd like to interview
  • Start interviewing them! (At least three people!)
    So far my interviewees list : Francesco from XPUB1, Thomas Waalskaar (XPUB alumni, media researcher, graphic designer),Julia Luteijn (A net artist), Sander Sturing (a developer in Studio Dumbar)
  • Testing out my workshop idea (Clumsy code) in collective XPUB2 workshop

  • Nov 2021 - Mar 2021

  • Keep e-mailing to designers and developers that I'd like to interview
  • Dec 2021

  • Experiment how I can document my research materials on web context
    (How photos, voice records, films, will be placed in the web context in a meaningful way? need some advice)
  • The workshop#1 (Already done! https://pad.xpub.nl/p/041221_workshop)
  • Start building up the archive (sketching the potential outcome)
  • Start writing thesis for real

  • Nov 2021 ~ April 2022

  • Interviewing web designers

  • Jan 2022

  • Organising the workshop#2
  • Start the experiment to make toolkits from the workshop

  • Feb 2022 ˜

  • Organising the workshop#3
  • Keep creating the toolkit I aim

  • Feb 2022 ~ Mar 2022

  • Another test of the workshop with some implementation. (Encompassing both #2 and #3)
  • Keep creating the toolkit I aim

  • Apr 2022

  • Keep testing with another workshop with some implementation. (Encompassing both #2 and #3)
  • Have a mid-test session about the toolkit I will have made
  • Polishing thesis

  • May 2022˜

  • Finalising thesis
  • Finalising the archival website
  • Relation to my previous practice and a larger context

    My trajectory in XPUB can explain why I am particularly interested in the web context. The first year in the course was composed of making a collective publication each semester, called ‘Special Issue’. The mechanism of it was working, learning together then communicating with audiences as a group. The projects were created by collages of each student's interpret of subject matters. In the process of documenting my interpretation, I particularly enjoyed spreading my narratives into the ‘web’ format. Although I didn’t have advanced technical knowledge in HTML, CSS, and Javascript, I’ve been very charmed by various possibilities of aesthetics and tools.
    
This attraction in HTML world has inspired me to create my personal essay website called ‘TEXTYOURS[[2]]’ in March 2020.

    Textyours
    A project 'SAVIOR' in Textyours


    In the platform, I’ve been experimenting to create hand-made web pages with stories I wanted to talk about. Also, the stories are displayed in visual languages that I personally found relevant to the contents. 
The level of completion of the works is admittedly amateuristic from a professional perspective. Yet, for me this process has been a big part of my artistic statement as I feel great freedom and intimacy, unlike in other websites having similar aesthetics and moving systems under the name of professionalism.

    And this enjoyment has gradually triggered me critical questions:

  • 'Why am I bored in the web context today?'
  • ‘How could I balance myself between efficiency-orient approach and fun + creative desire, when working as a commercial designer in the future?’
  • These have naturally motivated me to look into the structure of the web design industry.

    And while doing pre-research for writing this proposal, I realised some professional designers(UI/UX, Graphic) have been also making some critical voices about the status quo. For instance, Boris Müller, a UI/UX designer and professor, keeps writing about the scarcity of diversity and creativity in the web design market.

    Web design today seems to be driven by technical and ideological constraints rather than creativity and ideas. Every page consists of containers in containers in containers; sometimes text, sometimes images. Nothing is truly designed, it’s simply assumed.

    Another relevant example is arguments made by Olia Lialina, a Net artist, theorist, experimental film and video critic, and curator. Through many writings and projects, she has expressed her regrets on the gradual disappearance of the personal webpage, which was used to be active in the past.

    Nor was there some sort of evolution or natural development that would make people stop building their personal websites. Professionalisation or faster Internet, which you could hear as reasons for amateur pages dying out, could have become the reasons for the opposite, for a brighter, rich and long tradition of people building their cyberhomes themselves.

    They have been making some critical voices about iterations of certain mechanisms in the practice. Thus my personal question can resonate with social context.

    Who can help you and how?

  • Boris Müller (Professor for Interaction Design at FH Postam, Graphic designer)
  • Many potential interviewees
  • XPUB Tutors: Manetta Berends and Michael Murtaugh (As for technical inputs and discourses)
  • XPUB Tutors: Marloes de Valk and Aymeric Mansoux (As for direction and structure of my research)
  • XPUB almuni: Silvio Lorruso, Thomas Karlberg Walskaar, Avital, etc
  • Bruno Setola (He is a teacher in an art academy and was a director at a studio where I did an internship. He is not a web designer, but has abundant working experiences in commercial field. He used to work in Studio Dumbar. He can connect me with some designers for my research.)
  • References / Bibliography

  • Joyce, C, and Blomley, H. (2020), nweb, nweb (http://nweb.club/)
  • Kim, N. (2020), SAVIOR, TEXTYOURS (http://textyours.world)
  • Lialina, O. (2020), From Me to My, Berlin, DE, Critical Interface (https://interfacecritique.net/book/olia-lialina-from-my-to-me/)
  • Lurroso, S. (Feb, 2021), The User Condition, the Lectorate Design of KABK (https://theusercondition.computer/)
  • Müller, B. (Sep, 2018a), Why Do All Websites Look the Same?, Modus (https://modus.medium.com/on-the-visual-weariness-of-the-web-8af1c969ce73)
  • Müller, B. (Nov, 2018b), Balancing Creativity and Usability, Medium (https://borism.medium.com/balancing-creativity-and-usability-9bb2cd0fe929)
  • Park, S. (2020), A Collective Booklet for Computational Women, SoyunPark (https://soyunparrrk.com/projects/computational_women)