Closing remarks

This is my way of working: moving within and through the three methods discussed here — archives, multiplicity, and convergence — to address issues and topics that I am drawn to time and again in my work — memory, code, and the environment.

I understand this to be a response to our contemporary culture that is increasingly complex, and increasingly disconnected from both its environment and its past.
It is my attempt at giving both designers and readers a way of maneuvering through this new technological landscape. First, by making sure that we continue to extract meaningful narrative from the digital archives that are increasingly important in our lives. Second, by using the notion of multiplicity to engage with this complexity in ways that are accessible. And third, by bringing converging forms such as web sites, designed objects, and physical 
experience into conversation with each other in unique ways.

implications for teaching

My two semesters of teaching web design have strongly informed this method. One of the first assignments that I gave my students this past Wintersession was to build a set of pages that took the class on a tour through a space where they felt creative, encouraging them to use interface to suggest movement through physical space. Without realizing it, they were taking us on one path through an archive. This way of thinking allowed them to make decisions that were free of their preconceived ideas about existing web site navigation and design.

What would happen if I had them build two distinct paths through their workspace, 
and find a way of incorporating them into one web site? Can physical objects be 
incorporated as well?

I have come to see the topics of archive, multiplicity, and convergence as something that could evolve into a framework for teaching non-programmers how to engage with the complexity of web design, and how to incorporate technical training into 
a traditional design education.

implications for graphic design

Throughout this process, the one part of my thesis that remained in flux was the title. It began as Two Places at Once, and referred not only to my dependence on the internet to connect two places that were physically distant, but to my invesigation of the relationship between books and blogs.

Towards the end of my three years here, though, my ideas about design had expanded. I could identify with external debate about how the graphic design should relate to new media, and I participated in internal debates about whether graphic design should include things like participatory art and photography.

In response to these two things, I switched my title from Two Places at Once to Everywhere at Once. This thesis is my contribution to the debate about how our field relates to the world at large, and is a call for the various forms of graphic design — books, posters, and yes, web sites — to exist in balanced conversation with one another.

personal implications

I came to this MFA program with a background in both business analysis and web development, and the three years here have been a constant search for me to find the right mixture of these two components of my personality. How do you balance an analytical approach to things, while not losing the soul that comes from telling stories or making something by hand?

It has been a struggle to keep myself from getting too lost in the code during my time here. My curiosity for how things work has won the upper hand over typography and form countless times, and I have had to learn how to just put away the computer and trust the design skills I've acquired here.

This process is ongoing, but I feel like I have come closer to owning these dual 
identities of programmer and designer. I hope to keep both the tension and the synergy between them as I begin my design practice. Italo Calvino also felt concern with maintaining a balance between the encyclopedic, data-driven qualities of multiplicity, and 
the soul of his stories.

His words are a perfect conclusion to my study here:

But I would answer: who are 
we, who is each one of us, if not a 
combinatoria of experiences, 
information, books we have read, 
things imagined?
Each life is an encyclopedia, 
a library, an inventory of objects, 
a series of styles, and everything 
can be constantly shuffled and 
reordered in every way conceivable.

Italo Calvino

SIx Memos For The 
Next Millennium