From Heartfield to Metahaven (Graphic Design + Politics)

This lecture is about is about the link between graphic design and politics. How design effected by politics and how they works together.

For example the women’s suffrage movement, there are lots of poster which include politics content within the design. This national movement that began in 1872. Women were prohibited from voting in the UK.


John Heartfield

He is the pioneer that using art as a political weapon. Some of his photomontages were anti-Nazi and anti-fascist statements.
For example:

In the next 15 years, I will change the face…

For this poster, ‘Hurrah, die butter is finished!’ means ‘Hurray, the butter is finished!’.
This poster in response to goring remark that:
‘Guns will make us powerful, butter will only make us fat.’

The other politics designer is Kathe Kollwitz, she was a German painter, printmaker and sculptor. Her works show the society situation, such as the poster below.


Ludwig Hohlwein was a Germany poster artist as well. He was trained and practiced as an architect until 1906, when he switched to poster design.


El Lissitzky 1919, beat the white with the red wedge


Bauhaus, 1918 art and design school.

Swiss typography
Richard Paul Lohse, 1950, aurich artists in the Helmhaus poster.

Ken Garland is a British graphic designer
CND March poster

First thing: A manifesto

Mickey mouse in Vietnam- milton Glaser 1969.
Why pick mickey mouse?
It is because mickey mouse is a symbol of innocence, and represent America, of success and of idealism.

Otl Aicher, munich olympics poster



13 March
Defining ‘culture’
‘One of the two or three most complicated words in the English language’ because it is ‘used for I’m potent concepts in several distinct intellectual disciplines and in several distinct and incompatible systems of thought’. (William, 1983)

Culture is not something individual, is something in a society and community. ‘Culture’ combined thought, experiences, values and behaviours, concepts, and the developed assumption regarding life which affect our behaviour’ (Jandt 2012) – set of characteristics that unify a group of people.

Four categories: (British Culture)
Symbols – Royal family, flag, fish and chips, Big Bang
Rituals – Sunday roast, afternoon tea, Pancake day, Poppy day, pop culture, christmas, football
Values – Class system
Heroes – Shorlock Holmes, 007 James Bond

Subculture: A cultural group within a larger culture, often having beliefs or interests at variance with those of the larger culture.
A subculture functions like a culture, in that it is often generated by a relatively large number of members, and it represents the totality of their shared interests and beliefs. Subcultures exist within a dominant culture, and can be based on specific tastes, music , activities, values, class, ethnicity or geographic region.

Subculture can be defined by four elements:

Subcultural capital: judgement in a form of subcultural reading which determine involvement
Elements differing from mainstream culture:
-Fashion, clothing style, fabrics
-Hair, makeup, jewellery, accessories
-Mannerisms and language
-Aesthetic values

‘Moral panic’ eg, the free festival/ Rave subculture
Criminal Justice and public order act 1994

Revolt into style?
Recuperation a process (in mass media/ bourgeois society/ capitalism) in which a radical idea is absorbed, ‘ neutralised’ (removing the ‘radicalness’) and turned into something conventional.

How many subcultures can you name?
What are the important subcultures today?

Why do people join a subculture? If you have been part f a subculture, what drew you to it/ what made you leave?

Is style politically important?

Are there any significant points of resistance in our culture, or is consumer capitalism all there will now ever be?

Roland Barthes: The Death of the Author, March 06

Why is the author a copyist whose power is in combining different writing?
Author can’t be truly original.

Why is the meaning of the text closed down by giving it an author?
The text is henceforth written and read so that in it, on every level, the author absents himself.

Why is the reader better placed than the author to receive the multiplicity of writing?
The author brought something together. but for the reader, lots of them from different background, they get different meaning.

The author is a product and function of society. Whereas in primitive society, the performance of narrative is through a mediator figure. Modern society gives prestige to this figure as a person of genius.
Literary criticism identifies the text as the ordinary voice of the author centred in his personal history, e.g. in Van Gogh’s madness.
The writer is born at the same time as the text. There cannot not be an author who precedes or transcends his writing. He is within language. Author don’t invent language, they just using it.

The ‘text’ is a tissue of citation from many sources and the writer merely combines there. His expression draws on the ready mode, whose words can be explained (defined) only by other words.

The author is an attempt to impose a god over the full, potential meaning of the text. Refusing the ‘secret’ of the text is to liberate the counter-revolutionary activity of reading, historically denied its importance.

How does the digital ‘reader’ open this space?
It gives reader active power to do thing.

There is interaction between ‘me’ and the text, not the author.
The author figure has functioned to classify work in the likeness of the author. Traditional literary criticism understands the text through the author. Although meaning maybe encoded, it is the reader who completes the text through its interpretation.
-Personal reading can control the meaning
-The never-ending story
-The reader is the multiple
-Authorship and doctor who
-Affective dimension

‘Critical of Histories or design’ Feb 27,2014

‘Critical of Histories or design’
How you look about things in different way!

How many ways can an alien analyse an animated robot?

We usually have assumption when we look on a object, because we have knowledge.

You are always meticulously externally recording what you see, hear, touch, taste, feel.
Your internal memory systems are used in more imaginative ways.

Only know the history of Earth from Voyager 1, 1977 Sep 5
Golden Record

How to present earth when people know nothing about the earth.
As a graphic designer, how would you design something about the earth?

Robots of Brixton
Write about what you saw for 5 minutes
At first, I saw many robots walking around the street, like living as usual as human life. They shop, eat, and exercise. The whole place looks old, and there are different kinds of robots. The robots get along with human, so they can live together. Then, a robot sit down and putting a pipe into his mouth. The whole frame change, the robot now are in a place with lots of leaves, tree, which is like in a forest. Then he saw many news about human, the war, the bad news. After that, they are in the world again, and the war starts.
This is descriptive Research.

Fiona Banner

Reflection-in-action is concerned with practicing critically. So, a design student working with a client on a project is making in decision about ……
On the other hand, occurs after the activity has taken place when you are thinking about what you(others)did, …..

Know more about the film..
Shot by shot analysis
(It might help you remember the film)

Discuss the film with the people in 5 minutes

D.A.S – Describe, analyse situate

Book: How to be an explorer of the world – Kwei Smith

Methods of analysis:
Historical, sociological, marxism, gender studies, hermeneutics, ethnographic etc.
History of Bixton? History of robot?
Three examples of ways to understand the film
-Environment (Why the environment is still old if robot is presenting the future, why they choose a forest as an other sence)
-History (Why a war start suddenly?)

Modernism Jan 30

Modernity – possibility of changing ourselves.
Primary site of everyday modern experience.
(The city)
Urban growth
Paris(1853-1870) Haussman’s remodelling
It was redesigned to fulfil the demand of the city, and make more liveable place.
Modern street service makes the traffic goes better.

Photography is modernism in that period, the document, the changes.
Example: Charles Baudelaire 1863 (The painter of modern life)
He experiences the street.


Baudelaire’s flâneur, experience the contemporary
The flâneur was, first of all, a literary type from 19th century France essential to any picture of the streets of Paris. The word carried a set of rich associations: the man of leisure the idler, the urban explorer, the connoisseur of the street.
Think about the experience of city, such as visual and material aspect.

My feeling of London
Busy – People none stop working
Dull – People keep living in alone, staying their own phone

Modernisation and obsolescence
We were push by the reality, which keep us chaining and updating. Everyday ;ore register the process of modernisation as an incessant accumulation of debris.
(The latest version becomes last year’s model with increasing frequency.)

Walter Benjamin’s Ragpicker
Designates a practice and a person with  an uneasy modernity in everyday life.

Children didn’t find excitement of modern life.
(Consumer did little to satisfy the human needs for spontaneity, play and creativity.)

Henri Lefebvre, a French Marxist philosopher and sociologist
To let everyday life be a work of art! Let every technical means be employed for the transformation of everyday life.

Jan 16 CTS Photography

1826, first photography in the world.

1839, official first photography in the world.

One aspect of photography.

  1. Holder of something
  1. A device to stay still

1840s, because of the long exposure, need a clamp to stay still.
In older days, is hard to take photography, idea of stillness.
Invisible mother with deadline baby.

Feeling of taking one minutes photo,
Feeling tired, uncomfortable and awkward.

Describe what is happening in the next photograph.
Brarck Obama, David cameron and  Helle Thorning-Schmidt are taking selfies with his colleagues, in a meeting.

Michelle does not look amused.
Selfie in the funerals.

Susan sontag
Book- On Photography


1839, the first self-portrait.

What’s the different between self-portrait and selfie?
Self-portrait can be done in different way, like painting or taking photography. Selfie is kind of like taking photography in a casual way.

hamlet cigar photo booth

Reaction of images.
1. The boy looks sad, was like thing about something. Un-nartual lighting, seems like in the stage.
2. A man with lots of life experiences, acting on the stage, on the street.
3. The man looks confused and angry about what he is looking.
4. The woman is looking on the camera while everyone is looking at the other thing, and the woman is the emphasis point.
5. The man is the emphasis part in the photography.
All of those photography are taken in an unawares.

Philip-Lorca diCorcia. He doesn’t trust reality

Chris Marker