Let’s talk about images for a moment. I know we don’t do that on Tumblr. Perhaps because it’s just easier to drop and post, leaving the scene of the meme. However, it is important as message makers to discuss where images come from, why they are shared, by whom, and for what purpose. Now take these cover images for TIME magazine.
[Image: TIME Magazine cover for U.S. December 5, 2011 | Vol. 178 No. 22]
In the U.S. you are given ANXIETY in all caps, bold and black, taking hierarchy over even the magazine title. Then you have some cute cartoon on soft blue that’s supposed to represent the article title (which is misleading in it’s own right—Anxiety is good for us? *as long as we know how to use it?). ANXIETY and FEAR are powerful words to welcome you at the checkout line so you’re pulled in and then given some soothing news as they are actually ‘good for you’. Wholesome, right? Then what about Europe, Asia, South Pacific? The masked young man raising his arm to cross the M out (TIE?), to cross TIME out? In other parts of the world, anxiety looks quite the opposite of ‘good for us’ in that it actually is an anxious image, centered and ALL CAPS as well, albeit of a smaller proportion. The juxtaposition of the two covers calls into question the messaging Americans, citizens of a country created by revolution, are allowed to receive from veteran, so-called news organizations. You can talk about anxiety in America as if it’s a good thing during our own crisis, but you can’t show Egyptians fighting for freedom, equal rights, and a better society. It’s not really the parallels one could draw that are so dangerous to the establishment, it’s the idea that empathy for and solidarity with the Egyptian people, i.e. using our anxiety for change, would tug at the threads of our own controlling system which prevents us from progressing as a society that values truth and transparency. We’re buying the smiling illustration, a cartoonish distraction, and apparently a lottery ticket rather than a photograph that would tell us a great deal about what is happening in the world, in our TIME.
As designers and citizens, we are not beholden to the narrative of the mainstream and it is our duty to find ways to communicate around the apparatus that exploits and perpetuates a misinformed public.
[Image: TIME Magazine cover(s) for Europe, Asia, South Pacific. December 5, 2011 | Vol. 178 No. 22]
As our conditions of labour as cognitive workers have changed, morphed from the design studio to the atomised precarious freelancer, the ability to oversee a daring or critical design has been banished. Instead, we work as bees, each producing a tiny fragment of the whole. In this position as a worker, we cannot hold any critical control over the work we produce, just enact the formulations of other workers, the workers who piece together polls and focus groups, who brainstorm slogans or typefaces….
The dialogic image has become the weaponisation of ridicule; the designer has become a postfordist saboteur of the industrial process, and the ever-present spectre of sabotage as the unspoken clot of class-war clogs another artery of capital.
Interesting archive of underground Vietnam military patches pulled together by John Foster . These were not part of normal military uniforms but were made by the soldiers and sewn into the inside of hats and shirts. "They were secretly flashed to other members of the group or unit, but these patches were basically a private affair." [via John Foster, Design Observer]