Oct 21, 2008

First Things First [First Exclamation]

Graphic designers and design theoreticians have spent the last thirty years trying to find a definition of the design profession. They have tried to discover the principles which would clearly distinguish professional designers from amateurs. They discussed licenses, a requirement of university education etc. Designers passionately discussed the question of authorship in design. As soon as the position of a designer was clearly defined, the designers now deliberately renounce it. They renounce something which they never really had – recognition of their profession. (…) today’s design is thirty years behind the theoretical literature. In the late 60s Roland Barthes and Michel Foucault redefined the function of a writer. Barthes’s quote: ‘the birth of the reader for the price of the author’s death’ contributed to the refutation of the popular myth that the author is also the owner of the text. The question is not ‘what the author wanted to say’ anymore but ‘what the work says’. We forget to have a look at what graphic design contains, but we look to see whether it contains that which we were promised by its creators. In this way the public is being deliberately fooled, and looses its natural active role. Therefore the designer is not the owner of the form but of the contents.
Peter Bilak, 1998