This assignment asks students to choose one or more texts of a total of no more than 100 words, and without altering the text, create a convincing typographic argument in any medium, guided by the principles of classical rhetoric. Tutor: Jason Grant.
Luke writes: “The ‘Little Children are Sacred’ report was commissioned by the Howard government to falsely justify the recent Aboriginal Intervention in the Northern Territory. This A2/three poster series is a typographic response to prevalent and pervasive government rhetoric, raising the possibility that the stolen generation is simply entering a secondary, continuing phase. It highlights the ever-present, destructive narrative of Australia’s relationship with its indigenous people, and visually references the alarmist, newspaper headline aesthetic of a (not-so) by-gone era.”
by Stephen Banham
There are many aspects to this piece that lend it a real graphic drama and presence – the striking condensed sans serif steadily fragmenting across the three panels enhanced by the stark use of a single colour (black). Although typographically clever in its reductive form (and brings a wry smile to the graphic designers of course), this poster goes a long way to highlight the inherent problem with this form of agitative graphic design language – what are we as the viewer to do with the design equivalent of the three second grab? Or to use the verbage of the marketer: “Where’s the call to action?’.
The main shortcoming of this competent and clever design is that the medium itself is undermining its functionality (a pivotal ingredient in design after all). Put simply, it’s just not being used to its greatest impact, and given the importance of the issue itself, this is a great shame. Perhaps this design idea may be far more effective as an online animation where the degrading of the type would not only come alive but the viewer could respond/sign/donate simply by clicking a URL etc.
In many ways this assignment explains why ‘graphic design’ has been widely re-branded as ‘communication design’ – where the choice of media is as important as the formal design elements themselves. After all, what use is some beautiful paper and a deep letterpress bite to an abused Aboriginal child? Luke has done a very good job of seeing the concealed typographic opportunities within the original statement to reduce the message to its powerful core, now all it needs is to transform from a clever but impotent piece of communication to one that will deliver on what I suspect was its original intention – to make the world just that little bit better.