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Spring 2021 ︎︎︎ SUNY Purchase ︎︎︎ (DES4100) Community Design

What is Community?


So we’ve talked about community and family in fiction, in more “nefarious” groups in reality, and now we’ll look at more aspirational groups in reality. 

It may be evident there’s definitely a sub-theme of technology. I grouped these chronologically to create some version of a narrative. My thought was the more monolithic Bell Labs’s attempt at creating an initiative to collaborate with artists (it looks like E.A.T. is still around but the “9 Evenings” event in 1966 is to my knowledge some of their most well known output.

From their we transition to a more democratized world of technology in the 1980’s and early 1990’s with id Software. Id changed the way that software was distributed, as well as made some pretty amazing leaps forward in gaming on a technological level. It’s kind of amazing to see this happen while they are all just, kinda hanging out in a relatively small office space. That being said, they are pretty strong proponents of “brogramming” and perpetuating (whether intentionally or not) an image of gaming culture that was largely centered around mostly white males.

After that we end on Black Girls Code an initiative to help change representation in engineering which I think is super great. I also think it is probably more important and worthwhile than some of the technological components we see in the previous sections.

Required Viewings

E.A.T. (Experiments in Art & Technology)︎ The above link goes to their wikipedia page. The talk below is ~1 hour, and is relatively dry, though I think withstands speeding up pretty well if you need. The other video is a ~3 minute trailer for the DVD for the “9 Evenings” series of performances. 

id Software︎ The above again, links to their Wikipedia page. id Software is known for the seminal game Doom which along with Wolfenstein 3D popularized the FPS genre. While that content may not appeal to you their work is an exponent of the democratization of personal computing technology. The first video is an ~1 hour “TV style” documentary and the second video is ~30 minute video showing what it was like there. That latter one is, to my mind, more amenable to skimming through but should not be the worst watch.

Black Girls Code︎This is a great initiave that I heard about through Adafruit. I think this is super important and I think worthwhile that important conversations in technology are partlynot about the underlying technology but now about representation within those spaces and who determines the algorithms. The videos are a ~15 minute TED Talk and ~8 minute mini documentary.

Questions to think about

    • How do these groups differ from the previous ones we looked at? (both “real” ones in pt.2 and “fictional” ones in pt.1)
    • How are they similar?
    • Is it harder to “parse” this content when it is not centered around a central leader or leaders (i.e. a “cult of personality” in relation to pt.2)?
    • Do you see a relationship between companies like id Software and groups like Emigre on a technological level?
    • How do you see the role of technology ( “digital” or “analog”) in your day-to-day designing of graphics? 
    • Have you seen that role change since you’ve been in highschool? Your time at Purchase?
    • Do you see your relationship to technology as a solitary one? A collaborative one?

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