Gilbert would like to apologize to any graphic designers who were offended by their previous video. To make amends, this companion piece does not feature any dead graphic designers. At least not until the end. The tragic end. No, sincerely, this is a love letter to graphic design. Gilbert fondly remembers the first time that they opened a pack of Magic cards, Lord of the Rings edition. Full-colour printed, spot-gloss varnished, with gold foil-blocking and perfectly rounded corners, sliding out of that ethereal, weightless sleeve. The intricate interplay of photography, illustration, and typography. What alchemy could have produced this? It was entrancing, like something one should only be able to handle in a dream. And the sweet smell! The intoxicating air of the factory, and the machines. The big machines. The awesome machines, pounding out their irresistible rhythm down there amidst the fires of Isengard… Gilbert, wake up!
Let’s be real, the awkward thing about graphic design right now is that just as it’s having its moment — transcending its historical substrates, machine-learning its fiddly manoeuvres — the credibility of its whole project is collapsing. MFs in the valley be like big things are coming, but it’s just graphic design. People don’t believe in it anymore. Nobody, not authoritarian states, not corporate America, not plucky freelancers, seems to be able to make it sing like it used to. Well, Gilbert reckons there’s only one thing to be done about that.
NOTES: This video is basically an infomercial for four recently published books, which are absent-mindedly paraphrased throughout: ‘Immutable—Designing History’ by Chris Lee, ‘What Design Can’t Do’ by Silvio Lorusso, ‘Blood in the Machine’ by Brian Merchant, and ‘The Eye of the Master’ by Matteo Pasquinelli. The script is adapted from a lecture commissioned by Kunsthochschule Kassel. Art direction, 3D, and animation for all of the good-looking bits by AKUA visuals. Typography, in Ultra Maya, by David Rudnick. Includes new visualizations of a prototypical coin, designed by Chris Lee, and the artwork ‘e-deologies’ (2020–) by Joshua Citarella. The Fellowship’s ‘rhetorical assault’ consists of memes by @ethicaldesign69. Original music by Moritz Simon.