cannot carry everywhere the corpse of one's father.
- Guillaime Apollinaire (1880-1918)
It is difficult to distinguish today's computer-aided designer from the designer-aided
computer. This is because thanks to the DTP industry's furious development
efforts, the computer has surpassed the designer's expressive abilities and
and has come to govern the majority of visual development. Digital designers
worldwide all work under the same art director, whose name begins with a scarlet A. Meanwhile, media evangelists tout the bright future of the World-Wide
Web, and how designers will play an important role in defining this future.
don't be fooledrecent press releases make it clear that unsurprisingly,
DTP technology will simply migrate to the web and appear as just another pulldown
menu that we will all be forced to learn. Designers no longer define culture;
designers must abide by a culture defined by technologists. The renowned architecture
educator William Mitchell states in Digital Design Media (Van Nostrand
Reinhold: 1991) the logical conclusion to this predicament: We are very
close to the point to which the average designer may have nothing to sell that
is worth anyone's money to buy.
When I first began studying industrial design (I.D.), I was surprised
at the lack of books on the subject compared to the seemingly endless
number of publications
on graphic design. Reasons cited by industrial designers themselves have been
that industrial designers are too busy to write or are inherently poor writers.
At the conclusion of preparing this series of three articles for MdN, I now
understand the true reason for this phenomena: namely, that I.D. cannot
be fully expressed
using printed words or pictures—it can only be rightfully expressed
as physical, three-dimensional form. Similarly, I have found that no matter
much I write or illustrate the concept of digital metadesign, it only begins
to make sense when seen and experienced in its rightful form of software. This
failure to express in print what I can easily express in digital form is a
sign of success and a source of encouragement that true digital design for
age actually exists. Ironically, it fits on a floppy disk with a megabyte to
Many fellow designers have criticized my work as being too abstract and expressive,
ignoring the most important issue in graphic design: namely communication. However,
my original intentions for retreating to the abstract were to distill a fundamental
vocabulary of digital dynamic forms to be used someday for effective communication.
I have just recently begun to understand how to use this vocabulary as exemplified
in the accompanying software. This of course is just the beginning...
download described in this essay is available [here].
It is designed to run on a pre-OSX Macintosh for a resolution
of 640 by 480 pixels. There is no guarantee that it runs