DESIGN DOMAIN PART 2
LAUNCH & SYMPOSIUM
Design domain part two kicked off with another symposium. Of all the talks I really liked Terrence Heng's. It approached a bit this notion of designing for others and its potential issues.
I think it confirmed my feeling of my proposal being a bit clumsy in a way.
Thought all the other talks were very interesting and noteworthy for the future.
PART ONE PROPOSAL
I think my proposal was already quite advanced for once, the direction was quite clear. So as I read it over a week before the beginning of the project I couldn't really think of anything else to add or explore. I think the fact that the direction was very set already troubled me because i couldn't go back without thinking i had to change everything. Although after the talks, I thought of a slightly less clumsy idea for my project which would result in a more censored idea rather than engaging.
During the group tutorial I just went over the idea of the project and this small change. Instead of inputing text to raise awareness I wanted to focus on a more destructive and visually impacting way of engaging with the typeface user. It was also the opportunity to look at others ideas which was very interesting.
MAKING THE TYPEFACE
I already started to design the typeface a bit before the start of the project as it was probably the longest part of this project. I went for a sort of classic modern sans-serif typeface, with a little touch of quirkiness. The font itself isn't revolutionary, I wanted to keep it simple with something readable and easy to use. It was quite fun and challenging because it was the first time I was designing a text font and not a display font.
It took me almost two full weeks to get it done. I finished at the beginning of the second week of DD.
A quick overview of the typeface's glyphs
RESEARCH / REFLECTION
Parallel to the design process i had to think conceptually how I could release/show it the best way possible. It raised a massive amount of question about ethics. I obviously couldn't make it reactive to racist comment or sensitive topics I'm not involved in. Terrence Heng raised that similar issue 'What right do we have to represent others?'. I wouldn't be conformable to design something affecting a community I'm not from.
I tried to think of a way to create this font to its fullest potential but I quickly realised that it was ethically impossible to do it. So I thought I would just (so far) design a font that is reactive to hate speech that I can relate. Although I started to think the way I would release it. It didn't make sense to release a font that is only reactive to hate speech that i can relate, that is obviously kinda pointless and it doesn't even nearly answer my first proposal.
I gave myself the week-end alongside the font design to process these thoughts and would finalise it the next week.
During the second tutorial, I shared my concerns about the ethical problem of designing something representing others, which I don't thing i have the legitimacy. We talked about it with Jen and it helped me look a bit more wider at the issue. And I thought it could be interesting to make a collaborative concept, where everyone can take the font, transform it and share it afterwards? I also was concerned of how i would actually showcase it, and Jen gave me the idea to transpose this with tech. So instead of distributing a font simply with a file, it could be interesting to create a platform to explain the concept, and set up different ways of experiencing hate speech with the font. Thanks to Jen's thoughts on my current stage i could quickly identify what i could do to make it right.
FINAL CONCEPT IDEA
This leads us to the final concept. As the main issue that stressed me for the past week was to make a concept as responsible and potentially viable, wanted to resolve at all cost.
I think the idea of creating a collaborative concept could help me with that but it still took me a day of two to finalise the concept.
The final piece would be a website where the font is available for download and anyone willing to take part of that adventure could download it and re-shape it at their will. So this way i'm not forcing people into seeing in my own way but anyone can craft their own reactive font reflecting their own vision of hateful and toxic speech. The website would feature different ways of experiencing the typeface. You can either download and use it, you can download it, modify it and spread/use it. but you can also look at different examples and also check with the speech to text tool available on the website main-page.
This way I would answer to a responsible concept and I though making something collaborative was so much more meaningful to tackle big issues like hate speech. I think answering by myself to a massive problem such as this one would be quite clumsy and almost meaningless because i can't make a real impact. Making this collaborative was probably the best way to start something.
CODING THE WEBSITE
We talk about this way of visualising your speech with p5 with Jen and it interested me a lot, I didn't really took the time to consider it before as i was focused on the font itself, but as a showcase/tool to raise awareness i thought it would be very impactful and meaningful.
I started to code the website with the speech to text tool and moved on with the other pages. I thought I would implement the tool on the main page and add a typeface pages to show some samples of the font (stills and gifs) and it's behaviours. Then a documentation page where people can learn more about the concept and how to get involved, and a small about page. The website design was quite simple as I only coded with HTML and CSS. Which is probably not the best and most efficient thing but it worked fine for me.
Towards the end I just added the final font file and the final stills/GIFs to complete the website and then pushed it to Github to host it.
SETTING THE TYPEFACE
As said in my proposal I used the liga / dlig feature in OpenType format. This allows the font replace a string by another when detected. Usually it is used for decorative purposes. I ended using the liga feature (the liga replaces automatically the glyph by another whereas dlig is manual). I started to implement example of hate speech in the font code. As I've experienced very few hate speech I only inputed things I can legitimately speak off, such as swearing and violent speech. It is quite a lengthy process as it isn't meant for such use.
All the liga instructions I've inputted in the OpenType code.
Parallel to that I started to look at how visually I wouldn't translate this word destruction and censorship. I wanted to express a sort of destructive feeling when looking at the censored content. Instead of a black rectangle which is quite peaceful and simple, I wanted to have a provocative and destructive look. Making it more impactful and 'harsher'. I think it would illustrate quite well how words, as combination of letters, and become so violent.
Some exploration of ornaments in illustrator
Exploration of setting the ornaments on the words / sentences
Final ornament on a glyph
Testing the font in pages
I had quite a number of issue during the project, I obviously talked about the issue of me representing others but on a technical side it was tough as well.
To create the speech to text tool i first looked at Jen's example and some of Dan Shiffman's too. I finally took his as for some reason I couldn't find a way of adapting the displaying of text on Jen's example (so it doesn't overlay). That's when I discovered that the library censors already swear words or bad language. So it definitely didn't work that well... It could only work a bit with words like 'stupid' 'fat' or 'idiot'.
Also because of the relatively short time frame and the little change of direction I couldn't make the typeface as complete as I wanted. I think so far it is useable but still quite unfinished.
The final piece I managed to achieve for Friday is a website collecting different example of experiencing this reactive typeface. There's example in stills and GIFs which shows the aesthetics of the typeface and how it works. Then there's a small documentation page which explains how you can get involve. An about page, and on the main page (NOOIR) there's the speech to text tool. Sadly it already is censored by p5.speech library so it's not as useful as it could be, but you can still experience part of it!
Typeface page of the website
About page of the website
Some examples I've used for the final video documentation and the website
As most of the documentation of the actual piece happens on the website I thought I could also do a documentation of the project as whole. (like we used to for previous editions).
As a little chronological documentation, I created a small video showing the evolution of the concept from the proposal to its final form.
Here's the video on Youtube
As this project was separated into two parts I had the opportunity to reflect on it between the two parts.
I was quite happy with my proposal at first and then some doubts started to come. I think it was majorly due to the anxiety and the situations, but it made me realise that it could have a very clumsy potential. I had the opportunity to reflect on it and start off the second part with a relatively clear plan of action. I knew what I had to change or abandon.
I had the opportunity to reflect on this question of "representing others", the ethics around it, is it right?
Then if it's not right is it worth it to actually go with this concept, or will it become useless? How can I potentially work around it?
Some other questions remained unanswered until some tutorials with Jen, such as the actual showing of the font. How is it showed, is it just downloaded or do i make a video, a P5 sketch? And it really helped me to carry on after it.
I was actually quite surprised how well it turned out? I think I knew it was a lot of work and ambitious technical stuff to resolve, but even as a sort-of unfinished concept I was happy with the outcome. The font is usable, the website showcases the concept quite well so I think I am happy with it. From people's feedback, I think I managed to communicate the main concept, which is reassuring.
I think the obvious part I would have liked to improve would be the typeface itself. It is obviously rushed as 2 weeks is not enough time at all, and I guess I would have liked to add more combination of hate speech in it. Sadly the timeframe was a bit too short to manage all this.
Then I would be interested if we could remove the p5.speech censorship and experience this speech to text sketch to its fullest. So far it's less impactful because the censorship by '*' symbols breaks the entire concept.
And finally I would be also interested to develop the typeface reaction so it is more or less censoring. I guess some words used in specific context can be way less violent than they are and opposite. I think it could be interesting to input levels of visual destructiveness of the glyphs depending on the level of hate / toxicity.
As always, Design Domain is quite fun to work on, it's the opportunity to explore something totally new with nice interest and a nice challenging theme. Although I thought this was probably the hardest to work on. I think most of us being in a challenging time mentally and having to work on such a vague and engaging theme was really hard, as it brought quite a lot of stress and anxiety. When talking about responsibility you would obviously think of all the bad things happening around the world and i think having such a big theme to handle on ourselves was kind of tough.
But it allowed some deep reflection and introspection which was in the end quite beneficial as we all ended up learning new things and changing some habits maybe! So mission accomplished!
I think i was happy with the outcome, not entirely satisfied because I knew I could do better with more time and less anxiety, but I think people understood the concept well! And why not they will use for some projects !
Although the open studio felt kinda dull by its format, it was super nice to see everyones comments, and takes on this year's theme. Some really great outcomes from both our course and the others!