Exercise 4 – Cutting edge

This exercise is about exploring how visual communicators have devised tools to inform, persuade or help people interact following the recent and ongoing developments in social and new media, and finding websites or other media that employ cutting edge or inventive forms of visual communication, from an aesthetic, functional or conceptual point of view.

I concentrated my research firstly in the educational field which nowadays seems to offer many valuable proposals.

My first example is The National Gallery of Arts in Washington that has created a Kids Art Zone within its main website at: http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/education/kids.html (Accessed 28/02/2017)

Navigating through it, it is possible for kids (but not only!) to make interactive art online through a rich variety of art-making tools and explore creativity while learning. It works basically like an art application on tablet or mobile phone and I think that the tools offered are really plentiful and engaging. For the time being these are the ones:

NGAkids Art Zone


Create an animated seascape or an abstract composition by arranging photographs of natural and man-made objects found near the shore.


Create an interactive abstract painting with 40 brushes, a full-color palette, and special effects.


Create animated portraits and landscape paintings in the style of American naive artists.


Create a tropical landscape filled with tigers, monkeys, and other exotic creatures.


Create an interactive still life that mirrors the paintings of the old masters.


Decorate a 17th-century dollhouse as you explore the kitchen, living quarters, artist’s studio, and courtyard of a make-believe Dutch house.


Photo Op is a two-part interactive introduction to digital photography. Snap some pictures, then use the image editing software to add kaleidoscopic special effects, warps, and blends.


Construct a collage by dragging and dropping photo snippets, words, numbers, background colors, and textured shapes. Collage Machine is fun for all ages.


Flow is a motion painting machine. Enjoy the changing patterns and colors as you create and combine pictures on overlapping layers.


Choose a background image or start with a blank slate, then draw something in Paintbox. Add warps and other special effects to make silly pictures.


SwatchBox is a painting tool that lets you mix millions of colors. Experiment with different hues, shades, and values, then combine your favorites to create your own color palette.


Wallovers are symmetrical decorations painted on a virtual wall. Select a grid, pattern, and background color, then create your own interlaced patterns.


Use 3-d Twirler to design and texturize three-dimensional geometric shapes and set them in motion.


Design a moving sculpture and take it for a spin. Try to balance the shapes and colors.


This interactive portrait maker has 49 colors and 24 brushes. Draw freehand or use the AUTO mode for surprising effects.

Another interesting initiative in teaching at primary level is that of the University of Manchester:

Children's University Of Manchester

At: http://www.childrensuniversity.manchester.ac.uk/ (Accessed 28/02/2017)

with interactive proposals in history, language, art § design and science

Speaking of websites the Baltimore Museum of Art has a particularly well-structured one (at: https://artbma.org/, accessed 28/02/2017)

Pamela Anderson, Halle Berry, and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

On a self-advertising note artist Miltos Manetas has structured the contents of his website for an engaging online experience (at: http://cargocollective.com/manetas, accessed 28/02/2017):

Another interesting area to explore in innovative visual communication is that of virtual reality approaches in psychotherapy as explained by  Art therapy and New Media  at https://arttherapytech.wordpress.com/ (Accessed 28/02/2017). In a recent post (November 2016) this blog cites the magazine Carbon Culture (At: http://www.carbonculturereview.com/techonology/virtual-reality-and-psychotherapy/, accessed 28/02/2017) introducing virtual exposure therapy as a primary treatments for PTSD and addiction rehabilitation. Below two images from virtual therapy presentation videos on Vimeo

The same blog Art therapy and New Media at https://arttherapytech.wordpress.com/ (Accessed 28/02/2017) tells of innovative experiences in digital storytelling with the inclusion of texts, images, sounds, videos and interactivity.

For example:

Door into the Dark created by May Abdalla and Amy Rose of the UK studio Anagram,  an “immersive documentary” experience:


The global village

Introductory concepts and key words (from Creative Arts Today, pages 134-5)
  • Interconnectedness beyond distance, time, location through world-wide web, mobile technologies, integration of all forms of mass media
  • opportunities and problems of a single global village (McLuhan)
  • interactive involvement and social media, democratisation of access to mass communication
  • consequences for traditional visual communication industries like publishing, advertising and newspapers
  • our contradictory presence and non-presence in the world as another consequence of the interior space of the internet, games and other digital technologies (cyberspace)
  • cyberspace changes the rules of place and time, social interaction bridges geographical distance and creates new kinds of spaces to interact within


Exercise 3 – Visual conventions for time and place

As for all the exercises of this course the scope of research is very large and I always get the frustrating feeling that I am just dipping my little finger in the ocean and never have the time to take a good swim. I am asked to look for examples of visual representations of place and time and make a research taking some key words as a start.

Before googling words in I tried to think about what types of time and place representations are more meaningful to me personally, apart from cartoons and comic strips that seem the most obvious associations, and the first thing that came to my mind was the medieval fresco cycle in the Church of San Francesco at Assisi.

Frame-by-frame example

Fig. 1 Saint Francis cycle in the Upper Church of San Francesco at Assisi (between 1297-1300)

Whenever I visit a church and see sequential frescoes on the walls I think that in the Middle Ages, when most people could neither read or write, the walls decorated with religious episodes and the lives of the saints must have been for them a wonderful way to learn and relive them visually in time and place.

For a total change of time, place and type of visual storytelling, I post a frame from a graphic novel that I find particularly appealing, Captain (2011) by Serena Malyon. Movements and passing of time are very effectively represented through changing points of view and perspective in foreground and at a distance.

Handling of perspective example

Fig. 2 Graphic novel Captain (2011) by Serena Malyon

In this at the same time Futurist and Cubist painting by Marcel Duchamp the artist conveys movement by overlapping the positions taken in place and time by the figure descending the staircase.

Multiple viewpoints example

File:Duchamp - Nude Descending a Staircase.jpg

Fig. 3 Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 (1912) by Marcel Duchamp

Figure 4 and 5 are from the comic strip Donald Duck Lost in the Andes (1949) by Carl Barks.

Frame-by-frame example, with use of written sounds

Fig. 4 Comic strip Donald Duck Lost in the Andes (1949) by Carl Barks

Frame-by-frame example, with use of speech bubbles, written sound and visualisation of action and movement

Fig. 5 Comic strip Donald Duck Lost in the Andes (1949) by Carl Barks

The History of Mexico mural (1929-1935) by Diego Rivera, in the stairwell of the National Palace in Mexico City, is an epic example of single frame visual storytelling.

Fig. 6 Mural The History of Mexico (detail) by Diego Rivera, Palacio Nacional, Mexico City

Political cartoon by Martin Rowson (The Guardian)

Single frame example

Fig. 7 Cartoon from The Guardian by Martin Rowson

As another example of time/place representation I have found this informative video which uses diagrams to show population changes in time in different parts of the world.

Moving image example

Fig. 8 video Human Population Through Time (2016) of the American Museum of Natural History.

The Bayeux Tapestry (XI century) is an example of frame-by-frame storytelling.

Fig. 9. The Bayeux Tapestry (detail) (XI century)

This short foray in time and place representation has surprised me because it does not seem that, even if visual conventions have of course evolved through time and from place to place, the ways of visualising have really changed all that much. After all we today do not have difficulties in understanding by and large the events represented in Giotto’s frescoes or in the Bayeux tapestry, as if  we as humans had a common visual ground that remains basically the same.


List of illustrations

Figure 1. Saint Francis cycle in the Upper Church of San Francesco at Assisi (between 1297-1300) [fresco] At:http://www.itacaeventi.it/wp-content/uploads/2007/10/sanfrancesco-parete-est.jpg (Accessed 27/02/2017)

Figure 2. Malyon, Serena Captain (2011) [graphic novel] At: https://smalyon.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/swpage5.jpg (Accessed 27/02/2017)

Figure 3. Duchamp, Marcel  Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 (French: Nu descendant un escalier n° 2) (1912) [oil on canvas] source: http://www.philamuseum.org/collections/permanent/51449.html?mulR=864354163 At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Duchamp_-_Nude_Descending_a_Staircase.jpg (Accessed 27/02/2017)

Figure 4, 5. Barks, Carl Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes (1949) At: http://www.readaboutcomics.com/2011/12/26/donald-duck-lost-in-the-andes/ (Accessed 27/02/2017)

Figure 6. Rivera, Diego The History of Mexico (1929-35) [mural] At: https://c1.staticflickr.com/7/6022/6018815950_3c84923614_b.jpg (Accessed 27/02/2017)

Figure 7. At:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/picture/2016/nov/04/martin-rowson-on-newspapers-reaction-to-the-brexit-high-court-ruling#img-1  (Accessed 27/02/2017)

Figure 8. At: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUwmA3Q0_OE (Accessed 27/02/2017)

Figure 9. At: http://www.mondes-normands.caen.fr/italie/cultures/gb_fr/5/pic5-1d.htm  (Accessed 27/02/2017)

Representing time and place

Words and concepts from Creative Arts Today (pages 131-2)


Visual storytelling – ideas of time and place are presented through multiple or single frame images

Comics, animations and moving image use frame by frame sequence of images.

Literary devices such as dialogue, descriptions, third person narration or written sounds are combined with the frames.

Other visual devices used are speech bubbles and the visualisation of sounds, movements and actions.

A visual story can be told also by single frame images in which visual information is structured in order to be read in a particular order.

Importance of use of composition, framing and structuring.

Visual representation makes use of visual conventions, for instance rules of perspective as against Cubist representation of objects.



Exercise 2 – Knitting patterns


Visual research with notes on knitting

In Figures 1-4 knitting is represented as a traditional and useful craft, or as a pleasant pastime and a hobby

Fig. 1 Kihnu women from Estonia knitting together on a Thursday evening


Fig. 2 The Prince of Wales’s Jersey by Michael Pearson

2pcs/set Chinese Edition Japanese Knit Pattern Book (hooked need and knitting needle) Learn scarf hat Handbags knitting book

Fig. 3 Japanese knit pattern books

Knit one, pearl twoKnit one, pearl two Oh screw it, wine is my hobby....

Fig. 4

But starting from Figure 5 there is a change of perspective and knitting takes on new meanings and is perceived differently: in Figure 5 a mom finds in knitting a way to express her feelings towards her son.

Fig. 5 A mom knitted her textile version of her son

Figure 6 is an example of how huge knitting can make fashion and become trendy.

Risultati immagini per celeste tesoriero knitting

Fig. 6 Celeste Tesoriero clothing

From Figure 7 onwards knitting is used as an art medium in its own right and can be used in sculptures, installations or performances.

Risultati immagini per ivano vitali

Fig. 7 Exhibition by Ivano Vitali

Ivano Vitali is an Italian sculptor and performer who recycles newspapers and magazines into yarns

Figures 8 and 9 show knit samples by Lois Albinson, a textile artist and fashion knitwear designer

Fig 8 Knit sample by Lois Albinson

Fig. 9 Knit sample by Lois Albinson

Figure 10 and 11 show examples of the practice of Yarn Bombing or Guerrilla Knitting, which is ‘a type of graffiti or street art that employs colourful displays of knitted or crocheted yarn or fibre rather than paint or chalk.’ (Wikipedia)

In 10 a bridge has been covered in yarn by Sleppa, in 11 yarn bombing has stricken a bus in Mexico City (by Magda Sayed, founder of Knitta Please).

Fig. 10.Yarn Bombing in Cesanatico (Italy), by

Fig. 11 Yarn Bombing in Mexico City by Magda Sayeg

Fig. 12 Knit installation ‘Locker Room’ by Nathan Vincent

Nathan Vincent has produced a conceptual installation  ‘to gender-neutralize objects associated with overt masculinity. When completed, the objects are no longer rough and manly, but soft and inviting’ he says. (Womansday)

Dutes Miller (right) and Stan Shellabarger (left) hard at work

Fig. 13 Dutes Miller and Stan Shellabarger knitting ‘The Pink Tube’

Fig. 14 Another image from the couple

The team Miller & Shellabarger are shown during their ongoing performance ‘The Pink Tube’. The piece was started ten years ago and has so far grown to around 10 metres in length. They work always connected and in public.

Robert Mertens is an artist whom I find particularly interesting in this connection. He combines sound, fiber, performance installations in multi-media works.

Fig. 15 ‘Going Green’ by Robert Martens

The artist Dave Cole mixes in interesting ways conceptual craft and assemblage.

Fig. 16 A teddy bear in knit fiber glass by Dave Cole

  acrylic felt with excavators and aluminum utility poles    Actually knit on site with the machines over the course of a week, th completed flag as displayed is approximately H20' x W20' x D1'

Fig. 17 ‘The Knitting Machine’ by Dave Cole

The list of artists who employ knitting and crocheting as media could become very long indeed. Other names that I might wish to explore at a later date are, among others, Louise Bourgeois, Faith Wilding and Rosemarie Trockel for the 1970s and the 1980s,  and more recently Haegue Yang, Orly Genger, Stephan Goldrajch, Jim Drain, Olek, Ernesto Neto, Johanna Jackson and Caroline Wells Chandler. (artsy.net)

As a conclusion it is easy to see that today knitting can be used in a very contemporary way in visual communications and art. Very often the artists play with the stereotype of knitting by turning it around and using it to deal with gender themes, environment and war issues.

As a teenager I used to knit my own sweaters and at the time I tried to follow knitting instructions as best as I could and I often became impatient and very frustrated. In recent years I have rediscovered knitting and crocheting in my experiments in textile art and have started to use them in a free way, often as a net and a basis for further embroidery and stitching. What I formally find most interesting is that practically anything having an elongated or threadlike form can be knitted or crocheted, not only yarns, but papers, metal wires, even clay, and can be used to create textural and three-dimensional effects, and this is the direction that I most wish to explore in the future.

List of illustrations

Figure 1. https://i2.wp.com/www.clothroads.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/1559_Kihnu-women.jpg?resize=696%2C522&ssl=1 (Accessed 24/02/17)

Figure 2. http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/sources/michael-pearsons-traditional-knitting-aran-fair-isle-and-fisher-ganseys/patterns (Accessed 24/02/17)

Figure 3.  https://www.aliexpress.com/popular/knitting-pattern-book.html (Accessed 24/02/17)

Figure 4. www.someecards.com/search?q=Knit (Accessed 24/02/17)

Figure 5. www.someecards.com/parenting/moms/mom-knit-son/ (Accessed 24/02/17)

Figure 6. www.oystermag.com/oyster-originals-celeste-tesoriero-for-the-international-woolmark-prize-shot-by-ryan-brabazon (Accessed 24/02/17)

Figure 7. https://cartesensibili.wordpress.com/2015/10/22/ivano-vitali-e-un-filo-di-storia-di-carta-fernanda-ferraresso/ (Accessed 24/02/17)

Figure 8, 9. http://loisalbinsonknitwear.blogspot.it/search/label/Sample (Accessed 24/02/17)

Figure 10. By Sleppa – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31674086 (Accessed 24/02/17)

Figure 11. http://www.unicomitalia.org/esempi-di-yarn-bombing/ (Accessed 24/02/17)

Figure 12. http://www.womansday.com/home/crafts-projects/a2484/extreme-knitting-crochet-art-118438/ (Accessed 24/02/17)

Figure 13. http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/pink-tube-dutes-miller-stan-shellabarger-crochet-gender-roles/Content?oid=11476997 (Accessed 24/02/17)

Figure 14. http://www.womansday.com/home/crafts-projects/a2484/extreme-knitting-crochet-art-118438/ (Accessed 24/02/17)

Figure 15. http://flavorwire.com/140464/10-artists-who-use-yarn-as-their-medium/3 (Accessed 24/02/17)

Figure 16. http://flavorwire.com/140464/10-artists-who-use-yarn-as-their-medium/5 (Accessed 24/02/17)

Figure 17. http://davecoledavecole.com/ (Accessed 24/02/17)


Ivano Vitali:

http://www.inspirewetrust.com/2010/10/26/carta-carta-carta/ (Accessed 24/02/17)

http://www.artnest.eu/casina/casina.html (Accessed 24/02/17)

Lois Albinson: http://loisalbinsonknitwear.blogspot.it/ (Accessed 24/02/17)

Bomb Knitting: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yarn_bombing (Accessed 24/02/17)

Knit artists:

Nathan Vincent, Dutes Miller and Stan Shellabarger:

http://www.womansday.com/home/crafts-projects/a2484/extreme-knitting-crochet-art-118438/ (Accessed 24/02/17)

Dutes Miller and Stan Shellabarger: http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/pink-tube-dutes-miller-stan-shellabarger-crochet-gender-roles/Content?oid=11476997 (Accessed 24/02/17)

Robert Mertens: http://robertmertensartist.com/home.html (Accessed 24/02/17)

Dave Cole: http://davecoledavecole.com/ (Accessed 24/02/17)

Gotthardt, Alexxa These Artists Are Giving Knitting a Place in Art History (2017) (online) At: https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-artists-knitting-place-art-history (Accessed 24/02/17)

Reusing the old in visual communication

Notes and concepts from Creative Arts Today (pages 128-9)
  • Retro designs in fashion
  • Re-emergence of old technologies such as letterpress, screen printing and Kodak-style photography
  • Revival of crafts such as knitting
  • Over-reliance on much used ideas and design can transform them in clichés
  • Re-use in new messages of well-known images for their semiotic power (examples: British wartime recruitment poster by Alfred Leete, ‘Your Country Needs YOU’, 1914. Representation of Che Guevara by Jim Fitzpatrick, 1968)

Exercise 1 – The next big thing

For this first exercise I am going to have a look at a new Swedish company and its innovative products. I do not even now if they are established as a company or if they are simply a group of creative professionals cooperating as a team. As a matter of fact this is the way they choose to introduce themselves on their website www.flyte.se:

We are a small team of creatives, engineers, designers and artists who met in Sweden. Our goal is to create intelligent and inspiring products with the absolute WOW factor.

With a background in branding, communication and product design, Flyte creates products and experiences that captivate the imagination combining vintage design with innovative techniques.

They imagine, develop, create and finally bring in mass production new products through projects that are backed and funded by http://kickstarter.com, a ‘global community built around creativity and creative projects.’ Kickstarter itself is a new concept in which people who have an innovative idea – be them artists, filmmakers, designers or makers – retain a complete creative control over their projects. More on kickstarter also from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kickstarter

Here is the last campaign launched on Kickstarter by Flyte for their third project STORY: The Levitating Timepiece, which their describe as ‘the first levitating timepiece that travels through the air, allowing you to personalize your most unique journeys.’

At: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/flyte/story-the-levitating-timepiece

At its core it is a clock, so it certainly is an old idea, and it is possible to turn on and off a LED display to show the time, but it can also be used as a personal timer or, how the company says, in ‘journey mode’, in which case the floating sphere levitates around its wooden base as around an orbit in a freely chosen time frame, starting from the 12 o’clock position and completing its orbit in a month, or any number of days or any other interval of choice. And it can be connected to the e-cloud through a mobile phone and display moon phases, sunrises and sunsets, the meteorological data and so on.

I think that as a product it shows several contemporary and innovative features:

  • it personalizes the concept of time I would say almost in postmodern terms, time becomes flexible and adapts itself to the personal vision of who uses the product, and the name STORY is very interesting in this sense as is the concept of ‘JOURNEY MODE’, that underlines the feeling of personal travel and discovery
  • it stresses the importance of immaterial, imaginative and ‘slow’ values but in contemporary technological ways
  • it has a very sleek and hi-tech design

At the same time its features also connect this product to the past and to established values:

  • the concept of a sphere levitating around an orbit makes it eternal and establishes a relation with ancient devices which measured time according to astronomical movements like the sundial or the pendulum
  • it adopts age-old traditional materials like wood and metal and ‘rediscovers’ and ‘gives a new skin’ to traditional human values
  • underlines the need for physically sharing an experience as against the distance created by computers and social media
  • as a design it continues the Scandinavian tradition of simplicity, functionality and minimalism

Perhaps this product could become dated because of the same characteristics that make it contemporary today:

  • it seems to me that a product like this can be viewed within the contemporary trend towards a natural and simple living and recycling, and as such the consumers might find it old when the trend changes
  • maybe the way the product is crafted might age and take on an old look as techniques and materials change
  • the levitating concept, which Flyte uses for the third time in a project, might become obvious in time and seen as used-up and not inspiring anymore