Magazine article Eye : The International Review of Graphic Design

Culturing Feedback on Feedback Culture

Magazine article Eye : The International Review of Graphic Design

Culturing Feedback on Feedback Culture

Article excerpt

Culturing feedback on feedback culture Limited Language: Rewriting Design: Responding to a Feedback Culture Edited by Colin Davies and Monika Parrinder Birkhauser, £18.99

Reviewed by Jane Cheng

Blogs are easy to approach: you stumble on a link, read an article or two, comment, and maybe 'follow'. Books, even when they originate on a website (as Limited Language does), demand more thorough reading.

Commenting is painless on the editor's website. In contrast to the book - a weighty compilation of articles, analysis and comments - the experience of the site is porous and layered: visibly built up by many contributors, absorbed in uneven increments of time, momentarily finished whenever a stack of comments trails off into the unremarkable hiss of dying interest. It is exactly this porosity that the book takes as its central theme.

It turns out that the easy experiences of reading and commenting on the blog are the research, and the book is the report. Colin Davies and Monika Parrinder articulate the relationships experienced on the site, and their proposed consequences for design criticism, in the book's print-only introduction. They assert that the processes by which design has limited language in the visual realm (to snippets, topten lists, SMSS) can be used to inspire new modes of generating writing. In particular, they argue, the 'cutting, pasting and recycling' that are staples of design culture can be consciously employed in a new, relational, form of criticism. The articles in the book, constructed by means of the Limited Language platform for input and feedback, are provided as evidence for the effectiveness of this method.

The editors' critical approach can be situated in the context of Nicolas Bourriaud's theory of relational aesthetics. Given that social communication today is limited to locations of commercial exchange, Bourriaud suggests that art can provide context for alternative forms of interaction and temporary everyday utopias. But although Parrinder and Davies note that design can similarly 'activate the social', their argument in Limited Language centres on the idea that criticism can benefit from a broadly interpreted relational framework.

In this context words, like artworks, are commodities, and Limited Language is a brand. Through exchange, re-use and recycling, words can access an alternative commerce - become social interstices - by means of which it is possible 'to enrich, expand and hopefully capture the serendipity of creative process'. …

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