Digital Materiality: Digital Fabrication and Hybridity in Graphic Design

  • Seymour A
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Design disciplines are often conceptualised in terms of their material output. For visual communicators this is seen as a concern with two-dimensional print and screen. However new directions in practice, motivated in part by new production technologies, are challenging this assumption. Tradi-tional boundaries between the graphic, industrial and architectural are dissolving. Digital fabrication techniques (laser-cutting, rapid-prototyping, physical computing etc) are increasingly available to the small-scale designer. Practitioners are utilising these new tools – as well as the conceptual reappraisal they encourage – to explore the material and sculptural boundaries of their disciplines. Graphic Ma-terial, held in in 2010 as part of Sydney Design 10, examined this development. The exhibition showcased hybrid practices through new and innovative works by an international selection of designers. Robotic drawing machines, spot-welded posters and visuals that grow over time describe just some of the works by participants that included Graphic Thought Facility, Collider, 3Deep Design, David Pidgeon, Toko, Mark Gowing, Multistorey, Oscar Diaz Studio and Bert Simons. This presentation will present an overview of the exhibition, teasing out its thematic concerns. These include: whether design can be characterised by a set of discipline specific cognitive frameworks and methodologies; the often unac-knowledged effects of new technological toolsets on creative thinking and production; and the hybrid-isation of design practices. D IGITAL FABRICATION TECHNOLOGIES have extended the capacity of computer-generated designs to be materialised in physical form. Once primarily an image-making device, the computer is increasingly capable of expressing its form-making in material ways. The creative possibilities this offers have proved fertile ground in the creation of innovative works in the disciplines of architecture, industrial design and studio craft. For graphic design, technologies such as rapid prototyping and lasercutting, offer the opportunity to liberate practice from its narrow focus on particular kinds of artefacts, amplifying it in exciting and novel ways. Exploring these opportunities was the aim of Graphic Material, an exhibition I curated at Sydney's University of Technology Gallery in August 2010. Using developments in digital fabrication technologies as a jumping-off point, the exhibits argued for how graphic design might participate in a more direct relationship with the material and sculptural. If image and text are seen as the traditional mediums of visual communications practice (Bonsiepe) how might reappraising this open up new forms of creative expression for the discipline? The exhibition surveyed existing contemporary works as well as commissioning local practitioners to respond to this primary curatorial framework. Once displayed, the exhibits posed their own questions and responses as to future directions for the discipline. Although designed independently, when exhibited together in the gallery space the works enter into

Author-supplied keywords

  • Digital Fabric-ation
  • Digital Materiality
  • Exhibition
  • Graphic Design
  • Graphic Material
  • Lasercutting
  • Rapid Prototyping
  • Technology
  • Visual Communication

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  • ISSN: 18331874 (ISSN)
  • PUI: 364592632
  • SGR: 84859555585
  • SCOPUS: 2-s2.0-84859555585


  • Aaron Seymour

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