A Governors Island Graphic Design Exhibit Worth Seeing

In early June I wrote a post about the graphic design show on Governors Island called Graphic Design—Now in Production. As I mentioned, the show set out to demonstrate the power and influence graphic design has on culture.

A few weeks ago, I finally had the opportunity to make the ferry ride out there to experience the exhibit for myself. (An aside: Governors Island was great; I highly recommend you go and see for yourself!) Upon entering, you’re presented with a definition of graphic design that prepares you for the work you’re about to see. It states: “Graphic Design gives shape to thousands of artifacts we encounter each day—from posters, magazines, and books to film titles, Web sites, and digital interfaces. Graphic designers employ words, images, and a vast array of materials and processes to produce the visual messages that surround us.”

The text continues by suggesting that over the past fifteen years graphic design has expanded drastically and has empowered designers to be producers with the ability to author, publish, and instigate.

One of the first things you see inside the exhibit is a wall with a long line of corporate logos, with the original logo for each company next to its current version. Then, equipped with a handful of tokens, you go down the line and vote, one by one, for the logo you prefer. It felt like the 108 bronze bowls at Wat Pho, the Buddhist temple in Thailand (also worth seeing, but not as easy to get to by ferry).

There’s a lot of talk about branding, and not just for corporations, but for other members of society as well. A brand is more than just a logo––it “consists of a larger visual and verbal identity as well as the perceived values that both define and set apart an organization, a community, or even an individual,” the wall text states.

Designers Jonathan Puckey and Roel Wouters created an interactive video that really blew me away. Viewers had the ability to insert themselves into specific frames of the film. More than 34,000 people contributed to the collective whole. The effect was really cool, and the designers said that they were influenced by Andy Warhol and Jean-Luc Godard. Take a look at a clip:

A section on books caught my attention as well. There was a great exhibit on how, in an era of extreme content competition, publishers—often the authors themselves—are coming up with new ways to break from the pack. From bindings and paper stock to the jackets themselves, book designers have to be both creative and cost-effective.

You still have a chance to see the exhibit this weekend (the last day is Labor Day). Check out the images below, and head on out before it’s too late!

Auhtor: Eric Swenson

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