Tuesday, May 30, 2017

If we talked about design the way we talk about writing

I am looking a piece of artwork, perhaps a panel for a comic or a work for sale. Perhaps this scene takes place online in a forum or at a local gallery. Maybe the location doesn't matter. The artwork being discussed is a symbol which I chose for its relevance to a strongly visual society. 

We don't tolerate anything that offends our eyes. Our ears and our intellect? That's another story.

Me: Hey, what's up with the shadows? The light source is clearly on the left but the shadows are on the left too. Shouldn't they be on the right?

Rando: Huh, I never noticed that. I don't think it looks weird, though. I don't really pay attention to the light source when I'm drawing shadows. It's too complicated to keep track of anyway.

Me: But doesn't it look weird to you? Like the person in the picture isn't in the same place as the light source?

Rando: I dunno. She looks like she's there to me. I don't really have a problem with it. I do, however, have a problem with the privileging of literalist art. Art by definition is non-representational. It never follows the rules of physics exactly, and it never should.

Me: I get that if the artist is trying to create an unsettling effect, but everything else in the picture is much more standard. So for me it's weird that she shadows are in the wrong place. I just end up thinking about the shadows instead of what's going on in the rest of the picture.

Rando: It must be so miserable to nitpick the little details all the time instead of just enjoying art.

Me: Um....I think perspective is hard but ultimately rewarding because it can really make your art pop and add depth.

Rando: Your insistence on the classical rules of art is inherently classist because it discriminates against artists who never had the money for art school or who come from non-western traditions. African art, for example, doesn't use perspective but it is as valid as any system that does because it adheres to its own internal logic. You're also racist against black people.

Me: Didn't I just say I don't mind breaking the rules if it's done intentionally to create a specific effect? But you sort of have to know the rules before you know when to break them, right?

Rando: You obviously need to check your privilege before you engage in these discussions. Did not your upbringing give you ample opportunity to learn the unfair and arbitrary rules placed on what is considered "correct" design, created by society with the implicit purpose of oppressing the working class and minorities?

Me: So my two degrees and years of work experience make me less qualified to talk about design?

Rando: I see you concede my point.

Me: No, you don't have a point because it's not like minorities are some hive mind that all draw the same way.

Rando: You're twisting my words now, and I don't have time for these rabbit trails. I've made my point several times and you keep dodging the question.

Me: The shadows are stupid!

Rando: You're more stupider!

Me: More stupider isn't a word!

Rando: It is in some dialects! A word means exactly what a bunch of people say it does!

Me: You will always get judged during job interviews and you'll never know why!

Rando: Capitalism is the devil!

Me: Whatevs. I bet you've never drawn in the African tradition in your life. You just patronize the poor ignorant coloreds because you think it's cute.

Rando: I am so blocking you! Block Block Block!

 Some time passes.

Me: Huh. He's gone. Did that even happen?

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