EnsadLab Research Group
Group Leader: Roxane Jubert
Visiting Fellow: Vonnik Hertig (color design, space design)
The goal of this research group is to build a space within EnsadLab dedicated to the relationship between graphics, ecodesign, and our visual environment. It seeks to develop an approach, practice, and knowledge of visual communication – including in the context of its production and reception, etc. – from a sustainable point of view. Launched in 2016, this group is dedicated to these themes – essential both for their contemporary and future vision.
To integrate awareness of the environment calls into question graphic culture, its models and its codes. Such a focus invites us to think about, plan, and engage in visual communication with different priorities. It encourages forward-looking, innovative, critical, or unconventional elaborations – if necessary, via a rethinking of established or accepted practices, materials, subjects, and criteria. Conception, design, production, perception, chromatic space, technique, manufacturing, consumption, use, recycling, etc.: all facets of the life of graphic objects that can be explored, analyzed, questioned, displaced, reinvented, or imagined.
– to promote awareness of the environment in the field of visual communication,
– to encourage reflection about the potential connections between at least two of these three terms: ecodesign, graphics, and visual environment,
– to focus on these connections and make them a priority – in particular for everything relating to sustainability, ecodesign, and the environment, as well as any other aspects that may enter into this perspective,
– to welcome, encourage, and accompany research and exploration that engage assertively with these themes and objectives,
– to develop a space for exchanges and encounters for those who share these interests and work on these questions,
– to accompany students in the year preceding their doctorate in the choice and development of a thesis project,
– to promote synergies and stimulate initiatives in the field.
This research group intentionally defines itself as open to a plurality of views, approaches, and issues. It integrates but is not limited to graphic design, its purpose being to expand its questions to the life cycle of graphic productions – concerning their constituent parts, during their lifespan, and once they are no longer in use. In fact, while graphics are at the heart of this program, it leaves room for other fields of expertise that can contribute to it or cross-pollinate with it. The group may occasionally welcome contributors from diverse backgrounds whose specialties and expertise fall within its field of interest, in particular where students’ projects are concerned. More generally, there is also an international dimension to these research perspectives.
– question signs, messages, colors, media, materials, perceptions, etc.
– emerge from visual communication, writing, typography, design, art – or even multidisciplinary approaches or other fields of activity (insofar as they intersect with or broaden the questions that define the group),
– pursue a specialized aim or evolve in a cross-disciplinary spirit, depending on the project,
– focus on questions of content, the material dimension, perceptive aspects, the rethinking of practices; address subjects or causes seldom or never addressed by graphic design; question established codes and benchmarks; employ environmental data, etc.,
– foster approaches that are pragmatic, poetic, prospective, historical, philosophical, technical, functional, didactic, critical, philanthropic, utopian…
These pursuits and questions may emerge from a personal interest, a way of thinking, a singular commitment, a practical relevance, a willingness to produce useful work, a renewed vision of materiality, a study of perception or cognition, alternative proposals, environmental thinking, a critical posture, non-conformism, a project leading from consumption to production, an ethical position, etc.
Cássia D’Elia Oliveira
Cássia D’Elia: pre-doctoral year research project, 2017-2018
We live at a time when the sustainability of human existence is socially and environmentally uncertain. How can we be actors, through responsible practice and a poetic approach, in the transition from the logic of overconsumption and unrestrained growth to a sustainable system?
There is a lot at stake in graphic arts oriented toward a reduced environmental impact. Our social responsibility leads us to reflect on the restructuring of our practice and the means we might employ to move toward a rescaling of production and a visual depollution. An investigation of the critical and ethical positioning of projects, with regard to ordering, methods, technical means, and materials used, is fitting.
The purpose of my research is to put graphic design in balance and symbiosis with its environment and its intended recipients. To extend the possibilities of linking graphic design, humanity, and nature, I wish to explore the concrete and poetic dimension of materiality and its metaphoric qualities in order to raise human awareness (including on the emotional register) through their environment and to give rise to several possible approaches.
My research focused on the printed object leads me to imagine a two-track project. The first concerns the investigation of technical processes and materials. Through a multidisciplinary approach, I am making an inventory of biomaterials intended for graphic uses. Several initiatives around bio-sourced and biodegradable inks are in development – plant-based, micro-bacterial, and algae-based inks – especially in the textile sector. In the field of printing, research is still timid. In order to explore the use of certain of these materials in graphic design, subjected to principles of material and gestural economy, I propose to develop, through artisanal techniques, graphic techniques for activating the sensitive.
The second track leads me to the possibilities of printing without color and of inkless color. We currently think of printing as a technical process of transferring ink to a physical medium. This has not always been the case: in early Mesopotamia, between 3,400 and 3,200 BCE, the first writing system (cuneiform) functioned by using a reed stylus to incise on a wide variety of surfaces.
What is at issue is to imagine printing techniques prior to inks or beyond the use of inks. To think about the nature and architecture of the medium, the possibilities of giving form to the message through the material. From an empty, white, raw, or natural surface, how does the message awaken? Can the invisible reveal itself after contact? Can the medium itself be the color? Is it possible to apply the principle of structural colors (colors that result from the interaction of light with structured surfaces) in my graphic devices? What methods have already been tested or developed?
Finally, how can graphics, by reducing its means and pursuing visual economy, activate perception and stimulate the senses? How can it help reconnect people and nature, help people to become aware of their environment and the changes that affect it?
Victoria Calligaro: pre-doctoral year research project, 2017-2018
Eco-critical, eco-friendly, eco-poetic, eco-feminism, eco-theories, eco-extremism: the uses of the prefix “eco” are now numerous, and ever more complex and committed. Applied to the world of books, ecodesign calls for an interdisciplinary and protean ensemble. It is a notion that questions graphic design and its technical know-how, inherited and in the making. These issues of ecodesign for the book-object are encountered at many stages on the production chain and are older than they appear. The book, as an industrial artefact of reading, already incorporates the concept of life cycle: it is a byproduct of ennobled urban waste – rags previously, now recycled paper. At the same time, color functions as a language and as an element of differentiation in the space and universe of objects.
My research project at EnsadLab aims to find, through a chromatic and colorimetric approach to new ways of engaging in editorial ecodesign, in an experimental and prospective approach. This point of entry to issues of color in the book production chain makes it possible to consider the published object in a new way, to imagine alternative and speculative scenarios with a cross-cutting and renewed perspective.
The connection between color and editorial ecology intersects the production of the book at many points, taking on hints of societal and aesthetic issues related to the periods and modes of production. In counterpoint, the surprisingly resilient book chain silently accompanied what we call technical revolutions – which prove to be long, chaotic, and non-neutral processes. Color makes it possible to question the book in its multidisciplinary dimensions, summoning cognition, ergonomics, the notion of perception both cultural and sensorial, formal biodiversity, aesthetics, design, as well as the material, medium, technique, and digital space in which the text unfolds.
From this perspective, color and white play essential roles as sign and space. Those roles are particularly distinctive and normative, their uses and processes mutate. The study of these ecological and ecosystemic functions in the “black book” (namely books produced on an industrial scale and printed in black) inform us about issues of editorial ecodesign.
So, what are the different roles of color and white taken as “hyperobjects” (meaning as notions that go beyond their objects of study) in an editorial ecology? Can we imagine an ecologically indexed typographical gray? Is white in publishing reducible to a non-printed, unregistered space, or does it also function as a color? Can we attribute a role to a color in editorial ecodesign? In the personal relationship to the book, what are the sociological and ergonomic implications of the perception of color? Finally, how is the chromatic imagination constructed in the field of book publishing practices? These are so many avenues of inquiry about the practices of a book ecodesigned as an innovative and sustainable medium.
In autumn 2016, in its first working year, the group included three students in their pre-doctoral year:
Cássia D’Elia Oliveira