Digital pulses

by Kelvin Smith

Digital pulses and print packages transport meaning on different routes through different topographies of publishing. Sense originating from a structured data store is more linear than a line of text, pulsing out to single screens, with switched-on variations emerging as feedback (re)sources ordering the predetermined. We do not own digital in the way we own print, and its design denies a ‘sense’ of ownership.

Differently designed communications serve different ends even when laying claim to common origins; they take readers into territories, landscapes and gridded streets on maps provided or hinted at. Signposts and sentinels point to panoramas and particularities; encounters with companions and other wanderers on the journey depend on common language. Design of print develops within language and region; digital design is exiled, rootless.

Each print pathway balances the gains and losses; demands incorporation of text and technicalities in each reading; bridges the untranslatable for writer/reader and reader/writer. Digital design is un-ironic, forward facing, seeking audience and approval, soliciting action, encouraging participation to improve the algorithm. But designers are not determined by rules; they are not ciphers in algorism.

“It wasn’t until I started bringing analog tools back into my process that making things became fun again and my work started to improve.”

[Kleon, A. Steal Like and Artist. New York: Workman. 2012. p57]