Understanding Graphic Design not as Communication Design

Found this book on a library shelf one day, page and thought “the title is interesting!”. Although the book seems ‘old’ because the cover has been re-bind with a boring yellow color does not mean the book is boring too. Yes, visit I know don not judge the book by it cover seems to be whispering in my head.“The history of Graphic Design and Communication” by Clive Ashwin has been printed in 1983, along with many other graphic design book. Now the discussion in this book, is enough for us to understand what is communication when the discussions and articles in the book are related to advertising, press, newspaper, magazine, printing, color managements, product, materials, technologies, methods of making and creating, design, arts and many other words that link to the word communication. The technologies, methods, terms and practices have not changed much till today. But why do we have to change the term, again? Graphic design and communication, or graphic communication, or visual graphic communication just enough to describe the activities and meanings behind the roles of graphic design. To me, the terms are clear and specific enough focusing on graphic design practices or visual communication that are related to graphic forms.

Now let see the meaning describes in the dictionary of the word graphic. It means something that relates to visual arts, and describes the practice. But it did not mentioned anything with computer manipulation and designing. I think it about time we should restated or rethink the meaning of graphic. However, the term graphic design is also in the dictionary.

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Here the word graphic is describes with the word design.

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Now, if we put the meaning together it make sense, and includes the latest technologies used in the practice such as computer, digital camera, flash tools etc. Graphic design in its meaning show the link and  strong relations between graphic, creation, construction in relation mass communication media such as advertisements, magazines or books.

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But why the new fancy term such as Communication Design try to take over the old terms? From specific to a broader view in design. From understood the meaning to “what does it mean?” Now if we look at the word communication, it means :

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So what do communication designers do? Branding, marketing, promoting or perhaps pretending? I think that these areas are already covered by people who studied Marketing, Public Relations and Management, if they graduate from these courses, they will be occupied with theory and practices in these areas of discipline. But they will not have the skill and practice of a graphic designer. So, now back to the Communication Design term. I think that the creation of this new term is an attempt for many non-designer who think that can explore and expend the areas of graphic design. My question is “What is Communication Design?” what does it mean? One definition is written by J.Frascara in 2003 as an attempt to justify the term Communication Design by giving an example that Communication Design is like a music composer, where he/she would take things/ ideas from various areas and compose it. Well.. Frascara, to be able to compose, one should be occupied with deep understanding of visual communication theory and practice, and would be much better if this person also understood or been practicing graphic design, that includes the pre-press printing and the technology behind the practice.

The word Communication Design is indeed sounded savvy, and new, but what does it mean? It means that people who adopted and used this terms, are able to go around and said everything is related to Communication Design with very limited understanding and knowledge in practice and theory of what these areas means such as 1) design, 2) communication 3) marketing and public relation 4) information technology or interactive 5) graphic design and prepress 6) historical and identity 7) cultural studies and media, and the list can go on and on.. But what these people, who claimed to be the expert of the ‘new areas’ and understand the practice did is, composing everything that have the potencial to provide status, funding and ‘new terms’ and claimed that as the practice of Communication Design. The worst is the areas of expertise such as interior design, web design, graphic design, user design, product design and many others will be taken over by the ‘claimed to be the expert: Communication Design’ over these ‘petite expertise’.

PUDU Gaol: Dream a little dream of me…

PUDU Gaol demolishing process took place today.

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Credit Image: Arkib Negara Malaysia

Photo Pudu Jail 1895: Arkib Negara Malaysia.
Credit video: Dick Chua for an excellent captures of the moment.

See The Star newspaper for the news.

It is an unfortunate to know that another Malaysian old historical building, that has been standing in Pudu areas, Hang Tuah road for more then 100 years (115 to be exact) will soon be gone and turn to dust today. Many Malaysian agreed with this decision but not many will go further to fight for it. Media coverage try to get as much voices and opinion to maintained the process from happening.  As proposed by government the Pudu Goal area which includes almost 10 hectares of land will be transformed to a new development project that according to the Draft KL City Plan 2020 the prison site has been earmarked for development. Previous plans for the site have included a proposal for a mixed commercial and residential development, which included a 33 storey office block, a shopping complex, a 43 storey hotel and a 44 storey serviced apartment tower. I understood that Malaysia want to promoted and developed the country, showing how modern and developed the country’s are, but what I don’t understand it why there is a need to demolished the historical building in order to achieve that aim. Sad, disappointed and devastating with the Malaysian government action. Bernama a Malaysian national news agency, captured some of the disappointment from many Malaysian.

Image Credit: Badan Warisan
Image Credit: Badan Warisan

I would imagine that the Pudu Jail area can be reconstruct as a Malaysian national archive hub, with cafes around, some galleries, or some parts of it could be an extension of Central Market, where artists, actors  and students will be able to practices and get inspirations from the space. It can be a place where film director will get their inspiration to make some scene there, or a band can conduct some nice entertainment show around the square. The wall surround it is just perfect to cover and take away the noise from outside the areas, the busy vehicles and traffics. The whole areas can be different if there is more thought given and voices are heard in the process. Some people would say that the Jail space are home for many bad spirits. Typical Malaysian who are believer of spirits, well, why not, but didn’t we also aware that the bad spirit will only stay when there is other bad spirits around. If we make the space livable and enjoyable, the bad spirit will have to fight with the good spirits. Yes, that is another agenda that I think supports the demolishment process of the building. Getting rid of bad spirits by destroying the building and build a new fancy one. What if the bad spirits stays?

May be it will be a bit to ambitious to say that it could or possible to be like the Le Lourve museum in France. Yes, Le Lourve was a museum before, and been kept as a museum. So what if it’s a jail? What matters is the site of the jail (10 hectares) will give us possibilities to explore the areas, renew and give the space a new energy and feeling. By keeping the façade and modified the inner space. It will be a great experiences for the younger generations to explore and learn about the space, not only for tourist. It will be a center for discussion or even a hub for conference where people discuss about the historical sites and the significant it will give to the nation.

Badan Warisan captured some  interesting prisoners wall cell drawing.

Credit image: Badan Warisan website
Credit image: Badan Warisan

More images on Pudu Jail can be trace from other sites such as Skyscraper munirakirana

Pudu Jail Map in Google map

Click here for larger view