Assessment 1 | Analysis of manifestos

Futurists Manifesto:
The manifesto is written in the style of an ordered list. From 1 to 11. It has 11 points as 11 was Marinetti’s favourite number. It is written in a clear, easy to read way and reads somewhat like a piece of propaganda. It is very poetic, conjuring up a real sense of passion and devotion.

However towards the end it seems to move from being inspirational and moving, to being more of a rant. Warmongering and encouraging extreme reactions from its members, as well as far left political views.

“8. We stand on the last promontory of the centuries!… Why should we look back, when what we want is to break down the mysterious doors of the Impossible? Time and Space died yesterday. We already live in the absolute, because we have created eternal, omnipresent speed.” (Marinetti, 1909).

I most strongly agree with this point in the manifesto, as I believe that looking ahead and experimenting is the way to better graphic design. Sadly like most manifestos for ‘artists’, they seem to be self-serving, egotistical and rather preachy.

Dada Manifesto:
The very fact that the Dada have a manifesto is ironic in their beliefs. Their manifesto seem to be a direct attack on the futurists manifesto, it is very much anti-war, its purpose was to ridicule what its participants considered to be the meaninglessness of the modern world.

It is written in a very basic, somewhat satirical and childlike way. Clearly this is a reaction to Marinetti. It contradicts the harsh warlike feel of the Futurists for a more laid back fun poke. As a manifesto I feel it works for the Dada, as a piece of design in itself, however I struggle to agree with most of the comments it makes, for example “Art is a private thing, the artist makes it for himself” (Tzara, 1918). While in some respects this is true, I feel a lot of what art is about is expressing yourself to the world.

Bauhaus Manifesto:
The Bauhaus manifesto proclaimed that the ultimate aim of all creative activity is “the building”. Students participated right from the start in building projects.

The Bauhaus manifesto is very up beat, it is written in the style of a declaration, easy to read and concise. It is very motivational, and gives a real sense of what the movement believe in. I think this works really well as a manifesto and would love to recreate something similar in my work. A key point I liked was “There is no essential difference between the artist and the craftsman. The artist is an exalted craftsman.” (Gropius, 1919). I feel this directly relates to today’s world, simply replace ‘craftsman’ with graphic designer.

Stuckist Manifesto:
This is another manifesto written in the style of an ordered list, it has 20 points ranging in size from about a line to 5.

It was written in response to the criticism of their work from Tracey Emin, “Your paintings are stuck,you are stuck!Stuck! Stuck! Stuck!”.

The stuckist manifesto again takes a satirical, fun poking view of its purpose from the start, much like the Dada.

It counters everything about the modernism movement, from its education (or lack of) to its egotistical, self-serving nature “7. The Stuckist is not mesmerised by the glittering prizes”. (Childish, B & Thomson, C. 1999).

I personally think even with its satirical, mocking overtones, its really works well as a manifesto. It is clear in its intentions and the feel of it reflects that of the Stuckist’s themselves. I would also love to recreate a piece in this style, I think it works really well.

“14. Brit Art, in being sponsored by Saachis, main stream conservatism and the Labour government, makes a mockery of its claim to be subversive or avant-garde.” (Childish, B & Thomson, C. 1999).

I adore this quite, hits the nail right on the head. I would love to write in the style of the Stuckist’s manifesto but I feel that I lack a real nemesis to truly allow me to be satirical and make its an interesting read.

Surrealism Manifesto:
The Surrealist’s manifesto is actually quite long and wordy compared to the manifesto’s of others. It is set out in largely in paragraphs, but does contain a small ordered list. But even these are still quite long and wordy when compared to the general layout of past manifesto’s. But then again that all ads to the feel and desire of surrealism, so dream and be different, away with the old.

Clearly the fact that Breton was a poet played a large part in the style he wrote the manifesto. It is full of adjectives and reads like a poem, while still getting across the points he intended. Breton sought a more constructive way to rebel against rational thought than the more negative Dada.

Again I am a huge fan of the working that came out of the surrealist movement, but for me, even tough they are less ‘preachy’ and negative then the Dada, it still feels as if it was trying to be an exclusive club just to be ‘cool’ and make people listen to them for the wrong reasons, which contradicts what I see as the ideals of surrealism. (Breton, 1924).

Ten principles for good design – Dieter Rams:
This is a simple 10 point ordered list version of a manifesto. I like the style of ordered list manifesto’s, they tend to be to the point and less ‘preachy’. Rams give lots of valid observations in his manifesto. “01 Good design is innovative. The possibilities for innovation are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for innovative design. But innovative design always develops in tandem with innovative technology, and can never be an end in itself.”

Again this is a well written manifesto with clear principles and observations. They style works very well and can easily be used as a check-list for good design. There is a clear influence from the modernist, in particular the Bauhaus movement. Rams has even influenced Jonathan Ive, of Apple Inc. Rams even states that Apple is one of the few companies designing products according to his principles. So he is clearly a very good designer to aspire to.

1.000 Words Manifesto – Allan Chochinov:
Is very similar to that of Rams, it uses a similar layout with 10 points. It is a mix of observation, principles and goals for designers. He borrows from other well know sources such as the Owner’s Manifesto. He even goes beyond just design to comment on other areas such as simple, how to act (Hippocratic Before Socratic). Something which I feel was missing from Rams manifesto.

Another example of an ordered list style manifesto is that of The Pirate Bay website. (Powr.Proccoli-Kopimi, 2009). It is stated as ‘100 roads to #g-d’ but actually contains 109 points. Again this is a nod to the political satire nature of past manifesto’s, such as the Stuckist’s and Dada. As we know The Pirate Bay had become quite famous recently for its use of modern technology to spread its ideals, mainly that of file sharing, and anti corporate greed. The feel of their manifesto compliments the website well, with its tongue in cheek response to government interference. While practically it is not the best manifesto, it does work well for them, and works well as a manifesto for its members.

The First Things First Manifesto (1964) called for a revolutionary form of graphic design. It criticised value free design and had wide influence on the resulting development of the new generation of graphic designers.

The re-introduction of the First Things First Manifesto in 2000, reintroduced the same idea. It held the belief that designers must be critical in their designs to take a stand against hegemonic (imperial dominance) ideologies. For example they should not stoop to working or promoting those industries or products believed to be controlling and ‘bad’ (Such as cigarette companies). It also alludes to the fact that designers should not lower themselves to doing menial, ‘inessential’ work such as using their skills to sell dog biscuits.

Again these two manifesto’s come across as ‘wordy’ but not to the same extent as the Surrealists. I feel this manifesto is much more relevant to me as it is more modern and deals with graphic design as opposed to ‘traditional art’.

It comes across as a ‘call to arms’ and achieves its goals very well, as evidenced by the reintroduction of the manifesto in 2000.

I strongly agree with this manifesto, especially the updated version in 2000, however some of the backlash to the re-release did occur, mainly in 2 ways:

      1. It was seen by some as ‘elitist nonsense’.
      2. It was seen by some as being ‘absolutist’.

These are two valid concerns with the manifesto, as it seems to have regressed back towards Marinetti’s way of thinking. All things considered though, I feel that this is a very strong manifesto for a designer to at least take not of. If you were to take not of the First Things First & Rams’ manifesto, I feel that you would be in a very strong position as a future designer.

Again as with most popular manifesto’s some alternate versions were born from it, mainly the Last Things Last manifesto, (Choussat, A & Antonio, Z. 2004). “Designers are self-centered, but at least they know it.”

The last ‘mainstream’ manifesto that interested me wasAn Incomplete Manifesto for Growth (Mau, 1998). It is in the same style as the Stuckist’s, a 43 point manifesto articulating his beliefs, strategies, and motivations. It is very inspiring young designers, and has lead to the creation of posters and/or book covers for it.

For a young designer such as myself, this list is extremely helpful, and gives a great insight into what I should expect and how I should go about my business. Everything from life, work and play. It is a welcome change from the overly idealistic manifesto’s of other designers and I believe it a must read for everyone, not just budding designers. I would argue that this is probably the most inspiring piece if have come across.

Similar to that of Mau, I came across the manifesto’s of two small design companies that I felt where along the same lines of Mau. Clearly his influence is far reaching, but as I have said, that is a good thing.

Miura Manifesto: (Miura. (2011). Miura Manifesto. Available: http://www.miura.gi/ourmanifesto.php. Last accessed 21st October 2011).

The manifesto contains 16 simple points articulating their strategies, and beliefs. It uses simple heading much like in the work of Mau. It is great for young graphic designers in much the same way, giving advice on not only how to work, but how to live. “TO BE HONEST”, “TO DESIGN WORK WE ARE PROUD OF” etc. It works very well despite its short and simple nature, in fact I think this adds to the overall effect of it.

CaveDogStudio Manifesto: (CaveDogStudio. (2011). Manifesto. Available: http://www.cavedogstudio.com/manifesto/index.html. Last accessed 21st October 2011).

The manifesto work in much the same way as Miura’s, it is written as an unordered list with 7 points. Again it is much more like a guide to being a good graphic designer then a political movement, just like how I would like mine to be. The list is extremely inspiring, and gives a great insight into their beliefs, strategies, and motivations.

“Keep it simple”, “ Be inventive”. I do not think you could get much closer to the mark then these two quotes lifted from the manifesto.

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