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Communication  &  Social  Relations   RMIT  University,  2010  

  Authors:  

1.  Marcin  Nagorski    

 

2.  Arthur  McCarthy    

 

3.  Chung  Wennie  

 

 

4.  Hui  Peng    

 

 

  1.  Video  Billboard     Recent  architecture  in  Melbourne  has  been  more  adventurous  than  ever  before   in  the  past.  Building  designs  in  particular  have  begun  to  incorporate  technology   into  their  structures  and  facades.   The  APN  Outdoors  advertising  billboard  is  as  much  an  advertisers  dream   as  it  is  a  design  marvel.  It  is  an  aesthetically  pleasing  LED  screen  mounted  across   the  street  from  one  of  Australia’s  busiest  train  stations.   Appearing  (from  the  left  to  the  right)  to  be  made  of  smaller  LED  blocks   that  build  to  make  up  the  whole  it  is  designed  to  be  a  technological  marvel  as   well  as  a  billboard.  It’s  image  quality  is  almost  unaffected  by  weather  and   viewing  angle  and  it  contrasts  greatly  against  it’s  host,  the  Young  and  Jackson   hotel  building.   Although  the  billboard  is  mounted  onto  an  older  building,  if  one  looks   right  at  home,  giving  the  entire  building  a  more  “modern”  look.  Krajina  (2009)   describes  this  effect  on  the  façade  of  a  building  as  “liquid”,  the  architectural   surface  of  a  city  is  now  in  a  state  of  constant  change.     The  incorporation  of  a  screen  such  as  the  one  on  Flinders  Street  into  the   physical  facade  of  a  building  creates  the  opportunity  to  breathe  a  new  life  into   the  whole  of  a  city.  “Light”  has  always  been  one  of  the  main  factors  that  gives  any   city  life  (Krajina,  2009).  These  screens  offer  a  new  form  of  light,  adding   movement  to  it,  and  creating  a  new  constantly  changing  and  shifting  life  within   the  city.  


Federation  Square  is  a  prime  example  of  where  this  has  become  a  reality.   Several  LED  screens  advertising  movie  times  have  been  designed  into  the   building’s  western  face.  The  constant  movement  gives  the  area  a  feel  of   busyness,  even  when  the  area  is  deserted.  This  gives  the  feeling  of  community  to   people,  the  city  is  communicating  with  its  publics  and  with  itself  (Struppek,   2006).   The  design  of  these  screens  is  increasingly  becoming  more  apparent   throughout  Melbourne  and  the  world,  where  entire  networks  of  these  digital   billboards  are  being  created.  Design  is  incorporating  “evolving  technology”  to   morph  into  something  more  consumable  (Brill,  2002).     The  APN  billboard  is  the  first  step  to  reaching  the  goal  of  an  ever-­‐ changing  and  morphing  consumer  environment.  People  have  been  enthralled  by   architecture  for  as  long  as  they  have  been  building  things,  and  this  is  evident   enough  from  the  sheer  diversity  of  our  structures  all  over  the  world,  and  in   Melbourne.   Melbourne  has  been  in  the  process  of  becoming  a  digitally  liquid  city  for   some  time  now.  With  the  completion  of  Federations  Square  in  2002  (and  the   add-­‐on  in  2006)  as  well  as  with  the  mounting  of  the  APN  Outdoors  billboard  the   first  steps  to  reaching  the  ultimate  goal  of  the  eternally  unique  city.  Standing  out   from  the  rest  of  the  world  is  what  Melbourne  has  tried  to  do  for  a  long  time  with   its  design.  By  copying  many  of  the  world’s  most  celebrated  buildings  in  it’s  own   CBD  and  surrounding  areas,  and  adding  the  “liquid  façade”,  Melbourne  will   finally  have  its  unique  identity.     2.  State  Library  of  Victoria     The  State  Library  of  Victoria,  which  represents  the  heart  of  the  city  of  Melbourne,   dates  back  to  1856  making  it  one  of  the  oldest  buildings  in  Victoria.  Many  famous   people  can  be  attributed  to  founding  the  library  none  more  so  notable  and   influential  than  Sir  Redmond  Barry  and  Lieutenant  Joseph  Charles  La  Trobe.   Barry,  the  Chairman  of  the  trustees  of  the  library  insisted  that  the  library  would   provide  etiquette  and  knowledge  to  a  post  gold  rush  society  wanting  to  build  a  


‘great  emporium  of  learning   and  philosophy,  of  literature,   science  and  art’.  (Redmond   Barry  1856)   By  the  year  1865  the   State  Library  of  Victoria   housed  in  excess  of  38,000   books  and  the  need  for   expansion  was  soon   becoming  evident.  This   resulted  in  the  construction   of  new  buildings  including   the  spectacular  domed   reading  room  which  opened   in  1913.  This  magnificent   reading  room  was  designed   to  seat  320  readers  and  to   house  32,000  books  on  the   shelves  around  its  walls.  The  remainder  of  the  Library’s  ever-­‐growing  collection   was  stored  in  stacks,  available  to  readers  on  request.   Leslie  Cannold  labels  The  State  Library  of  Victoria  as  Victorians  major   reference  and  research  centre,  saying  describing  the  building  itself  as  “beautiful”   and  “cleverly  renovated”.  It  is  a  building  that  offers  students,  scholars  and   creators  a  “wealth  of  resources”.  Her  issue  with  the  library  surrounds  “hordes”  of   secondary  students  that  through  “giggling”,  “whispering”,  “texting”  and   “flirtatious  dashing  from  one  table  to  the  next”  create  a  culmination  of  noise  that   abhorrently  ignores  the  sign  and  tradition  of  libraries  being  “a  quiet  area  for   silent  work  and  study”.  (Leslie  Cannold  2010)     In  light  of  2004  being  the  150th  anniversary  of  The  State  Library  of   Victoria,  Philip  Goad  wrote  a  blog  to  explain  the  origins  of  the  building  itself.  The   State  Library  which  has  also  at  times  been  home  to  the  National  Museum  and   National  Gallery  begun  in  1853  and  was  designed  by  competition  winner  Joseph  


Reed.  Goad  revealed  that  Reed  chose  to  design  the  library  with  ‘Roman  Revival’   design,  however  it  must  be  noted  that  the  building  has  been  added  to  a  few   times.  (Phillip  Goad  2004)     Over  its  150  year  heritage  it  has  been  renovated  4  times  and  overall  has   had  11  architects.  Between  19061911,  Bates,  Peebles  and  Smart  designed  what   for  a  small  time  would  be  the  world’s  largest  re-­‐enforced  dome.  The  polygonal   dome  which  rises  over  4  levels  is  now  iconic  to  the  city  of  Melbourne  and  now   stands  proudly  as  one  of  Melbourne’s  most  loved  institutions.   The  State  Library  of  Victoria  whilst  renowned  for  its  literature  and   research  is  also  one  other  significant  thing;  a  meeting  point  and  often  the  centre   of  rallies  and  protests.  On  January  9th  2009,  about  100  Israel  supporters   gathered  on  the  steps  of  State  Parliament  chanting  "no  more  terror"  only  to  be   outnumbered  by  around  1000  pro  Palestinian  supporters.  Due  to  the  iconic   status  of  the  library  it  is  often  a  representation  of  society  and  thus  these   protesters  gathered  their  not  only  because  it  is  in  the  heart  of  Melbourne  but   because  they  were  making  a  social  and  political  stand.  (Mitchell  2009)   The  library’s  founder  Sir  Redmond  Barry  envisioned  Melbourne  to  be  the   Rome  of  the  south  and  whilst  the  State  Library  of  Victoria  resembles  aspects  of   Roman  architecture  the  core  essence  of  the  library  is  Australian,  holding  social   and  cultural  artefacts  significant  to  Victoria.  It  would  be  fair  to  say  that  whilst   Melbourne  as  entity  hardly  resembles  Rome,  it  has  created  a  unique  city  of  which   the  iconic  library  stands  proudly  at  the  heart  of.       3.  Hosier  Lane     Hosier  Lane  is  a  part  of  Andy  Mac’s  City  Lights  project  –  ‘an  independent  public   art  project  utilising  permanent  light  box  exhibition  sites  and  produces   ephemeral  events  focusing  on  collaboration,  street  art,  and  emerging  artists’   (Mac,  2009).     It  is  located  on  the  Southern  part  of  Melbourne  CBD,  opposite  Federation   Square  on  Flinders  Street.  It  is  well  known  for  its  ever-­‐changing  graffiti  and   street  art.  


Graffiti  is  not  only  an  art  displayed  on  public  space,  it  forms  a  lifestyle  that   is  concealed  from  the  public.  Most  importantly,  Graffiti  acts  as  a  social  and   political  medium.  It  can  offer  important  information  on  the  motivations  and   ideologies  of  the  artists,  and  is  continuously  changing  according  to  current   issues.  Also,  graffiti  can  be  seen  as  a  new  form  of  visual  cultural  production  that   is  able  to  enhance  the  everyday  urban  life  (Austin,  2010).  

  Evidence  to  this  is  that  graffiti  can  even  be  linked  back  to  the  Pluralist   Decade  (Austin,  p  37)  –  how  graffiti  was  created  in  a  direct  dialogue  and  used  to   communicate  with  the  society.  During  that  period  of  time,  new  ideas  of  finding   civil  rights  and  social  identity  were  passed  on  through  graffiti.  It  can  be  said  that   the  people  used  graffiti  when  their  freedom  of  speech  was  taken.  This  shows  that   graffiti  can  be  influenced  by  social  changes  and  ethnic  communities.   Graffiti  changes  with  the  city  –  ‘New  contexts  reflect  and  shape  new   meaning  (Austin,  p  42).’  Graffiti  provided  a  way  of  seeing  something  new;  offers   another  public  site  for  discussion,  information  sharing  and  creation.   Graffiti  can  be  used  as  an  advertising  (communication)  tool.  This  is   because  graffiti  artists  have  just  as  much  right  to  use  public  spaces  for   advertisement  as  corporation  uses  large  billboards  (Farmer,  p  20).  There  are   also  a  number  of  similarities  between  graffiti  and  billboards  advertisement.  They   both  communicate  with  the  public  –  billboards  persuade  and  attract  the  public   whereas  graffiti  can  change  the  public.  


Graffiti  can  be  influenced  by  its  surroundings  and  how  people  convey   their  ideas  through  them.  It  contains  the  artist’s  ideologies  politically  and   socially.  Artists  express  their  angst  towards  the  country’s  political  affair  through   graffiti  and  how  the  message  is  passed  on  (Farmer,  2007).    Artists  place  their   ideologies  not  in  words,  but  pictures  where  only  some  people  may  understand   them.  Through  graffiti,  they  spread  their  ideologies,  and  when  the  public  adopts   these  ideas,  it  may  create  a  strong  political  or  social  response.  The  aesthetic   criteria  and  motives  behind  the  artist’s  work  far  outweigh  arguments  on  legality   or  unconventional  presentation  (Werwath,  para.  2).     In  conclusion,  graffiti  not  only  act  as  a  medium  for  expressing  political   and  social  messages,  but  it  changes  with  the  environment.  People  who  cannot   express  their  dissatisfactory  through  words,  regardless  of  who  they  are,  can   express  them  through  graffiti.  Although  graffiti  is  always  associated  with   negative  issues  such  as  vandalism  and  crime  in  the  past,  it  now  acts  as  a  common   communication  tool  for  the  public.  It  is  definitely  a  very  strong  tool  to  express   political  and  social  messages.     4.  Chinatown’s  Archway:  “Paifang”     The  main  cities  of  the  Western  countries  have  their  Chinatowns.  In  Melbourne,   Chinatown  was  established  in  the  city  CBD,  and  located  in  Little  Bourke  Street   and  its  lanes  between  Swanston  and  Russell  streets.     Chinatown  began  as  a  staging  post  for  the  greater  quantity  of  Chinese   people  passing  through  Melbourne  on  their  way  to  the  goldfields.  The  Chinese   set  up  their  shops  alongside  brothels,  houses,  herbalists  and  opium  dens   (Armstrong,  M  1997,  p.17),  but  nowadays,  Melbourne’s  chinatown  is  made  up  f   stalls,  restaurants  and  is  an  iconic  streetscape  in  Melbourne’s  inner  city.  And  the   Chinatown  gate  is  one  of  it’s  communication  features.   ‘Paifang’,  also  called  ‘Pailou’  or  arch  in  English,  is  a  wooden  or  stone   archway  built  mainly  to  commemorate  a  great  achievement  or  loftiness  of  a   family’s  ancestors.  Each  ‘Paifang’  has  its  own  cultural  connotations  and   symbolisms,  which  are  expressed  in  the  gorgeously  colourful  painting  and   patterns  (Travel  China  Guide,  2009).    


As  the  ‘Paifang’  symbolizes  Chinese  culture  and  long  history,  one  is  able  to   comment  on  the  definitions  of  the  patterns  and  items  on  the  ‘Paifeng’  from  a   design  perspective.  Although  the  ‘Paifang’  of  Melbourne’s  Chinatown  is  not   pretty  large,  like  the  royal  family’s,  it  is  not  difficult  to  see  its  painting,  colours   and  engravings  and  embossing  on  the  top  are  exquisite.  The  gold  Chinese   unicorns  on  the  top  of  archway  roof,  and  some  gold  decorations  under  the  roof,   some  blue  and  green  paintings  on  the  ‘Paifang’s’  surface  are  great  examples  of   this.     The  ‘Paifang’  wpuld  be   decorated  with  lanterns  and   festoons  during  Chinese  festivals,   and  would  play  an  active  role  in   traditional  lion  dances  and  the   lighting  of  firecrackers.  Becoming   a  living  addition  to  the   streetscape  of  Chinatown.   Archways  generally  built   of  wood,  brick  or  stone  and   display  inscriptions.  ‘Paifang’   does  not  ‘live’,  does  not  keep  out   wind  and  rain,  but  has  a  religious  connotation  aiding  in  prayer  to  Buddha  for   help.  Nevertheless,  depending  on  its  decorative  forms  and  various  social   functions,  its  “inner  secret”  is  very  varied  and  ancient.     Thus  ‘Paifang’  has  profound  historical  significance  and  special  status  in   the  traditional  Chinese  culture  (Der,  1929).  Melbourne  is  one  multicultural  city,   like  a  big  family,  different  nationalities  live,  work,  study  and  communicate  in   Melbourne.  Chinatown  is  representative  of  Chinese  culture,  and  the  archway   directly  illustrates  a  marked  symbol  of  Chinese  culture.  Nowadays,  the  arch  in   Chinatown  is  one  of  Melbourne’s  landmarks.  That  is  why  people,  whether   Chinese  or  others  see  the  ‘Paifang’  easily  recognize  this  area  as  Chinatown.   In  an  influential  book  called  A  Primer  of  Visual  Library,  author  Donis  Dondis   (1973)  proposed  that  visual  information  is  processed  on  three  levels:  


representational,  abstract  and  symbolic.  Symbolic  information  also  includes   geometry,  line,  icons  and  colour  and  considers  the  image’s  effect  on  the  viewer.     Six  possible  uses  for  icons  in  contemporary  society  are;  to  make  a  mark   on  the  word,  as  in  a  signature.  To  communicate  when  alphabetic  or  numeric   systems  fail.  To  converse  with  those  who  do  not  understand  our  language.  To   initiate  a  story.  To  project  out  image  onto  others  and  to  offer  information  that   needs  to  be  quickly  understood  (Helmers,  M  2006).  In  Melbourne  city,  I  believe   that  you  would  not  find  another  Chinese  archway  so  full  of  culturally  unique   characteristics  of  art  as  in  Chinatown.  Chinatown’s  ‘Paifang’  is  not  only  a  gate,   but  also  a  Chinese  symbol  in  Melbourne  and  even  in  the  world.         REFERENCES:     Brill,  L,  M  2002,  LED  Billboards:  Outdoor  Advertising  in  the  Video  Age,  Sign   Industry,  viewed  15  April  2010,   <http://www.signindustry.com/led/articles/2002-­‐07-­‐30-­‐ LBledBillboards.php3>     Krajina,  Z  2009  “Exploring  Urban  Screens”,  Culture  Unbound,  Vol.  1,  pp.  401-­‐430     Struppek,  M  2006,  “Urban  Screens  –  The  urbane  Potential  of  Public  Screens  for   Interaction”,  Intelligent  Agent,  Vol.  6,  No.  2     Leslie  Cannold,  The  Age  Newspaper,  (February  23,  2010),  Society  &  Culture,   ‘Chattering  classes  invade  library  quiet’,   <http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-­‐and-­‐culture/chattering-­‐classes-­‐ invade-­‐library-­‐quiet-­‐20100222-­‐oro0.html  >     Philip  Goad,  (1  March  2004)  Walking  Melbourne,  ‘The  State  Library  of  Victoria’     <http://www.walkingmelbourne.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=469>     Geraldine  Mitchell  ,  Herald  Sun  (January  4  2009),  “Gaza  protests  spill  onto   Melbourne  Streets”.  <http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/gaza-­‐ protesters-­‐hit-­‐city-­‐streets/story-­‐e6frf7kx-­‐1111118473662>       2009,  Headaches  due  to  wind  cold,  Memorial  Arch  (Paifang),  viewed  17  April   2010,   <http://www.travelchinaguide.com/intro/architecture/culture/paifang.htm>.     Der,  L  1929,  Two  Years  in  the  Forbidden  City  ,  Dodd,  Mead  and  Company,  viewed   17  April  2010,  University  of  Virginia  Library.    


Dondis,  D,  A  1973,  A  Primer  of  visual  Literacy,  1st  edn,  The  Mit  Press,  Cumberland,   USA       Helmers,  M  2006,  ‘The  elements  of  critical  viewing’,  The  elements  of  visual   analysis,  1st  edn,  Pearson  Education,  Inc,  pp.  26-­‐57.     Austin,  J.  2010,  ‘More  to  see  than  a  canvas  in  a  white  cube:  For  an  art  in  the   streets’,  City,  Edn  14:  1,  Routledge,  London,  pp.  33  –  17.     Farmer,  S.L.  2007,  ‘An  Evaluation  of  Graffiti  as  a  Tool  for  Conveying  Political  and   Social  Messages’,  BSc  Digital  Arts  and  Technology,  University  of  Plymouth.     Mac,  A.  <n.p.>  2009,  ‘About  City  Lights  Project’,  blog,  n.d.,  City  Lights  Projects,   viewed  13  April  2010,  <  http://citylights-­‐projects.blogspot.com/  >.     Werwath,  T.  2006,  The  Culture  and  Politics  of  Graffiti  Art,  Wilde  Lake  High  School,   viewed  14  April  2010,  <  http://www/graffiti.org/faq/werwath/werwath.html  >.            


Assignment 3 - Melbourne From a Design Perspective