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p r o足 p o S A L p r o F o r m a Self-Directed Proposal


Oct 2013

Matt Woodman Tutor

Gabriel Solomons


how Can questions a of cosmolog mechanics a physical sc demonstrate to inform accessibility for a wider

current and theories gy, quantum and modern science be ed creatively m, increase y and clarify r audience?

Proposal Proforma

Why? Inform and inspire

My chosen area of self-directed study represents a long-standing interest that I have had for many years with cosmology, astrophysics, contemporary scientific debate and questions of existence. I believe that it is a topic which is potentially rich in graphic imagery and conceptual creative solutions. Most importantly it presents a challenge or problem which it is imperative that I must address throughout my exploration of the subject. Typically the sciences are presented to the general public in a manner that is often very data driven and difficult to understand, comprehend or engage with. I want to make this information accessible to a wider audience, inform, inspire and raise the questions, that theoretical physicists deal with, in an open and engaging discourse with my audience. Whilst I probably would not categorise this subject matter specifically as an area of anthropological study or social culture, I believe that there is plenty of scope for creativity and graphic interpretation. The physical sciences are devoted to one unified goal, that of understanding, explaining and being able to describe the universe in which we exist — and so in one sense this question does carry a cultural significance for a mass audience, because it is a theme which has a direct impact on every living individual. Ultimately I want to inspire people to engage with key themes of contemporary scientific debate and interrogate that which science presents as fact. This is important because I believe that, especially in the community of theoretical physicists, much of the thinking regarding the way that the universe operates is performed subjectively and more often than not with a degree of abstract creativity. These ideas are then often presented to the non-scientific community as being fixed and objective when in fact they are quite fickle, most theories are subject to dynamic changes in our knowledge and the flux of new information or ideas. Typically a single measured statistical discovery can raise more questions than it has answered and also disprove a number of previously accepted facts. In which case every individual has license and right to a view, opinion or idea about how these premises affect their life. Furthermore, the development of new technologies, influenced by our advances in the physical sciences, pose a number of ethical questions, and issues of morality regarding the application of theoretical work, affecting the global human population with increasing frequency. Some examples of this include the testing and subsequent use of the atom bomb by the USA and the use of the LHC by CERN in Switzerland.


Proposal Proforma

The subject matter is fundamental to all, humans have always straddled questions of origin, creation and the unity of the universe Depth of research

My initial research has shown that there are numerous articles currently featured in the national and global media, in addition to being discussed in the scientific populace, that are relevant to my self directed proposal matter. These matters of discussion make my study topical and relevant to contemporary culture in addition to raising the subject to a discourse with a much wider community. Patently there is a public interest and preexisting audience for such content. Current topics that I have identified of particular interest include; – The observable discovery of the Higgs Boson particle, hypothesised as being responsible for mass in all matter, and the declaration of a Nobel Prize in Physics to Peter Higgs – The global threat of nuclear war between the US and North Korea – Advances in new computer technology led by quantum mechanics – NASA’s Kepler space telescope [the ‘planet hunter’] has discovered over 700 new planets in the 15 months since its launch, a minority of which are potentially capable of sustaining life, it now averages 2 new discoveries per day – The discovery of the first planet moving through space without a sun – Asteroid DA14’s near collision with Earth this year, the closest recorded trajectory for an object of its size since records began – The Russian meteor impact – The launch of Virgin Galactic commercial space flights – The use of the Large Hadron Collider by CERN in Switzerland, prophesied as potentially an end to the world, via black hole creation – Conspiracy theories regarding the moon landing – Comet ISON’s close flight to our sun, predicted in late November – The G2 dust cloud encounter with the Milky Way’s black hole


A Subject of Matter

Some topics of discussion, highlighted from my initial research, were further explored in conversation with others


part 01


part 02


part 03


part 04


part 05


part 06


part 07


part 08


part 09


part 10



A Subject of Matter

A Subject of Matter

They had done nuclear tests, which amounts to a classroom experiment of the same thing. Because they knew that if you stood … that you A. couldn’t look at it and B. that if you stood anywhere near it there would be, what do they call it? A nuclear wind. Well but that’s the same for any bomb. I mean if somebody drops a thousand pounds worth of TNT next to you there will be a nuclear wind and a flash so bright you can’t look at it. He’s right there. It is common sense that when you are going to test a bomb you do it in a desert, a long way away from you. But they weren’t sure what was going to happen. But they did test radioactivity from it and people did get sick as a result of that nuclear testing and they knew that. Well yes but they weren’t sure it wasn’t going to bring about the end of the world, they weren’t sure it wasn’t going to set the atmosphere on fire.

charles levy – 9 august 1945 Atomic bombing of Nagasaki taken from B-29 Superfortress



A Subject of Matter

A Subject of Matter

maximilien brice – 25 february 2008 CERN Large Hadron Collider

They weren’t sure, you know … Does that … well that’s another thing that I’m thinking about, does that worry you? What? That, it’s outside of your control. That people in these institutes … Yes. They’re doing things … Yes it does. That could … anything could happen! They said that it was a possibility that when they switched the Hadron Collider on they would make a black hole. That’s right yeah. And actually I think … I may be wrong in this but I think it has been proven that they have made black holes, just tiny ones. Just unsustainable ones. That have fizzled out in a micro-second. Yes they did, and I still thought that: knowing that, it was highly irresponsible. And yes it was beyond my control so what could I do except turn my back to it and accept it. No but I was interested to find out, if people were worried about that. I mean, maybe … I don’t know if the average person thinks about that. Well it is kind of out of their control really isn’t it. I think it’s … well it depends on the kind of person that you are. Because there are some people who will worry about things that they have no control over and some that will accept that they have no control over it and so there is no point in worrying about it. VI

I mean it’s like; war. It’s like; the cold war. It’s like; all the countries in the world that had nuclear power and how worrying that was when I was younger. About some idiot starting World War three and nuking everybody. I was looking at the Bulletin for Atomic Scientists, which is a website run by the university of Chicago, I believe, which is where the doomsday clock originates from and the closest that it has ever been to midnight was around that time that you are speaking of now. I think it was the late fifties. It was the Cuban missile crisis and all that sort of thing, so they were very close then to … Two minutes to midnight it was then. I think it frightened them so much that that is why the disarmament came about. Do you know what the time is now, according to that clock? No. It’s five minutes to midnight at the moment, eleven fifty five. Well what does that mean? What does the clock mean? The clock is a metaphor for how close we are to destroying ourselves, essentially. So when the clock says midnight … nuclear fallout and everyone dies. Yeah but everybody is so afraid of it, it won’t happen. We hope. Well we were closer to it back then than we are now. On a large scale, yes. That’s what they’re saying, yes. But they’ve factored into it as of two thousand and ten, I think it is, to take into account … Places like Korea? No, no. To take into account the environmental damage that we’re doing as well. So now it takes into account global warming and things like that as well. What when the world will self-destruct? Well, not self-destruct. But that we will cause the destruction of the world by other means. But that’s a slow process. Well now they’re saying that global warming isn’t quite what it was cracked up to be, aren’t we? The latest report is that things aren’t accelerating as fast as we … I don’t think the scientific community agrees on that actually. I think it is still quite split. Well it’s like when they first found a hole in the ozone layer. The thing was that they had found the hole but they didn’t know how long it had been there. No. The first time you discovered something, you know … And then it’s, oh my god it’s CFCs and carbon dioxide that is causing a hole in the ozone, but the hole may have always been there! Well the hole was there but it has changed in size. But we don’t have any frame of reference for these things because we haven’t been around long enough. We haven’t, but we do know because we can look back with carbon dating and various other scientific method. To see that things are cyclical and we have been cold enough in this country where they have been able to ice-skate on the Thames. Well it’s never been as cold as that … And likewise warm enough to grow grapes in Scotland. Exactly. We’re getting a little bit off topic though. Sorry. Yeah. That’s alright. Astrophysics. I’ve got a few facts that I can tell you about the subject. VII

part 02 Are we as a species doomed to our own self-destruction through advances in technology and the physical sciences?

A Subject of Matter

A Subject of Matter

cern – november 2006 The silicon strip tracker of the Compact Muon Solenoid



A Subject of Matter

A Subject of Matter

nrao / aui – 1984 Radio image of Cygnus A, a galaxy shooting giant radio lobe jets of electrons near the speed of light across 500,000 light years of space, the small bright centre is a black hole

I read somewhere else that seventy or eighty percent of the observable universe is made up of dark matter but we don’t know what dark matter is! No-one does. No. Stuff you can’t see. But it’s not the same as black holes, or is it? A black hole isn’t stuff. A black hole is an absence of stuff. A black hole is density. A black hole is a singularity, which is what they say that the Big Bang started from, which is basically … Density. Yeah, it’s like mass as dense as possible. Imploding. Not imploding it’s crushed. So it’s like taking the moon and putting it on a pin head, kind of thing. So it is so, so compacted that it has got this huge amount of energy. Which in turn gives it a huge mass. It’s a gravitational thing, because it is so dense, little things like that will weigh millions of tons, it exerts a huge amount of gravity. But that’s the point. It’s a black hole. It sucks things in … Light can’t escape the gravity of it, it’s that strong. It even drags light back in. And they have something called a future light cone I think it is called … That’s weird. Which is the point at which light cannot escape the black hole. I can’t get how light can be dragged into something and not be seen. How light can vanish like that. It’s not an absence of light, it’s an entirely different concept. Absence of light is dark. But this isn’t a darkness that is an absence of light. It’s a light that is sucked in and taken away. Disappears. I can’t get my head around that. It’s extinguished. It’s a light that is removed. Yeah, it’s not turned off. It’s still there but it is gone.

the hubble space telescope – 2004 A ghostly ring of dark matter in galaxy cluster ZwC10024+1652



A Subject of Matter

A Subject of Matter

It’s like eighty percent of it is nothing. And the rest yeah. So it’s not how it’s diagrammatically represented at all then? No. An atom is by no means a solid piece of matter. It’s a couple of tiny bits of matter with an awful lot of space around it. institute for [amolf] – may 2013 The first ever image of a hydrogen atom’s orbital structure, captured using a quantum microscope

It is a naturally occurring thing which your body has learnt to cope with I suppose. And, obviously the Earth’s atmosphere blocks out any of the harmful stuff. So what is coming through isn’t harmful? Mostly. The majority of it , yes. Yeah it’s not harmful. It’s not harmful. This is not expanding a theory on why some people get certain illnesses because they’re more susceptible to these elements than others. No, because it’s happening … it’s constant … it’s everywhere. It’s happening all the time. Right at this second there will be two hundred particles going through you. The funny thing is that the way they have become accustomed to measuring these particles isn’t the way that you would expect. And it is that they go into caves and do it. Either that or with giant water baths. Hundreds of metres across. Huge water baths. And they might get one event per year or something like that. Yeah. Just a ping. Suddenly there will be a little ping in the water and they will say: ‘oh we’ve got one’. Neutrinos I thought they were called. Oh yeah I’ve heard that. It has to be far away from the interference of any other particles. Because the particles are so tiny that any of the mass here on Earth doesn’t make any difference. Oh, they’re incredibly difficult to detect because they are so small and they interact with … most of matter is emptiness. If you look at an atom, if you draw it to scale. There will be a nucleus in the middle. Tiny nucleus. And the electrons will be out there somewhere. XXXI V

Yeah? I kind of have got it like a scotch egg. So these particles can pass through and miss everything. You’ve got the yolk, the white and the breadcrumb. Perfect. Well that’s how it is taught! But how it is taught isn’t how it is accepted as being. Clearly not. That’s what I’ve got revolving around this boson accelerator thing. A scotch egg? They’re smashing scotch eggs together to make black holes. But you are only taught that because … It’s easier. It’s a way of getting your head around it. Terry Pratchett says that it’s lies to children. You tell somebody something that they can understand at the time. Yeah and then break it to them. When they ask where babies come from you don’t go through the whole rigmarole of explaining how you get a baby. I never got further than the scotch egg. I lost interest. So they say: well actually, the whole world is made up of atoms, all these little pieces that go together and then later on you get to find out what an atom is … an atom is really made up of lots of other different particles and so you find that out. As you gain more understanding and more … They’ll break it to you that what you’ve learnt is wrong and more complicated than that. That’s right. What you’ve learnt before is all rubbish and what it really is, is this. That bypassed me. I lost interest.


Visual cues such as scale, colour and composition have begun to develop through my exploration of the content

Proposal Proforma

I feel that I have already begun to develop a distinct and mature visual approach to the content


Proposal Proforma

HOW? Creative potential

I envisage this self-directed study as being a process of demonstration and interrogation of the subject matter. Traditionally scientific principles tend to be presented or stated to an audience rather than explored, demonstrated or visually interpreted via discussion and interaction on a wider scale. Throughout the development of my self-directed study I want to put creative emphasis on something most commonly considered to be completely contrasting in content to graphic design and art. Personally I feel that I will revel in the challenge of working with these two very opposing, contrasting ideas and in attempting to find solutions to make a complex and difficult to comprehend concept universally accessible. I believe that the notion of working with these two opposing themes and putting my own personal spin on something that may be traditionally quite bland and visually unconsidered will help to sustain my interests and keep my work fresh, original and engaging, not only for myself but others too. Despite being a very defined topic there will be plenty of room for exploration and abstraction. Complex information and data driven research will lend itself well to the production of infographics and diagrammatic visualisations. A rigor and depth of research will help me to clarify ideas and simplify concepts, expanding them into basic graphic solutions that will always be supported and rationalised by theoretical grounding and understanding. Specific ideas can be communicated and expanded into narrative via publications and editorial work whilst other theories can be demonstrated in working installation, exhibition, models and user interface driven digital interactions. This rigor of understanding and rationalising or simplifying of eligible theoretical information will play to my strengths and most pronounced design skills. Complimenting my own working creative approach and enabling me to inform whilst producing a coherent body of work. Initial experiments with this proposed area of study have been extremely successful. I certainly feel as though I have begun to develop a mature visual approach and style in reaction to the content, one which is rational and simple whilst maintaining a level of creative abstraction. The subject area has proven to be the most visually rich and creatively satisfying of my initial ten proposed topics. Additionally I feel that I am now beginning to develop a depth of ideas for potential projects from my engagement and extensive research of the topic.


Proposal Proforma

WHAT? Industry foccused rationale

Ultimately I have to make a decision upon a topic of self-directed study that I feel will best showcase my own specific abilities and skills as a designer. The body of work that I produce in my third year is most likely to be that which I present post-graduation in order to attain a job in industry. Therefore the product and output of this period of study needs to stand me in good stead for the future and be the best that I am capable of producing. As I have addressed in my professional practice module file I feel that there are some dangers and limitations in pigeon-holing oneself too prematurely. This is especially relevant when as a student I am only just beginning my career as a creative professional, identifying my skills and therefore where to position myself in industry. However, I do of course understand the beneficial value in beginning to make preparations or consideration of some future career paths whilst still an under-graduate, in order to focus my study. As long as my decisions are not too restrictive and I remain flexible in my expectations. My passion remains strong to work in the print and editorial industry. I think it is important that all work produced by a designer is done with a rationale and a heavily research based approach. My proposed topic of study, I believe, will help me further develop these research skills. In particular I find the communication of a narrative, almost subconsciously, through small and rationalised decisions in print, most inspiring. The manner in which a whole concept can be whittled down to one small motif or element that possesses a huge amount of communicational power really interests me. Additionally I like to centralise my work around the notion of the designer as author, problem solver and creative thinker. I personally feel that, as a graphic designer, I have a responsibility to use my skills for positive social impact. This in part is why I think that focussing my study around informing and educating others about a particular topic will be beneficial to me in my future career.


Fuel Browns Spin Unit Editions Alphabetical TCOLondon Visual Editions Build Human After All This is Real Art Akatre Two Times Elliot Frank Chimero Julia Anagrama A Friend of Mine A. Shaughnessy Hey Studio DesignStudio Esterson Assoc. Matt Willey David Pearson S. Sagmeister Brave New Alps

Proposal Proforma

Future Light Cone

Allowed For Massive Body

Light Only


Against Relativity Theory


3D Space

Space -Time Past Light Cone


Proposal Proforma

I am passionate about working with print because I feel that it gives me a sense of achievement in the tactility of my work

Proposed output

The initial considerations that I have made regarding what creative output and solutions I would like to produce this year have been selected to help me broaden my skills for print, editorial and digital. I believe that it is necessary for me to develop skills in UI and web design in addition to traditional print/editorial skills, because the digital revolution warrants that any graphic designer now needs to be capable in these fields in order to be successful. I plan to broaden and develop some abilities that I have already established over the past two years such as typographical detail, editorial, narrative and depth of research. Whilst also exploring some new areas that I feel are relevant to my proposed study and will be beneficial to me in the future, such as; type design, web development, exhibition, installation, interactivity and user interface. I will focus my self-directed study specifically towards the editorial industry and I believe that the proposed subject matter and skills which I am preparing to employ are best suited to helping me attain my goals post graduation. Overall I wish to complete the course with a sense that I am prepared to work in my chosen industry and that I have produced a body of work, to the best of my ability, that will showcase my creativity and expertise.


Proposal Proforma  

Proposal for self-directed study

Proposal Proforma  

Proposal for self-directed study