LUCY SWEENEY

Unmaking

MFA THESIS PROJECT, 2017

The contemporary image is only legible and accessible in its cultural context and is determined by schools of iconography and confined style. Unmaking diagnoses the threshold of which an image can endure the graphic baggage of context without signifying that of the cultural and historical moment. Graphic design must be equipped with its own histories and intrinsic motives without reliance on the conditions that surround it. This project challenges visual cultures inextricably bound to socially realized structures of communication and programmed value systems that inform the production of knowledge. Unmaking is a process that confronts the obstructed realities and discarded truths of legibility shaping our interactions with information and design.

Through the use of machine vision tools, I deconstructed, erased, and removed forms within visual cultures and reconstructed them into new, imagined objects. This project exposes through its illegibility both the inaccuracies of the machine as well as our perceptions and over-determinations of visual cultures. Unmaking legibility within visual cultures generates new formal value systems and permits a precise kind of communication even when devoid of any “literary” subject matter.

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