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Graphic Agitation II: Social & Political Graphics in the Digital Age – Liz McQuiston

Graphic
Agitation 2 is a survey of social and political graphics since the early 1990s. It
illustrates and contextualises work produced in relation to key themes such as: environmental
movements; the rise of corporate power; branding; wars (e.g. in the Balkans and the
Gulf War); and human rights – all of which have been prominent items in the news over
the last few years.

The graphic design projects discussed in this book are all of ‘the digital age’ but
they are not all digital-based. The author deals with the impact of digital innovations
on traditional methods of social and political protest and also looks at how they
work together. This mix of media is both appealing and informative. The medium in
which the work is created is often central to the political aim – for example web-based
for rapid dissemination of ideas worldwide, or simple ink and paper when the conditions
(e.g. times of war) demand it.

The book is heavily illustrated with a combination of the most up-to-date digital
media – such as screen grabs from interactive websites – and traditional methods,
such as images of protesters demonstrating about road building, hand-drawn postcards
and t-shirts. The visuals help the reader to understand the themes covered and also
reinforce them (some of the images are provocative; some are witty, and others highly
informative graphically). While this is a book for people working in visual media
(especially advertisers and designers), it is appealing to readers interested in the
subjects discussed with its combination of journalistic/narrative information and
visual coverage.

The work shown is both by professional designers and non-professionals (e.g. Jonathon
Barnbrook, James Victoire, Paul Hamilton, Makoto Saito, OTPOR). The book shows how
creative people are responding to the issues addressed on a number of levels. The
illustrations are of vernacular graphics that have conceptual and visual impact or
that help make an argument, such as showing how a particular visual symbol from the
‘street’ can be appropriated by professionals. Some of the work is provocative, but
the book itself is not out to provoke; it is a good representation of graphic excellence
and wit.

http://www.phaidon.com/

Posted by: rikoko

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