Ducks, decorators, and the dialogical: an examination of approaches to information design
This study is concerned with approaches to the design of visual information. It examines the persistent influence that formalist design approaches have within the field of information design and suggests how, when used prescriptively, the formalist approach undermines the fundamental role of information design: to make information accessible and relevant for people. With a primary focus on information graphics, the research explores how the deployment of a rhetorical strategy in the design of visual information promotes socially responsible design. It will be clear from this reading that I consider without reservation, traditionalist perspectives of information design, whilst having significant historical value, to be fundamentally flawed. This thesis supports approaches sometimes considered postmodernist in that they tend to privilege the perspective of the reader, the user and those who are generally rendered less powerful by the rules and standards imposed by those who see themselves as experts in the field. This thesis regards the precepts of Modernist objectivism to be, in themselves, political and as such, implicated in the maintenance and propagation of a dominant ideology. Having said that, I hope to do justice to the excellent work done by the early (and later) Modernist theorists. I hope to bring to the fore some significant problems inherent in doctrinal approaches and to elucidate the importance of alternative and more inclusive perspectives on what I consider to be the vital and powerfully influential emergent discourse of information design.