Unheard Voices – Serigraphic translations of narratives from underpaid workers in New Zealand

Sinfield, D
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Common Grounds

As a graphic designer who has direct experience of exploitation through employment, I am interested in researching the subjective experience of underpaid workers in New Zealand. In doing this I have sought to creatively synthesize experiences into artworks that provide a deeper insight into the impact of underpaid work. Through this investigation I have attempted to contribute to a broader discussion of underpaid work than what is currently provided, through the analysis of statistical data. In undertaking this project I have also been concerned with investigating new potentials in serigraphy (a graphic medium traditionally associated with working-class politics). I have inquired into how it might be used to create a visual ‘voice’ for contemporary workers’ narratives. Accordingly, this project has employed audio recordings of three personal stories. The research has led to the production of a series of serigraphic prints that artistically interpret the journeys and experiences of the participants. These images sit in discourse with looped audio excerpts of their recorded interviews. In this approach, narratives of marginalization that have often been muted through their presentation as written records, have been re-conceptualized as an artists' images, with which the recordings are in discussion. The second phase of this project moves concerns with narratives of underpaid work into spatiotemporal environments. Audio recordings of worker’s stories are fused with typographical treatments and imagery to produce a series of short films. The advantage of this approach is that these texts are more widely available and operate outside of the cultural exclusivity of the art gallery and the graphic design field. I teach graphic design on the Graphic Design degree programme in both undergrad and post grad. I am a senior lecturer and programme leader for the bachelor in graphic design degree and I also supervise honours and master degree students. My research interests are in capturing workers narratives and portraying these as visual texts in the form of large serigraphic prints using the methodology of narrative inquiry. I am also interested in spatiotemporal environments where I have taken the audio recordings of worker’s stories and imagery and fused with typographical treatments to produce a series of short films.

Design Principles & Practices held at University of Los Angeles, Los Angeles USA, 2012-01-20to 2012-01-22
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