Poetries Politics

Poetry must be made by all. 

not by one.

– Isidore Ducasse. Comte de Lautrèamont

The book that you see on the shelf, Poetries – Politics: A Celebration of Language, Art, and Learning is recently published by Rutgers Press. It is the outcome of a collaboration between design students at Mason Gross and SAS students. Professor of French Literature Mary Shaw and I co-taught a practicum class in 2017 that then culminated as an exhibition at the Academic Building. The book features posters that display politically charged poems from around the world that are selected by SAS students and designed bilingually by Mason Gross students. 

Poetries – Politics is edited by Jenevieve DeLosSantos, Associate Teaching Professor & Director of Special Projects, and designed by Devon Monaghan, a design alum. I have included here a PDF of sample pages from the book along with Devon’s and my articles. All the students and other contributors are listed in the PDF. It is a coffee table book with good reproductions of great collaborative student work. It is available on amazon and at Barnes & Noble next to the train station in New Brunswick, in the faculty author section.

On the Letterform of the Age by Bo-Won Keum!

Who gets to set the standards for communication, and why? Bo-Won Keum, Triple Canopy’s associate designer, addresses this question in “On the Letterform of the Age,” an essay on the role of the designer in shaping how people make meaning out of language. In considering the current state of design, Keum revisits the work of Bauhaus designers who advocated for the transformation of typography in response to the rise of the typewriter and printing press, as well as dramatic changes in the habits of readers. “The efforts by Bauhaus masters to update and standardize type for the machine age prefigured current discussions about the form and function of design in the digital age,” Keum writes, “and the need for typography to adapt to various surfaces, formats, and operating systems.”

Design Practicum Fall 2019 Animations on The Anthropocene Screened in Istanbul

December 2019, Istanbul

The anthropocene is a term that describes the current geological era. This term describes a period in which humanity is the leading force in geologically shaping the planet earth. While some scientists argue that this era began with organized agriculture in the 16th century, there are different views on its beginning, some associate it with the industrial revolution in the 19th century, or some argue that this era began in the 20th century in parallel with nuclear history. Regardless of the beginning of this period, today, climate change, which is one of the most catastrophic consequences of the present anthropocene era, is the top priority of the global agenda.

11 young designers who were in the Design Practicum class at Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University, in the state of New Jersey lead by design professor Atif Akin, approached this historical concept from different point of views and all visualized quantitative or encyclopedic data to create poetic meaning in the context of short animations. From microplastics to chicken bones, from political protocols to microscopic imaging techniques, from plastic bags to melting glaciers, they designed animations ranging from 30 to 60 seconds each. These animations are displayed at a whale size 39 feet LED screen at the Zorlu Performance Center in Istanbul

Katie Makar visualizes the sound recordings of the melting glaciers in the form of a wave and also points out the relationship between the melting glaciers and the rising sea level. Conor Finn deals with the aesthetics of the crisis screens of computer operating systems, adapting it to an animation that criticizes the environmental stalemate of the planet and its policies. Although it does not seem to have a very important place in the seriousness of the subject, 60 billion chickens produced and consumed each year and their bones are important in anthropocene research in the academic field. Taking this into account, Maya Tillman visualizes this striking data in fast food aesthetics. Francesca Stoppa, on the other hand, draws attention to the particle density in the atmosphere by acting with the data published by NASA in 2019. Animations there is also a small Turkish surprise inside, in limiting the use of plastic bags in Turkey, the United States a lot of the state from the early measures taken has learned that Sara Reed slightest a Turkish proverb, using the iconic New York plastic bag design. Tyler Lee not only experimented with electromicroscopic images that imply the technological advancement of humanity in. Poetic way, he also designed and implemented the visual identity of the project on behalf of his classmates. Elyssa Feerrar changes our point of view from the surface to the deep ocean and she created a cartoony looking dystopic underwater ocean view. While Jennifer Aguirre points our attention to urban deforestation, she uses images from both New York and Istanbul high rises. Both Lau Krystal and Jillian Mulhern were so much interested in the risk of microplastic pollution in the oceans, they took different ways of visualizing the phenomenon, while Jillian was interested in the consumer products Lau chose to literally and visually represent the microparticles on this whale size screen. Rushika Raman visualized number of chemical substances used in the plastic industry and their IUPAC names in a typographic animation that all started with “Poly-“.

For this international collaboration, organized by Deniz Akgüllü, director of digilogue sponsored by Zorlu Holding, we found this concept worth considering and scrutinizing as it is an issue of equal concern to everyone on the planet, from Istanbul to New Brunswick, New Jersey.  

You can also view and download the whole animation in its original format:


Dimensionism: Modern Art in the Age of Einstein, on view at the Zimmerli Museum through January 5, 2020, is a groundbreaking exhibition that explores how modern art was influenced by advances in science, from Einstein’s theory of relativity to newly powerful microscopic and telescopic lenses.

Dimensionism.Space is a microsite conceptualized, designed and developed by the Design Practicum Fall 2019 class at the Art & Design department at Mason Gross School, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, on the occasion of this exhibition. The Designers in this class wanted to promote this seminal exhibition across the campus through a contemporary and computational lens by way of reflecting on the work of their choice and creating a digital avatar or a tribute to that in the form of code and its visual reflection. This microsite is designed and produced by, Jennifer Aguirre, Elyssa Feerrar, Conor Finn, Lau Krystal, Tyler Lee, Kathleen Makar, Jillian Mulhern, Rushika Raman, Sara Reed, Francesca Stoppa, Maya Tillman, and the project is mentored by Donna Gustafson, Thomas Sokolowski and Atif Akin.

Publication as Memory, Memorial and Monument

Friday May 17
4:00 to 6:00pm
Reception following

Brooklyn Army Terminal, Building A, 140 58th St, Brooklyn

What kind of monument is a book? How do we memorialize people, places and ideas in the digital information age? In what ways do print and digital publications break down barriers between private and public memory?

In conjunction with the exhibition The Colossus of Rutgers, by Kara Walker and her cohort of Rutgers MFA students, this event explores publication as an aspect of art and design practice that enables understanding across varied knowledge fields and connection among communities. Participants will present and describe strategies against monumentality to highlight publication as a temporal, individual and/ or democratic act. Participants include Atif Akin, Marc Handelman, Bo-Won Keum and Adam Putnam; moderated by Gerry Beegan.

Department of Art & Design, Rutgers

Design Practicum @ oldweb.today

Going into our senior and junior years of design school, it was exciting to be able to work on a project that had as much cultural and professional significance as Rhizome’s Oldweb.Today internet archive. The archive pulled from historical sources dating as far back as the early 1990s to provide an interactive experience that approximates the experience of using the historical internet.

This project provided the opportunity to tackle various design problems in a real-world scenario in a way in which they could be understood and implemented in relation to one another. The challenges of this project encompassed everything from visual identity and branding to the user experience and interface design. During the course of the project, we spent time moving between groups each of which took a distinct approach to and interpretation of what an internet archive would look like in 2019.

We proposed three different visual identity systems and UI/UX scenarios with different code names that are all now under consideration by the design and development team of Rhizome. UI/UX scenarios are either developed on the front end or represented through mock-ups.

Throughout the process, we had multiple remote online real-time interactions with the Rhizome team, Pat Shiu, Lyndsey Jane Moulds and Mark Beasley and then had to chance to visit them at the New Museum for the second presentation of the project.


Working in the solitaire group we created a multi-surfaced mockup to help create better separation of information. This interface was based more on a retro look and used brighter colors to make the experience feel more light and fun. Solitaire’s color selection was based off of Rhizomes RGB color palette and other added colors stayed with the same tones. We created a new hierarchy for the timeline that better explains how the browsers work and what is the most optimal browser for the site and time you are searching. In the early stages, we decided that tabs like “commonly searched sites” and “user guides” would be helpful for people who are new to the site and may not have an idea of what to search first as well as to give a background of the website and help troubleshoot problems. 

The design of the interface of this approach emphasized the efficiency and accuracy of the tools that it provided users over simplicity or seamlessness. When designing the user interface, we tried to focus on the chronological flow of user inputs that were required to request a webpage from the archive.

The branding of this page was based on the concept of popup windows layering on top of each other; an effect that was common in the early days of the internet with its lax security standards and primitive advertising techniques.

The colors were taken from the Rhizome glitch effect, evoking that same feeling from the initial company to their product. These colors were also expanded to the whole website creating a more out there stark design that can be contrasted to their more subtle approach.


Oldweb.Today, ya can’t have it without the dot. 
Based off a 10×10 grid, our logo speaks both to the history of the web, as well as OWT’s origins in New York. Through systematic removal of pixels, the letterforms become less choppy as they go from O to W to T, bringing the old web to today. The colors of the site are muted and largely greys to allow the emulated content to be the main focus. Typefaces were handled in a similar way, using simple fonts that don’t dominate the screen and are easily legible. 
Our goal in the UI was the accessibility and ease of use. Through an intuitive calendar-like timeline, users can be sure their searches are accurate. Once all the information has been selected, users are drawn to the emulated browser that takes up much of the screen.

Much of the idea behind the Dot logo and its branding has to do with systems, and how they work. The logo itself was rendered by following a set of rules. Our approach was reductive and somewhat minimalist in how we felt functionality should be emphasized instead of decoration. A strength of the finished product is how it speaks to internet functionality of both the past and present, no matter what time period.


The goal of this web space was to bring the slick design of the modern world to the passing fun and in your face aesthetics of the late 90s/early 2000s. Contrasting between old school fonts, web safe ties together the past and modern present into a GIF-able to be transformed and separated by a time loading hourglass further delineating the past, present, and future.

The idea for the brand identity for web-safe revolves around juxtaposing six of the original web-safe fonts like Arial, Palatino, Impact, Verdana, courier new and Comic Sans with a more modern one (in this case Roboto). The “.today” part of the logo stays in Roboto while the “OldWeb” half constantly changes into one of the six web-safe fonts. The dot that separates the two halves shows a Windows 98-era hourglass icon. There are possibilities for rapid animation of the logo or perhaps randomizing which font shows up for its first half upon refreshing the page or re-entering the site.

Neue Machina was chosen as a secondary font to be used for the printed matters of Oldweb.today, due to the deep ink traps that give it a mechanical and industrial aesthetic, yet rendered beautifully in ink.

The choice of a black, white, gray, and an HTML blue color palette stemmed from the default hyperlink blue that stems from the old web, and still can be visible in non-updated websites. While keeping the palette monochrome with one color standing out, this renders the attention of the audience to focus on the content as opposed to making a grander design.

Practicum Class of Spring 2019

Jeffrey Gardner
Daniel Gilmartin
Weronika Korzec
Tyler Lee
Joel Novas
Fred Quayenortey
Matthew Simonetti
James Zerilli
Sarah Rim
Ana Filomeno
Senary Chapman
Richard Siggillino