Communication Design Essay, Research Paper
While looking for two designs to examine for this final paper, I came upon the New York Worlds Fair Poster designed by Joseph Binder and a poster entitled Victory 1945 by Shigeo Fukuda. In looking at both of these designs and comparing and contrasting them, I wish to show just how significantly large scale cultural issues can effect the collective conscious of a society and the resulting every day designs and images that they are subjected to. Although not much information exists separately about each of the individual designs that I have chosen for this project, the supporting historical context of each culture provides a wealth of information that can help analyze the foundations of each image.
The first design is that by Joseph Binder entitled, New York Worlds Fair Poster. Created in 1939, this piece was designed in mind with the times. In the midst of the previous World War, this design attempted to show Americas embrace of modernism, technology, and it s global power. In this composition there is a small cityscape of New York City in the lower left hand corner, the large trylon and perisphere (emblems of the Worlds Fair) in yellow taking up the foreground, random spotlights put against a dark navy blue sky, a cruise ship in red at the lower right and red biplanes in the upper left hand corner. The most noticeable thing about this design is its strong geometric figures, all of which are universally recognizable. The planes showing America s strength in air, the ship also showing our strength by sea, and the cityscape icon as a symbol of our population and size. Meggs states that, .. world events would soon force the United States to cast aside its neutrality, traditionalism, and provincialism; the new embrace of modernist design was part of this process .
Second on the list of designs is Victory 1945 by Shigeo Fukuda. In comparison with the Worlds Fair Poster, this one if far simpler in design, but viewed in context with its message and designer, it s just as powerful. Set against a radial gradient with a large orange interior expanding out to a soft red glow, the barrel of a cannon in stark black shoots out from the lower left corner towards the top right. A shell pointed towards the cannon as opposed to away from it sits just outside the barrel with the words Victory in all uppercase white in the upper right-hand corner. This composition was awarded first place in an international competition for a poster commemorating the thirtieth anniversary of the end of World War II.
To begin with a comparison of these two designs, I would say that their strongest strengths lie in their use of intentional ambiguity. Both works have simple designs, shapes and colors; yet contain a complex idea and social context. Interestingly though, the Victory 1945 design plays on the foolishness of war (specifically World War II) while the New York Worlds Fair Poster is an attempt to bolster national confidence and international attention and show off our military strength at the same time. Another similarity between these two are its use of very simple shapes to get across a very tough message. The use of a large stark cannon with a shell pointing in the opposite direction in Fukuda s design says more about a nation as well as an individual s perspective on the idea of war in the culture from which it originated better than anything else. The word Victory in the upper right hand corner puts into perspective just how foolish a war can be. But on the American composition, you have a different message while at the same time keeping a strong sense of symbolism. This message has an almost pro-war theme to it which is shown through the icons of naval, air, and land military strength.
However much these two pieces may be similar though, there is still plenty to separate them from each other. To begin with, we can talk about color. The Fukuda design is relatively simple and contains essentially a red-yellow gradient and the color black for the cannon and the shell along with white text at the top. In the Binder design, you have a whole range of colors, mostly dark, save for the large yellow and white trylon and perisphere which take up nearly the entire foreground. One small comparison though between both of these is that the boldest strongest color in each design takes up the entire foreground. Black for the cannon in the Fukuda piece, yellow for the trylon and perisphere in the Binder piece. Another difference though is the use of type. It s extremely limited in the Fukuda design, although this is not a bad thing at all, being as only one word is really necessary. The use of typography and composition in the Binder piece however becomes much more important as there is a much larger amount of information that needs to be conveyed as this is more of an event promotion than it is a cultural statement such as the Fukuda is.
Seeing as these two pieces are from two completely different time periods, it s not too difficult to imagine that the historical context of each design greatly influenced it s conception. The Fukuda was created in an effort to commemorate the end of World War II while the Binder piece was created just prior to World War II, in an attempt to show the world what we were capable of. You can see how the ideas of the mechanical and industrial revolution helped contribute to the Binder piece as well as his cubist influences. He was even one of the first designers to begin using the airbrush in his piece to create new effects. Jump ahead thirty years and the attitude is completely different in Fukudas design. You have two simple shapes and one word to show just how absurd the idea of war is and how a real Victory can be gained. The shell falling back into the cannon it came from is more powerful and conveys are far more complex message than the New York Worlds Fair Poster could even come close to.
All in all, as much as these pieces are similar, they are still very, very different. They both have the ability to communicate a grand idea or concept while keeping the composition extremely simple and elegant. Both have excellent uses of color and were created by extremely reputable designers. The New York Worlds Fair Poster by John Binder and the poster entitled, Victory 1945 by Shigeo Fukuda both stand as excellent examples of design acting as the voice of a society.