New Modernism(s) by Ben DuVall
In 1972, Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown and Steven Izenour released a book called Learning From Las Vegas, a manifesto of sorts calling for the glorification or ornamentation and vernacular form in architecture. Perhaps more importantly, this book signaled a cultural change, a change in the architectural space in which the term ‘postmodernism’ was coined.
Fast forward to today. Now we are living primarily in the digital space, a space which instead of being defined by architecture, is defined by graphic design, the language of the interface. The content of the web is communicated through graphic design, therefore, trends within graphic design are the new barometer for epochal change. If architecture was the indicator of the break down of modernism, then graphic design is the ‘architecture’ of the current period, the fire alarm of postmodernism.
New Modernism(s) is an attempt to trace these changes as they occur in graphic design by comparing the usage of surface and sign systems in current graphic design to their usage in the past century. It is not a comprehensive theory of these changes, but rather a contribution to a dialogue which is already in progress within our discipline.