This is my MFA Motion Media Design Thesis, completed at Savannah College of Art & Design between Winter 2022 and Winter 2023. The thesis statement I explore is “ISOTYPE employs realism to convince viewers of its factual nature, thereby creating and naturalizing a particular worldview that can manipulate the audience’s understanding of reality.”
My thesis consists of two distinct parts: research and a visual project. For my visual project, I created an ISOTYPE-inspired infographic animation called “Autism and Art,” which seeks to demonstrate how visual arts can create economic and employment opportunities for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in Singapore.The animation is designed to be presented to Special Education (SPED) schools in Singapore to convince them of the advantages of incorporating more visual arts education into their curricula, in collaboration with local artists and studios.
The project contends that traditional educational pathways may not lead to employment opportunities for individuals with ASD due to social barriers, but that visual arts education offers a new path to the creative economy. The visual project employs a ‘metaphysical reality’ approach to realism that aligns with Singapore’s values of pragmatism, economic dividends, and international competitiveness. By emphasizing the importance of integrating individuals with ASD into Singapore society through employment opportunities, the visual project seeks to persuade its audience of the benefits of incorporating more visual arts education into SPED schools in Singapore.
Chair: Michael Betancourt
World War II
The International System of Typographic Picture Education (ISOTYPE) is a method for presenting statistical information through visually appealing and memorable infographics. In the context of propaganda, ISOTYPE was utilized in the British World War II documentary film A Few Ounces A Day, to maintain morale and mobilize opposition to the Axis powers through its simplified and sanitized depiction of war.
These animated infographics use standardized symbols and other visual elements to present data and concepts, and employ realism to create an illusion of factuality and reality to propagate the state’s ideological claims and indoctrinate audiences into accepting the film’s representation of the social world as truth. This social relationship mediated by images, or the “spectacle” asserts that social life is based on appearances and representations, undermining the audience’s experience with the real and naturalizing the war for the audience. The perceived factuality of the infographics eliminates the need for viewers to scrutinize the content, making the truthfulness of ISOTYPE irrelevant to its claims.
- Truth is perceptual.
- Meaning is created through everyday life (cultural, family, religious, etc.)
- Persuading a person involves using familiar symbols and messaging.
- ISOTYPE conveys claims of factuality and neutrality through its iconic depiction, but it is a visual rhetoric used to express political messages.
- Narration in infographic animation provides interpretation for viewers; obscuring alternative perspectives or weak argument.
As motion designers, our ultimate goal is to persuade and communicate effectively with our intended audience. This means that we must prioritize understanding the target audience’s common experiences and emotions, and use techniques such as attention management and memorable appeals to achieve the desired effect.
However, it is important to note that technical proficiency alone does not make a good motion designer. While technical skills are important, they must be paired with critical thinking, abstract reasoning, and a deep understanding of theory-based and research-based practices.
Therefore, our practice should prioritize both technical proficiency and an understanding of the audience and effective communication techniques. We must constantly strive to improve our skills and knowledge, while also staying attuned to the needs and experiences of our target audience. Only then can we create motion designs that are truly effective in achieving their intended purpose.