Dori in Beijing: Commercialism Communist Style
U.S. Design Policy Summit on Tuesday

Transmodern Consciousness

I just wanted to post my presentation from the ICOGRADA conference for those who asked for it. There are three of the many (over something like 15 for 2009) presentations I have given that make me feel really happy:

  1. My presentation on the U.S. National Design Policy Initiative at the DMI Conference because it proved that our message is tight and that it is inspirational, not just news. Download DMI_designpolicyprez_lores (PDF 4.5 MB) 

  1. My presentation at ICOGRADA for various reasons I will explain below. Download Icograda_IENtransmodern_tunstall (PDF 3.6 MB)
  2. My upcoming keynote at the Cumulus Conference here in Melbourne because it will be a transdisciplinary performance on Transdiciplinarity with A4 Circus Arts Ensemble. 

My ICOGRADA IEN talk on Transdisciplinary Consciousness and graphic design education really honed my position as a anthro-scholar/design-warrior. As an anthro-scholar, the first part of the talk was very scholarly in content. It described the characteristics of pre-modermity, modernity, and post-modernity as framed by Spanish philosopher, Rosa Maria Magda, who coined the term Transmodernity. It then applied the ideas to the education system in general and then graphic design education specifically. 


Finally, it when through the six design philosophy orientations (business to art, artifact to process, high tech to hand-skills). It was so scholarly that the translator came over to me before the presentation to say that she had difficulty with the concepts. Yet as a design-warrior, I realize that the content of an academic paper is not the same as the content of a presentation. As I walked her through the presentation, she turned to me and said, "This is so simple." Ah, the art of effective communication!! The images in the presentation itself were very beautiful. Most of them were ones I had taken in my travels, including those from Beijing a few days before my presentation.


The second part of the talk was interactive. The advantage of being the last day of presentations is that you have a deep sense of the audience. By the time of the design ed conference, most of the professionals had left and thus the audience was 85% Chinese design students, 10% Chinese design educators, and 5% foreign educators. So I used the second part of my presentation to do informal polls of the students to create their own design philosophy profile and compare it to that of the institution. The polling technique was for them to raise their cameras/camera phones, because it was said that Chinese students do not raise their hand in class. Yet, throughout the conference, I and others observed that they would take photos of each screen. 


It made me happy that they participated in the polling during the conference and even admitted that their programs are not aligned with their design philosophy.


What made me very happy was that the content of my talk resonated with the issues their are struggling with in terms of the role of Chinese culture in the design process. Following my presentation was that of Professor and archaeologist  Zhang Pengchuan of Suzhou University. He spoke about the diversity of China's intangible cultural heritage and how it needs to be protected as living culture to the next generation of designers. My message was in complete harmony with those of the Chinese speakers in terms of being both traditional and modern without the hierarchy implied by the linear progress model of modernity. After the presentations, many people came up to thank me for my words about culture and design education being an act of love. 

It was also the public debut of CIKADA, the Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Design Anthropology at Swinburne. I think I am going to have a lot of Chinese collaborators with the Centre. 



ksenija berk

Hi, Dori!

Congratulations on your debut of CIKADA Centre and thanks for sharing this incredible presentation. I always admire how well designed and visually balanced your presentations are.

I could not agree more how crucial it is to respect cultural tradition in a time of globalization as you and prof. Zhang Pengchuan have both emphasized in your lectures. I’d like to add another perspective on the issue I know you are well familiar with. We are all aware (at least I hope so!) of what is called an underside of cultural anthropology and how it has been (mis)used heavily to open the door for Western imperialism, even using a cultural approach as a means for implementing Western technological innovation in non-Western societies.

Therefore I believe your lecture has opened an important question for all of us who are involved in design in one way or another, what is that we should/may actually do. How to act critically, human centered and responsibly when one is really in the midst of things?

In the field we need more project like those of Cameron Sinclair, Archeworks, Architects for Humanity and so many significant others in respect for each and every individual and culture alike. And if we want to act according to these principles we need to change the way we think of design and here is where you and your respected colleagues step in.

I just came across the Kjoto Design Declaration issued on March 28, 2008, published in latest issue of Design Issues (Vol. 25, Number 4, 2009). Yrjö Sotama stated in the introduction to the declaration document:
“A paradigm shift from technology driven development to human-centered development is underway. The focus is shifting from materialistic and visible to those, which are mental, intellectual and, possibly, less material. An era of ‘cultural productivity’ has commenced, and the importance attributed to modes of life, values, and symbols may be greater than the attributed to physical products. Design thinking stands steadfastly at the center of this continuum. Simultaneously, this development also highlights the importance of cultural traditions and the need to extend and revitalize them. Human-Centered design thinking, when rooted in universal and sustainable principles, has the power to fundamentally improve our word. It can deliver economic, ecological, social, and cultural benefits to our society and to all people, improve our quality of life, and crate optimism about the future and individual and shared happiness.”

What better way to describe what you do, Dori!

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