This was the first manifesto I ever read myself, in Adbusters. I remember being quite shocked at its use of first-person plural. I wondered, who are these people who are saying these things? Should I know who they are? Are they famous? How did they get this into the magazine? Is it just a publicity stunt?
That all aside, I enjoy how short it is, and to the point. However, this doesn't give them much room for elaboration, or much in the way of colorful, evocative imagery. Given that at least the Adbusters crowd largely agreed with the message, one would wonder, why didn't they attempt to inspire the audience more? If one is going to preach to the choir, it better be a good sermon!
Perhaps, then, it is more of a solidarity piece: for the signatories to get their names down on paper.
First Things First 2000
a design manifesto
manifesto published jointly by 33 signatories in:
Adbusters, the AIGA journal, Blueprint, Emigre, Eye, Form, Items
fall 1999 / spring 2000
by Chris Dixon, Adbusters
by Rick Poynor
We, the undersigned, are graphic designers, art directors and visual communicators who have been raised in a world in which the techniques and apparatus of advertising have persistently been presented to us as the most lucrative, effective and desirable use of our talents. Many design teachers and mentors promote this belief; the market rewards it; a tide of books and publications reinforces it.
Encouraged in this direction, designers then apply their skill and imagination to sell dog biscuits, designer coffee, diamonds, detergents, hair gel, cigarettes, credit cards, sneakers, butt toners, light beer and heavy-duty recreational vehicles. Commercial work has always paid the bills, but many graphic designers have now let it become, in large measure, what graphic designers do. This, in turn, is how the world perceives design. The profession's time and energy is used up manufacturing demand for things that are inessential at best.
Many of us have grown increasingly uncomfortable with this view of design. Designers who devote their efforts primarily to advertising, marketing and brand development are supporting, and implicitly endorsing, a mental environment so saturated with commercial messages that it is changing the very way citizen-consumers speak, think, feel, respond and interact. To some extent we are all helping draft a reductive and immeasurably harmful code of public discourse.
There are pursuits more worthy of our problem-solving skills. Unprecedented environmental, social and cultural crises demand our attention. Many cultural interventions, social marketing campaigns, books, magazines, exhibitions, educational tools, television programs, films, charitable causes and other information design projects urgently require our expertise and help.
We propose a reversal of priorities in favor of more useful, lasting and democratic forms of communication - a mindshift away from product marketing and toward the exploration and production of a new kind of meaning. The scope of debate is shrinking; it must expand. Consumerism is running uncontested; it must be challenged by other perspectives expressed, in part, through the visual languages and resources of design.
In 1964, 22 visual communicators signed the original call for our skills to be put to worthwhile use. With the explosive growth of global commercial culture, their message has only grown more urgent. Today, we renew their manifesto in expectation that no more decades will pass before it is taken to heart.
Sheila Levrant de Bretteville
Linda van Deursen
J. Abbott Miller
Jan van Toorn
Here on Welcome to the Interdome, we're trying something new: a curated blog exhibition. There are many blogs that treat themselves as an ongoing exhibition of any number of topics. Welcome to the Interdome largely follows the interests of its author, wherever that may lead. But, for the next series of twenty-or-so posts (in hopefully quick succession) we're going to showcase some various manifestos found around the Internet. They are not comprehensive, not even representative of the full-breath of material that exists. But, they each represent something interesting about the form, and will be accompanied by curated comments.
None of the manifestos posted are posted with explicit permission. They are all found published on the web, free for any to read, and links will be provided to the original location. I am showing them out of the original context here, to first analyze the content. Then, one may proceed to the original site to look at other interesting things like host site, format, font, pictures, and other available materials.
We invite you to read, and to comment if you like. If you want to or have written your own manifesto, send it along! If it's interesting/funny/different we'll through it up there.
If at any time you want to see the full exhibit, click the tag "Manifestos Exhibition", below. That should take you to all the relevant exhibits, that all have the same tag. The preamble to the exhibition can be found here.