Featured on RISD Portfolios on 31st December 2019
“A dictionary begins when it no longer gives the meaning of words, but their tasks. Thus, Formless is not only an adjective having a given meaning, but a term that serves to bring things down into the world, generally requiring that each thing have its form.”
— Georges Bataille: "Informe." Documents 7 (December 1929), p. 382.
Formless concepts are only understood through our association to a given word. The challenge is therefore how to depict the formless visually such that it is non-biased and contains no pre-conceived notions behind it. It is based purely on how it feels. This quote formed the basis of my interpretation of the theme 'Formless' and after much consideration, I decided to focus on human emotions and how graphic design could be applied to create visual icons that represent the emotions that we all feel.
I decided to use Robert Plutchik's wheel-like diagram of emotions as my start off point. I had to narrow down to a few emotions that could be given identities of their own and then further built up from there. So I tried using actual words and applying effects to manipulate them. The results are shown below:
I realized then that manipulating text affects it legibility which ultimately defeats the purpose of words. Also, the designs were biased as the ability to read some of the words affects our perception of it and has pre-set connotations. So I decided to take a more neutral and work with a simple circle.
The 12 images above were the result of a neutral approach to creating a visual form for emotions. However, a short survey I conducted showed that the complex nature of our individual characters simply couldn't allow us to have a common consensus on these forms. We all see it different, and they make us all feel different emotions.
The final artwork was therefore a simple animation to illustrate what emotions might look like if given a visual form, but it was not intended to impose any specific feeling through the graphics.