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Manual for Redesigning Reality

Royal College of Art, 2018
Publication produced with Nicola Koller, Matteo Mastrandrea and the students of ADS4. 

We live in an increasingly post-produced world. The reuse and reinterpretation of existing information is the modus operandi for contemporary (cultural) production. But precisely how extant information is gathered together, combined, reformatted etc. has not been rigorously interrogated; the application of postproduction techniques to culture today (in the most general sense) is a process that awaits systematic study.  

Since the turn of the last century. postproduction has dominated the process (if not the discourse) of art, music, the moving image, literature... From cubist collages and situationist detournement to modernist cut-up techniques and postmodernist culture jamming, citation and appropriation have become the sine qua non of the creative industries' success. 

Yet, today this hegemony--which is underpinned by manual techniques (finding, overlaying, collaging etc.)--is being complicated by the ubiquity of contemporary technology. Despite their ever-wider application, the processes of postproduction are increasingly being performed by machines; this automation--a post-production of postproduction--problemitises art/design's ability to intervene in the world. How, given the vast amounts of data that punctuate our complex society, can a manual design methodology compete with automated processes of postproduction (with all the information processing such processes entail)?

Paradoxically, this manual proposes that such a manual approach is the only way forward. By supplementing analysis of what is occurring (postproduction) with a nuanced understanding of how it is taking place (post-production), manual design can once again have agency. By manually understanding the tools and mechanisms by which machines are reformatting our world, we can engage with, and reverse-engineer, the status quo. This is a manual of postproduction as an antidote to our post-production future...

(Graphic Design by Laura Jouan)
© Thomas Greenall