1000 words


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We chose to research the history and elements of slang language. What it means to society as a whole and to the subcultures within it. Coming from diverse nationalities and backgrounds, we thought to show light on the different areas and routes of slang, be it Patois or cockney.

After researching the historic routes of slang and finding quite little, we aimed to make the presentation more ‘slang aware’ and performance based due to slang evolving more from vocal and expressive communication within different cultures and locations.  We made a short film [1] with exerts of slang related documents in social media and of ourselves, each performing a different slang ‘genre’ and communicating with the fourth wall in a comical way due to the over exaggerated form in which we were speaking. We performed examples of Queens English, Cockney rhyme, Patois, American and Urban ‘street’ slang as this gave a varied insight into the different subcultures’ language use.

Because we thought it important to carry out independent initial research, it was decided that we each choose a sub category of the subject, which would result in a more precise overview. The path I chose to delve into was slang in a commercial environment.

Slang helps identify you within a subculture. It gives individuals a sense of self, because people within that same subculture understand exactly where one is coming from. This awareness of familiarity is what is interesting when looking into the relationship between commercialism and slang as it means that a corporation can find and use a powerful segment of language as a direct link with a specific type of person and successfully communicate a message to them. [2]

“Typo” is slang within our industry and words that already exist have been made up to have an adverse meaning within the design industry such as ‘bleed’ and ‘slug’.  Graphic designers at most have a stereotype of latching onto the newest most fashionable thing, so it makes perfect sense that slang is used in everyday communicative design. How many pieces of purpose include slang language to illustrate to or grab the attention of a target audience?

After spending time contemplating whether slang can even be defined as a sub language different to the ‘proper argot’ in which we speak, I started to label things around the consumerist and urban London environment which particularly stood out to me as slang related. Eateries in Bricklane such as “Vibe Bar” and “The Big Chill” were a couple that I accounted for immediately. But considering the growing nature of slang; when a slang word becomes typical and over used, is it still actually slang?

‘Vibe’ and ‘Chill’ seem to be words stemming from the 60’s. It is namely subcultures that introduce slang to our dictionary. For example, one could imagine these words coming from the dialogue of a psychedelic drug culture “Are you getting those vibes?”  But even this would have come from somewhere or something actual. The term vibe essentially stems from the vibrating waves of a vibraphone. So matching with the 60’s subculture of music and energy movement it could seem feasible.

It is due to subculture why we have and use slang words [3] Charlie and gear are drug culture, LOL- Internet culture, REEM seems to be The Only Way is Essex subculture. And the language we use helps us fit into a certain subculture. For example, typical London hipsters would not necessarily be drawn into a shop named “clobber” or “country clothes” but would be more attracted to something purposefully random like “rockit” or the understated and collected  “urban outfitters” as if words themselves are the subculture or fashion.

After some thought on the smaller companies which use slang to appeal to the consumers of the area, I thought about probably the most obvious, consumerist examples there are. “Just do it”[4] and “I’m lovin’ it”.

When you have companies as colossal as Nike and McDonalds, one simply does not have to advertise but instead just remind the customers and buyers that they are still there doing their thing. [5] This is why simple slogans of slang work best. They are comfortable and colloquial and make them seem our friend. It completely conceals their corporate nature and blankets it with something familiar and light-hearted.

In fairness however, the use of slang within advertising can be used for positive effect. Some smaller less consumerist examples are often found within the health and crime sector. Many NHS safe-sex campaigns use colloquial terms to appeal to a younger target audience. They have used phrases such as “All my mates are doing it” [6] to give a more comfortable edge to the taboo filled content.

This Christmas, Essex police’s anti drink-drive campaign was informal and idiomatic with the slogan “We’re cracking down on drink driving”[7] hanging underneath the image of a Christmas cracker. It seems comical, so the public perception of the police force is more positive due to the campaign and so hence forth, more people will take into account the true message of crime prevention. In this case a comical, friendly slogan is doing its job for the better.

Many designers have to use slang to appeal to a target audience. Some have been told to come up with something “cool” and “youthful” by their client.  This may be why Neville Brody and Erik Spiekermann unveiled their FontFont [8] library to produce new typefaces “By designers for designers” as a way of cutting them selves off from the almost mathematical equation of factors which go into commercial work.

In short, communication design is about connecting with an audience. The more languages you know, the more people you can communicate with. On the larger scale this means connecting with international languages such as Spanish, Mandarin and French for example… But if delving into something more precise, it is connecting with the diverse subcultures and target audiences within your own nation. I believe if you can understand how to do that, the dynamics of it all, then you have a better understanding of communication and a heightened insight when relating to a crowd.

The 112 year old lightbulb!


The 112 year old lightbulb!

The world’s oldest working light bulb is approaching its 112th birthday. On June 18th, the Guinness World Record-holding bulb will have been glowing in local fire stations in Livermore, California, for 112 years. Since 1901 the longest the bulb has been turned off is a mere week.

Now known as the Centennial Bulb, it was donated to the local fire brigade by Adolphe Chailet, a competitor of Thomas Edison. Although he was never as successful as the shamelessly entrepreneurial Edison, Chailet’s light bulbs were proved to survive higher voltages.

For better or for worse?

You can now buy your own 3-D home printer for just £1000 where you can print working kitchen utensils, spare parts for toasters, appliances, musical instruments and even parts to build a whole bike. This sci-fi vision has been made very real (just like the items it “prints”) in the recent, and could become a key part of future mass production.                    It has been a common theme in workplace matters where machines are taking over human skills such as factory robots replacing people and even e-passports taking over border control. Is this an issue that we should consider and be taking more seriously with down ward employment trends? Or is this a revolutionary technology which will save the economy’s money and the public in long term?                                                                    Who does really know? After all, we cannot accurately envisage the future.                        This takes the element of craftsmenship out of the cycle of production (except the mechanics who build the machines) and changes the cycle of the copying “loop” (idea generator-> craftsman-> documenter-> copier->) which I highlighted on in a diagram in a previous post. Because in the case of 3D printing, copying becomes realized in the three dimensional- real form, instead of the 2D mirrored copy of an item. What will this new-age technology do to the financial state of the companies who make counter parts for toasters when their customers can just make these parts in their homes, alone; or just order from a 3D copier online? This is how it works…


“3D printing is an additive technology in which objects are built up in layers in a process that often takes several hours. The first commercial 3D printer was based on a technique called stereolithography. This was invented by Charles Hull in 1984. Stereolithographic 3D printers (known as SLAs or stereolithography apparatus) position a perforated platform just below the surface of a vat of liquid photocurable polymer. A UV laser beam then traces the first slice of an object on the surface of this liquid, causing a very thin layer of photopolymer to harden. The perforated platform is then lowered very slightly and another slice is traced out and hardened by the laser. Another slice is then created, and then another, until a complete object has been printed and can be removed from the vat of photopolymer, drained of excess liquid, and cured. Stereolithographic printers remain one of the most accurate types of hardware for fabricating 3D output, with a minimum build layer thickness of only 0.6mm.” [1]   [1] http://www.explainingthefuture.com/3dprinting.html