Groundwork – Marie Otsuka & Lauren Campbell, MFA Graphic Design 2018
We’re working with Lowtech Magazine to create a content-management system and a digital and print platform. Lowtech Magazine looks back at old technology to see its benefits and forwards at the environmental implications of rapid technological advancements. Its founder, Kris De Decker, aptly navigates the tension of using the internet to get his lowtech message out to the world, and primarily, a US audience.
Two Weeks In
For the past two weeks, we’ve been acclimating to Dutch life (securing bikes for transport) and diving into the 10-year archive of Low-tech Magazine. We’re examining the articles looking for themes and popular content and proposing new organizational structures that best serve the well-researched articles.
We’re particularly interested in the ways that our work will also navigate the high and low-tech tension— a redesigned website, the environmental impact of a print publication, the impact of our travel to a different continent—and we’ve been mindful of what decisions we can make to allow these new platforms to be as environmentally friendly as possible. So far, we’ve been investigating whether white screens consume more energy than black ones (because of new LCD screen technology, they no longer do), what makes a typeface environmentally friendly (amount of ink it requires coupled with its letter-width and how that affects page count), and if the amount of bleach required in the process of recycling paper actually makes it more harmful than its original counterpart (we’re still figuring this one out).
We’re trying to embody LTM’s mission to consider sustainability in the full chain of the production processes in our decisions, while working within a limited budget.
Zero Footprint Campus
A big highlight has been seeing Low-tech Magazine’s involvement with the Zero Footprint Campus (ZFC). Kris, working with researcher Melle Smets, has proposed the Human Power Plant, a dorm powered by the physical volunteer labor of students. It’s an idea that, again, wrestles with the tension of low-tech solutions (physical labor in the form of exercise machines) to a highly tech-based society (energy to run laptops and cell phones).
Other projects within the ZFC umbrella include a critical “read-in” of the library canon, a Scenario machine to provoke discussions on possible futures, a Sweat(er) Shop that promotes full use of local resources by felting the wool from sheep on campus, and Spacekeet, a mobile DIY satellite ground station.
We’re thankful for the space to pursue these questions, something that’s not really possible during the hectic and fast pace of the school year.
some of what you’re talking about reminds me of the Design Academy Eindhoven show that I saw in Milan last year. It was focused on the value of physical connection in a world filled with so much technology and digital interface.