Library of movement [archive]


A selection of ongoing visual experiments from my thesis research and beyond. Scroll away ︎︎︎

Our daily lives are visually inundated both as designers and consumers—whether we are producing or consuming content—ironically, we spend much of our time sitting behind flat screens. Sedentary living crossed with a heavy dose of daily scrolling, scanning, clicking, and tapping is a fundamental reality and engine of information age culture development. As designers, we use conventional tools like our computers, pencils, and paper in our design processes—if we are feeling experimental, we may explore a range of materiality or maybe virtual environments; but what about the use of our physical bodies? Our bodies hold, they remember, they activate, engage, disrupt, deliver, interact, regenerate; they are ever-changing, and most importantly, they move. Considering these insights, I see an opportunity to investigate the specific and unique visual potential that the moving body holds, as a tool in graphic design.

I begin my research by looking at the body through the lens of performance art, and with an inquiry: What happens when performative elements (i.e. ephemerality) are applied to graphic design? The body is an integral element to any performance; thus, exploring the visual potential of the moving body stems from this initial curiosity into the existing and plausible overlaps between performance and graphic design. Performance is just the beginning. It is the framework; the root of the interest and the catalyst of the question. While there is an infinite amount of definitions of performance art, there are some fundamental components that make it especially intriguing for this research, viz.: (1) ephemerality, (2) chance/surprise, (3) interaction/participation, (4) use of the body as a tool, (5) content created through physical movement. Thus, performance sets the stage for a deeper investigation of the role of the body as a performative tool, both in design processes and design outputs.

To explore this visual potential, I analyze historical, theoretical, and philosophical roles of the body in art, design, and movement research. More specifically, I study the shift in body representation to body integration throughout major art movements, as well as the fascination and challenge of capturing and translating three-dimensional movement. I examine work from Marcel Duchamp and Étienne-Jules Marey, to the Futurist and Dadaist movements, to contemporary designers and researchers such as The Rodina and Zach Lieberman. I draw upon these examples as critical references for my own visual experiments and attempts to create a comprehensive library of graphic movement translations. I define categories of movement within my own experiments and discover important insights regarding the distinction between showing the body, representing the body and using the body as a tool.

To read my written thesis or learn more about my project, please ︎email me.






















© 2021 Shane McLean