Deconstruction Function Junction
Deconstruction is a term most people associate with hipsters and hastily composed dishes on The Food Network’s Chopped. Yet the term has a varied history, long before it appeared on Pinterst boards. Deconstruction is a descriptive term used in a host of fields and professions: architecture, graphic design, fashion and the culinary arts to name a few.
Layered and fragmented forms, Jacques Derrida began the theory of deconstruction by describing it “as a mode of questioning through and about the technologies formal devices, social institutions, and central metaphors of representation.” In her essay Deconstruction and Graphic Design, Meredith Davis explores and recounts the origins and history of deconstruction. Its origins are in typography and language, but emerged in design journalism in the mid-1980s. With its variation in practices, Davis points out deconstruction roots in Western culture dating as far back as Plato and as recently as post-structuralism. Deconstruction reveals stark contrast between representation and reality by showing them as opposing forces. The inside/outside, original/copy, mind/body and the devalued, negative versus the valued, positive. Deconstruction also has connections to post-structuralism in its attack of modernism, universality signs, with an emphasis on “openness of meaning.” Davis uses philosophies on speech and writing to connect deconstruction to typography and design, stating “typography and graphic design… render texts and images readable.” Through her essay about deconstruction, Meredith Davis demonstrates its versatility in a verity of worlds. Deconstruction critiques the mechanics of representation by showing opposing forces and questioning ideology.
Meredith Davis’ historical recount of Deconstruction has impacted my own understanding of structure and forces, motivating me to critique the mechanics of my own work. Reading Deconstruction and Graphic Design, on deconstruction, I’m able to think deeper about my subconscious and my use of opposing forces. I tend to choose the opposite. With some consideration and thought, what that means is, you can have first pick because I don’t want what you have. Is that because I am a product of my environment, or era?
I was a child of the 80s, the decade of the child consumer. You had to have it, running out and buying the latest toy as soon as it debuted in my home, watching cartoon series such as Transformers and G.I. Joe. Perhaps it was when I was a teenager, the 90s when the impression and full realization of post-modernism began to set in. A perfect storm of angst and anti-establishment in society started forming as a commentary to the era prior. Taking that in consideration, have I been preprogramed to rage against the machine by the machine?
I supposed Meredith Davis, with incorporation by Jacques Derrida has spurred me to apply some of those same philosophies to a deeper understand of my own creation and work. Cornel West’s essay The New Cultural Politics of Differences began this process with his call to action to make meaningful art. I do not want to make art for someone else? I do want to remove myself from my work, “The Death of the Author” so to speak? Prior to reading it, I simply had no notion that these ideas and philosophies have already existed and have been digested and fed back to me by means of commercialism. Thankfully there are analytical readings by those who have processed these theories and brought the questions of thought and motive from the subconscious to the conscious. These writings are helpful and will continue to be, in deconstructing my work and myself moving forward.