Immutable: Designing History explores the graphic genealogy of the document and its entanglement with statecraft and colonial(ism/ity). This is framed as a roughly 5,000 year chronology, imbricating the developments of money and writing from Mesopotamian clay tablets to distributed blockchain ledgers. Immutability figures as a design imperative and hermeneutic for considering securitization techniques (material, technological, administrative) against the entropy of a document’s movement through space, time and the political.
This project is proposed as a counter-position to the imperatives of graphic design education, which foregrounds logos, books, websites and branding while passports, money and property deeds constitute the field’s more profoundly consequential genres.
As an alternative historiography, Immutable gestures towards anthropologist Laura Nader’s call to “study up” on those in power, and the radical educator Paolo Freire’s recognition of the “limit situation” presented by documental forms as a generative condition for the study and creative exploration of emancipatory praxis. The book’s aim is to orient graphic design towards the vocation of imagining, naming, and remembering beyond the horizons of its role as a managerial, administrative, and colonial instrument, helping impose a rationality of vision and accountability upon what is knowable, thinkable and sayable.
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