The influence of context on message-making and audience reception in graphic design

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Title: The influence of context on message-making and audience reception in graphic design
Author: Kirchoff, Sarah
Abstract: The reception of a graphic design solution is greatly affected by the environment in which it is viewed: the space around it, and how it is approached and accessed. Obviously, the designer cannot control the specific life experiences that shape a viewer's personal response, or how that viewer may be situated in a broader, cultural context. Designers often have at least some degree of control over contextual factors that contribute to the message-making potential of a graphic design solution, as well as the form the solution takes, and how it is presented to an audience. When carefully constructed, content, application, display and context can work harmoniously together to effectively relay the intended message to a viewer (i.e., congruence). Conversely, planned incongruence between context, presentation and form can also be a helpful tool for designers: incongruence has the power to draw viewer attention, promote closer inspection or conversation, and provide a strategy for extending the message to alternative audiences. Graphic design, environmental graphic design, museum, gallery and exhibition studies, interior design and site-specific art take context into account as a primary concern from the upfront conceptual and material processes to final form and presentation stages. This thesis study examines context across disciplines, using these existing examples as the initial inspiration for the development of a group of incongruent, site-specific installations on the Rochester Institute of Technology campus.
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Date: 2008-05

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