Definition of Terms and their Influence of Contemporary Western Design

Japan helped western artists to fully break away from classicism, paving the way for modern innovations. Japanese art was seen as a model of “economy, simplicity and fucntionality”. Later the West started to use these principles in their advertising materials to make them more effective. These principles have become increasingly global in its reach. For instance Japanese contemporary art takes many forms such as: architecture, advertising, video games etc. The Japanese art and design is very urban and offbeat. That is why they have such an immense influence and contribution in design and modern art in general throughout the world. Many of the design work in Japan is sleek, futuristic and very minimal. Also on another level, are many of their designs super cute, childish and wacky. All of these aspects mentioned is clearly noticed in Western contemporary design.

When you look at anime today, it is everywhere and is enjoyed by many. It is not only directed to children but to teens and adults as well. Even the advertisements on television has become more animated. Not only is the audience for anime very wide spread, but for manga as well. Comic books, graphic novels etc. has become a global phenomenon under a large number of people from different ages. People collect them and see them as prized items/collectors items. There are even limited editions of certain titles that people would do anything for. The style of these novels is very simplistic and has an easy to read layout.

When we look at kawaii, there is no doubt that it has influenced the Western design. Look at the toys and games that are manufactured. Everything has this “cute” aspect to them. This style is also seen within advertisments, magazine layouts and especially posters.

Definition and History of ANIME

This is an animation style that originated in Japan. The style is characterized by colorful graphics which depicts vibrant characters in action-filled plots. The themes that are used, often include fantasy or futuristic elements.

Anime began at the start of the 20th century. The animation techniques that were being explored in the West got the Japanese filmmakers interested and they started to explore this style. Astro Boy (1963) was one of the first and popular anime series created by Osamu Tezuka. The Japanese developed this style further and another genre known as mecha was created/developed.

Anime Examples:

Definition and History of MANGA

Manga is a Japanese word that means “comics” or “cartoons”. Manga has a very definite look to it and sometimes it is referred to as “Manga Style”.

Opposite of traditional American books, Japanese Manga has to be read from the right to the left. This style is very distinctive because of its many characteristics. The characters of Manga art is what Manga is most known for. They usually or almost always have large eyes, small mouths and usually have abnormal hair color. Because of these characteristics the characters have a very Western feel/look to them. These characters are also illustrated with over exaggerated emotions.

Over the centuries it has been part of the Japanese culture to tell stories using images that are displayed in a certain order (sequence). This style also became very popular during the 20th century. These illustrations were made on wood block. By using various gray tone techniques very detailed illustrations could be made. And to tell a story more efficiently, they started to use words (Combining images with words). Manga characters also became more expressive and displaying their emotions with style.

Manga Examples:

Definition of OTAKU

Otaku is a term that is used to describe fans of anime, manga, etc. These fans can be seen as strange, unkempt (Having an untidy appearance) and very obsessive. Within this otaku group/fanbase social networks are formed and goods and information is traded. These trades are short-lived and businesslike.

Otaku has been stereotyped by saying that these people/fans rarely leave their homes. They isolate themselves from the world outside and is very antisocial. But if you look at it this way, these people have to leave their homes to make these trades and gather these items/products.

Otaku Examples:

Definition and History of KAWAII

“Cute” is what this Japanese term means. Within Japanese society and pop culture cuteness seems to be a highly valued aesthetic quality. THis word is also used to describe men who have a “cute” personality. Cuteness is accepted as a part of Japanese culture and national identity, this has become a phenomenon within their culture. Hello Kitty and Doraemon are popular examples of the kawaii-style. Tomoyuki Sugiyama says that the Japanese embrace “kawaii” due to their love of harmony.

The term Kawaii emerged in the 1970’s when Japanese teenagers, mainly female, began using an informal and “cute” styel of writing. Left-to-right writing format was used as well as many English terms. This style was more Westernized than other traditioinal Japanese styles. The writing included hearts, happy faces and multiple exclamation marks. Later this writing style got banned in some schools because it was seen as a rebellion against traditional Japanese culture. The Kawaii-style gained popularity again in the 1980’s and dominated the Japanese pop culture.

Images of Hello Kitty and Doraemon

Kawaii Examples:

It is clear to me that every country and culture with their history and way of life influences other countries. Not all the elements found in a culture’s designs are found in other cultures/countries but the influences made are obvious to see. It is like a language, an identity which is very beautiful and enigmatic.


Japanese Influence of Western Design

Japonism or Japonisme describes how Japanese art and culture influence/d the West. After a 200 year period of total isolation Commodore Perry opened Japan’s door to the outside world in 1858. The West was influenced by the metalwork, architecture, print-making and painting of the Japanese. While the West influenced the Japanese through their electrifying new ideas on composition, color and design.

Often design and art is influenced by a current culture and by art history. Not only does these elements shape the artist’s views and the purpose of their design, but also the materials and ideas they use. In recent years many Western designers have been influenced by the Japanese aesthetic, specifically pop culture/art (Design based on modern cultural elements such as television or comic books) and contemporary design. These designers include Simone Legno and Matthew Waldman.

Work of Simone Legno:

Work of Matthew Waldman:

The Collapse of the Space and Time Continuum

Examples of Contemporary Culuture & Lifestyle

The way I see it, contemporary culture and lifestyle is all about simplicity and being part of the modern age. People change their lifestyles because of these contemporary changes that take place and they have to keep up with them. Once again it becomes clear that people are easy to influence.

Here are Images of Contemporary Transport and Contemporary Communication



Different Types of Photography

Personally, I did not know that there are so many different types of photography. For me a photo was a photo, not really caring or wondering what the real story or meaning behing the photo is. Due to my research up to this point, I’m going to look through new eyes at the images/photographs that surrounds me.

Now I will be discussing and commenting on the following types of photography: Documentary, art, science, paparazzi and fashiion.


This type of photography started in the nineteenth century, when photographers attempted to create documents of their reality. These photos included images of the people, places, and the things that existed all around them.

This type of photography has evolved so much over the years that it includes a range of styles and subjects. Some of the purposes of these photographs are to tell stories, serve as a historical document of a political or social era. Facts are also presented, so the truth about a particular subject can be brought to light.

Because of these images, we learn so much about other cultures, politics and environmental situations. This category is very broad and has the power to touch us (the viewers) by allowing us to find links of similarity between our lives, and the lives of others.

Viewer’s emotions are evoked because these photographs tend to be intense, vivid, grotesque and shocking. These elements or factors gives the photograph an emotional and sympathetic tone.

Here are some examples of Documentary Photography

This image by Philllip Jones Griffiths of the Vietnam War, evokes emotion within you. You feel the pain and sadness that those people endured. When I look at this picture and I look at the face of the soldier, it almost looks as if he has given up hope.


Art photographs are done to bring out the multifarious dimensions of a subject through the eyes of the artist. With this type of photography, a wide variety of subjects are embraced. These photographs also must have aesthetic value to be considered art. These photographs are also created in accordance with the creative vision of the photographer as an artist.

The way I look at this genre, is that most of the time these images are abstract, something out of the ordinary and in a way trying to make you think ‘what was the photographer thinking’. These type of photographs certainly has a deeper meaning behind them.

Here are some examples of Art Photography

This black and white photograph has great contrast. The mood that is brought out with this picture is that of someone who is dealing with the loss of someone. The way he sits in the corner enhances this message.


Did you ever wonder how doctors can see the details of our skeletons and organs? How scientists are able to see an exploding star in another galaxy? Because ot the innovations of photography all of these things are made possible.

Photography first established its legitimacy through its close association with key scientific ideas and practices. This includes objectivity, observation, archiving and experimentation. Photography especially influences scientific disciplines, such as biology and astronomy.

In a way this scares me, just to see how far the technology has developed and what we can do with it. Especially within this genre of photography, where we can see so much detail within one photograph. You can’t help to sit and admire the world we live in when you look at certain science photographs.

Here are some examples of Science Photography

In 1509-1510 Leonardo Da Vinci documented the humand anatomy, both inside and outside of the body. His drawings (over 200) shows the dissections he observed, of the human musculature and skeletal structure. It is clear theat these images were among the most accurate medical diagrams created at that point.


These are photographers that constantly follow celebrities to take candid pictures of them and sell them to magazines and newspaper. Paparazzi focusses on capturing a moment where the celebrity looks bad. For instance when the celebrity is in a car accident, drinking too much, trippingg and falling, getting angry and especially when they look overweight. The paparazzi has contacts like waiters, limo drivers, doormen and bouncers to tip them of about the celebrity’s whereabouts.

This type of photography i so competitive, that paparazzi teams are formed. With these teams they try to block/keep other teams or paparazzo’s from getting the good/right picture. In the past paparazzi would hide out in trees and bushes hoping to get lucky and get a shot of a celebrity.

Because of the value of these type of photos that is increased by the media, photographers (paparazzi) started “hunting” celebrities. This industry can be seen as aggresive, global and worth billions of dollars. Personally I think that this genre of photography is just an invasion of privacy. These people can’t go anywhere without these paparazzi following them around. Sometimes people just need that ‘alone’ time where you can get yourself back together. But these celebrities can’t even do that.

Here are some examples of Paparazzi Photography


Because of the advances in halftone printing, during the first decade of the 20th century, fashion photographs were made possible and started to appear in magazines. Fashion photographs mostly appear in advertisements and in magazines, because with this method these images reaches more people. These photographs have to present the current trends in the fashion industry.

This genre of photography is devoted to displaying clothes and fashion items. It is also said that fashion photography tends to be an indication of what beauty really is and the ideals of a given era. But today many fashion photographs seem to be about creating a story, evoking a mood or expressing a concept.

For me, it seems as if some fashion photographers are competing against each other. Just to see who can be more outrageous than the other with the way they showcase their subjects and the clothes. As this genre developed over time, it has developed its own aesthetic, in which clothes and fashion are enhanced by exotic locations and story lines.

Here are some examples of Fashion Photography

Within this picture, the subjects are posing in a very exotic way, almost animal like. There is made use of dramatic lighting and it catches the eye and keeps you interested. The use of colour on the side leads your eye into the picture. Also the way the subjects are posing, compliments and emphasizes the garments they are wearing.


The effect of photography on the Public Consciousness:

Photos surround us every day and we are constantly influenced by them. Photography is so influencive, that it can determine your mood. It is important for photographers to consider the effect of their photographs on human subjects. Photographers should also think about the message they are sending out with certain images.

Some people may understand or see the photograph in a whole different way than another. People are very easy to influence, so photographers jump at the oppertunity to find new ways to influence and effect people and the way they think.


Photography is a form of art on its own. With one single picture/photo, a whole story can be told. That’s the beauty of photography, it captures a moment in time and will be passed on from generation to generation. Through photos, facts can be preserved, interest and curiosity can be evoked and most of the time photography is used to express yourself.

Individual Experience

In a day, I use these objects/equipment multiple times. With my cellphone I gather information and communicate/connect with family or friends. When I am at class, I constantly use the computer/laptop, to gather information on the internet. All the information I gather is stored on a flash which I carry with me all the time. This shows me, that as an individual, I am a user(a part of something) of technology. My surroundings are influencing me and forcing me to adapt to these new methods of communicating and using data.

Influence of Technology and Science in our day-to-day life

Because of the world we live in today, where technology is a main factor, it affects/influences who we are, what we do and how we behave. The way we interact with each other, what makes us happy and our capacity for reaching our full potential as individuals is altered by the technology.

The environment changes with a fast pace and with that new technologies increases dramatically. It is possible that the electronic devices that we use on a daily basis affects our personality, behaviour and characteristics. Meaning that this modern world may be altering our human identity, especially young people.

For us to move in the right direction, society(us) depend on information and communication. We use computers to store, retrieve and manipulate data as we like. With this mentioned, it is obvious we want to dominate our surroundings.

An interesting thing that Heidegger said is: “The human becomes a ‘user’ of the world around us and this includes other humans”.

The following images represent the products I use on a daily basis that rely on technology.



The influence of technology and science on our lives: Definition of terms

The creation and use of thecnical means and their interrelation with life, society and the environment is known as technology. For me this is how we enrich our lives and moving forward with technology hand-in-hand. The way in which we form part of a group and legacy.

‘Scientia’ is Latin for science and it means knowledge. We can only attain knowledge through study and practice. Science can only occur through observation, identification, description, experimental investigation and theoretical explanation of phenomenon. This is a continuing effort to discover and increase human knowledge. People are curious beings and always want to discover new and advance ways of making our lives more easier/durable.

The two types of reflexivity are: Personal & Epistemological. A person’s values, beliefs, acquaintances and interests influence his/her research/work. Basically it is an attitude of attending systematically to the context of knowledge construction.

The foundation of knowledge and the implications of any findings are attempted to be identified through epistemological.

This concept has much to do with technology. It is the world that we live in today and particularly the way in which we view, approach and understand the technology-driven & technology-centered society. Technicism is one of the driving forces for change in society and is a way of approaching the world that places its confidence in technology

Relevant results concerning the terms ‘Zeitgeist’ & ‘Utopia’

The German expression ‘Zeitgeist’ means “the spirit of the age”. The intellectual & cultural climate of an era is described by this word/term. The word was created so that it could inspire people to start looking at the world from a more critical perspective.

This includes the general outlook/world view of a specific time/period, especially the way these out looks are reflected in literacy, philosophy & art/design.

If we look back on the past & look at where we are now, it is clear that societies can change, as well as their values within society.

The word ‘Utopia’ comes from the Greeks and there is constantly a references to Roman and Greek myths and beliefs. This place is fictional & does not or cannot exist. In this modern time we live in, Utopia is defined as an ideal place. A place where society and economical conditions are ideal. It is a place where all is free from conflict and filled with serenity.

Because of the human desire to create an ideal society the western idea of utopia originated in the ancient world.

There have bee many attempts to try and create the ‘ideal’ society, in word and in deed. This have never been achieved therefore labelling this as unrealistic hopes. This information constructed by Megan Kisow was for me personally the most entertaining and well put together site, and I learned a lot by reading this site.

To get these relevant and reliable information I looked for sites that include an author and a date that shows when it was last updated. To refine my search, I used words such as article and journal. This helped me to get reliable information.

1. Title: Zeitgeist – Introduction
Author: Edward L Winston

2. Title: The Zeitgeist Movement
Author: Richard Stallman

3. Title: What is Utopia?
Author: Megan Kisow

4. Title: Utopias in America

5. Title: Moral Zeitgeist

6. Title: Word of the day – Zeitgeist

7. Title: Utopia

8. Title: Zeitgeist Addendum – Steps toward a sustainable future
Author: Rady Ananda

9. Title: Utopia

10. Title: The Utopian Ideal over Time

Definition of terms on the internet and how it relates to Design.

Here is the information I found regarding the topics ‘Zeitgeist’ and ‘Utopia’ on the internet. Zeitgeist is a general trend of thought or feeling during a particular period. It is the general cultural, intellectual, spiritual or political climate within a nation or even a specific group.

Philosophers such as Voltaire & Hegel were intrigued by the idea of “the spirit of the age”. Though it was said by Hegel that philosophies and works of art can’t transcend the spirit of the age in which they are produced.

Through the years people have experienced and seen things in a different way then the way we are seeing and understanding things now. Due to these changes that take place through the ages we adapt to our environment around us. Then we find ways to express ourselves within the context of what is happening around us, our surroundings and our environment.

Utopia, as described by Sir Thomas More, is an imagenary island representing the perfect society. This is an imparctical, idealistic scheme for social and political reform.

During the ages, social conditions have been critizesed by philosophers using ‘Utopia’ as their driving force. Through this they “paint the picture with no words” to illustrate/describe a place where people live freely in a world without conflict.

This will never change and that’s a fact, the human race will always strive towards perfection. It’s like one of the goals we have in life, how can we be perfect in every way and how can we create a perfect/ideal world around us. This is especially seen in the art/designs surrounding us. Through art/design it is communicated to us what it is that we should be being part of. The way we look, the way we dress, the lifestyle we lead is influenced by the way the world seeks ‘perfection’. These designs surround us every day and therefore we are influenced daily.

Because of the definitions of these topics, I could easily distinguish between relevant and irrelevant information. Due to the fact that I understood what these terms include it made it easier for me to find information that fits into the context of my work/research.