Parallel Environments

Prepared by Victor Margolin

Artists: Bill Becker, Phillip Burton, Christine Celano, Don Dimmitt, Michael Glass, John Greiner, John Massey, Herbert Ohl, Larry Salomon, Ted Takano, Guenther Tetz, and Scott Zukowski

Parallel Environments provides an opportunity for the UIC design faculty to propose new and innovative ways of circulating information throughout the UIC campus. As part of a large university, the diverse organizations, departments, programs, and units of UIC generate large amounts of information about their activities. Many of these bodies organize lectures, hold symposia, show films, and put together other programs, which they invite members of the UlC community to attend. Information about these events was previously dispersed through the most diverse channels: flyers in faculty mailboxes, small posters put up intermittently in buildings and elsewhere around campus, and announcements in campus publications.

As a result of no coordinated plan for disseminating such information, much of it never reaches a wide audience, including many people who may be interested in attending a particular event. The information is often mingled with vast amounts of other material—bureaucratic memos, advertising flyers, etc.—that drown out its potential impact. Much of it is also unimaginatively designed. What is needed on campus is a new way of presenting information about public events that is clear, lively, and informative. In addition, the physical forms of the mailboxes, kiosks, and bulletin boards, where the information is placed and posted, do not in any way celebrate what it means to gather information about events that are likely to be stimulating, entertaining, or productive. In the past, for example, the circus was identified with a festive tent, films with elaborate movie palaces, and posters with ornate kiosks. What is needed are new forms for the structures that display information, forms that celebrate the meaning of taking in useful information about forthcoming events.

The faculty's project is to design new forms, whether graphic or structural, for the display of information about forthcoming events on the UIC campus. This project involves a study of how information is disseminated around campus and how the coordination of information about forthcoming events could be improved. Among the issues to be addressed are not simply how to inform the public about the events, but how to give the events some appeal through visual and/or verbal means.

The second aspect of the project is to consider the structures that frame or contain the information. These could be located both within and without buildings. Designers are invited to consider not only the structural aspects of these frames or containers but also a visual rhetoric that could speak to the experience of gathering information for edification or entertainment. The designers work alone or with others, considering either individual elements of a large information gathering and dissemination system, or combinations of elements, whether objects, design systems, or the design of new organizational strategies for gathering information.