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Gemma Copeland

Tag “digital design”

 — Making a website

Some thoughts about making this website, written jointly by me and Piper Haywood (italics).


This website started as a conversation between Piper and myself. I had just left my full-time job and PH suggested that we could work together on a new website for my practice. It was also a good excuse for us to collaborate and explore some of our ideas about website design and development together.

I was interested in working with Gemma on pretty much anything! More specifically though, I wanted to work on a site that was less of an unchanging behemoth and more of a playground for learning, a permanent sandbox and ideas container. This is how treat my site, but I hadn’t had the chance to create something similar for and with someone else before.

From the outset, we set the intention that the process should be conversation between the two of us. We’re both interested in seeing design and development as a collaborative and iterative process, where both parties learn from the other. (Although, admittedly, I have learnt much more from PH during this process!)

You say that, but I’ve definitely learned a ton from you! Especially about letting ambiguity thrive, balancing it against structure.

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 — From pages to performances

This is one of the posts I wrote for the Core Languages blog last semester, as part of a course at Central Saint Martens that introduced graphic design students to the digital design mindset.

What is unique about digital design as a medium? How can we approach design for screens in a way that is natively digital, rather than an appropriation of print design?

In this essay, Cory Arcangel suggests that the term “web performance” is more appropriate for describing the digital medium than “web page”:

The term that really drives me up the wall, though, is web page. Page connotes something stable, unchanging, and definite. A book page exists. A book page is. A web page, on the other hand, is a vastly more complicated structure. It is a set of instructions blasted from a server farm across the globe through fiber-optic cables, then interpreted by a computer’s hypertext transfer protocol browser and displayed by a light-emitting-diode screen. All this, by the way, is happening in real time—reconstituted at each millisecond through a unique and contingent tangle of systems—and is supported by the constant churn of the power grid, itself (incredibly) still commonly powered by burning coal. So instead of web page, I’d prefer the term web performance, which would remind us that this information is both immediate and ephemeral. In a sense, it is thousands of coal-powered virtual Rube Goldberg machines — lined up from end to end — that power our Facebook Paper apps on our iPhones.

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 — Teaching digital

Last semester I started teaching Digital as part of BA Graphic Communication Design at Central Saint Martins.

My class was part of the Core Languages course, which included other classes like Typography, Print and Production, and Photography. The idea behind this was to introduce second year students to foundational concepts and skills that could then feed into their wider graphic design practice and the longer term, research-based projects from their other classes.

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