The Machinery of Design: Playing with Brecht, the Surrealists, and Provocative Images

By Lynn Koller.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper proposes that print ad designers have usurped Brecht's style of epic theater and the Surrealists’ affection for paradox and irrationality and offers an analysis of three contemporary ads. Brecht used techniques to remind theater audiences that they were watching a play rather than observing a representation of reality. He found that the machinery of theater, opera, and the press is no longer “a means of furthering output but has become an obstacle to output, and specifically to [intellectuals’] own output as soon as it follows a new and original course which the apparatus finds awkward or opposed to its new aims.” I apply this theory to ad design and discuss how the “machinery” that generates design affects its output and how unveiling that machinery for the reader/audience creates new meaning. As well, I address how the machinery that produces this article affects its meaning.

Keywords: Brecht, Surrealists, Surrealism, Narrative, Design, Collage, Epic, Theater, Paradox, Irrationality, Machinery, Production, Form

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp.165-172. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.319MB).

Dr. Lynn Koller

Assistant Professor of Communication, Humanities & Social Sciences Department, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, Florida, USA

Lynn Koller is an assistant professor of communication at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, teaching visual design and professional writing courses. She holds a PhD in Texts and Technology and MA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Florida. Her recent research has focused on how medical imaging technologies have affected the way patients and physicians interact and the broader impact on how we view illness and the human body. In the past, she has worked in the legal field and for a bank technology consulting firm in public relations and marketing.


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