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First Issues, First Words: Vision in the Making

As a means to critically examine writings on what design is, does, and might be, I prototyped a ‘new’ text, with lines extracted – in traditional cut and paste style, retaining all original typesetting – from editor introductions found within inaugural issues of design periodicals.

The result, Vision in the Making, contains 128 pieces of appropriated text and makes visible a collection of design writings that contain informational as well as expressive content, and may not otherwise receive close attention. The first page is shown at the left, with images from my working process below.

My article on the project's content and method, including all six pages of Vision in the Making, was published in the inaugural issue of peer-reviewed journal Dialectic (open access).

This project connects design history with design practice, and focuses on editorial introductions found within the first issues of a broad cross section of design periodicals launched around the world between 1902–2015. This body of literature includes a diverse range of scholarly / peer-reviewed journals, professional magazines, and designer-authored publications. All of these are somehow connected with visual communication design and related disciplines. Many design periodicals began publication to provide or facilitate thought leadership, criticism, research or scholarly inquiry within particular social, economic, and industrial contexts. Their introductory issues, and often the editorial mission statements contained within them, may be read as calls to action, or manifestos, among the various constituencies of the professional or academic design communities, or their clienteles, or among the broad array of vendors and manufacturers that the work of designers affects.


Barness, J. (2017). First Issues, First Words: Vision in the Making. Dialectic, 1(1), 39–60.