Meaningful Information

September 6, 2010

Issue introduction by Iker Gil, editor in chief of MAS Context


Mas issue information cover opening

© Jack Henrie Fisher and Andrew Clark.

Since starting MAS Studio a few years ago, the idea of collecting and processing information in one way or another has always been present in the studio. We have a fascination with infographics and visualizing data, as well as documenting everyday places and situations through photography. While collecting and processing information has been an important part of the office, sharing information has been a critical one. Hence, the effort to produce MAS Context.

Information is a source of learning. But unless it is organized, processed, and available to the right people in a format for decision making, it is a burden, not a benefit.
—William G. Pollard

In this issue we had the chance to interview three designers and artists to know how they deal with information in their work: industrial designer Naoto Fukasawa, interactive media artist George Legrady, and artist Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle. It was a pleasure to have the chance to talk to them, to learn about Naoto’s definition of information, the evolution of George’s work from analog to digital, and the social and cultural commentary behind Iñigo’s pieces.

Writer Mimi Zeiger gives her input in the current debate about content versus format. When talking about information, are we talking about the message or the medium? With a background in architecture and urbanism, Javier Arbona explores format, specifically the role of blogging, using the architecture field as a case study. He puts the following question on the table, “Is there a distinction between blogging and designing?”

Editor and writer Jörg M. Colberg addresses content through the meaning of photography and its capacity to portray reality. But is that reality the one that we wish we would get from the images or the one that images can carry?

Graphic designer Jack Henrie Fisher addresses content from another perspective, examining typography, reading techniques, legibility, organization and meaning. You also saw his work before you picked up the issue—it’s on the cover—co-designed with our art director Andrew Clark.

How is technology helping us to understand the city? Writer Richard Prouty gives us his perspective on the way cities have been approached in the past and how current geo-positioning technologies are helping to produce a new way of mapping the city. But is data helping identifying its intensities, or its identities?

Two of our contributors are dealing with the ideas of contribution/collection and control/filter in their work. Digital media artist Aaron Koblin makes use of it to create fascinating projects like “Ten Thousand Cents” and “Bicycle Built for Two Thousand.” Here we showcased four projects that use information in different ways. An advocate for filtering, not just compiling information is Clay Shirky, one of the most influential thinkers on the social and economical impact of the Internet. The problem might not be the quantity of information produced today, but the filters we put in place.

And working around the concept of identity, artist Nick Gentry uses obsolete floppy disks to produce his own work. The disks, which still contain information, are combined and manipulated to generate a new identity, putting a human face on the information.

So here you have Information, our Fall 10 issue, one that has tested our capacities, and surpassed the number of contributors and content produced of our previous issues. I know we are not helping with the overload of information but I think you are going to find it meaningful.