MA Research Project
Tutor: Dr Russell Bestley
Research Question: How to determtine and to communicate the Identity of Modern Minsk, using graphic design methods?
In this project I tested different research methods while exploring the identity of Minsk. Since the very beginning and throughout this project I aspired to distinguish the most suitable research methods, to combine, to arrange and to develop them within the context of the chosen area.
The aim of good graphic design is to communicate a clear and memorable message to a specific audience. Therefore, one of the key ideas of the project was to find an appropriate way to collect and to communicate information about the city to both its residents and to Londoners. The results of this research is a collected overview of unique features of the selected area at the particular time (2012). The project is a summary of observations from the source which do not distort the information, but concentrates on the information itself. Its outcome includes three books.
Photo Ethnography tactics contributed to the research by providing the information applicable for various typologies and analyzes. Participants (photographers from Belarus and outside the country) answered the question using their images of Minsk and its residents. There was only one task for them: to describe the phenomenon of beauty of Minsk using one picture. However, each image provided much more diverse information, which related to various aspects of the city’s life and may be used for further identity research. Participants also supported their images by short comments.
The results of the Photo Ethnographic Research brought about a number of questions regarding appropriate design methods. From one point, photographs can be typologised, and the content might be presented as quantitative infographics. From another side, the need to make this project more ‘poetic’ by filling it with photos of Minsk was obvious. During preliminary experiments I tested various photo collages and typologies (predominantly by color).
Besides the research tactics based on visual media, I used the results of self-initiated survey. The quantitative research helped me to measure subjective opinions of residents – for example, their vision of the iconic components of the culture and lifestyle, national self-identity and the identity of the city. Questionnaires also helped to validate the collected information from secondary sources.
From the very beginning it was very important for me to identify cliches and current tendencies in Minsk. In order to be more objective, I included into the survey questions about national holidays, iconic buildings and other aspects, which may be considered as Identity. I have collected more than 100 questionnaires and transformed the outcomes into infographics.