Responses by karlssonwilker
Background: Every three years, the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) commissions a prospectus, or a book used to attract applications for admission, that is sent to prospective students around the world, mainly high school–age artists and designers interested in attending the Baltimore art college. MICA approached karlssonwilker to “capture the heartbeat of our community,” and do so in a way that departed from the traditional norms of institutional publications from art and design colleges.
Reasoning: The solution focused on involving the students, faculty and campus in a serious way. We did so by initiating a class called Interactive Spaces, during which students built sensor stations that captured two weeks’ worth of moments all over campus—moments told through weather, ambient sound, light and motion data. This data was then fed through a system that transformed numerical values into line, color and shape, finally outputting print-ready files.
Challenges: The challenges, on paper, were logistical: organizing and getting buy-in from students while understanding that the end product still needed to pull weight for the institution. That being said, what “captures the heartbeat” more than the sweat and tears of the students and faculty? Luckily, the MICA students and faculty were immensely generous with their time and skills, making the technological aspects a breeze, relatively speaking.
Favorite details: The typographic illustrations—drawn in virtual reality—used throughout the book. They were fun to make and added consistent pitches to a book that visually sings quite loudly.
Visual influences: None. The images you see are the result of a group of people utilizing the skills they have to build a system. Their shared educational backgrounds made the visuals relevant to the solution.
Specific demands: We produced an edition of 68,000 unique books and covers to be distributed over the next three years, which is a lot; you would be hard pressed to find many titles that are printing those kinds of numbers nowadays. From a production standpoint, this made the sharing of files and the shipping of printed books much more difficult, but the data couldn’t be happier. It enabled us to have multiple covers representing every 22 seconds for two weeks.