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GALLERY 2010/2011

visual communication practice

Steady State


Description of idea

Describe your idea and concept of your work in relation to the festival outlines:

A graphic describing the mechanisms through which a society exist over the long term by functioning within the carrying capacity of the earth. This system is a 'steady state system' as described by eco-economist Herman Daly.

What kind of communication approach do you use?

A1 poster was exhibited at 15 venues in 2009-2010. A2 posters were printed and distributed widely.

What are in your opinion concrete benefits to the society because of your communication?

Engagement with the idea that economic systems can be designed in different ways than the current economic system.

What did you personally learn from creating your submitted work?

Angella Morelli is a gifted designer. It takes a very long time to develop a graphic of this nature.

Why is your work, GOOD communication WORK?

It is good because the ideas are good and so is the execution.

Where and how do you intent do implement your work?

We are still distributing the poster and it is down loadable from our website.

Did your intervention had an effect on other Media. If yes, describe the effect? (Has other media reported on it- how? Were you able to change other media with your work- how?)

Curators comments More info on Curators & Editors ›

Our economic system based on consumption is failing because is an exponential curve of growth drawn on a linear and finite system as planet Earth is. The economy of mass consumption is not yet exploded, but we are in a moment in time where can prevent a state of complete unpredictability. Nations are acting as a suicide just before jumping out the window on the top floor of a skyscraper. Regulated by a perverse use of money, that create constant depth, most of the governments are driven by non empathic persons. An everyday use of the concept of money as a light substitute of reality, and an everyday thinking about the needs of the mass production machinery, lead the mind to forget the link with nature and activate perverse nets of selfish understanding. Human being are far more complex than money! Most of the citizen are blind after fifty years of mass image production oriented to push people to buy. Steady State provide a way to continue a viral awareness about a world that do not desire to jump out the window on the top floor, but a world of people that want to come down to the city, move in the nature and practicing new sustainable economies.

View other works commented by Antonio Rollo  ››

The graphic simplification of radical ideas is an necessary but little tackled task for visual communication. This piece demonstrates that a matter of fact visual language that avoids both the manipulative seduction of corporate advertising and potential alienation of highly subjective aesthetics can be digestible and memorable.

The poster works well but perhaps would benefit from some visual refinement (eg in terms of different element's relative weight and general typography). Amongst the universalising icons I would have also enjoyed some unexpected detours - a little poetry amongst the data.

View other works commented by Jason Grant  ››

While the metric nature of this approach to visual communication hides the fecund and organic nature of the processes described it seems a fair trade-off to ensure communicative success. There are still issues within the seeming holistic logic of the overall composition, as in addition to reduced complexity, we also have ideals of financial and ecological interaction. While these are "true" they are also scales within which variation occurs, not absolutes. The overall formal approach steers towards the uniform, which may in some cases misrepresent that diversity of voices possible within the relationships described.

I'm reminded here of George Monbiot's HEAT – solutions to Global warming can be quite simple at the level of the individual, much less so at each successive level of population as one moves in consideration towards the global populace. I think here the opportunity is to connect the portrayed relationships and concepts as they pertain to the (single) viewer.

View other works commented by Roderick Grant  ››

Other comments

12 years ago

Thanks for your comments everyone. Will try to respond soon. In the meantime, the Steady State graphic can be downloaded here: http://bit.ly/gRbtgl

12 years ago

Thanks again for your feedback on this work, here is my response.

Antonio - Nice to hear your response, those are the kinds of thoughts we hoped to provoke. Considering the gravity of the issues at hand, viral awareness would be really useful.

Jason - You say 'graphic simplification of radical ideas is an necessary but little tackled task for visual communication' and I agree. Many radical ideas are so completely misunderstood (or unknown) our political and social options are severely curtailed - and it appears to many that we have no alternative to the current system.

Roderick - I was aware of the mechanical, symmetrical and simplification issues with the design. A project goal was to nurture ecological literacy - and the mechanism and reductionism can seem to conflict with this objective. We stuck with this design because I see ecological thinking as enveloping both mechanism and reductionism into its understanding and methods, using them when appropriate. Mechanical metaphors are appealing to us; we live in a mechanical paradigm, a dysfunctional one - but nevertheless, this is the world we know. Organic metaphors can be dismissed on aesthetic grounds; associated with identity politics rather than and philosophical allegiances. Certainly the complexity and the contested nature of the decisions that will happen along the way are absent from this poster. What we need, I think, is many more visualizations of a functional sustainable economic system - in stark contrast to what we have today!

Curators comments

This work has been commented by 3 curator(s):
Antonio Rollo Jason Grant Roderick Grant go to comments ›

Entry details


Steady State


A Totem of Real Happiness

Concept author(s)

Jody Boehnert; Angella Morelli

Concept author year(s) of birth


Concept author(s) contribution

Art director; designer


United Kingdom (Great Britain)


Angela Morelli

Designer(s) year(s) of birth


Designer(s) contribution

Information designer

Competition category

visual communication practice

Competition subcategory


Competition field


Competition subfield


Subfield description

This is work was created as an EcoLabs project