Utility Markings

Posters, 2020
Supervised by Tristan Ceddia & Rick Milovanovic

This was a research-based exploration which preceded and inspired the Soundform alphabet project, as part of my Everyday Messaging studio. The studio was about exploring everyday examples of visual communication not created by designers, and this initial project was about uncovering the practices and people behind those examples and producing a poster to visually express a chosen area of focus.

These posters are the result of my exploration into the practice of utility locating. Speaking to utility locators, I discovered many contradictions in the practice and process of identifying and spray-paint marking the utilities, including inconsistency, variation, underground versus above ground, symbols, abbreviation, language, and handwriting. My experimentation digitally and with spray-paint resulted in various potential poster outcomes, which look chaotic and quite striking on mass.

The posters I chose to submit saw a reduction in some of the visual noise seen in the collective group of posters, as individually these felt more like replications of the practice, and didn’t highlight some aspects that I wanted to explore further in the next self-directed part of Everyday Messaging, particularly the use of English letters and numbers to identify utilities in a way that obscures language, meaning that only those who understand the specific abbreviations used can decode the message. This is what led to my redesign of the English alphabet, as perhaps one of the most significant non-designer-created aspects of everyday visual communication.