Thesis Site: Christopherswift.work
My MFA work explores the creative networks between a graphic designer and their collaborators, both human and non-human (other designers, but also software, papers, inks, presses, cameras, the internet, design history, cultural knowledge, language, etc). My thesis project examines how the interplay of control and trust in a designer’s relationship with their network of tools (creative, cultural, technological) can be attended to, challenged, and reimagined. The black boxes which envelop our tools obscure the complexity and scale of the collaborative and relational space we work in. My work reconsiders the designer as one among many in a creative and collaborative network of active participants full of agency and potential.
I am a full-time practicing graphic designer working in higher-ed for the past eight years. I have taught graphic design in Canada and the US for the past decade. I recently taught courses on letterpress printing and color (focusing on Risograph printing) at Rhode Island School of Design.
My main interest as a graphic designer is an exploration of the collaborative creative networks we work within. These networks can be large and complex but are often overlooked or ignored by designers who may not recognize the collaborative network in which they find themselves. My research and creative work seek to highlight these networks and to consider the impact of seeing ourselves as one among many in a collaboration of agential objects. This work has primarily been in a code-based space, most recently focusing on machine learning and artificial intelligence.
My latest project is titled Speculative Anthropology of the Unknown and Maybe. The project explores creating with machine learning models to imagine a new collaborative design process that decenters the graphic designer as the primary maker. The works explore the relationships between objects in a creative network (human and non-human), ways of knowing, nostalgia, and is an attempt to work through the very human impulse to try to — or assume you can — control the non-humans we work alongside and with.
What Might Be
by Christopher Swift
And W h a t M i g h t B e .
If the days were made of years?
And the years, of hours?
And time itself, were put
In a cup, like water?
Then the sun would not be
A golden disk,
But a window, in the house
Where the years live.
And the moon would be
Like a thought,
That had come and gone
In a minute.
Then the stars would not be
Fixed for eternity,
But shooting over the sky,
As the breath of a child,
Or a bird, on the wing.
(AI song reference: “Dreams” by The Cranberries)
My thesis book, Unfinished: Communicating Grief and Healing Through Handmade Textiles, documents my research into the historical and contemporary work that links grief, healing, textiles, and design, and thereby emphasizes the value of sharing space for quiet creation and community among those who have experienced grief similar to my own, allowing room for the unfinished and imperfect, and expanding the materials and techniques we think of as graphic design.view thesis >>
MATERIAL AS MYSTERY
Material is ubiquitous. It’s everywhere and it’s everything, almost as if the word has become meaningless. The kind of material that I’ve explored in this thesis is the kind with a magical essence, charged with human touch, presence, and mystery—the kind that stirs curiosity, creates questions, and encourages us to keep seeking.view thesis >>
Artists and designers on the introvert spectrum are often misrepresented and misunderstood. This experience begins during an introvert’s formative academic years, continues through their career journey, and is also reflected in their practice.view thesis >>
This thesis has been the medicine that has broken down and will continually break down the phlegm that obstructed the life-giving oxygen needed for me to breathe. This work has stretched and pulled me in many directions. I wanted to know my roots. I wanted to know how far I could travel into the archives. I wanted to know if I could do something as simple as locate my ancestors’ names beyond the second generation. Within this wading, I have learned many things about the exploration of lineage and documentation. This synthesis has spoken to the slivers of hope and the gaping holes in the history of America’s true builders. It is a work that speaks about my experience during this discovery and expresses it through the visuals as I attempted to fill the gaps of my familial past.view thesis >>
Imagine a world that celebrates our differences, tears down walls, welcomes outsiders, and stimulates collaborative encouragement—this is the revolution—this is Ignite Designers.view thesis >>