Graphic Design, Radical Democracy or/and the Commons

Semester: SS 20
Lecturer: Univ.-Lekt. Carlos Toledo

One of the origins of graphic design lies in the visual or concrete poetry (free verses) of the late 19th century. Later, the way words were used in Futurism, Dadaism or the Vienna Group even influenced advertising. But can poetry also reach propaganda? In this course we looked for new forms of poetry and its relationship to the political. We also dealt with poetry and handicaps and concentrate on books about “the crisis” by analyzing their titles with the question in mind “Which ones promise a different economy and society, with the dream to do less, to slowdown, to be sustainable?”.

Further we produced visual poems – Poems in braille, for example. But we also learned to make animated poems.


  • Lafargue, Paul. The right to be lazy. Chicago: Charles Kerr & Co, 1883.
  • Russell, Bertrand. In praise of idleness. New York: WW Norton & Company, 1935.
  • Polayni, Karl. The great Transformation. New York and Toronto: Farrar & Rinehart, 1944.
  • Papanek, Victor. Design for the real world. New York: Pantheon Books, 1971.
  • Illich, Ivan. Tools for Conviviality. New York: Harper and Row, 1973.
  • Schumacher, Ernst. Small is beautiful. London: Blond & Briggs, 1973.
  • Fromm, Erich. To have or to be. New York: Harper & Row, 1976.
  • Payeras, Mario. El mundo como flor e invento. Mexico: Joan Boldó i Climent, 1987.
  • Jackson, Tim. Prosperity without growth. London: Routledge, 2009.
  • Felber, Christian. Change everything. Vienna: Paul Zsolnay Verlag, 2012.
  • Trojanow, Ilija. Der überflüssige Mensch. Salzburg: Residenz Verlag, 2013.
  • Acosta, Alberto. El buen vivir. Barcelona: Icaria Editorial, 2013.
  • Raworth, Kate. Doughnut economics. New York: Random House, 2017.
  • Hartmut, Rosa. Unverfügbarkeit. Salzburg: Residenz Verlag, 2018.
  • Matthias; Vetter, Andrea. Degrowth. Hamburg: Junius Verlag, 2019.


  • Apollinaire, Guillaume. “ It is raining.” 1916.
  • Mayakovsky, Vladimir. “Vladimir Ilym Lenin .” 1924.
  • de Torre, Guillermo. “Screw.” 1923.
  • Schwitters, Kurt. “Scarecrow.” 1925.
  • Pignatari, Décio. “Beba Coca Cola.” 1957.
  • Rühm, Gerhard; Bayer, Konrad. “10 Lebensregeln für Vierzigjährige.” 1959.
  • Rühm, Gerhard. “Reduzierte Zeitung.” 1962.
  • Jandl, Ernst. “Das künstliche Baum.“ 1970.
  • Lamelas, David. “Reading Films.” 1970.
  • Parfum, Ewa. “Active poetry.” 1971.
  • Hak Kyung Cha, Theresa. “Blind voice.” 1975.
  • Ebel, Gerhild. “Antonym.” 1997.
  • Bean, Victoria. “Helvetica Poems.” 2008.
  • Weiner, Lawrence. “Smashed to Pieces.” 1990.
  • Holzer, Jenny. “For Aarthus.” 2017.
  • Dokins, Said. “The witness. Stories of a Word.” 2019.

Individual Project
Format: Presentation
Topic 1: Creation of Visual Poem
Topic 2: Deaf Artist Christine Sun Kim
Topic 3: Book cover Analyzation
Topic 4: Animation of Visual Poem