Marshall McLuhan Figure and the Ground

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Figure and the Ground is another McLuhan model that is helpful in our analysis of creating a balanced environment. It is also useful in identifying the impact that the potential media may have upon the users. The model works from the premise that you cannot evaluate the full effects of a technology unless you evaluate its context. McLuhan proposes that without a thorough examination of both the figure (the technology) and the ground (where the product sits in the market and why) you cannot evaluate its credentials. McLuhan argued that we must study media in their historical context, particularly in relation to the technologies that preceded them. We must evaluate the bigger picture and work simultaneously between the macro and the micro not only in terms of technology but we can use this model for evaluation of the success of all environmental medias.


Marshall McLuhan Tetrad of Media Effects

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We can use the Tetrad of Media Effects (McLuhan 1988) as a model for analysing the impacts of the implementation of a technology. There are parameters that the implementation has to adhere to in order to achieve a successful integration into the design or peoples behaviours. There are benefits and hindrances, advantages and disadvantages of all medium and this is what the tetrad analyses. It is especially useful to highlight the uses but potential dangers of the implementation of a technology that is too far removed from our intuitive actions or norms. The tetrad analyses what it enhances, which it obsolesces, what it pushes forward and what it pushes back. The laws of the tetrad exist simultaneously, not successively or in linear form. We are thus encouraged to think how outputs are in a constant state of flux in relation to each other, allowing an analysis of intermittent effects. A strong argument is needed to make sure this balanced approach is implemented no matter what the brief, what the space and what new technologies are inevitable to be introduced.

Integrated Environmental Language

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Our goal as designers is to promote specific behaviours through the interaction with our proposed idea.  Therefore our brief as a designer should be to consider what physical and environmental parameters will promote these behaviours.

Behaviour is affected by the perception of our environment which in turn is a product of the balance between the environmental medium of the space. Each environmental media has an impact upon the sensorial qualities that it evokes within the occupant. Each design discipline (e.g.: acoustic, lighting, materials) has an impact upon the next. For example: acoustics are affected by the materiality chosen, which in turn are integral to how the light reflects within the environment.

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