SVA MA Design Research

SVA MA Design Research, Writing & Criticism1 is a one-year graduate program2
devoted to the study of design, its contexts & consequences.
Our graduates have gone on to pursue research-related careers in publishing, education, museums, institutes, design practice, entrepreneurship, & more.3

  1. Formerly known as D-Crit
  2. About the program
  3. Applications accepted on a rolling basis. All successful candidates awarded a significant scholarship!
SVA MA Design Research

136 W 21st St, 2nd Floor

New York, NY 10011


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(212) 592-2228

Writing / Typing- The evolution of body gestures – SVA MA Design Research

Shani Rodan

Writing / Typing- The evolution of body gestures

Handwriting is an action created by the human body. A handwritten piece is a physical trace that lives individually in the world as a separate entity. One’s handwriting is a personal possession, almost an intimate treasure. The handwritten piece is an evidence of many slices of information. It is a reflection of the writer’s mood, and the writer’s pressure of the pen on the paper. The rhythm of the writing, the shape of the handwriting- is it rounded, or sharp, organized or messy? Are the letters small or big? It is even possible to guess the writer’s identity – whether it is a male or a female, an older or a younger person, without reading a single word.

150 years ago writing took on a new dimension as machine writing- typing, thanks to the invention of the typewriter. What started as a revolutionary development used by a few has turned into an acquired skill in the computer age, adopted by young children. The hand no longer holds a pen or pencil which function as a mediator between the body and the surface.The fingers themselves are in charge of the typing action by pressing the keyboard’s buttons.

Kids use a computer at school, students type during lectures, and businessmen take notes by typing them on an electronic device. The written word is here and alive, but it no longer contains the magic of handwriting. Written documents, typed and printed – interesting and important as they may be- are flat and generic. They do not contain the soul and character of the handwritten piece.

Is it possible that handwriting a skill that is about to become irrelevant and obsolete?  And more important, what are the new physical skills that our body will be able to adapt? For example, the well-known swipe hand gesture, when using a touchscreen device. (it is amazing to see a two-year-old infant who knows how to manipulate the device in order to bring up a Youtube song.) Will a hand clap really turn off the light? Double Blinking would open the door for us and the power of thought would literally bring us a cup of coffee? Maybe we will abandon chopping vegetables with a knife and walking by using our feet, exactly as we abandoned gathering food in the forest in order to survive and walking on all fours, like other mammals.

It is fascinating to witness such processes when body gestures are changing and being replaced by technology while new skills are being developed all the time. However, I hope we won’t go too far when allowing technology to rule the world, and lose the connection of the body and the soul, as if science fiction becomes reality.