Designers Who Read

Taking Aim At The Target by Rob Walker and Tim Belonax

1909 words
12 mins
Originally published 4/11/2014

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Here is an article wtihin which I enjoyed (although I was disturbed) gaining a perspective of an immensly damaging piece of design — one that is so ubiquitous, I had forgotten to think twice about it. "Taking Aim" explores the visual renderings of targets for shooting ranges, and ends with an attempt to resolve their nature through a critical piece of design — with Tim Belonax creating a target made to inspire empathy. 

Written by the eternally-pondersome design writer Rob Walker, this article takes a global view of how targets are visualised, hypothesising on the cartoonish, malformed or minimalist styles in a way that eventually makes them all appear mildly ludicrous — we are, after all, talking about single sheets of paper that are printed in order to aid someone in better harming another human being.

Walker goes on to talk about the 'shooter' behind Chris Burden’s 1971 performance, “Shoot", but I was instead left wondering about the graphic designer who loyally draws up these concentric vector circles, whether they steal an outline of a 'baddie' from Google Images, or else follow a military styleguide (and there is a whole other line of inquiry).

The work of these target designers must (surely!) be rooted in the belief of a righteous struggle between good and bad humans. Or else, an apathy and disconnection between a humoid outline and the will to maim somebody — directly or indirectly. For me, hundreds of questions spin off from this article, but they are all anchored on the idea that Tim Belonax carried through so thoughtfully — if I was to make a target, how would I do it?

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