Skip to content

Latest commit



63 lines (40 loc) · 7.08 KB

File metadata and controls

63 lines (40 loc) · 7.08 KB

Directions for Process Documentations

it has become common to experience design/art works merely in their documented form printed in books, presented in lectures or published on the internet on websites or social media. usually a few lines of text, some photos and a video are used to capture the essence of the work. it has been widely accepted ( for better or worse ) that the documentation has become something like a currency for artists and designers.

while this observation is definitely worth of further critical investigation, it is not the main topic of this document but rather the basis for considering the production of said documentations or more accurately for considering a specific form of documentation: the process documentation.

while a normal documentation of a design/art work focuses on capturing the final results of a work or the finished product, the process documentation emphasizes the documentation of the development of the work. note that in some rare and special cases the documentation of the work becomes the work itself.

Why Documenting the Process?

obviously every documentation is always time and resource consuming and a piece of designed communication in itself, but especially the documentation of the works process can accumulate to quite a lot of work. therefore it is worth considering and evaluating the reasons, effects and benefits of such an endeavor. below is an incomplete set of such reasons:

a process documentation can become an element in the final documentation. oftentimes the final documentation can be complemented with images from the production process including failed attempts, dead ends, failures and unfinished threads for future iterations of the final work. a concretization of this idea can be found in cinema where it is called making-of and has become a quite well-known format. sometimes even rivaling the original film itself.

a process documentation can also function as a tool for communication. in situations where there are others involved in the work ( e.g as collaborators, clients, peers, etcetera in an academic, self-commissioned or commercial context ) the process documentation can serve as a useful tool in communicating current ideas, wishes, hopes or simply progress. in such a context the process documentation can also become a way to communicate the collaborative nature of the project itself once it is finished.

despite such external utilitarian considerations a process documentation can also have internal effects. producing a process documentation especially when done on a regular basis, can create a sense of continuity and achievement. even if an experiment or idea fails, once documented it is likely to contribute to advancing the work in one way or the other. therefore the effort of creating a process documentation can very well increase the overall motivation.

similarly a process documentation can facilitate and amplify the works’s development process. the mere act of creating a documentation along the way offers room for inline reflection. question about what is worth documenting and how to document aspects of the work often act as conceptual indicators or even catalysts. furthermore, a well documented process can prevent oneself from making the same mistake twice. especially in long-term projects the setup of certain workflows, pipelines or machines can easily be forgotten after a few weeks. In the same way the process documentation can also act as a tool for reflection beyond the scope of the individual project, contributing to the wider development of an art and design practice.

extrapolating from this thought a process documentation can also serve as a starting point for making other aspects also shareable with a broader public. in the realization of almost every project other artifacts or by-products, apart from the final work or product, are also developed. new, adapted or customized methods, procedures, processes or notations, to name just a few, are also products of one’s work but are usually invisible in the final work and therefore vanish after the completion of the work. The Dynamic Archive is a project that aims to archive exactly such by-products of design and art production.

and lastly a process documentation can become the work itself. whether planned from the beginning or developing along the way, there are quite a lot of works that focus on the process as the final result.

Methods for Documenting the Process

  • developer diary :: also dev log, known from game-dev, often very technical or feature oriented ( personal and private )
  • screenshots :: daily routine, take a screenshot of current status
  • local versions :: make a habit of saving versions in files every now and then ( i.e model-design-102.obj, model-design-103.obj, … )
  • commit history :: use a VCS like github, dump commit history
  • photo documentation setup :: have a photostudio setup available at all times for continuous photo documentation
  • 1-post-a-day :: no matter what ( i.e. instagram, tumblr, personal blog, youtube channel, … )
  • book / zine :: make a publication about your project, while you’re making it. you can edit, reiterate and reflect during and after the project
  • zettelkasten :: a box of notes on paper, not sorted, categories and interconnections will emerge Einblicke in das System der Zettel - Geheimnis um Niklas Luhmanns Zettelkasten + Niklas_Luhmann @ Wikipedia
  • sketchbook :: either a traditional paper-based sketchbook or a digital verison of it ( e.g growing slide-show presentation document )
  • abstract :: write a brief abstract about your work from very early on, and update it continously

obviously, the methods above are just an incomplete collection. each method can and should be adapted, modified or improved according to one’s liking or requirement. the collection is merely meant to serve as a source of inspiration and a starting point. this document aims to inspire and contemplate the role and use of process documentations.


list of works where the process plays a notable role or is the work itself:

This document is available as a public document at Directions for Process Documentations.