29 Dec 2010


"Bits" by Paul Elliman. Image sourced from the Rietveld Academie design blog

"Bits" by Paul Elliman. Image sourced from the Rietveld Academie design blog

Winter Break means I have time to collect and reflect. Because the start date of my Experimental Type class is approaching, though, it's time to place special emphasis on the reflection aspect of my research.

Here are just a few of the thoughts on “experimental typography” I have been collecting this year. I don’t know what any of them mean to me—or the class—yet.

Teal Triggs. Type Design: Radical Innovations and Experimentation (London, UK: Thames & Hudson Ltd, 2003)
“The typographic layout structures the characters—into words, lines and ultimately texts—to produce meaning in the way they are organized visually. The way the typographer presents the 'page' takes into account content and form, the materials, the way the page is produced and knowledge of the target audience.” (8)

“Experimental typography is also about the expressive potential in the arrangement of type ‘either by achieving a quiet uniformity of similar elements or by the visually exciting use of contrasting ones’ (Carl Dair. Design with Type [Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1967]: 48.)” (8)

What would happen if the character's form was allowed to change of its own will?

“Also relevant are the writings of social scientists Fiona Ormerod and Rox Ivanic, who argue that a text is not just a form of visual and verbal representation ‘but also a material object with distinct physical features which are, in themselves, semiotic’. A text is a material object and is a reflection of any physical processes associated with its physical production and use.” (Fiona Ormerod and Rox Ivanic. 'Materiality in Children's Meaning-making Practices.' Visual Communication [vol. 1, issue 1, 2002]: 67.) (55)

“....Experimental typography, in a sense, is a conscious failure with the hope that something beautiful and new will be born.” (Pablo A. Medina, 79)

“....Typography is nothing without meaning, and meaning is nothing without questioning. And to experiment is not to seek an answer but to serve the question.” (Lucinda Hitchcock, 151)

“Like a scientist, I have always enjoyed investigating systems. Systems or processes that allow the known and unknown to intermingle to create the unique and the unusual.” (Susan LaPorte, 155)

“It can be said that it is possible to truly experiment in the field of typography. This is made possible by the specific expectations we all have when reading: right to left,…and top to bottom in parallel rows of text. Confounding these expectations is effective since so much we read we take in blindly without thinking. Every so often it takes a glitch in the transmission for us to notice something....Currently the most interesting experimentation seems less about the manipulation of form than about risking departure from the canon.” (Nick Bell, 203)

“[Bell] often creates wordplay to highlight the ambiguity of language, much in the same way that Roland Barthes asks us to question the linguistic message: ‘Does the image duplicate certain items of information in the text, by a phenomenon of redundancy, or does the text add a brand-new item of information to the image?’ (Roland Barthes. The Responsibility of Forms (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985): 27.). Bell selects words, already embedded with meaning, and positions them in an image plane to provide the reader with a second tier of information.” (205)

“…new typographic forms come from one of three sources: historical reinterpretations, vernacular appropriation or formal extrapolation. Of these modes, it's when priority is given to formal extrapolation (pure mark-making) that we define type as ‘experimental’. Needles to say, these are not fixed modes, they are in flux and overlap.” (Elliot Earls, 215)

Hitoshi Mitomi. New Typo-Graphics with Font Samples (Tokyo, Japan: Pie Books, 2005)
“…we no longer build like we did 30 years ago, we don't dress in the same fashion as 30 years ago, so why should we still write like we did 30 years ago? This is the starting-point of a new generation of typography, guided by the idea of shaping the future creatively and meaningfully. The objective is to create a new form of typography that aims at replacing outdated standards, which turn out to be more and more anachronistic and useless, with new signs that are valid and respond to contemporary structures.”

“Nowadays, typography is increasingly seen as what it really is: an independent and autonomous art form. And like any other form of free artistic expression, modern typogrpahy has all existing possibilities at its disposal to express itself....Developoing typogrpahical structures is close to exploring contemporary social and cultural trends and influences.”

Jeanette Abbink and Emily CM Anderson. 3D-Typography ( New York, NY: Mark Batty Publisher, 2010)
“My ideas come from working, crafting, and understanding the material and its qualities.” (p 215, Ana Garforth)

Email exchange with colleague
"sigils" is a form of chaos magick. they take a simple magical phrase, eliminate all the vowels and all the repeating letters, and then layer the letters around and on top of each other, compressing it into a symbol.

Via manystuff.org
"Although many conceptual artists of the 1970’s who work with language and typography have explored many of the same ideas comprehensively, the mere appropriation of these past forms is not enough to reflect the currently evolving design morphology. It is by way of thorough exploration of the nuances of modern language and communication that will free contemporary typographic design from past aesthetics into a new form."

Bruce Mau. An Incomplete Manifesto for Growth
"Love your experiments (as you would an ugly child). Joy is the engine of growth. Exploit the liberty in casting your work as beautiful experiments, iterations, attempts, trials, and errors. Take the long view and allow yourself the fun of failure every day."

"The wrong answer is the right answer in search of a different question. Collect wrong answers as part of the process. Ask different questions."