sábado, 7 de julio de 2007
TYPEFACE IS A WEAPON
A CRITICAL SITUATION
We live in a consumer society we belong to and are seduced by its mechanisms. As designers, we cannot deny that we often create empty and seductive forms, without any sense or significant meaning. Neil Leach (The Anaesthetics of Architecture) believes that the aesthetic excess that we are constantly merged in brings us to an aesthetic saturation, also known as anaesthesia (anaesthetics), and has a consequent diminution of our critical conscience.
We live in a "fashion state of conscience". Democracy has projected us towards an "ecstasy of the communication and the consumption". In our singular worlds, we may find more and more information but less and less meaning. The conscience of this situation made us start to consider the importance of the meaning as an essential element of social relationships, facing the use/abuse of information as a pseudo-communication process, as a kind of narcotic stimulus.
In this context of excess and anaesthesia, what kind of message can we propose? How can we communicate this type of contents in a more significant way? Can we activate the "standard type forms" we were used to work with?
WORDS TO WAKE UP
Political types set out like an analytic and contextual exercise, looking for a meanings and messages exchange. The superficial appearance of the alphabet is used like an access door to a deeper reading. If we intend design as a way of thinking, then we should bring some details to prove it. According to Vilén Flusser (A Philosophy of Design), « to have some unwritten or unexpressed ideas, equals to have nothing. The ones who assure that they are not able to express their thoughts are telling that they don’t think at all. ». Considering this point of view, designing is an inescapable commitment that increases the territory of the thinkable. It is an answer to our expressive needs, to think the form and to give reality some meaning. For that reason, we propose images like thought acts, and typography like its radical transmitter.
THESIS: WORD AS A DESIGN TOOL
Even though most designers are not typists, typography is an essential element of their work. Designers essentially work with ideas and messages. Types are used as a tool and not as an aim. Starting off of this fact, we try to demonstrate that non-typist designers can make a substantial contribution to the typographic language from the message point of view.
Although this project is not technological, it wouldn’t have been possible without the new desktop publishing technologies and the use of simple programs to create types. Also, this opened a new approach to the written universe. At the beginning, dealing with type forms had serious limitations, but nowadays we can deal with plain texts, even with very large ones. In addition, we can very quickly create "impressive" messages. Thanks to technological support, we have the perfect tool to build messages in critical moments, with a powerful application for graphical activity.
A SIMPLE METHOD
"the whole is more than the sum of the parts".
The work hypothesis is that it is not necessary to transform a set of elements to generate new graphical and conceptual meanings, a group of letters for the matter. By simply changing a few of its pieces, we obtain a different vision of it. Moreover, as we maintain part of the elements, we will find something familiar in that system.
This creation model gives two different approaches to the same road: it reproduces classic typography on one hand and, on the other hand, it deals with new shapes that go from an expressive use of the characters to their conceptual use.
Letters are the creative bases of this remake process, as minimum elements of the language. This point of view evokes letterism as well as some ideas on types’ treatment developed by Kurt Schwitters, like the one that suggests «The basis of poetry is not the word but the letter».
Two influences can be observed in this project. The first one is about shapes and includes study of visual poetry, experimental typographies design and language games such as Alessandrini’s Futuriste Typeface or some works of Pentagram such as John McConnel "Napoli" poster , the "I love NY" mark by Milton Glasser, the "Watching words move" project by Browjohn, Chermayeff & Geismar or Karl Gerstner’s « Compendium for Literates » amongst others.
The second one focuses on social and politic contents. One of the most relevant artists in this field is Antoni Muntadas, who makes projects of critical analysis based on the "media landscape". Barbara Kruger’s projects are also very interesting because of their amazing visual impact and their clear message. Another example concerning design would be the radical thought of Tibor Kalman; or the most critical works of Paula Scher like her "Language is a deadly weapon" poster or "dare, dear, read"; El fantasma de Heredia’s "Libr_s" posters (in Spanish according to the vowel that we use, the word will be « books » or « free »); the ironic minimalism of Michel Quarez; posters of James Victore like for example "Racism"; the projects of Grapus, Nous travaillons ensemble, Les Graphistes Associés, La fabrique d'images... and Teresa Sdralevich. We are particularly interested by Alain Le Quernec and its graphic comments like "La liberté de Mandela" and David Tartakover’s jobs; Uwe Loesch’s typesetter style; Pierre Di Sciullo’s typographic research such as the "Attention aux Fascistes" application; anticorporative typography called "Bastard" and others like "False idol" and "Patriot" designed by Jonathan Barnbrook;
Lex Drewinski’s poster like "Nostalgia"; the Polish party’s logo "Solidarity", and many, many more...
10 TYPEFACES: NAMING AND CONTEXTS
“Messages of ideology and power” The letters “i” and “j” have been manipulated and especificly the puntuation marks. The Arial Symbol evokes a symbolism which represents relevant discursive implications, for example, the theme of the representation of power and it’s mythologies (racial purity, domain, perfection,...)
The Avenir Utopía is a representation of the postindustrial society and plays with the“nostalgia” of the elementary forms and technology, the culture’s discourses and it is a social critique of the modernity’s logic...
Bembo Bomb 11M
Bembo Bomb represents broken classicism. In this case we use this font to talk aboutterrorism. It was a hommage to victims of Madrid and NY terrorist attacks (march 11th 2004) and NY (september 11th 2001).
This type evoke the classical concept about life: love and death live in the same place with us.
It is a formal analysis about type’s evolution. And an hommage to Herman and Gudrun Zapf when they went to Valencia.
This type speaks about culture and boundaries, like bad writing, access to education and relationship between education and job.
“Human rigths and national laws...” The Futura represents concepts like legibility, coherence, order and racionality. The Sans Futura reflects the impossibility to make real this utopia in modern societies.
Rotis Sans Perfekt
Sans evokes the real life. The crisis between ideas and the real world. We want to say that perfection is not human!!!!
Times Sweet Times
“The violence against women and domestic violence are local, national andinternational problems.” This version of the Times Europa proposes to represent, through different grades of typographic erosion, the social agression that some people suffer. This personal deformation and social destruction that conforms the reality of violence.
"The simple thing is to hide the truth" The concept to develop was inspired by reading the “The Black Book on Brand Companies” written by Klaus Werner and Hans Weiss. It tries to express visually the question: “ What’s hiding behind the successful image of the great brands?”. The fragmentation of the letters (the occult side) reinforce the critical
sense of the discourse.
“People’s deepest emotions, aspirations and dreams always need a new language that crystallizes their mindset and sends their message to the world. Typography is an ideally suited tool for these times because it often delivers more powerful yet more subtle messages than images or lengthy explanations.” (Mark Gobé)
Graphic design has to talk. It has to bring experiences to our senses, if we really want it to be a democratic space, or a useful tool to share different ideas and cultures. It has to be related to our thinking. Otherwise, it will just be question of style and, soon or later it will be forgotten by time.
Designing should be a way to imagine the future (a sort of time machine), to change what we actually don’t like and to interact with our environment. As designers, we can "make things with words" (Pierre Bourdieu) and with images, or not. Maybe we can just leave things as they are, following their natural course. It’s our choice.
"Typefaces are a weapon".
Let us never forget it!