Monday, March 13, 2006

Restart: New systems in Graphic Design

{ Colorface colour font, 1999 }

{ Joshua Berger argues that language ' is anything that communicates information'. }
Type is no longer merely the letters and punctuatiion marks that form words, sentences and paragraphs, but 'the building blocks of meaning in whatever form that meaning arises. Type can be image. Type can be sound. Type can be a color. When you adopt this view and immediately you are faced with a world that is entirely typographic, everything around you becomes part of a vocabulary. Made by randomly selecting colours (or notes) that are matched to letters, the fonts lend itself to colourful (or noisy) renditions of texts. Despite being called fonts they are not typefaces, but alphabetic codes: the typeface is not read it is decoded by the viewer.While Berger's colour font may not be your typical strict typographic font, it raises pertinent questions about the nature of typographic meaning.

{ Speech recognizing letterforms, 1999 }

Andreas Lauhoff has taken type's muteness and has attempted to give it a human voice, using a system whereby patterns of speech can be conveyed by letterforms. He made a speech-waveform image of recorded spoken words, dividing the waveforms into small sections that correspond to the enuciation of each letter. The letterforms, made from a transparent material that renders their structure ever-apparent, ooze elegent, pseudo-scientific restraint. Lauoff has demonstrated the system's potential by transcribing a section of Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film 2001 - Space Odyssey. Addressing the computer "Hal" several times, David Bowman's tone becomes increasingly demanding and, as a result, Lauhoff's extruded letterforms raise in pitch and become larger and jagged.


ashleep said...

I was surprised at the idea of creating type as a color. The idea seemed so simple, yet i have never seen anything like it. We are so used to understanding type as the actual alphabet, but like you have stated in your blog, type envelopes so much more than that. The part of your blog that really stood out to me was the part that said "Type is no longer merely the letters and punctuatiion marks that form words, sentences and paragraphs, but the building blocks of meaning in whatever form that meaning arises. Type can be image. Type can be sound. Type can be a color." This incredibly opens up my mind to the endless possibilities of creating type that goes beyond just creating variations of the actual alphabet.

carley said...

these are spectacular. while the idea of decoding type systems isnt neccessarily practical in terms of legibility, it is very compelling as experimentation.

the work by Lauhoff is interesting. i have often wondered about the idea of crossing experiences of the senses in design- is there a way to make a viewer see a sound, apparently this is one way. or what about even see a smell? it may be a stretch but it would be interesting to try and find a way.

i like the idea that everything around us becomes a vocabulary, in a way everything can be related to type. now if i can just figure out how to apply that idea to my own design.

unmi said...

It might sound stupid but i was just imagining how things would be different if we actually used the color fonts as an alphabet. The keyboard we are using will be color palette, we would carry color pencils to take notes, the world would become so colorful. It takes long time to decode Berger's work as we see it now, but if we were taught to use these colors as alphabet, then it would be much more easier to decode these colors, We would actually read them. Newspaper,textbook, ads, everything would look like Berger's color font. His work is an interesting experimentation, but like carley said, it has an issue of legibility.
I like the idea of type becoming a sound, color, and image but to me, type seems to be most beautiful when it elegantly dances around on a clean white page.

courtney said...

this is a very interesting book that you showed me in class, there are so many interesting and complex systems. some of them are a little ridiculous like that color one, as you pointed out, its hard to discern one shade of blue from another if theyre not placed adjacently to each other. in the broader context of the system, subtle shades can seem to change color when placed next to another color. but as unmi pointed out, if we were taught this way, there is a psychological term that is used, something about discrimination, that we would be able to tune into these subtle differences if we were exposed to them all the time. it is a very interesting idea to think about.

i like the idea of breaking the letters apart and creating more of a three-dimensional map of the them, it really takes letterforms out of their traditional contexts and places them into another realm where we see another side to them.