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Paradox A Visual Essay


“the moment where

YOU KNOW ENOUGH to realize how much

YOU DON’T KN W.”


O N

L EA RN I N G

I think one of the most odd things about learning i s t h e m o m e n t w h e r e y o u k n o w e n o u g h t o r e a l i z e h o w m u c h y o u d o n’ t k n o w .

knowledge and skill. You know what you know, and through time and effort and diligent focus, you’ve also come to realize a

It’s scary as hell, because of how vulnerable it makes you feel. The sensation of this virgin thought

might only be on par to when you are a child and you realize

you only have a one and only

life, or when you are a little older and realize that other people can hurt you in a way that no one else can see, and you can do the same to them. Understanding these

things is a weight, and it makes you feel very tiny. So small, like

that particle. There is a reach to

few of the things that you don’t

know. It is rare when I don’t think about what it is that con-

nects us all, though much more apparent in my every day is what

doesn’t, or more appropriately, what is uniquely different about each of us.


O f t e n t i m e s p a r a d o x a n d a b s u r d i t y a r e m i s t a k e n f o r o n e a n o t h e r.

I think there’s a subtle, but important difference. Absurdity is paradox’s immature little brother. Absurdity is spineless. Two incongruent things are placed side-by-side. The supposed value is amusement from the randomness. Absurdity often seems a pale imitation of paradox. The Simpsons is paradox. Family Guy is absurdity. There’s a big difference between saying “Sleep, that’s where I’m a viking!” and showing a chicken fight scene for 5 minutes. Paradox has insight, absurdity lacks it.

Paradoxes have meaning.


PA


ARADOX

is all around us.

RESPONDACCORDINGLY.


DINGLY

RESPONDACCORDINGLY

RESPONDACCORDING

RESPONDACCORDINGLY RE

RES

RESPONDACCORDINGLY RE

RESPONDACCO

Respond accordingly.


NDACCO

Y RESPONDACCORDINGLY RESPONDACCORDINGLY RESPONDACCORDINGLY RESPONDACCORDINGLY

GLY RESPONDACCORDINGLY RESPONDACCORDINGLY RESPONDACCORDINGLY RESPONDACCORDINGLY

RESPONDACCORDINGLY RESPONDACCORDINGLY RESPONDACCO

ESPONDACCORDINGLY RESPONDACCORDINGLY RESPONDACCORDINGLY RESPONDACCORDINGLY

RESPONDACCORDINGLY RESPONDACCORDINGLY RESPONDACCORDINGLY RES

RESPONDACCORDINGLY RESPONDACCORDINGLY RESPONDACCORDINGLY RESPONDACCORDINGLY RESPONDACCORDINGLY

RESPONDACCORDINGLY RESPONDACCORDINGLY RESPONDACCORDINGLY RESPONDACCORDINGLY RESPO

SPONDACCOR RESPONDACCORDINGLY RESPONDACCORDINGLY RESPONDACCORDINGLY RESPONDACCORDINGLY RESPONDACCORDINGLY

ESPONDACCORDINGLY RESPONDACCORDINGLY RESPONDACCORDINGLY RESPONDACCORDINGLY

ORDINGLY RESPONDACCORDINGLY RESPONDACCORDINGLY RESPONDACCORDINGLY RESPONDACCORDINGLY

RESPONDACC

RESPONDACCORDINGLY RESPO


There seem to be two modes of thought currently in the “graphic design” and “graphic design as art” worlds.

One prescribes to the process of quick and constant creation, the formation of a set visual language, and repetition. The other relies on an investigation into thought processes, the exploration of concrete ideas and concepts,

and offering visual interpretations as such.


And that typically leads me to this conclusion:

We are connected by our differences. In some almost incomprehensible way our consciousness is something utterly personal and completely universal at the same time. Not in the sense that each of our mind’s are one in the same – a shared consciousness – but rather that we are so impossibly different, and there are infinite factors that will effect each of our thoughts uniquely, that we are unified in that. I think one of the most odd things about learning is the moment where you know enough to realize how much you don’t know. It’s scary as hell, because of how vulnerable it makes you feel. The sensation of this virgin thought might only be

on par to when you are a child and you realize you only have a one and only life, or when you are a little older and realize that other people can hurt you in a way that no one else can see, and you can do the same to them. Understanding these things is a weight, and it makes you feel very tiny. So small, like that particle. There is a reach to knowledge and skill. You know what you know, and through time and effort and diligent focus, you’ve also come to realize a few of the things that you don’t know. You begin to understand that those unknowns are within reach if you stretch a bit.

That’s learning.


And that typically leads me to this conclusion:

We are all connected by our connected

connected

connected

connected

c on n e c t e d

D I F F E R E N C E S .


DIFFERENCES


DI FFERENCES DI FFERENCES DI FFERENCES DI FFERENCES DI FFERENCES

D IF FE DI FFEREN CES

DI FFE


It feels a bit like walking through a cave with a really crummy torch. The torch gives enough light to see a couple feet in front of you.

We’re told that’s enough to get out, but I’m always left wishing I could see a little further into the future, because I’ve got a pretty good hunch this cave is massive.

If only we could make our torches burn a little brighter.


I ’ve got a pretty good hunch

this cave is massive. If only we could make our torches

bur n a littl e b r ig h te r.


To understand paradoxes is to be able to hold two conflicting ideas in your head at the same time.

And maybe to give both equal credibility. It’s about merging two things that seem incongruent into something that, some how, makes sense. To me, it’s probably the highest act of creativity and is the most ready manifestation of curiosity and understanding. It’s mental dexterity made tangible, and it produces the creative

It’s mental dexterity made

output I respect the most. To know how square pegs can go into round holes is to understand that the world, and the perception of it, is a play thing. The world, and how we view it, is malleable.

TANGI BLE.


. . . nothing was successful.


uthor’ There’s an old joke. Two elderly women are at a Catskills mountain resort, and one of them says: “Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.” The other one says, “Yeah, I know, and such small portions.” Well, that’s essentially how I feel about life. Full of loneliness and misery and suffering and unhappiness, and it’s all over much too quickly.

- Woody Allen


. . . nothing was successful.


. . . nothing was successful.

. . . nothing was successful.

. . . nothing was successful.

was successful. . . . nothing was successful.


. . . nothing was successful.


I think one of the most odd things about learning is the moment where you know enough to realize how much you don’t know. It’s scary as hell, because of how vulnerable it makes you feel.

The sensation of this virgin thought might only be on par to when you are a child and you realize you only have a one and only life,

or when you are a little older and realize that other people can hurt you in a way that no one else can see, and you can do the same to them.

Understanding these things is a weight,

and it makes you feel very tiny.


and it makes you feel very tiny.


To understand paradoxes is to be able to hold two conflicting ideas in your head at the same time. And maybe to give both equal credibility. It’s about merging two things that seem incongruent into something that, some how, makes sense. To me, it’s probably the highest act of creativity and is the most ready manifestation of curiosity and understanding. It’s mental dexterity made tangible, and it produces the creative output I respect the most. To know how square pegs can go into round holes is to understand that the world, and the perception of it, is a play thing.

The world, and how we view it, is malleable.


The wor ld, and how


w we vie w it, is mal leable.

The world, and how we view it, is malleable.


PARAD O XES are greater than the sum of their parts.

If one and one is three, that last third is the conceptual leap that connects them. It’s where insight lives, and it’s what causes my delight. It’s about curation, choosing wisely, and presenting an audience with something new.

A good paradox broadens our scope as people.

It makes us question,

but I think it also allows us to accept.


PARADOXES

are greater than the sum of their parts.


Images from Mary Cassatt, Paintings and Prints by Frank Getlein Text from The Public Buildings of Williamsburg, Colonial Capital of Virginia by Marcus Whiffen Body text from The Particle by Frank Chimero On Paradoxes by Frank Chimero Rules of Engagement by Frank Chimero

Katie Whiteman : Michael Selby : VISC 202 : Typography, a Visual Essay


Paradox, A Visual Essay  

A book focusing on paradoxes and the delicate combining of type and image

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