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A TO Z OF GRAPHIC LANGUAGE BY MARTINA


A TO Z OF GRAPHIC LANGUAGE INTRO 01

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M N O 11 - 62

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MEANING OF EVERY LETTER 67

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INTRO

This is introductory essay for “An A to Z of Graphic Language” project. My chosen theme is: The ways of seeing, meaning and understanding graphic language. What happens when we find and use image in new collections or contexts? What happens with undesigned imagery? How do we access, manipulate and make meaning out of collections of imagery? These are questions asked in one of the seminars. These make me to think of: What is the way of seeing and understanding? How the way of seeing is formulated and influenced or thought? Is seeing all about associations? Are these things learnt, heard or imagined? How does people know what they see? The purpose of “A to Z” work is to find out how graphic communication works. It is not always exactly, how it has meant to be. Things do exist sometimes but people do not notice them. Until they notice and understand, that graphic communication can appear where it never was. Of course, everything was always there. Only people are different. People see things the way they want. Some people have more imagination than others do. The way of seeing and the way of understanding graphic language are interesting. Interesting for the same reason – people see things differently. Trying to find answer on three of the ways in which people are approaching graphic design. If they saw straight away what designer was presenting, if they understood and was it simple, or it made them go into philosophical depths? People understand seen things the same way within

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society they live in. People see the same picture, but each can see the different object in it. How it comes? Even when one sees picture again and again, every next time he /she could notice something new in the same picture. I found ways of seeing also discussed by John Berger in his book “Ways of seeing” published in 1972, it was based on BBC television series. “Today we see the art of the past as nobody saw it before. We actually perceive it in a different way”, said Berger nearly 40 years ago. For me it is interesting how he mean it. Why art of past should be seen differently? Adverts say desirable things to people on purpose, like showing happy and sexy people on adverts for selling things. Berger’s comment on publicity about Barclaycard advertisement says: “If you are able to buy this product you will be lovable. If you cannot buy it, you will be less lovable.”1 Today is exactly the same thing happening. Adverts are full with nice looking people and people on street still think that if they will buy this product, they will look nice too. Truth is nice, but lie is attractive! Adverts tend to lie to Truth, but may they do not lie to people. If people want to see adverts, which inspire them, it is fine. Some people are working hard all day, after work waiting for bus they see these billboard posters. No truth is expected here! There must be something nice, or interesting, or relaxing, or just whatever what does not make pressure. People are many. Opinions are many. To be precise – everybody has its own – the best and the right one opinion. There comes the way of seeing. Each owns the way of understanding things. In addition, there is mass opinion, the mass seeing of things. There is no need to be complicated – take, for example, the alphabet. Most of people know what is it. Does they have mass opinion about what the alphabet means and what it looks like? This is one of understandings that is learnt at school. So “mass opinion” could be the learnt thing of understanding visuals. Another example: what does “yellow” means? There are different ways what could be understood with yellow color. Dale Russell in 1991 writes about meaning of colors, including psychological view about yellow color: “…yellow represents light and energy, it is also associated with sickness…. Nature has created a danger warning system based on combination of yellow and black….”2 I strongly agree with this. If we look back some hundred years ago, Russian painter and theorist Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) “described yellow as lively color, which upsets when looked at for long time and then becomes shrill.” 3 Yellow is mostly represented in means of its prime visibility and sign of danger. Coming back to the present, Noel Entwistle discusses color of the sun, if its red or yellow. In addition, he

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home points that in early first century Greek astronomer Cleomedes pointed out the variety of colors in the sun. That is from yellow to red through orange and brown. He writes: “The problem with this approach is that the stable referent has usually been more interesting and important than the color”4 What does he mean by ‘stable referent’? By definition “referent” means – the thing that the word or phrase denotes or stands for. Is not the ‘referent’ the main thing what we are talking about? I found seemingly different (for Russell) but simile (for Entwistle) explanation for yellow (see the letter Y in my “A to Z”), where the meaning is created not by nature, but by humans where color is used for associations, and how they use it. Although some could find all these cases related too. Further, the meaning of color transfers to another thing – the way in which people describe everyday things using language prime sources to name things needed to describe value of an object. John Gage writes about color and symbol where he says about Meier that: “…Meier has shown a stubble understanding of the way in which perceptions of color may be affected by conceptions of what [an object] in question means: the same material may be seen as variously colored according to the need for meaning, and this imagined need is primary, rather than flowing from the perception of the color.” 5 For example: water and fire are symbols of destruction of man kind. The chemist Friederich Ostwald (1853-1932) wrote theory of harmony. Ostwald felt that there could be no certainty in color-studies until color was quantified, from the psychological as well as from the physical point of view. Possibly, there is depending difference on who writers were before they made the theories. Ostwald added to 4th green color to the primary color circle of yellow, red and blue. “Ostwald was well aware of the novelty of this arrangement, and explained that ‘the beginner’ would probably have difficulty in distinguishing so many: this is due to the fact that this area of the color-circles is very little known to us, since the colors hardly occur in nature”6. I would say – the same are all other things, actually, they “hardly” occur in nature. Harmony is order, which has to be established at first. Another example about associations: In Vatican, few hundred years ago, when building works were going on, there were used colored cubes to make mosaic, fabbrica. For cubes to do not get mixed, they were kept in numbered trays or bins, so that the mosaic workers could simply call for them by number. Nowadays there are ordering catalogues etc, where products codes. F. Palmer writes about maps and plans, that people have learnt visual understanding: “…If we look at the map the contour lines and the shades of color show the mountains. They do not look real, but that has not been the concern of the mapmaker. He has

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wanted to tell us the position, height and size of the mountain, and he has done. We have understood the images he has made because we have learned the signs he uses.” 7 He talks about process of automatic seeing, about eye focusing in and out while looking far or close. “Even if we attempt to be objective in our presentation, the fact is that we have chosen the image indicates certain subjectivity. We select the places from which to show the scene, the exact framing of the subject that will appear on the photograph, film, television screen or canvas. In deciding what to show, our personality will have played a part. The less objective the approach the more selection will take place and the more our individual characteristics, knowledge and experience will be involved. … … Obviously, in communicating ideas visually, the painter and photographer are conscious of the emotional content of their work. They know that certain subjects affect people in particular ways, that we are attracted to some subjects and repelled by others. We shall be affected by the artist’s emotional involvement and influenced by our memories of previous experiences and the associated thoughts that the subject provokes.” 7 G. Kepes in his book “Language of vision” writes: “Public taste today is formed mainly by publicity and the articles of daily use”, and in the same book S. Giedion wrote in intro: “The plastic image has all the characteristics of a living organism. It exists through forces in interaction which are acting in their respective fields, and are conditioned by these fields.” 8 Where the “force” and “interaction” in my opinion could be how people perceive and understand an image. In conclusion, I found that people do see things differently; it depends on what they are thinking about and even who they are. All the following are examples for the “A to Z”. For example, letters O and S. These both are combination of some knowledge and turned to possibly fun. Where the O is for “observation methods” where picture shows toilet sign. How people could knew what is happening in private area to tell others how to behave. Therefore, somebody must have been observing him, her, or themselves before putting this sign on. S for “subject research” is showing satellite image of piece of land in China, where the land has circle stripes. Over there, I have put rotating coins from EU countries. The case is that Europeans do exploit China spending a little money there. To understand this, people have to know little about the business and what the expression “turning money around” means. These examples are more likely to represent “knowledge”. What everybody will see there depends on their way of seeing things. Firstly, people will see overall picture. The same time they may have already some association with exact letter. They will see an object, and may start to relate it to

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something. Only the next moment people usually read the text attached. Sometimes it can change overall meaning. People even see things designer never notice them. At least they were not meant to have meaning in the picture. Finally, every square point has its value in the picture. For example, if there is a seaside and drawn arrow in sand. What does that mean? OK. It is an arrow. It shows the direction. Direction to the right. God said right is better than left, if you believe in God, because it takes you forward, not back. Somebody who loves sports will see direction which he runs every morning. Somebody who loves nature will notice that in this landscape human being have been present, because it drew the sign. Would it be any letter of the alphabet drawn instead of arrow, people would imagine repeatedly. Relate letter to water maybe. If it would be D, which could be for deep water, dirty water, or may be girl Lisa who likes Daniel has drawn this letter in sand? Another is story about history, what has been happening on this seaside? How hundreds of years ago people were living here, fishing, there were boats, there were storms. Comes to mind old black and white movies, what typeface they used for title, what the noisy sounds were on background. Alphabet translations (letters with their meanings) and pictures at the end have their explanations, which are not final. As they cannot be, because different people will make their own explanations for the pictures seen. Referencies: 1. Berger, J. (1972) Ways of seeing: based on the BBC television series with John Berger. London: British Broadcasting Corporation; London: Penguin. p144 2. Russell, D. (1991) Colourworks. The yellow book. Oxford, Phaidon. p16. 3. p14 4. Entwistle, N. J. (2009) Teaching for understanding at university: deep approaches and distinctive ways of thinking. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. p23. 5. Gage, J. (1999) Colour and meaning: art, science and symbolism Thames and Hudson, London. 6. Gage, J. (1999) Colour and meaning: art, science and symbolism Thames and Hudson, London. 7. Palmer, F. (1972) Visual awarness. Bastford. p62. 8.

Kepes, G. (1944) Language of vision, Chicago: Theobald. intro.

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home Friday, October 9, 2009 My mum brought me from Latvia beans. She thought we couldn’t buy them here in London. Beans are one of few main food products for as long as there is any historical evidences found in Baltic. As I had to soak beans in water before boiling them, also I did not knew where to buy smoked pork ribs for cooking with beans for delicious taste, the poor beans were just left in a corner kitchen cupboard for later. Today as I felt hungry and the fridge and cupboards were mostly empty, I looked into that corner one and I found the beans. I’ve got to do something with them! At first I changed the packaging: I poured them into more nicely looking pot. Yeah, I need to cook them somehow. How to made them tastily if I haven’t got that meat? Think, think, and look around. I slide my hand into the pot and get handful with beans. How perfect they are. Nice shape, beautiful colour. I grabbed some more beans. How sleek, smooth and glossy are they! They definitely must be used. Make movie. Flash movie with running beans. Language! Of course my Language project. I knew it! I just need to warn children to don’t touch MY BEANS, because I’m going to use them for my project. I have an idea to revive drawings from books I’ve collected over summer. These few of all books include Latvian national signs, ornaments where some are made of beans. The beans to made ornaments were used commonly in old times, where children was thought of meaning of different signs by using beans to make an ornament.

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EACH LETTER WANTS TO STAND OUT TO BE NOTICED

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is for bar code

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is for code

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is for density

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is for engraving

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is for flush

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is for grid

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is for hairline

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is for jellyfish

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IS FOR KINETIC TYPE

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is for labirinth

FDA DESIGNFORGRAPHICCOMIXYIMUNICATION2009/10TERM01PROJECTFDADESIGNFORGRAPHICCOMMUNICATION2009/10PROJECTTITLE:ATOZOFGRAPHICLANGUAGESTARTDATE:5THOCTOBER20001.00PMSTUDIOCO-ORDINATINGTUTOR:DARRENRAVEND.RAVEN@LCC.ARTS.AC.UKPPDCO-ORDINATINGTUTOR:UNICATIONANDPRESENTATIONDENTIFYUNDPRESENTATIONDEN 9FO RM ATI VEDE ADL NE:4 THDE CEMBER 2009S UMM ATIV EDEA DLINE :25THJA NUAR Y20101.00 PMSTUDIOC O-ORD INATIN TUT R:DARR ENRAVEND.RA VEN@L CC.ARTS.AC.UK PPDCO-ORDINA TINGTU TORA NES MIT HC.H.SMITH@ LCC. ART S.AC .UK VCT COOR DIN ATI NGT UTO R:IA NH ORT ON I.HO RTO N@LC C.A RTS .AC. 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(SUBJECTKNOWL EDGE)VCTU NIT:D EMO NS TRA TET HEA BILIT YTOS TUD YIND EPEN DEN TLY.( SEL FMAN AGE MENT)A PPL YAP PROP RIA TEMET HOD SOFRES EA RCHAN DINFO RMATIO NRETR IEVALRE SEARCH&D UNICAIY ME NTE MON STR ATEANUNDERSTAN DINGOFTHEKEYISS UES, THEM ESAND CRITIC ALD EB ATES SURR OUN DINGGRAP HICD ESIG NBOTHH ISTORI CALLYAN DINREL ATIONTOCO NTEMPO RARY PRAC TIC, OW NSTUDIOPRACTIC E(AN ALY SIS&E VALUA TIONEN GAGEI NCONST RUC TIVEANDINFORMEDCRITICAARGUMENTANDDEBATEBOTHORALLYANDINWRITING(UNICATIONANDPRESENTATIONDENTIFYUNICATIONANDPRESENTATIONDENTIFYUNICATIONAND PRE THE KEYISSUES,THEMESANDCRITICALDEBATESSURROUNDINGTHEPRACTICEOFGRAPHICDESIGN.(SUBJECTKNOWLEDGE)PPDUNIT:UTILISECRITICALANALYSISINAPIECEOFINDUSTRYRESEARCH. (ANALYSIS&EVALUATION

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is for subject research

MONEY 47

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is for victory

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gnidaer gnorw rof si

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is for x-factor

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is for yellow

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is for zero tolerance

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MEANING A is for asymmetry. Asymmetry is found over gates where different tools are used to decorate the entrance. B is for barcode type. As I draw it in Illustrator, it is my vernacular type. The width and order of black and white stripes are representing each letter in alphabet. C is for code. This is meant to be Processing. D is for density. Falling letters are making density. When page is full with text, it has some density. E is for engraving. Most strange thing is that typeface supposed to use for graves are not often found on the graves. Should I am sorry for the “censored”, but in respect

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to British people I was advised to hide it (which I think is weird). If you want to know the name, go to popular pets cemetery in Greenwich and read it.

but not only with food, they have to be given knowledge as well. Beans can be used for learning. That is why there are beans inside.

L is for labyrinth. Image of worm made ways, which looks like labyrinth. I made labyrinth from ready text. You can actually go through it.

F is for flush. Rows and columns are like rainfall.

J is for jellyfish. Jellyfish is a freeswimming marine coelenterate with a jellylike bell- or saucershaped body that is typically transparent and has stinging tentacles around the edge. So is design... - free swimming - shaped form - transparent - influential - controlled?

M is for mistake. Actually for margins, but it was for modularity, but it was mistake.

G is for grid. Photo taken in parliament building. This piece of art has grids. Grids are the rules. A parliaments sets rules for peolpe. H is for hairline. This is funny one. Pony has Type in his hair (fur). I is for image. Image can represent an object, person or a scene produced as an illustration or photograph. I draw the image of oak spoon, I carved for my little baby. I draw the beans in it. As children have to be fed

K is for kinetic type. I rolled strips of sentences and to read them, they became kinetic. Later I found ready example in processing. I remade it, put my own text in and changed a little.

N is for nihilism. Have you read about those nihilists who were throwing banknotes out from the car window every twenty meters on the road? And those silly and stupid greedy people were running all way long to pick up money. So that is a REALLY GOOD FUN. O is for observational research - a research technique where the subjects are observed in their natural settings either with or without their knowledge.

P is for persistence. Police, power & pleasure to persist. Image for “p” is taken from outside of police station. In Graphic Language terms P can relate to Pica. Pica is unit of typographic measure equal to 0,166 inches or 4,218mm. Q is for Quantum & Quality what wants society. Gold is Old. Roll out the strips & read with your lips. Gold already stinks Where ideas has wings R is for readability. These two drawn people are trying hard to straighten huge strips with text written on them to read it finally. S is for subject research. In this case there are European Countries Coins with low value and in background there is

satellite image of land of China. The object is - if you want to spend a little - turn you money around on China land. T is for transformation. Things are transforming in time. Building in the image was meant to be to attract people to the popular tourist place, but with time, when country’s economy goes down, this site became playground for local youth, who lucks entertainment as all places either are too expensive or closed down. U is for universal language. Should be easy to understand, as it’s universal. Arrow with fire is fast one. Snail given to carry envelope is slow one. It’s inspired by what people are calling “snail mail”.

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V is for victory. these symbols were used to decorate the shields, also to give pover and protection to warrior. W is for wrong reading. This is directly related to “wrong reading” in printing terms. X is for x-factor. Very popular TV show. Anyone who is basically the same as the crowd could stand out. Why lambs? They look X shaped. So I took one out from the crowd to make it “popular”. X-height from typography and X-factor, both are similar. They have set height of what is “normal”, and there can be exclusions. Y is for yellow. Y for yellow is not in yellow colour on purpose, but in red. Why? The

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image of letter Y is taken from theater building and which is the last letter of the word ‘comedy’. Comedy is all about drama, jokes and paradox in real life. From the colors yellow is representing trick and joke. In reality many colors has meaning witch are not necessarily representing exact colour but some objective. For example when people say “he is still green” could mean, “he is still young”. In given example (right) mother says that the name of berries is blackberries that do not mean that berries are always in black colour. When son asks why they are in red colour, mother says that they are green which again means that they are not green but that the word green is used to describe

something what is row, not ready yet. Son asks to his mother: -Mum, what kind of berries are they? -Blackberries! -Why they are red? -Because of they green! Z is for zero tolerance. Zero tolerance means that something is not accepted to be, to happen or to appear. Photoshop image shows loads of beans that are surrounded by marching ants where the beans are likely to be cut out. Image on top shows iconic logo of ‘no beans’. This is inspired by people reaction when they are about to have meal in public places. Whatever they choose - do not even try to offer them beans.

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a to z of graphic language  

a to z of graphic language

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