Issuu on Google+

//_1


//_2


//_3


//_4

Semiotic Type Tautology is defined as being true by virtue of its logical form alone. In this book I will be looking at tautology as it pertains to semiotics and its relevance in modern typography. If you were assigned the task of taking any letter and any typeface and told to place it on a blank document at any size and position on the page so that it represents that letter as being only that letter and nothing else how would you present the letter so it would be a tautological statement? In this book I will break down the reason behind the correct representation of a letter so that it is being only that letter and nothing else. A simplified definition of a tautological statement is A=A and it can be seen as an absolutely true statement. In pertaining to typography lets look at the theory of sign known as semiotics. In typography each letter of the alphabet in its purest form is a visual code for a phonetic value. What about all the different typefaces to chose from? Which ones purely represent the phonetic value of each individual letter? San Serif typefaces are the best choice, they were created to rep- resent each letter in the alphabet as tautologically representing only its phonetic value. Serif typefaces have ornamentation and aesthetically added forms that can lead the viewer to see a letter as something outside of being just that letter. The French linguist Ferdinand de Saussure’s theory for semiotics revolves around the signifier and the signified. The signifier is audio that serves as a sign which points to something else. The signified is something that has been pointed out by its signifier, which can be referred to as the acoustic image. According to Saussure, sound is comprised of two elements; phoneme which are all sound values and morpheme which is the building block of sounds to form words. Semiosis is the process when something becomes or is a sign. Phoneme and Morpheme are the two elements of semiosis. So what do Saussure’s theories mean for typography? Saussure’s theories tell us that each letter in the alphabet is a signifier. The visual shape signifies the sound that the letter makes which is the signified and vice versa. Charles Morris a philosopher also has a theory of semiotics. There are 4 cardinal elements. First is the sign vehicle which is equivalent to signifier. The sign vehicle is anything absorbed through the 5 senses. Second we have the designatum/denotatum which is equivalent to signified and


//_5

it is relatively something pointed out by the sign vehicle. Designatum is something not perceptible and denotatum is something perceivable. Third we have the interpretation. Fourth we have the interpreter. All 4 elements are absolutely necessary. Morris’ theory applies to typography the same way Saussure’s do. The sign vehicle shows us the designatum/denotatum and we interpret that information according to our knowledge. Before learning about Semiotics, Saussure and Morris I was given the task mentioned above—to present a chosen letter in its tautological essence. I thought to myself should it be big, should it be small, should it be serif, should it be san serif? Should I place it in the corner or in the center. Ultimately I chose a san serif typeface I placed the letter G in the center of the page and gave it a font size of about 40pt not big not small but average. My decisions were correct because the letter was not acting as a design element it was not straying from its essence as would a decorative serif typeface. Placing it in the middle is the most natural way to view the letter. We as humans naturally want to center objects, we look to the middle. Choosing a medium font size allows the negative space and the margin surrounding the letter to become nonactive and not important. My tautological assignment of basically removing all design elements from a sign (phonetic letter) is used marginally in the design profession. There are certain rules that I do follow. I know that san serif fonts are easier to read in body copy. I also know that people read words often as shapes and that the spelling of a word can be totally skewed and people will still read


//_6

A

=


//_7

8

!


//_8

4

it correctly. Because of this knowledge I use typography as a design element to further enhance what I am trying to communicate. These facts that I know pertain to se- miotics and the tautological representation of letters. What’s fascinating is we can relate the structure and theory of semiotics to visualization. A deeper analysis into the history of semiotics and typography brings up gestalt, pictographs, ideograms and logograms. Gestalt is wholes comprised of elements. Pictographs are visual marks capturing the essential forms and other perceivable objects. An ideogram is a symbol that represents an idea. If the symbol instead represents a word it’s a logogram. We can trace our letters and characters back to a pictograph. The beauty of it all is in the way language forms us, we are a depository of information of language.It defines our intellectual abilities.


7

If we understand semiotics its themeology and the syntax of words our intellect will grown and so will our visual skills along side it. We still must remember that the primary function of all characters is communication. Syntax is defined as the grammatical arrangement of words in a sentence. Building off of the topic of semiotics from our last lecture we see syntax as the relationship among sign vehicles. When analyzing the influences that surround the syntax of a language we must ask our selves the question legibility of typographic signs.Is legibility subject to change and history of particular languages of focus? Do we condition our readership to prefer and recognize certain visual coding systems? I see the answer as yes because legibility is a matter of interest, it is dependent on the desire of an individual to access and or present that material. When Gutenberg invented movable type he could have invented san serif typeface. He could have seen the need for a tautological representation of each phonetic value. Instead he invented a typeface that was a variation of the lettering standards used in manuscript writing of that time. He created letters in the style of the time. Even today we prefer specific types of character renderings. San serif typefaces are pre- ferred today for communication and for a modern design. The syntax of language are the rules.Sometimes these rules are very logical and structural. Sometimes the rules are a matter of heritage. Subtle changes over time. Through the use of these rules or syntax we assemble sen- tences in a linear matter.Sentences are subject to the gram- matical rules. These rules are organizing our speech to convey

//_9


//_10


//_11

meaning. This is the central structure of our language; the official language. Outside of this central structure are deviations. Dialects, slang, lingo’s are all deviations from the official lan- guage. A deviation is really to negative of a term in my opinion. I would call them additives. In America Ebonics is a primary example of a dialect of American English. Linguistically speaking Ebonics can stand on its own and be recognized as its own official language. Politically this will likely never happen. So what’s the analogy between grammar and the visual realm? What is the syntax of visual constructs? Colors, shapes, composition and the Golden mean. Colors have various associations and combinations that evoke personal feelings and commons emotional responses among cultures. Shapes can be subjected to formal rules. Simple shapes can be combined to build more complex shapes. Much like the way we build single words to create complex intellectual sentences which can contain more meaning and depth. The golden mean or golden rule is the most powerful and widely used proportion in design. It is a ratio found in the structure of the natural world. All of nature revolves around this proportion which is 1.618 or 0.618.When we design according to this proportion the design appears harmonious. This balance in design is an artificial harmony because we are emulating what we find in nature and what we naturally find pleasing to the eye. As humans we have a desire to emulate and depict as accurately as possible the world around us. We must take care in how we construct a false reality. Logical rules


//_12


//_13


//_14

are a necessary element to construct our visual statement. There is no binary logic in the visual realm.If there was we would have troubles innovating our creativity. In language we have binary logic yet as human we love to speak in metaphors which are often paradoxical statements. Take for example the metaphor, “life is a stage.” If we look at these words syntactically they are two unrelated statements. As a metaphor this statement is very powerful. A metaphor is a symbol we create new worlds visually with metaphors that have layers of depth and meaning. Applying this to typography we see that letters are derived from symbols which were metaphors. They’re a visual analogy between similar objects and letter forms. Simulacrum— an image representing another image. With metaphors and simulacrum we are stepping outside of binary logic into the visual realm. Constantly looking for visual harmony and an aesthetic value. Trying to emulate and relay meaning from a written verbal idea to a visual one. If we use some visual rules and syntax as guidance in our design a great more creative solution can be achieved, as long as we adhere to a strong core concept. Break the right rules. Simulation or simulate is to pretend to have something one doesn’t have. Jean Baudrillard is the champion of simulation theory. The world renowned intellectual theorist recently passed away and left a legacy of theory and critical analysis of culture and its inate desire to simulate. We as humans are deeply involved in simulation. More increasingly in the past century. Technology has played a large part in our manipulating of substances to create some- thing that will feed our ideals. Our conquering of flight was a result of an imitation of natural flight. In simulation theory the act of simulating can also be referred to as mimesis; the act of mimicking or imitating. There are two main forums of simulation. One way to imitate is to mimic the surfaces of objects, an example is faux finishes. Technology is becoming so advanced that many faux finishes are almost indistinguishable. When this happens the purchase and consumption of the original look is often an emo- tional decision. Secondly we have the imitation of the principles or structures of objects. Technology plays an even larger part in structural simulation than surface simulation. Major accomplishments in the special effects


//_15


//_16

industry of movie making have been made. Special effects feed our desire for the cred- ible believable appearance of story telling. Structural simulation studies the laws and info struc- ture beyond initial perception. Achieving a view of the micro- scopic world to discover and accumulate knowledge about those underlying processes. Remarkable achievements have been made by discerning what’s behind or under the surface. A third element of simulation is how we look to nature for inspiration to simulate in another way. Not mimicking but instead learning and transferring knowledge to find a different structure to emulate through. An example is how a bird flies by flapping its wings. The bird is made up of light hollow bones and feathers. We used the bird as inspiration to achieve flight through a combination of


//_17


//_18


//_19


//_20

propulsion and gliding. Early attempts at flight did try to directly simulate bird flight employ the flapping technique. A second topic that relates to simulation and is also highly prevalent in our technology based society is replication.Replication since the industrial revolution has changed the way we live and interact in society.There are two major characteristics of replication. Look is the visual replication of the forms and shapes of an object. They appear the same. Function is the characteristic of the objects use. Each replicated objects performs the same tasks. Simulants are the closes to life of all simulations. Simulants are artificial intelligence. They are made by humans to try and mimic what we do. We are trying to create an independent machine that thinks and makes decisions freely. With artificial intelligence we are trying give machines creativity. Baudrillard’s fear is that in our simulation rich so- ciety the more we are involved in simulation the further we are from life. Will we soon become simulants of our own? We naturally can transfer simulation and repetition into our design techniques and strategies. With the golden proportion we simulate the appearance and feeling of natural elements in the ratio of our design layout. Nature itself is very repetitive and mathematical in its underlying structure. Ultimately in our design we should seek to draw from many influences: artificial and natural enabling us to come to an original style and visual concept. Typographic marks change through centuries. Each mark or recognizable symbol in an alphabet depends on a phoneme. The grapheme changes


//_21

with time and with culture, it adapts, it evolves matures or digresses. Typography never occurs in isolation. Letterforms are not objects of science they are an art form and they participate in history just like other art forms do. Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical, Romantic. Different typographic styles exist for each art period and each typeface has a reference to an era just like Michelangelo’s David does. Technology can often play a big part in the change of typographic marks. When the technology of moveable type hit Europe scribes saw there profession change overnight, yet today many ancient Roman scribal conventions exist as type today. Breaking down the Latin letter let take a closer look at the Renaissance roman letter. Renaissance roman letters where developed in northern Italy by scholars in the fourteenth and fifteenth century. These letter forms have a sensual na- ture and reflect the bustling time when beautiful art and mu- sic was being made with great ambition and progressiveness. Just like Renaissance painting. The typographic letter developed during this time they set the standard for the medium for centuries to come. Moving on to the Mannerist letter we once again can compare changes in the typefaces to the changes in painting. Mannerist type is a bit longer and the angularity is stronger. Most work was primarily done in Italy and France during this time period. The Baroque letter has bit more differences from the benchmark Renaissance letter forms. Here is a list of difference that Robert Bringhurst points out. The stroke axis varies widely with in a single alphabet. Contrast


//_22


//_23


//_24

gr

ap

hi

cd

es

ig

nt

yp

e!

gr

ap

hi

cd

es

ig

nt

yp

e!

gr

ap

hi

cd

es

ig

nt

yp

e!

AB

Tg

hA

jA

cz

es

jo

p[

iq

A bwx

nd

Af

kl

pA

A

gr

ap

hi

cd

es

ig

nt

yp

e!

gr

ap

hi

cd

es

ig

nt

yp

e!


//_25


//_26

Os is increased. The x-height is increased. The aperature is generally reduced. There is further softening of terminals from abrupt to lachry- mal. The head serifs become sharp wedges. In summary the Baroque letters appear more mod- eled and less written than the Renaissance form. The give less evidence of the trace of the written letter, the scribal form. Part of that attribute can be contributed tothe further development of moveable type. Neoclassic art can be classified as more rigid and restrained than Renaissance art. More science and less emo- tion. Neoclassical art is more interested in rigorous consis- tency. Yet still in Neoclassical letters evidence of the broad pen is evident. Bringhurst calls them a “products of the Rationalist ear: frequently beautiful, calm forms, but forms oblivious to the more complex beauty of organic fact.� I couldn’t have said it better myself. Skipping ahead to the Realist letter which appeared in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries accompany- ing a large variety of artistic movements such as - Realism, Naturalism, Impressionism, Expressionism, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Constructivism, Cubism, Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, Op Art, and many many more. Most all of these move- ments have inspired some sort of typographic form. Focusing on the Realist letter form we can notice that it has the same basic shape as the Neoclassical and Romantic letters but it is heavier on the serif or it has no serifs at all. The stroke, weight and aperture are much more uniform and consistent. Most realist typeface lack a full collection of goodies such as small caps and text


//_27

Type

Fk figures. Geometric Postmodernism. These letter forms don’t revive classic typefaces of the Mannerist or Renaissance times they instead reminisce on Realist ideas adding in some post modern humor and a touch of typographic sophistication. Postmodern letters live in the world of technology - high-speed offset printing and digital design. Technology and culture has shaped all these eras of artistic movements. Typography fits in to these movements just as strongly as painting, music and architecture do. Typographers will continue to create letter forms that fit and react to contemporary times. Yet typography today is much like it has always been. Bringhurst states this “confront the basic task with which typography began. That is the task of answering in two dimensions to a world that


//_28


//_29


//_30

has many. Robert Logan has hypothesized that there are six modes of language. He states that speech, writing, mathematics, sci- ence, computing and the Internet form an evolutionary chain of languages. Each one of these languages have different similarities amongst each other and each mode has evolved from the previous language due to its inability to deal with new information and needs in society. Each language has its own distinct semantics and syntax. The first mode speech is our original way of sharing information. Before written language evolved memorization of speech was the primary way to store and pass on informa- tion with in a culture.In speech we listen to the melody of the language. This skill is important for retaining information that exceeds one’s intellectual ability. Rhyme and rhythm are used in addition to melody to create easily stored and remembered information. This way of communication is the tradition of how societies and cultures passed down valuable information. Shamans in ancient cultures where given the responsibility of retaining the history of the tribe. Shamans are healers and storytellers. They had to memorize and relay informa- tion through Rhythm, rhyme and melody. Their words opened doors of creative thought and visualization for tribe members inviting the presence of other forces. In India the word manthra which means sacred sound defines how the delivery of words can give extra meaning, spiritual meaning. Shamans often didn’t know the entire mean- ing of the information they were relaying. They relied on the Rhythm and rhyme of the Shaman who


//_31

taught them to convey that special cultural meaning. In today’s Christian world we have our own special expressions and meanings. When reciting a scripture we have normal expressions and we have expressions that mean something. Such as the use of the word amen, amen is a word of Egyptian origin.It means sun god and it has evolved through the centuries to become a word of special meaning for the ending of a prayer. It has almost no association to its original meaning.The oral tradition is enhanced by the written system. The written system relies on characters representing pho- netic value. Capturing and storing information grammar and structure become more important in the written mode of lan- guage. We use the rules of grammar to check the logic, to compare efficiently.We also go beyond the grammar into the structure that is called logical reasoning, not only for organiza- tion but for systemization so that we can organize our variety of interpretations of the world. Our third mode of language is mathematics. Math is deprived of other meanings. It is a special language and we use it to measure and quantify things.We use it to draw parallels and to compare and contrast. We try to find ways in which the world is made up of and can be broken down to math. A number four we have scientific methods.We comine it with number three mathematics because math is at the core of all scientific methods. It is used to analyze and with out it scientists would not have enough time to find meaning in the vast plethora of information in our world today. Which leads us to our fifth mode; computing. The computational mode is all about complexity. Computers are used for accessing information and sort- ing information. Scientists are heavily reliant on computers. Computers are made up of math. They are used to enhance our communication. Computers are an extension of a scien- tists mind. The most recent and sixth mode of language is the internet. The information revolution is redefining the way we learn and process information. This technology will have powerful effects on social, economic and cultural life. How can we relate all of this information to our de- sign. Well we as designers understand that visual media is a big aspect of communication. Today as designers we are not honest people. It is our job to manipulate and seduce our view- ers to desire the product we are advertising through visual means.We aren’t looking to outright manipulate them we get into their subconscious through associations and metaphors. There are two desires that consumers have. The desire to possess, to own, to occupy. There is the fear of loss which deep down is tied to a fear of dying. We designers tap into these fears with color, composition, association and strong metaphors. Designing for the mass consumer not only becomes the goal and

OD

RG

CS

ZX


//_32


//_33

basis for Designers, but it provides us with the ability to create culture and invent the future. A fine line is drawn between art and design but often a blending occurs. kDAThis world is full of diverse typefaces. The scope is too big and abstract that it is impossible to come up with some level of estimation of the number of typefaces that exists in this world. The average number that the designers yielded was approximately 145,191 typefaces. Does this number mean anything in terms of statistical data? The answer to this question is unfortunately “no”. This number is arbitrary and meaningless. After all, it is only a tip of a huge iceberg that is constantly expanding. Although this research included not only roman alphabets, but also all other letterforms, we recognize that there are numerous ways to present concepts. This means that, for example a certain word, say “dog”, can be represented visually in almost endless possibilities. Metaphorically, in speech, a person could shout the word “dog” really loud or could whisper the word “dog” to you. The context that these two instances convey is the same, but the physical expression is not. The expression could vary from person to person. Someone could have an accent or a dialect. The person speaking could be a man or a woman. Typography works and functions in the same way. It conveys different expressions from one typeface, arrangement et cetra from one to another. We are already beginning to see the same context conveyed in a different visual representation! From this observation, a question arises. Would typefaces, typesetting, layout and all

A

D


//_34


//_35


//_36

other components of typography affect the meaning of the context and communicate different messages to the reader? If the context is modified, is this an appropriate method of communication? A larger part of this question is: “Is typography a mean of reproduction or a mean of expression?” If we say that letterforms, in their pure meaning are defined, we can state that type and typography hold a semiotic quality. You cannot look up in a dictionary for the “feeling of setting 9.5pt Univers 45 on 13pt leading with a two column grid”. So, why do we look back to antiquarian books and old masters for their semiotic qualities? Why are there so many attempts to revive old typefaces? These attempts include Stanley Morison’s work at Monotype and recently Robert Slimbach’s Adobe Jenson in Multiple Master fonts, Zuzana Licko’s Baskerville revival, Mrs Eaves and so many more. Now we come back to the question: “Is typography a mean of reproduction or a mean of expression?” Typography is an art that is always connected to the act of reading. The readers comprehend the context much more when they are not distracted by typography. When typography is transparent. Beatrice Warde once wrote


//_37

COGNITVISION IVE


//_38

a book on typography called The Crystal Goblet, and the sub-title to her first essay was “printing should be invisible”. She asked her readers to imagine that they had a flagon of wine before them, and two goblets – one of solid gold, “wrought in the most exquisite patterns”; the other, of “crystal-clear glass, thin as a bubble, and as transparent”. If wine meant anything to you, she hoped you would choose the crystal goblet, because “everything about it is calculated to reveal rather than hide the beautiful thing which it was meant to contain”. As a typographer, you are the servant of the author – colleague, if you like – but your job is to help the author to reach his public. You are not making works of art of your own; you are transmitting, with as much skill, grace and efficiency as may be required, the words of someone else. It is his [the book designer’s] job to create a manner of presentation whose form neither overshadows nor patronizes the content. Book design is no field for those who desire to “mint the style of today” or to create something “new”. —Jan Tschichold, Graphic Arts and Book Design In the book designed by Baumann and Baumann “Deutscher Bundestag Neuer Plenarbereich” it is clear that with their own text, they play and activate the text according to how they feel, but when dealing with a third person’s text, the design is quiet and more transparent. The “Conventional Typographic Code”, conveying context A in a way that the reader deciphers the context, and thus receiving the context A’. This yields typography to


//_39


//_40

be transparent or invisible, just like the crystal goblet. The “Unconventional Typographic Code”. The context A is not transmitted to the reader properly because the typographic representation does not allow the reader to reach into the typographer’s cipher in a clear manner. An example could be Dadaist poetries, where the meaning of the words are lost, the typographic convention is deconstructed. The only codes remaining are the alphabets and probably a title. The understating of the context A is through the reader’s interpretation, which yields a different context at the reader’s end (context B). As long as typographers are dealing with the author’s text, can we not shift to the right hand side of the diagram below? As typographers depart from the decipherment side to the interpretation side, they are able to modify, manipulate or change the meaning of the context that is delivered to the reader. This seems to make the job of a typographer to lean more towards the poet side. Therefore, not surprisingly, iIn some cases the typographer can even change a meaning of a letterform. uncommon typographical meaning interpretation visual representation. Here is a letter A. A It is a typographic (or visual) representation of the concept of “A”. Now with the typographic magic, we will change the meaning of a letterform. We will now manifest that the character 8 stands for the concept of “A”. A=8 At this stage this seems like a completely mad manifestation, but if we put this equation in the context below, we see that now, we read 8 as an A. 8ugust —Takaaki Okada. The probable reason of looking back to the old masters could be here. The type should become transparent if we have been familiiar with a particular typeface for a long time. Also, before Gutenberg, letterforms evolved according to the speed of writing, efficiency of the letters and of course the ease of reading. The actual writings were the way that language was visualized. Now, type design and typography – which is more of “drawing” letterforms rather than “writing” them – shapes the way language looks. Since, this transition, it seems that the speed of letterform’s metamorphosis has slowed down or even stopped! So, we end up looking back to the typefaces that were designed in Renaissance time. (or even the first Roman type.) From above observations and questions, we can say that by reviving metal type, we are trying to make this data based, metaphysical concept of type design to something that is physical and tangible. Although it is physically impossible, unless we actually set metal type, We should be able to bring back the craft, art, care, warmth, and ultimately the physical conception of typography through the careful study and reviving process of typefaces and type composition.


//_41

The revival process does not necessarily stand for a straight imitation of old metal type, but it is an act of bringing back the physical spirit of typography and making it adaptable and acceptable to the modern day readers and the new metaphysical realm of digital type setting. —Takaaki


//_42


//_43


//_44


Type Aufheben