Monday, March 21, 2011

Reading Response: Experimental Typography. Whatever That Means. + Radical Type Design Introduction

There were some good insights in Experimental Typography. Whatever That Means. The author clarified the definition of experiment in specific regard to typography and design, however, in a way this was contradicted in the second half of the article by his list of designer's interpretations of ideas. In the end, experiments do become translations of a previous idea based on a certain convention. I appreciated the comment that, "Once assimilated, it is no longer considered "experimental" and that the only experiment involved is the process of creation." However I felt as though it can be stifling to the actual experiment to always think about the end result.

The second reading, Radical Type Design, gave more of an historical account of experimentation which I found helpful. It is easy to be overwhelmed with the massive and varied amounts of "typography" that is readily available almost everywhere. It is helpful to note that artists and designers developed new methods of expression during the historical futurist, constructivist, dadaist and modernist movements. During this time, they created new relationships between fine art, typography and literature. The new attitude towards social, cultural and political life is where much of contemporary typographic exploration was discovered. I found this definition useful in clarifying the difference between type design and typography in relation to experimentation: "Experimental type design deals with the design or production of typefaces, while experimental typography investigates the use of type in layouts. It overviews conventions of typographic expression that provide understanding to the viewer."

With all the conventions and rules in approaching the letter-form, breaking this convention happens through many different approaches that could all be classified as "experimental." For example, Worthington and E.A.T's idea that experimental means taking a risk, attempting the absolute unknown, or it could also be defined as the process of creation, a process with no commercial outcome. This definition matches loosely with what I previously thought of the term. If I present something I would consider "experimental typography" it has almost always taken an unpredicted form. I never know how something is actually going to end up. On the other hand, I always have something to begin with (the structure of a previously designed letter-form, a preconceived notion, a familiar tool) that I then expand on.

Again, the comment that assimilated typography is no longer experimental as well as experimental typography existing only in the process of creation, proves what experiment is in relationship to an application. I believe it does have a real use even without an application in mind. In my opinion, this can be one of the purest forms of experimentation. Once documented, these processes could serve in a real application ("whatever that means"). As Triggs stated, I believe the process of rengotiation always follows an established pattern. Even Times New Roman designer, Stanley Morison, encouraged the use of typographic experimentation saying that it was, "always desirable that experiments be made and it is a pity that such 'laboratory' pieces are so limited in number and in courage" This statement follows Triggs' statement that Morison was cautious of bright or eccentric typography.

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