Monday, July 7, 2008

thinking with type

I just started and finished Ellen Lupton's Thinking with Type (2004). After an afternoon wasted on waiting for the ups man (we pronounced this "ups" like the opposite of "downs" at my house) to deliver my Goldenburg's *ahem* "Chew-ets" peanut chews,
I decided to do something more productive with my evening.

First, we come to understand that the title was influenced by James Craig's Designing with Type, a publication I am fondly familiar with. It was in my spring term at U of M that I was actually taught something at the SoAD, and that text was the main source.

Lupton's book came to me much later in life, last summer for my wedding shower. [My friends understand that this is the type (no pun intented!) of shit I would really appreciate, rather than nighties and lotions]. Tonight, I finally decided to read and think critically about it, than just thumb through. If one can get over the frequent mention of Abbott, all things Baltimore, and MICA, and focus instead on the other useful examples, it proves to be a pretty good skim of topics that I am finally more interested in dealing with.

Aside from the brief mentions of Barthes and Derrida, there isn't too much focus on theory, more on practical applications, which is fine for a beginner. I'm not claiming to be an expert, so brushing up was helpful. And made for a quick read.

There is certainly an agenda being pushed, one of acceptance of a Tschicholdian "programmatic thinking" which is being " designers today confront large-scale information projects. The need is greater than ever for flexible 'programs' accommodating dynamic bodies of content."

She elaborates further:
Universal design systems can no longer be dismissed as the irrelevant musings of a small, localized design community [Switzerland]. A second modernism has emerged, reinvigorating the utopian search for universal forms that marked the birth of design as a discourse and a discipline nearly a century earlier. Against the opacity and singularity of unique visual expressions—grounded in regional preferences and private obsessions—ideas of commonality, transparency, and openness are being reborn as information seeks to shed its physical body.
This quote come directly after probably the most interesting part of the book, a discussion of the web as a grid in infinite space, "defying edges and dominated by mind rather than body—is a powerful instrument within modernist theory, where it is a form both rational and sublime."

This discussion which seems to be pushing past post-modernism into vast, lush territory, is cut short, and the reader is left hanging out in this expanse of grided subliminality. (No, those aren't real words.) So I am still kind of floating out there. In 2004.

What I got personally from this book are the following:
+ polyglot, esp. with regards to language for the blind and language for the forgotten.
+ Dave Eggers has his hand in just about everything.
+ Richard Eckersley - I couldn't remember his name!
+ "That a speech supposedly alive can lend itself to spacing in its own writing is what relates it to its own death" - JD, 1976

oh yeah, and here is a link to her poster up now at the Wolfsonian