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Type 2: Dramatic Showdown

February 9, 2010

Of course, j’exaggere, but that’s how it felt.

We are working on Invisible Cities and have to do typographical treatments of some adjectives we chose around the city we are working with, the name of the city, and a few aphorisms. These will, along with the text of that chapter, come together into a book.

Most everyone did the word set in in the treatment. So “repetitive” — it is the word “repetitive” that endlessly repeats. Or “happy,” it is the letters of the word happy that jump and down for joy.

Now as a type exercise, this is something I can get behind.
Illustrate, better yet, CONVEY — the meanings of words. But–if we are doing a formal exercise–shouldn’t we have to set one word? To truly see if the meaning carries through when the characters are no longer the same? Do the letters still jump for joy when it says “Alabama”?

This comes back to my End of Print/David Carson related epiphany the other day. To go beyond illustration into adding meaning. I now strongly believe this: if you are setting the word in a “happy” way
–the word should, above all, NOT say happy.

That is just plain up redundant. (Which begs of course the question: what does one do for the word “redundant?” Which happens to be a word of mine. Ha!)

I think this whole thing is rather complicated by the fact that I am fairly competent at abstract + meaningful type compositions, but I don’t fundamentally get the point, frequently.

So yesterday I got very animated in defending some of the things I had done (i.e. not set the concrete word in the what it is trying to convey) but I was still trying to ask a lot of questions.
Unfortunately, my animation was understood as surety. I’m not sure! I want to talk about this stuff! But I want to talk about it on my terms!

I think more and more I crave what I never had any interest in–some sort of mentor/deep understanding within me about what design is really about. It’s so lame. It really is–I have always said so–but more and more, I can’t help thinking about these things. What is the point of all this?

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