Blog Category: Typography4


What is Typography? I Thought I Knew.

By Erika Goering,

This project will be different. Very different. In fact, it’s probably going to end up completely removed from traditional typography, and become more about invention and discovery of new ideas and ways to communicate.

This class is challenging my ideas of what typography even is. Maybe it’s no longer about letterforms and visible legibility. Maybe typography is, in a broader sense, how someone can convey an idea, through some sort of semi-controllable media. In fact, I don’t think this is a typography class at all anymore. It’s an innovation class.

My original idea of Twitter affecting physical type is a bit of a one-note idea. Sure, there’s a cause and effect, but what about some unknown variables? Well, that idea is starting to give birth to a million other ideas that are becoming less and less attached to typography as I know it. And I guess that’s okay.

What about a human element? Yes, there are humans at the other end of those Twitter posts, but what if an actual person were to physically interact and influence whatever this project is?

What happens if there’s more than one device or person affecting the project? How will that change/determine the ultimate message?

What if the type is digital and dynamic? What if it’s shown on a display, and it changes based on certain to-be-determined variables?

What if it’s not about Twitter specifically? What if the vibrations are in response to more personal, one-on-one messages? How does that aspect affect the message?

What if the typographical aspect is invisible? Can changes in kinds of vibrations themselves be typography? They can sure be communicative. (For example, I know without looking at anything that my phone is set up so that two soft vibrations is an email, and 5 crazy ones is a text from someone important.) So, yeah, I think vibrations can be typography.

What if vibrations are separated from the phone? What implications does that have? If the device with the message is detached from the device giving the alert, what does that do to the message?

What if vibrations are only one sensory aspect of notification? What about sound? Visual elements? Smell?? Taste??? Anything’s fair game.

What if there’s an augmented reality aspect to it? And the real world is supplemented with lots of intangible things? What if I look at a classmate and their tweets and blog posts and other status updates and whatnot just hover over their heads? That’d be cool. Or what about a live caption thing, where subtitles show up in realtime when someone’s talking? That could be very useful. Or how about having multi-lingual labels on real-life objects, in order to be exposed to a new language?

…I guess what I’ve gotten out of my first round of experimentation is just more questions. Which is fine. I’m here to learn and guess and adventure and hypothesize.

My goals for this project (until they change again) are:

  • Speculate what technology and social media could be. Maybe they will become more personal.
  • Don’t limit typography to just letterforms and reading. There’s more to it than that.
  • Invent something.
  • Discover something.
  • Have fun!
  • Take huge risks. Make this project worthwhile.
  • Fail if need be. But learn from it.

  Filed under: KCAI, Learning, Typography4
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Type Experiment Ideas

By Erika Goering,

I’m thinking about doing something completely unlike me. Analog, temporal, environmental, and out of my control.  (Ah! I know, right?)

I want to produce a message made out of some kind of vulnerable material, and put it in a somewhat volatile environment that will greatly affect the message by influencing and changing the material in some way over time.

I would like to try:

Building type with an edible or dissolvable substance and letting it decay or disintegrate. I want to affect the meaning of the word with how the material changes over time.

I’ve also thought about making type out of an edible or interesting organic material and allow animals/bugs/whatever to come by and eat it or take it away. I could use some sort of seeds, and maybe as an experiment, see how much of the seeds stick around to actually grow. And then see how that growth changes the message. Or if the message even exists after that.

I also thought about manifesting the power of cell phone vibrations to affect/destroy/change a delicately formed typographic message. I could tie it with social media, using a trending topic on Twitter and subscribing to it. The phone will vibrate every time someone posts about that topic, in turn disturbing my typographic message and maybe even causing the letters to fall apart. After awhile, the original message may be distorted or even lost. Perhaps saying something about how content is lost when it’s conveyed among the masses?

So, that’s where my mind’s at. I definitely don’t want to create an Adobe Illustrator script and make experiments happen that way… (Okay, I do. But I want to go analog even more.)

  Filed under: KCAI, Learning, Typography4
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Experimenting with Evolutionary Typography

By Erika Goering,

Something I’ve been thinking about the past couple of days is what experimental typography really means.

By definition, experimental typography is a process of discovery. It’s not just an unconventional method of communication; it’s utilizing the scientific method. The goal is to learn and break new ground.

Experimental type is not planting seeds in the shape of letters and watching them grow. Because that’s not an experiment. You already know how it will play out. An experiment would be using your plant-letters in such an environment that would allow things/people/animals/nature to act upon it to see how that degenerative process changes the meaning of the message. No one can predict what exactly will happen. That’s why it’s an experiment.

And because of this uncertainty, experiments will sometimes fail. But that’s okay. Failure is an unexpected outcome. Failure is necessary for progress. And sometimes failure is just as interesting as success. Success is sometimes boring and predictable. And where’s the fun in that?

I was talking with my geeky boyfriend about all of this, and he mentioned the parallels that experimental type has with evolutionary programming, where a programmer writes code at a kind of starting point, and then allows that program to direct its own evolution. Then after that process has completed, the results are completely outside the realm of what the programmer would have originally thought would happen. It grows and changes in ways that no one would have thought.

So, in addition to thinking about experimental typography, I should think about evolutionary typography, where it changes over time to create a message that I didn’t necessarily intend on conveying. And that’s what I plan to achieve this semester. Acquire knowledge through experimentation and unexpected outcomes.

  Filed under: KCAI, Learning, Typography4
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