Making the Machine Human: Embracing Printing Technologies in Crafting a Present-Day Moveable Typeface

Peter P. Bella, Jr
Assistant Professor

Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne

How human can the machine become in relation to the craft of moveable type and modern printing technologies? The letterpress has been an instrumental aspect of typography for centuries. The mechanical process of raised letterforms transferring ink to paper has a humanistic quality that exemplifies our senses and emotions. Movable type has seen centuries of adaptations—lead, wood, polymer and more; along with the creation tools and technologies—such as pantographs, plate makers, and computer. Has moveable type met its end, has letterpress found its zenith? Has technology surpassed this mechanical time machine and the cold nature of cast metal?

3D printing has varying qualities and expectations dependent on numerous variables. These virtues of 3D printing offer the design of typography, moveable type, and printing techniques an amplitude of potential expressions and experiential opportunities. Examples of 3D printing’s use in the realm of typography are found in 3D sculptures expressive of the letters architecture, and letterforms designed in three-dimensional space, never intended for physical traditional letterpress printing methods. This research is concerned with something entirely different finding a middle ground between perfection and form defining its own voice and concept through the qualities that are characteristically built into the machine.

This research suggest letterpress printing and moveable type has untapped life yet to be revealed presenting the challenging demands of typography and the mechanical properties of 3D printing methods applied to the creation of moveable type, its design, printing, and communicative qualities by personifying 3D printing technologies to create a moveable typeface with humanistic qualities and design voice. This moveable type exploration embraces the 3D printer as a machine to create a typeface never intended to meet the standards of perfection, but to embody the inherent artistic and humanistic aesthetics of the machine by pushing technology to its limits and discovering how human a 3D printed movable typeface can become.

Design Incubation Fellowship Redux: Fellows Get Published

Meaghan Barry, Assistant Professor at Oakland University and Aaron Ganci, Assistant Professor at Indiana University’s Herron School of Art and Design, two of our 2016 Design Incubation Fellows have recently published in the journal Design and Culture.

Barry’s Statement of Practice interview with designer, performance artist, and Cranbrook Designer-in-Residence Elliot Earls explores the many facets of Earl’s practice and the evolution of his thinking about design, education and performance over the last several decades.

Ganci reviewed John McCarthy and Peter Wright’s text, Taking [A]part: The Politics and Aesthetics of Participation in Experience-Centered Design.

Barry and Ganci continued their writing projects with the support of Design Incubation’s Fellowship Director, Aaris Sherin, to craft these articles.

For more information on how Design Incubation supports design writing and publishing see the Fellowship page on the Design Incubation website. Applications for the 2018 program will be accepted June 1, 2017 – September 1, 2017.

Framing Metaphors in Visual Identity Design

Jason E. Murdock
Undergraduate Instructor
School of Visual Communication Design
Kent State University

The metaphors used by designers to describe the logos they create reveal something about the technology they have at their disposal, as well as how they think these graphic devices should be applied.

Brand, mark, signature, and signet are all metaphors that frame logos as instruments for making impressions onto surfaces as a way to denote ownership and authorship, and these metaphors dominated visual identity design during the first half of the twentieth century. During the second half of the century, as design thinking shifted away from authorship and ownership toward service, experience, and participation, new metaphors emerged to describe new functions for logos. Container, icon, kit of parts, and module are all metaphors that frame logos as components of a larger systems—ascribing to them a variety of possible applications—and these metaphors are becoming increasingly prevalent in twenty-first century visual identity design.

This shift in framing metaphors coincides with the shift from Swiss and International Style Modernism to American Modernism and Postmodernism, or, as Dubberly (2008) has put it, from a mechanical-object ethos to an organic-systems ethos. This presentation offers a framework for understanding the logos created during this transitional period in graphic design history by identifying and defining three framing metaphors—logo as signature, logo as motif, and logo as building block—and providing visual evidence by way of case studies. Unlike other classification systems—such as Mollerup’s “Taxonomic tree of trademarks” (2013)—that take a morphological (i.e. a form-based) approach to categorization, the framework presented here takes a more pragmatic approach by categorizing logos based on how they are described and used.

Graphic Design Histories of the Olympics

By examining the role of the Olympics in different geographical and political contexts, I focus on how communication design becomes a vehicle for the promotion of new national identities and even new forms of citizenship.

As a scholar interested in understanding space, I see acts of spatial representation as primary means of creating the realm of “spatial conception”—where communication design plays a key role expanding from place-marketing campaigns to unofficial and often subversive spatial imaginaries.

By examining the role of the Olympics in different geographical and political contexts, I focus on how communication design becomes a vehicle for the promotion of new national identities and even new forms of citizenship. My research proposes the term “Olympic design milieu” as a way of understanding the multiplicity of design generated by the Olympics—this includes officially created symbols and constructions that aim to facilitate the Olympics and induce civic pride, but it also incorporates unauthorized acts by political or civil society groups that question or oppose the Olympics.

“Graphic Design Histories of the Olympics” includes chapters of my recently published book Designing the Olympics: Representation, Participation, Contestation as well as a film I produced with director Marija Stojnic titled Olympic Design: Mexico 1968: Visual Identity: Lance Wyman (2014).

The three chapters featured focus on three elements of the Olympic design milieu. Chapter 1, “Through the Lens of Graphic Design: Nationalism, Internationalism, and Universalism in the Tokyo 1964 Design Program,” reveals how the Tokyo 1964 graphic design program played an important role in re-articulating Japan’s postwar identity. The next chapter, “Not for a Nation, but for the People: London 2012 Brand Design as a New Paradigm of Olympic Design,” looks at Wolff Olins’ design as the first conscious effort of Olympic designers to induce public participation in the design process. This marked the expansion of the Olympic design operation from an exclusive affair (a sponsors-only right to Olympic properties) to a matter of engagement across society. Finally, the chapter titled “Opposing the Olympic City: Designerly Ways of Dissenting” demonstrates the potential of design to induce alternative forms of participatory citizenship by looking at materialized practices of Olympic opposition.

The accompanying film features Lance Wyman describing how his official Mexico 1968 Olympic designs convey a “sense of place.” Appropriating these official symbols, powerful subversions by the student movement of the same era show the blurring of the official and the unofficial, the authoritative and the subversive in the Mexico 1968 Olympic milieu.

Jilly Traganou was born in Athens and studied architecture at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. A scholarship from Japan’s Ministry of Education brought her to Japan in the early ‘90s and inspired her PhD work (University of Westminster) on the representation of space through travelling, resulting in the book The Tokaido Road: Traveling and Representation in Edo and Meiji Japan (Routledge 2003). Her interest in theorizing travel led to a co-edited volume with Miodrag Mitrasinovic titled Travel, Space, Architecture (Ashgate 2009).

Living in Athens in 2003-2004, Jilly experienced the making of an Olympic City and began new research into Olympic design. Her new book Designing the Olympics: Representation, Participation, Contestation was published this year. This summer, she continued her research in the Olympics as a Fulbright scholar in Brazil during the 2016 Games. Her work has been supported by the Bard Graduate Center, The Japan Foundation, The Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies at Princeton, Design History Society, and the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts among others. She is an associate professor of spatial studies at Parsons School of Design, The New School.

 

Design and Culture: Peer-Review Journals From the Inside Out

Elizabeth Guffey
Professor of Art & Design History
State University of New York at Purchase
Editor, Design & Culture

Rarely do we get a chance to see from the inside what the editorial process of peer review journals looks like. We will provide an unusual chance to see what the editorial process looks like, from the editors’ point of view, beginning with initial review of submissions through the peer review process and to final publication. We will also discuss some of the realities of publishing—including the timely pressures on editors to produce well-balanced journal issues with a variety of high-quality articles.

Lay Me Down to Sleep: The Design of Coffins, Caskets, and Alternative Containers

Susan Merritt
Faculty Emeritus, Graphic Design
School of Art & Design
San Diego State University

Throughout our country’s history coffins, caskets, and more recently alternative containers have been invented or perfected by anonymous contributors working in the factories that manufacture them. These wood and metal boxes that have become the standard for American burial are being called into question due to changing attitudes towards death and the shift from indifference to action on the part of some contemporary designers.
This research tracks the journey of a corpse from site of death to burial, through the containers it may inhabit. First, I examine containers that are designed to contain, enclose, and preserve as much as possible the corpse, including historical examples gleaned from nineteenth century advertisements. Starting with body bags as a means of transporting cadavers from the place of death to the burial container in which the body will be either buried or cremated, next I consider the evolution from eight-sided English coffin to four-sided American casket; the desire to preserve the body and methods to achieve preservation; the introduction of gasket mechanisms for sealing bodies in metal caskets to protect them from the elements; standardization of design, materials, and casket dimensions, including oversized caskets for bodies that don’t fit the established standards.
The second part of my research considers an alternative route for the corpse, in which it is not preserved but rather encouraged to decay and decompose. This section encompasses Green 2 burial, the rise of Green cemeteries and memorial preserves, sustainable materials and biodegradable burial containers, shrouds, and unassembled casket kits. It also introduces the work of several young designers who are stretching the boundaries of death by reimagining burial practices and reconfiguring burial containers through the use of biodegradable materials and sustainable technologies.

Colloquium 1.4: St. John’s University Manhattan Campus

Design Incubation Colloquium 1.4: St John’s University

Hosted by Aaris Sherin
Thursday, February 12, 2015
4PM-6PM
(Mixer to follow colloquium)

Manhattan campus of St. John’s University
Room 214
51 Astor Place
New York, NY 10003

Save the Date!

Please RSVP if you plan on attending. Submissions are closed for this event. Head to BBar (40 E 4th St, New York, NY 10003) following Colloquium to schmooze (space permitting.)

Presentations

dis_assemblage
Peter Fine
Assistant Professor of Graphic Design
University of Wyoming

What’s ‘American’ about American Industrial Design?
Carma Gorman
Associate Professor of Design History
The University of Texas Austin

Not Dead But Sleepeth: A Study of Gravestone Lettering
Doug Clouse
Co-Founder and Principal of The Graphics Office
Adjunct Professor at Purchase College and the Fashion Institute of Technology

PublishMe!
Stephen Eskilson
Professor of Art History
Eastern Illinois University

Attendees
  • Elizabeth Guffey
  • Stuart Kendall
  • Andrew DeRosa
  • Aaron Fine
  • Joel Mason
  • Liz DeLuna
  • Janet Esquirol
  • Kathryn Weinstein
  • Kristin Derimanova
  • Susan Spivack
  • Grace Moon
  • Eli Neugeboren
  • Andrew Shea
  • C.J. Yeh
  • Anita Giraldo
  • Dan Wong
  • M. Genevieve Hitchings
  • Aaris Sherin

Colloquium 1.4: Call for Submissions

Deadline: January 15, 2015

The  2015 winter colloquium will be held at St. John’s University Manhattan Campus. We invite all Communication Design researchers to submit abstracts for consideration by our panel of peers.

For more details, see the Submission Process description.
Event Date: Thursday, January 15, 2015

Manhattan campus of St. John’s University
51 Astor Place
New York, NY 10003

Please RSVP if you plan on attending.