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.

Unforeseen Structures: Chaos, Materials, and Emergent Process

Mitch Goldstein
Assistant Professor
School of Design

Rochester Institute of Technology 

My research focuses on the examination of form and methodology using darkroom photography techniques, specifically the photogram. Photograms use no cameras or lenses — instead, objects are placed on or near unexposed photographic paper and briefly exposed to light. This process results in abstract black and white compositions, which emerge unpredictably from the physical materials used in their creation. Control is relinquished, and instead intuition and chance allow form and structure to develop from the process.

This work closely parallels my visual design practice working in publication design, as well as my applied pedagogy teaching art and design students. My talk focuses on three concepts that this research explores: how to work with chaos and unpredictability, the usage and synthesis of materials and methods, and the exploitation of emergent process. My photogram work, my publication design work, and some of my classroom projects will be shown as examples of these ideas and how they manifest across different contexts.

Zika and Public Health Guidelines: Prototyping Models for Different Personas

Courtney Marchese
Assistant Professor of Interactive Media + Design
School of Communications
Quinnipiac University

: In graphic design, models are material prototypes that help synthesize research into testable forms. Through experimentation and testing, many rounds of revisions are made to culminate in a visual that can effectively speak to its audience. In an age of infinite information, data visualization, particularly in global health, is a critical arena for accurate and useful visual modeling. For example, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has Zika Pregnancy Guidelines in the form of a flowchart (Figure A). While it is certainly a necessary model to share with the general public, it is often cumbersome and difficult to understand. Riddled with professional medical terminology, footnotes, and companion charts, the model fails to serve as an accessible form to the information most needed by its audience. In examining the CDC’s guidelines, it is unclear whether they intend to communicate with health professionals or women potentially infected with zika. Rather than using a “one size fits all” approach to the chart, I propose modeling different forms that the information can take as viewed through the lens of different people in different environments and scenarios. Each prototype will take on a persona and emphasize the most important information to a specific audience explaining what to do before, during, and after exposure to zika virus. As such, each persona also serves as a model of sorts to represent an audience segment. By prototyping multiple forms, my goal is to make critical health information engaging and clear to those who need it most. Additionally, these prototypes can serve as a model for other issues within public health communication.

Visualizing Mental Models

Joshua Korenblat
Assistant Professor
Graphic Design

State University of New York at New Paltz

Visual communicators can work at the center of ideas by understanding mental models. A mental model is an abstract representation of reality that enables thinking, understanding, and knowledge sharing. In his book Visual Complexity, Mapping Patterns of Information, researcher Manuel Lima identifies two broad historical trends in mental models: earlier tree-based models of knowledge, illustrated in the literal form of trees, shift into today’s more abstract, network-based models of knowledge.

As summarized by Raph Koster in his influential book A Theory of Fun for Game Design, thinking is pattern-matching against experience. Patterns are stored in memory as chunks of information. Most of the time, the brain works with these abstract chunks—a type of autopilot—rather than processing incoming information in detail. Poetry breaks us from the autopilot mode through vivid descriptions and figurative verbal language. Like a poem, a visual mental model can break readers from their autopilot mode by allowing them to examine their assumptions in a material way. These diagrams rely upon an elegant visual alphabet. Mental models appear in user experience research as affinity maps and user journeys. Or they can show systems, a set of interdependent parts, below the threshold of events and action. Ultimately, the most vivid mental models allow the reader to see a belief or story.

After presenting historic mental models, I’ll show a simple design case study for how to make a mental model, adapted from systems theorist Derek Cabrera. I’ll then discuss when to represent the model in an abstract way, and when it might benefit the designer to represent the model in a more illustrative way. Designers who wish to create vivid, shareable artifacts of our world can use mental models as a tool to enhance communication, conversation, and action with their constituents.

Colloquium 4.0: SUNY New Paltz

Design Incubation Colloquium 4.0 (#DI2017sep) will be held at SUNY New Paltz on Saturday, September 9, 2017.

Hosted by Amy Papaelias and Dimitry Tetin

We are launching our 4th year with the Design Incubation Colloquium 4.0 (#DI2017feb) hosted by the Graphic Design Program at the State University of New York at New Paltz. This event is open to all interested in Communication Design research.

Saturday, September 9, 2017
Time: 10:00am–4:30pm
Old Main Building
Room B125

New Paltz, NY 12561

Abstract submission for presentations deadline July 15, 2017.  For details visit the Call for Submissions, and Submission Process description.

Venue

Old Main Building B125, SUNY New Paltz

Travel to SUNY New Paltz

Driving directions

If coming from NYC there is a very convenient Trailways bus that leaves Port Authority on the hour and stops 10 minutes walk to the SUNY New Paltz campus. It takes about 90mins and costs $43.50 roundtrip.

Accommodations

There are several hotels in town in addition to B&B and Airbnb options. If you are considering staying overnight we suggest you book a room early, as the hotels fill up pretty quickly during the Fall.

Hampton Inn (most recently built, 1.5 miles from campus)

Minnewwaska Lodge (most picturesque, right by the beautiful Shawangunk Ridge, 6.5 miles from campus)

America’s Best Value Inn (Best value and clean rooms. Older building, 1.5 miles from campus)

Presentations

Visualizing Mental Models
Joshua Korenblat
Assistant Professor
State University of New York at New Paltz

Unforeseen Structures: Chaos, Materials, and Emergent Process
Mitch Goldstein
Assistant Professor
School of Design
Rochester Institute of Technology

Drawing Type, Drawing Connections
Joel Mason
Professor Emeritus
Department of Communication Design
New York City College of Technology, CUNY

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

Fusing Design For Humans and Autonomous Machines
Alex Liebergesell
Associate Professor
Graduate Communications Design
Pratt Institute

Zika and Public Health Guidelines: Prototyping Models for Different Personas
Courtney Marchese
Assistant Professor of Interactive Media + Design
School of Communications
Quinnipiac University

Reconstructing a BA Graphic Design Program: Scalpel or Sledgehammer?
Nancy Wynn
Associate Professor
Merrimack College

Thinking like a Forest / Ecological Empathy
Jason Dilworth
Associate Professor
Visual Arts + New Media
SUNY at Fredonia

Rethinking the Capstone
Regina Gardner Milan
Lecturer
Department of Art & Design
University of Massachusetts Lowell

Augmented Reality Overcoming Learning Disabilities
Renée Stevens
Assistant Professor
Multimedia Photography & Design Department
S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications
Syracuse University