Thursday, November 13, 2008

Typography changes, so do we.


Beginning from Phaistos Disc’s pressed type to From Bi sheng’s ceramic movable type system, and continuing on with Gutenberg’s bible made out of his metal type printing invention to digital printing, we have today. In all these cases, we can come around with a technology of printing and the typography that matches it. For less writing and reading effort, we’ve succinctly taken a look in the last decades.

Type museum
Once, I visited the Type Museum on Hackford Road in London. A museum that was made by 2 selectors of type objects. Τheir collection included objects like traditional typefounding, woodletter type, mechanical typecasting (hot metal) and most items of which had the signature of Monotype Corporation. Besides the hot type,their collection also included sales books that had Monotype’s costumers list from the 50’s & 60’s. In my surprise, I found out that there were several clients from Athens. Large companies like Papastratos had bought metal font case for their personal prints and ad prints. Typography followed specific guidelines based on the technology that existed at that time.

Massin Robert
Massin’s pioneering book design of the 60’s was astonishing. A book which was a visual record of a theatrical production of Eugène Ionesco’s play published in Paris in 1964. The great distortion of type, the blow up of size, and manipulation, weren’t used or seen before in the pre-digital graphics period and made the book eye catching. Massin, used technics that had never been used before. For example, he printed type on to latex, and more specifically on condoms. These, were stretched and as result the type on them was highly distorted and then printed on paper.

Digital at last.
1984! The first personal computer (MAC) was released and changed the world in DTP (Desktop Publishing). At the same time Adobe came up with Type 1 technology for type displaying and printing. 1991 comes along and Apple and Microsoft started creating true type technology which in many cases is been used till now. In fact digital typography became a reality. A technology that gave type a new freedom of size, color, rotation, fade effects, almost anything could be done, even Massin’s book. This enthusiasm of creative freedom, could be seen even in print ads. Where type is bigger and louder. The phenomenon of mixed up and chopped down type is more and more observed. This is distributed by advertising agencies and design studios. A good example of ultra complex style is that of the Designer’s Republic work back in the 90’s. In this work, there’s a lot of technological manga influences but a lot of typographic rule braking.

The font war continues between Adobe, Apple and Microsoft leading to Opentype. Opentype is the latest more compatible font technology file, up to now. The graphic madness and typo noise solution have given their position to abstract solution of communication. This conceptual means of communication has led to a rather obscure attitude by the audience and creators as they do not mind the absence of written words. From now on, will the different versions of font files effect the creative work of the near future?

Font technology is not the only issue. All these years, paper has been the basic idea carrier. Today, screens are all around us. Big screens, computer screens, mobile phone screens, High definition screens. Scientist have produced an electronic ink! High tech electronic paper - display that works with no light production, but with minimal battery power. An ultra-thin screen that can be bent, twisted and even rolled up and still display crisp text. You can have a piece of flexible plastic screen and read a 64 page newspaper in a single page. This technology will change the layout of future new-papers and of course the use of typography.

So, typography is still alive and is adaptive to its technology display or print. It is up to us, as creative people, to decide about its use, that is to select the shouting way or crystal clear way.

Evangelos Moschos / Art Director


Richard Hollis
“Language unleashed”
/ Eye Magazine No. 16 Vol. 4 Spring 1995

Alan & Isabella Livingston
Dictionary of graphic design and designers
/Thames & Hudson world of art 2003

Manolis I. Vithinos
Introduction in the Technology of Printing
/ Organism of Publication of Instructive Books 1999

Kendra Mayfield
E Ink: Your hands will thank you

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