Urban Typography

13th May 2009

PROLIFERATION OF DIGITAL TYPEFACE IN THE URBAN ENVIRONMENT

A1 Major Assessment for ADN214 (Visual Identity and Exhibition Design) which focuses on either photography or digital illustration to represent the concept: technology’s affect on society/the human condition.

"Proliferation of Digital Typeface in the Urban Environment"

"Proliferation of Digital Typeface in the Urban Environment"

INSPIRATION

This all came about after seeing and photographing this particular scene:

The inspiration for the urban typography poster

The inspiration for the urban typography poster

I was on a Sunshine Coast train and I could not help but notice how many signs were in such a small place. All are from digital origins too. This made me think about digital typography and its affect on society. Then I started to research into the various areas:

  • urban environment = human condition/technology
  • digital type = technology
  • movable type = technology
  • photography = technology
  • desktop publishing = technology
  • time and space = human condition
  • pattern recognition = human condition
  • attention span = human condition

Some of the good bits that I found:

“For good or ill, Helvetica’s geometric forms litter the urban environment so densely that most of us barely notice them.”
King, E. 2007. Love Letters. Frieze. Iss. 107. Frieze, London.

“Design is everywhere. But if you live in a crowded urban environment, you are absolutely surrounded by it. Much of it may go unnoticed. Just paying attention to the ubiquitous samples of graphic design — for example posters, banners, billboards, etc. — Could fill every waking moment of your day.”
web reference

“Digital photography is to analogue photography what photography was to painting in the 1840’s. It is a process in which artists seek to establish the new medium’s definitions while acknowledging the
aesthetic dominance of an established art form.”
Halick, D. 1990. The Transcendental Machine? Leonardo. Vol 23. No 4. Pergamon Press, Great Britain.

“Feature Integration Theory (FIT) attempts to understand how visual attention binds (glues) separate features of individual objects together. FIT assumes a known visual system where colour, orientation and size are coded automatically without need for focal attention.”
Styles, E. 2005. Attention, Perception and Memory. Psychology Press, East Sussex.

This may seem like an insane amount of research but the overall presentation that I showed to the class on the 22nd of April 2009. The presentation was constructed in InDesign and exported as a PDF it ended up being 47 pages long. Here is the full list of references used:

BOOKS:

ABS, 2001. 1216.0 – Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC)
Currie, N. Long, A. 2006. Foto.Log Book. Thames and Hudson, UK.
Drucker, J. 1984. Letter Press Language: Typography as a Medium for the Visual Representation of Language. Leonardo. Vol 17. No 1. Pergamon Press, Great Britain.
Ernge, D. 2004. Getting it Said: The 30-Second Attention Span. Bookbird. Vol. 42, Iss. 2. Bookbird, Basel. Pg 15.
Halick, D. 1990. The Transcendental Machine? Leonardo. Vol 23. No 4. Pergamon Press, Great Britain.
Heller, S. Ilić, M. 2008. Icons of Graphic Design. Thames and Hudson, UK.
King, E. 2007. Love Letters. Frieze. Iss. 107. Frieze, London.
Lawson, A. 1990. Anatomy of a Typeface. David R Godine Publisher, Boston.
Life Editors, 2004. The Great Life Photographers. Thames and Hudson, UK.
Lipton, J. 2009. To © or not to ©? Copyright and Innovation in the digital typeface industry. Case Legal Studies Research Paper. No. 09-1. Case Western Reserve University School of Law, US.
Reinking, G. 2003. Cosmic Legacy: Space, Time and the Human Mind. Vantage Press, NY.
Roidevin, R. 2003. Travels in Four Dimensions: The Egnimas of Space and Time. Science News. Vol 164. Iss 9. Science Services, Washington.
Shaw, P. 2007. Stop Making Type. Print. September. Accessed through http://www.proquest.com
Styles, E. 2005. Attention, Perception and Memory. Psychology Press, East Sussex.
Unknown Author, 1993. Macquarie School Dictionary. Macquarie, Australia.

WEBSITES

blog.howdesign.com/Urban+Typography.aspx
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desktop_publishing
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photography
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Typeface
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urban_area
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urban_environment
tjout.tumblr.com/
weedsandwildflowersdesign.com/shoppe/index
www.atrissi.com/wordpress/?cat=1
www.bslaweb.org/webart/AwardWinners2006/UrbanEnvironment.gif
www.dreamstime.com/urban-alphabet-2-image301780
www.flickr.com/groups/oneletter/
www.hipstomp.com/collages/
www.mccullagh.org/photo/1ds-14/times-square-center
www.nastaev.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/ransom-note.jpg
www.nyc-architecture.com/MID/MID-TimesSquare3.htm
www.omegadude.com/2006/02/ransom-note-maker.html
www.orangeadnan.com/download/ts360panorama/ (REALLY GOOD)
www.presentationzen.com/presentationzen/2006/10/design_is_every.html
www.rodjenkins.com/album-adult/nj-nyc-99/
www.shoeschuster.com/ransomnote.html
www.soultones.com/pc_newyork.html

SOME PROCESS SCREENSHOTS

The other pictures that I would want to show alongside the final is:

some of the letters from final poster

some of the letters from final poster

This is only some of the letters that I used. There was 398 letters all up and also another 98 spaces.

aligning the letters with align top

aligning the letters with align top

This is how I constructed the grid – its all with illustrators built in snap and align functions.

FINAL PRODUCT AND THE ART GALLERY INFORMATION

The actual text says:

This is a ransom. This is a ransom for your time. This is a ransom for your attention. This is a ransom to witness the proliferation of digital typefaces in the urban environment. This is a ransom for all designers to take into account we are the cause of this proliferation. This is a ransom for all people to reflect on how the proliferation of digital typefaces affects us as a society where we overlook our own environment. This is a ransom to change your actions starting right now.                  – Kassandra Bowers 2009

When it was in the art gallery this is the card that was next to it:

REGENERATE art exhibition name plate

REGENERATE art exhibition name plate

The artist statement was written by the senior lecturer and at her request I did not change it. Artist Statement:

“Language through type envelops us in our urban environment, and yet typography is to language what maps are to geography, scores are to music and algebra is to mathematics. Typography underpins our every day life from when we wake up to our fist glimpse of an alarm clock, through to the tuning of a radio to the brands of shampoo, toothpaste and cereal. We are bombarded by typographic messages all vying for our attention and all before we have walked out the door. My work explores new and aging typefaces, made by mechanical means, photographed from the plethora of signs seen within our urban environment.  In my image, I have used type as moveable singular letters to make words and sentences, similarly to a ransom note made from magazines or newspapers.
My work asks the viewer to become aware of the language of signs that are embedded in our
modern western culture.”

The art piece was in the University of the Sunshine Coast Art Gallery from the 11th June 2009 – 10th July 2009.
It has also been selected to travel with the exhibition to the Gympie Art Gallery – Opening 20 October 2009.

I have also sent this to Semi-Permanent to hopefully be included in their 2009 Book 2.

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2 Comments on “Urban Typography”

  1. […] for ADN214: Visual Identity and Exhibition Design. There is more information about it at this page: Urban Typography by Kassandra Bowers. This is the submission mentioned earlier as being exhibited in an art […]

  2. […] Fragments of Urban Typography is available to purchase from Etsy.com […]


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