Maryland Institute College of Art

Research,Student Work

2009 Textuality

Project Overview:
Find an Amazon entry for a book that interests you. Create a poster using some of data about the book of your choice. Use typography in a beautiful, purposeful, and structured way. Use visual strategies to convey the openness and unfinished character of the Amazon “text,” but don’t just “make a mess.” Don’t try to include all the data. Study the rich range of data and think about what you want to say or do with it. Be selective! Use your choice of data to make a statement. Use this project as an opportunity to develop your typographic persona.

Selected examples of student work, 2009:

Elizabeth Herrmann

Elizabeth Herrmann

Chris Clark

Chris Clark

Lauren Adams

Lauren Adams

Krissi Xenakis

Krissi Xenakis

Supisa Wattanasansanee

Supisa Wattanasansanee

Beth Taylor

Beth Taylor

Project Background
In “The Death of the Author,” Barthes argues that the “cult of the Author” is a bankrupt tradition that is giving way to a new kind of writing. Meaning cannot be explained, controlled, or guaranteed by the author’s life, psychology, or stated intentions. Furthermore, the “death of the author” is linked to the “birth of the reader,” as literature becomes an open network of quotations, references, and potential uses. Likewise, Barthes’s essay “From Work to Text” describes the breakdown of the closed, perfect “work” and the rise of the open, permeable, unfinished, networked “text.” Both essays describe a range of aesthetic values that can be expressed through art, design, and typography in endless ways. In place of values such as fixed, closed, complete, authoritative, centered, and deep, Barthes embraces values such as unfinished, open, decentered, marginal, plural, and shallow.

Content/Message:
1. Set up a contrast/conflict between expert versus amateur, human versus machine, or individual versus social.
2. Look at how this Amazon entry connects this one book to other books and/or products.

Form emphasis: Typographic Grid
1. Use the grid to create a highly ordered, rational, informational design.
2. Use the grid to allow content elements to overlap and intermingle.
3. Use the grid to structure a random process.
4. Use the grid to establish opposing zones of meaning, such as an expert versus amateur, object/work versus text/network, human content versus machine content, or the author versus social systems.
Whatever you do, be sure you have a clear point of view.

Format: 18 x 24

Process
1. Pick a book with rich Amazon content. Pick a book that is meaningful to you and speaks for your interests and passions.
2. Harvest content from Amazon. Be selective. Don’t try to include all the information you find.
3. Create a grid. The grid can be a standard column grid, an irregular grid, or a found grid (the facade of a building? line from an underyling image or photograph?).
4. Use the grid creatively to organize content and create a visually compelling typographic layout. The text need not all be legible, but the design should convey a clear point of view about the content or the nature of print/books/works/texts.

Resources
See some work from last year: 2008 Textuality
Presentation: Experimental Typography and Grids

Schedule
Week One: Develop at least two ideas and post jpegs to Flickr. Include a jpeg of your grid.
Week Two: Create full-size print and bring to class. Coordinate printing with Molly.
Week Three: Submit final files. These must be high-resolution source files, such as packaged InDesign file or Illustrator file. Include fonts; convert fonts to outlines where appropriate

Category: Research, Student Work

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