Friday, January 19, 2018

Your turn #1

 Via New York Times, above the drawings of the father of neuroscience, Santiago Ramón y Cajal (the article acknowledges that these scientific drawings classify as "art"). I say a mark is a mark.

Dear class. Thanks for yesterday. (I'll try to switch classrooms today). This is our first post-for-comment. Think of anything you found interesting about what we discussed in class and expand it. 125 words minimum. My advice is that you write down your comment in Word first, and save it, and then paste it here. Comments could disappear because of digital glitches. Sign with your name, not an alias (I've opened the options for anyone to write a comment, you don't have to have an account). 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

style is an agent of culture

Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup Cans, 1962

meaning is made and transmitted

Benito Mussolini Headquarters, Palazzo Braschi, Rome, 1930s

all designed communication serves vested interests. these interests are often concealed by the apparent message of the work


every graphic artifact constitutes an exchange amongst individuals, groups or entities


no graphic object is isolated, the more "natural" is appears, the more culturally indicative it is

a stone wheel, Mesopotamia

more marks: column = typeface


take these examples, above, from egyptian architecture. compare with this typeface:


shaft =stem
foot = base
capital = head (serif or sans serif) 

from now on, you can see arches as Hs, for example, this Roman arch in Coimbra is missing the stem.

the reason for marks ((why do ancient doric columns have flutes?))

an example of doric columnata 


take a look at this example of Doric columns. they are shallow and always end in a sharp ridge in contrast to the Ionic flutes that always had a narrow even plane between the flutes (called fillets).

why the fluting?

1- they add dynamics to the column, by emphasizing both verticality and roundness
2- they add a counterpoint between the flutes and the round form of the column (this is the ceremonial look to the temple)

see the difference between flute no flute.

Tempietto by Bramante

the deal is that this is a marble column. no better of worse. just different. this is Renaissance. Bramante is doing something else. 

the geometry of design


what do we see here? a coin representing a labyrinth, each concentric disc represents a different repetitive form.

no wonder geometry was revered by the Greeks.


above, the spiral shows in a piece of jewelry.

the point is that the mark here is driven by its geometric form.

The mark as colossal design (very rare these days)


The Behistun Inscription (also Bisitun or Bisutun, Modern Persian: بیستون ; Old Persian: Bagastana, meaning "the god's place or land"), a multi-lingual stone inscription approximately 15 meters high and 25 meters wide, located on Mount Behistun in Kermanshah Province, near the city of Kermanshah in western Iran.

The inscription was written by Darius I, the Great, sometime between his coronation as Zoroastrian king of kings of the Achaemenid, or Persian, Empire in the summer of 522 BCE and his death in autumn of 486 BCE.

What we get here is sheer size and visibility. Darius I was bigger than life, so size and visibility were paramount. Needles to say, the narrative depicted in the inscription was a local token for the peoples of Persia.

Today, political messages don't show in that manner (unless we are in a place like North Korea).

Statues of leaders Kim Il-sung and his son Kim Jong-il (North Korea), see the people's genuflections

These statues, above, are a good example of grandiose political design.

how the human mark follows the animal form


here the mark becomes a vulture, inscribed into a relief in an ancient egyptian frieze. the vulture symbolized protection and maternal care. the decoration appears in temple ceilings, head-dress, cornices, armor, etc.


the scarab was considered to represent the creation of life. it appears in reliefs, amulets, decoration of columns, etc.

who made these design decisions? the craftspeople? the priesthood?

how the human mark follows nature


this egyptian column shows amazing dexterity. for detail symmetry, etc. here the mark follows its own possibility of formal variations.


typeface = chair, building


the hieroglyph is a pictogram. pictograms are pictures of objects. any object.

for instance, a chair:


3-alphabet as template for construction:





earliest shorthand


keep in mind, the activity of writing needs to be ritualistic, but also economical. the rituals for the priesthood and kingly classes as they are presented for the uses of the masses. they, however used writing in its quick abbreviated form. as long as we have writing we have abbreviated means, fast, economical.    

\shorthand\

we find the earliest known example of a shorthand writing system is the Acropolis stone (Akropolisstein) discovered in the Athenian Acropolis in 1884, and preserved in the British Museum (Brit. Mus. Add. Ms. 33270).

the marble slab shows a writing system using primarily based on vowels, using certain modifications to indicate consonants. you are pretty dexterous at this shorthand:

2G2BT = too good to be true
459 = i love u
303 = mom
404 = i haven't a clue
*$ = starbucks (?)
99 = parent no longer watching
831 = i love you

much more here.

the first selfie?


the scribe, Sesh, wearing a knee-length kilt, his arms raised to present a papyrus roll and possibly a writing palette. the sketch is signed with the hieroglyph of "scribe", consisting of a palette with wells for red and black ink, shoulder strap, water pot and red pen.