Friday, August 26, 2016

your turn #1: in the beginning was the mark


hi kids: welcome to my arh 346 class.

we started this course talking about the importance of the mark. 

first, the anthropological need to make marks. then the many instances of marks:
the social ritualistic (paleolithic ancient cave murals, egyptian dead rolls, the willendorf venus, etc), the psychological (the "i love you" on a wall),
the political (graffiti),
the rule oriented (hammurabi code, confucius' analects),
the economic (ancient coins),
the semantic (as in alphabet development),
the scientific (early mathematics), etc.

now, write a 120-word minimum comment addressing any particular angle that you find interesting of this first class. again,

to make a comment 

click at the bottom of this post where it says "post a comment." you will get a box, after you are done, write down your full name at the bottom of your comment (even if you have a google alias). click "anonymous" (unless you have a google account with your alias). i advise you to write your comment first on word and then copy-and-paste it to the comment box in case it gets lost (this has happened to students). click i'm not a robot and click "publish your comment." by the way, you can preview your comment before you publish it.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

the God of writing: Ashurbanipal


TO NABÛ, EXALTED LORD, WHO DWELLS IN EZIDA, WHICH IS IN NINEVEH, HIS LORD: I ASHURBANIPAL, KING OF ASSYRIA, THE ONE LONGED FOR AND DESTINED BY HIS GREAT DIVINITY, WHO, AT THE ISSUING OF HIS ORDER AND THE GIVING OF HIS SOLEMN DECREE, CUT OFF THE HEAD OF TE'UMMAN, KING OF ELAM, AFTER DEFEATING HIM IN BATTLE, AND WHOSE GREAT COMMAND MY HAND CONQUERED UMMAN-IGASH, TANMARIT, PA'E AND UMMAN-ALTASH, WHO RULED OF ELAM AFTER TE'UMMAN. I YOKED THEM TO MY SEDAN CHAIR, MY ROYAL CONVEYANCE. WITH HIS GREAT HELP I ESTABLISHED DECENT ORDER IN ALL THE LANDS WITHOUT EXCEPTION. AT THAT TIME I ENLARGED THE STRUCTURE OF THE COURT OF THE TEMPLE OF NABÛ, MY LORD, USING MASSIVE LIMESTONE. MAY NABÛ LOOK WITH JOY ON THIS, MAY HE FIND IT ACCEPTABLE. BY THE RELIABLE IMPRESS OF YOUR WEDGES MAY THE ORDER FOR A LIFE OF LONG DAYS COME FORTH FROM YOUR LIPS, MAY MY FEET GROW OLD BY WALKING IN EZIDA IN YOUR DIVINE PRESENCE.

the first self portrait, an early manifestation of narcissism?


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.

early math (the moscow papirus, 2000 bc)


what is the purpose of early math?

counting... MEASURING!

(by the way, we are not alone doing math. dolphins are math driven creatures) 
Dolphins may use complex nonlinear mathematics when hunting, according to a new study that suggests these brainy marine mammals could be far more skilled at math than was ever thought possible before.

alphabet + time + costumes = type face style


is graffiti art a form of vandalism?


The New York Times explores the question above. My answer is here. 

Written-token comparisons


portable media? I-pad?  

Ostraca (bits of discarded pottery) Posters, TV? 

Wall writing (instruction, edicts, admonitions, etc) Legislation? Big letters on walls, marble, porticoes, large enough to be seen from an open forum.

Now tell me, how different a message is the one (above) from this one?


the social character of written language became inscribed in its design

Trajan's Column, circa 114, cE. 
below the formal capitals inscribed on the base of the column, which are considered the pinnacle of Roman letter design (called Trajan typeface). These letters are remarkable for their elegance and consistency and the harmony of its proportions (though they were not used with the help of a compass or ruler). The serif effect is obtained by the chisel's indentation in the stone's surface.

the best hypothesis of scholar and Father Edward Catich is that the type form was first sketched using a flat square-tipped brush, using only three or four quick strokes to form each letter. the characters were cut in the stone by the same person (not as some supposed by a scribe and stone mason), the illusion of form being created by shadow.
 
SENATUS POPULUS QUE ROMANUS IMPERATORI CAESARI DIVI NERVAE FILIO NERVAE TRAIANO AUGUSTO GERMANICO DACICO PONTIFICI MAXIMO TRIBUNICIA POTESTATE XVII IMPERATORI VI CONSULI VI PATRI PATRIAE AD DECLARANDUM QUANTAE ALTITUDINIS MONS ET LOCUS TANRIBUS SIT EGESTUS.

Graphic and material codes distinguished broad categories of written language during the Classical period


Tetradrachm signed by Eucleidas circa 405-400 bC.

A fast quadriga driven by a female charioteer, holding reins in hand and raising a flaming torch while Nike is flying to crown her.

other side: Head of Athena facing three-quarters wearing double-hook earring, necklace of pendant acorns with central gorgoneion-medallion and triple-crested Attic helmet on whose bowl signature ΕVΚ − ΛΕΙΔ. On both sides, two dolphins swim downwards.

what's the deal?

The coin embodies value and serves as a cultural symbol.

coinage is an act of collective faith grounded in social conventions.

you believe that it has intrinsic value.

Narmer Palette, Egypt, (circa. 3200 bC)


the importance of writing cannot be underestimated. what does writing do to civilization?

it facilitates cultural evolution by stimulating abstraction and theoretical distinctions. writing has a social, legal, and scientific role of codifying and objectifying ideas.

writing facilitates learning, communication and the transmission of knowledge.

what is the spoken equivalent of a hyphen or a sans serif face?


proto-writing appears with the complexity of social interaction. agriculture, measurements, bartering, etc, in the Mesopotamian region.

The Book of the Dead (can the dead die again?)



The Book of the Dead, used by the ancient Egyptians as a set of instructions for the afterlife, is considered to be one of the the first illustrated manuscripts. In the earlier versions the scribe designed the manuscript. If it was to be illustrated, blank areas were left that the artist would fill in as best he could. Then the vignettes became more important and dominated the design.*

today we deal with the dead in a different way

we've lost that magic connection we used to have with our dead. the simplicity and functionalism of the design of today's dead speaks for itself: a sort of factory of the dead. 

 Holland Cemetery, Oklahoma

______________________
*check this link for a detailed discussion of many of the illustrations.

a brief history of writing



writing comes with the Bronze Age circa 4th millennium BCE in Sumeria.The development of Egyptian hieroglyphs is also parallel to that of the Mesopotamian scripts, and not necessarily independent. 


Check this user-friendly link to understand the origins writing.

the logos in the Hammurabi Code


this image is done in bas-relief on basalt, and the text completely covers the bottom portion with the laws written in cuneiform script. this is perhaps the earliest writing system. the "wedge-shaped" marks on the stone or clay tablets is made with a blunt reed for a stylus

this text contains a list of crimes and their various punishments, as well as settlements for common disputes and guidelines for citizens' conduct. The Hammurabi Code does not provide opportunity for explanation or excuses, though it does imply one's right to present evidence. 

the idea is that once you see the the slab in open display no one could plead ignorance of the law as an excuse. 


also, take a look at how these glyphs which stands for the word "head" evolve:


1-7 comprises 2000 years!!

isn't this pictographic token a kind of a logo?

Dresden Codex (Yucatan, circa 1250 bC)


The codex was written by eight different scribes, each with their own distinctive style, type of glyphs and subject matter. It is linked to the Yucatecan Maya in Chichén Itzá, the extraordinary ancient Mayan city situated in the north of the Yucatán Peninsula. It was made between A.D. 1200-1250, and was still possibly in use when the conquistadors arrived. The order of text and illustration looks surprisingly contemporary.


the codex is made amatl paper ("kopó", fig-bark that has been flattened and covered with a lime paste), doubled in folds in an accordion-like form (sometimes called leporello) of folding-screen texts. the paper is coated with fine stucco or gesso and is eight inches high by eleven feet long. this is probably the order:

it's a calendar. it reflects the lunar series. total? 260 days.


do you need to translate the glyphs? look here.

paleolithic marks?


these markings constitute a design form. 

see that design is almost pervasive to the form,
the form to the idea,
the idea to the practice.

so, in a sense to design is to feel the practice.

early graffiti?


ok, this is a paleolithic mark, the most basic form of graphic expression and design. but the imprint has a curious existence: a mark that is a sign of the self is also always other than the self. i call it ancient graffiti: anonymous, quick, ephemeral, the purpose of the artist is to leave a mark behind, a trace of presence.

venus of willendorf (circa. 22,000 b.C.)


the main idea here is that the symbolic form of the design has overwhelmed its materiality and the process by which it was made.


 above, an actual model of the idea. Magic again.

ancient graphic design (Altamira)


any design begins with a mark.

many of the paintings at ancient Altamira appear to have been airbrushed, a sophisticated technique (which may be done as shown).


now,

two hollow bones are used, one set perpendicularly in a container of water and ochre, the other is held in the mouth. the artist could not resist making a mark with his hand.



this is early graffiti. the hand-print was obtained by smearing ochre and water on the hand, and then pressing it on the wall.

this is the photoshop of ice age hunters.


what is this design appealing to? ritual symbols. worship? totem? a bit of everything.

see the "eye" of the face has been outlined in black. THIS IS MAGIC.

ARH 346 Syllabus (still under construction)



HISTORY OF GRAPHIC DESIGN

Instructor: Alfredo Triff Ph.D.
Email:
dada1917@bellsouth.net
Textbook: Graphic Design History: A Critical Guide, by Johanna Drucker and Emily McVarish.

Introduction:
ARH 346 is an introductory survey of Graphic Design from its origins to the present day. In addition, I’d like to emphasize 20th Century and early 21st Century developments in the field.
 

Goals:
 

At the end of the semester, the student is supposed to be acquainted with the main trends and & styles of graphic design. We investigate the cultural and socio-political contexts of the discipline.
 

Course content and grades:
 

1- Two exams: A midterm (30%) and a final (30%); each test has a written and a visual component. 2- There is a weekly 150-word comment assignment for each of my weekly posts. Comments must show a bit of research and the ability to discuss novelty on the topic at hand. Generally, I will close the comment-window of our blog 6 days after posting. Post comments amount to 25% of the final grade. Attendance and participation are 15% of the final grade.
 
3- I ask you to refrain from using your personal laptops during my lectures. We don't need more audio-visual overload on top of my image-ladened lectures.
 

Schedule of classes
 

Introduction: Evolutionary foundations of communication, language and design, early graphic forms, communicating ideas and beliefs, the invention of proto-writing.

Chapter 1: Early Writing: Mark-making, Notation Systems, and Scripts 3000—500 bce
Mark-making, notation, varieties of early writing, the spread of writing as idea and script, the alphabet, literate culture.

Chapter 2: Classical Literacy 700 bce—400 ce
Variations of literacy and the alphabet, the function of graphic codes, models of writing: gestural and constructed, writing at the end of the Classical age.

Chapter 3: Medieval Letterforms and Book Formats 400—1450
Medieval culture and graphic communication, graphic media and contexts, the codex book letterforms, manuscript hands, and pattern books; Graphic forms of knowledge, publishing communities and graphic arts.

Chapter 4: Renaissance Design: Standardization and Modularization in Print 1450—1660
Early print design, graphic communication in Renaissance culture, print technology and type design, graphic forms of knowledge.

Chapter 5: Modern Typography and the Creation of the Public Sphere 1660—1800
Printed matter and the public sphere, news books, broadsheets, and newspapers, politics and the press, graphic arts and design, modern type design. On the edge of industrialization

Chapter 6: The Graphic Effects of Industrial Production 1800—1850
Industrialization and visual culture, illustrated papers, book design for mass production, printing images, advertising design and typography, fine art and graphic art; critical issues

Chapter 7: Mass Mediation 1850—1900s
Printed mass media, changes in print technology, changing patterns in the use of graphic media, media networks, graphic design and advertising, posters and public space.

Chapter 8: Formations of the Modern Movement 1880s—1910s
Responses to industrialism, Arts and Crafts publications, Arts and Crafts dissemination, Art Nouveau, Jugendstil, Viennese design, Decadence and Aestheticism, the private press movement and modern design, integration of design and industry.

Chapter 9: Innovation and Persuasion 1910—1930
Visual culture and avant-garde design, the graphic impact of Futurism and Dada, from experiment to principles, propaganda and mass communication studies, graphic persuasion and its effects, institutionalizing graphic design.

Chapter 10: The Culture of Consumption 1920s—1930s
Designing the modern lifestyle, modern style in graphic design, consumer culture, the profession.

Chapter 11: Public Interest Campaigns and Information Design 1930s—1950s
Public interest and education, photojournalism and documentary, wartime propaganda, wartime information, commercial and technical uses of information design, information analysis and design process.

Chapter 12: Corporate Identities and International Style 1950s—1970s
Image and identity systems, International style: Style, systems, and graphic design concepts; technology, the profession.

Chapter 13: Pop and Protest 1960s—1970s
Pop culture and style, self-conscious graphic design, slick surfaces and high production values, counterculture and the alternative press, revolutionary culture and protest, changes in the profession, critical vocabulary.

Chapter 14: Postmodernism in Design 1970s—1980s and Beyond
Postmodern styles, postmodern consumption and conservatism, critical theory and postmodern sensibility, postmodernism and activism.

Chapter 15: Digital Design After the 1970s
Digital technology: from punch cards and plotters to desktop computing, Media transitions: type design and publications: Fluidity and functionality. The myth of immateriality and challenges of digital design.

Today's Graphic Design

Ad Busters
Majid Abassi
Chris Dixon
Eboy
Dave Eggers
Experimental Jetset (Amsterdam)
Sarah Fanelli
Isidro Ferrer (Spain)
Field Study
Lizzie Finn (London)
Tom Gauld (London)
Julia Hasting (NY)
Yuri Gutilov (Moscow)
Fons Hickmann (Berlin/Vienna)
Kim Hirthøy (Oslo)
Keiko Hirano (Tokyo)
Inkahoots (Brisbane, Australia)
Siobhan Keaney (London)
Ji Lee (NY)
Ken-Tsai Lee (Taipei)
Anette Lenz (Paris)
Kei Matsushita (Tokyo)
Ung Vai Meng (Macao, China)
Mooren & van der Velden (Amsterdam) Torturers of modern design
Peter Moser (Switzerland) Design as Theater

Final Exam Prep

Final

____________

Additional Bibliography:

David Abrams, The Spell of the Sensuous, NY Pantheon Books, 1996; Rudolph Arnheim, Visual Thinking. Berkeley, University of California Press, 1969; Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space. Boston, Beacon Press, 1969; Kevin Barnhurst, Seeing the Newspaper. NY Harper and Row, 1972; John Berger, Ways of Seeing, NY Penguin Books, 1972; Robert Bringhurst, The Elements of Tyopographic Style. Point Roberts, WA Hartley & Marks, 1992; Anne Carson, Eros, the Bittersweet, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1986; Sebastian Carter, Twentieth Century Type Designers, NY, Taplinger, 1987; Florian Coulmas, The Writing Systems of the World, Cambridge, MA Blackwell, 1991; Guy Davenport, The Geography of the Imagination. San Francisco, North Point, 1981; Guy Davenport, The Hunter Gracchus, Washingoton, DC, Counterpoint, 1996; Donis A Dondis, A Primer of Visual Literacy. Cambridge, MA, MIT Press, 1973; Geoffrey Dowding, The Finer Points in the Spacing and Arranging of Type, Vancouver, Hartley & Marks, 1995; Magdalena Droste, Bauhaus, Berlin, Benedikt Taschen Verlag, 1990; Johanna Drucker, A Century of Artists Books, NY, Granary Books, 1995;Johanna Drucker, The Alphabetic Labyrinth: Letters in History and Imagination, NY Thames & Hudson, 1995; Harry Duncan, Doors of Perception; Essays in Book Typography, Austin, W. Thomas Taylor, 1987; Elizabeth Eisenstein, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change, 2 vols; NY, Cambridge Univ Press, 1979; Dan Friedman, Radical Modernism, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1994; Albertine Gaur, A History of Writing. NY, Cross River Press, 1992; Jost Hochuli, Designing Books, practice and theory, London, Hyphen, 1996; Lewis Hyde, The Gift, Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property, NY, Vintage Books, 1983; Richard Hendel, On Book Design, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1998; Ivan Illich and Barry Sanders, ABC: The Alphabetization of the Popular Mind. North Point, 1988; Gerald Janecek, The Look of Russian Literature: Avant-garde Visual Experiments, 1900-30, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1984; Willi Kunz, Typography: Macro and Micro Aesthetics, New York, Willi Kunz Books, 2000; Ellen Lupton, Graphic Design In the Mechanical Age, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1998; Scott McCloud, Understanding Comics; The Invisible Art. Northampton, MA, Kitchen sink Press, 1993; Ruari McLean, Jan Tschichold, Typographer, Boston, Godine, 1975; Marshall McLuhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy. Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1962; Douglas McMurtrie, The Book: The Story of Printing and Bookmaking, NY, Dorset Press, 1971; Paul Messaris, Visual Literacy: Image, Mind & Reality. Boulder, CO Westview Press, 1994; Neil Postman, Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology, NY Vintage Books, 1992; Fred Smeijers, Counterpunch, Making Type in the 16th Century, designing Typfaces Now, London, Hyphen 1996; Buzz Spector, The Book Maker’s Desire: Writings on the Art of the Book. Pasadena, Umbrella Editions, 1995.