When reading “The Medium of the Message” by Marshall McCulhan, I found the paragraphs about General Sarnoff confusing. General Sarnoff States ““We are too prone to maket technologicalinstruments the scapegoats for the sins of those who wield them. The productsof modern science are not in themselves good or bad; it is the way they areused that determines their value.” This is statement is something, I believe, most people can agree with. A Lot of the blame for our modern misfortunes is placed upon the instruments we use instead of the ones using them. Though, Mr. McCulhan does not completely agree with this statement. He argues that General Sarnoff’s statement ” ignores the nature of the medium, of any and all media”.
What is the nature of the medium? Is the nature of the medium entirely separate from our control? Is it something we entirely ignore when considering a decision made? These kinds of questions came to my mind, because he does not elaborate on the conversation. Personally, this small excerpt felt out of place, not unnecessary, but not cohesive to the topic at hand. He ended the paragraph by saying. “It has never occurred to General Sarnoff that any technology could do anything but add itself on to what we already are.” In which I interpreted that they’re on the same page. As technology continues to grow and evolve our true nature does not change. Which is why we should be responsible for how we impose our will on technological advancements.
I believe Jan Tschichold makes a very important point about the change in Typography in Modern times. The separation in which Old Typography focuses on beauty while the New Typography focuses on “clarity” and purpose. The Typography we use now is meant to deliver a message clearly but also provide function. Though, the way he puts it, it’s as if the way the Old style Typography had no function.
Personally, I think the Old Style type was definitely meant to convey beauty. It ignores all the rules and theories we know of today but it works perfectly for the time it was made in. Most books that were printed around that time were biblical. Making the book extravagant, and nice to look at were made to convey the beauty of the deity they believed in. It wasn’t meant to communicate another human but something bigger than themselves.
In the second part of the article it says., “the typographer to express this relationship clearly and visibly through type sizes and weight, arrangement of lines, use of color, photography” All of these requirements are met in the Old Style Typography, but limited to the extent of the technology used.
In the passage written by Herbert Bayer he touches on the idea of Universal Communication. He states “for a long time to come we will accept the existence of different languages now in use. this will continue to pose barriers to communication, even after improved”. I find this statement very pretentious. I don’t believe it is as simple to say we “accept the existence” of these different languages but we more or less respect the existence of these different languages. Behind these languages carries a lot of culture and emotion. To discuss it so matter-of-factly or just as a faze in human society does not shed light on how grand these different languages are.
Though, I do agree with him on the first move towards universal communication have been made by artists and designers. What could not be solved verbally has been solved visually. The problem with language when it comes to communication, it is not universal itself. Phrases, phonetics, context, etc have all been formed into this large homogeneous mass in which just knowing the words isn’t enough. You have to be present and willing to learn.
I personally believe that the sole purpose of art is to communicate the abstract. Abstract concepts and executions used to explain abstract ideas. It helps to send messages of the intangible, such as thoughts, feelings, emotions. Things we all possess and are hard to confuse. When someone displays an emotion, such as anger, their expression, demeanor, and attitude have already expressed that to you before words. Something that can’t always be translated by words, but by being shown.
I found our most recent reading assignment “ Course in General Linguistics” very intense and somewhat confusing. Personally, not being used to the words and format of this article, it became hard to understand what the author is trying to convey. Though what did take from the article is that language itself is very intricate and complex. In the article, he makes a distinction between speaking and writing (though the distinction with writing isn’t so clear).
I quote “Language is a system of signs that express ideas and is therefore comparable to a system of writing, the alphabet of deaf-mutes, symbolic rites, political formulas, military signals etc”. Does this mean language is a system of signs that are not physical? Therefore it must be speech, correct? Though the author makes it independent from speech. Calling it the side of speaking in which you can study or the “social side of speech”. It exists not to the individual but confined to the interactions among a community.
What I retained from this article is, language is far more complex than just talking. It isn’t about the sounds you make or the sounds you apply to an object. It focuses on the ideas and images perceived used but auditory exchanges.
In Lupton Miller’s piece ” Counting Sheep”, he discusses, as it states, “the history of written numbers” when counting came from such a simpler time, when simplisticness was needed. Things such as counting animals one by one using objects instead of using abstract numerical values. The time of using abstract values such as Roman numerals comes from the need to access a greater audience of value ,such as 10,000, but not counting one by one. The abstract values we use today were made to represent abstract values. This not only applies to numbers but social values and economical.
By the 19th century more values started to be explored other than numbers like lines, shapes, colors. This is around the same time social and Design focused Revolutions started to appear. These same explorations moved both these centuries forward. The use of these abstract objects became representations of what we believe. Things such as, social justice, social disparity, economic injustices. Though, these values just don’t stop there. As time moved forward objects and animals also became sources of representation. Pushing our ideas forward and accessing a greater plethora of people due to technology providing a greater audience.
The values we hold dear today stem from the values our ancestors held dearly today. The accomplishments of the past are not forgotten but built upon and improved. The values that have survived are not obsolete but they are absolute. Their form changes but their purpose doesn’t.