Katherine McCoy and David Frej “Typography as Discourse” 1988 pgs 81-83 found in our main text Graphic Design Theory: Readings From the Field by Helen Armstrong.
- Find 2 examples of the work of postmodern graphic designers from the 1980s.
- Deconstruct the work. Explain which visual elements are associated with postmoderism of the 1980s and why.
- What does the author mean by “Typography as discourse”?
- What does the author mean when she states that “…no longer are there one-way statements from designers. The layering of content, as opposed to New Wave’s formal layering of collage elements, is the key to this exchange. Objective communication is enhanced by deferred meanings, hidden stories, and alternative interpretations”
Katherine McCoy and David Frej’s “Typography as Discourse” from 1988 delve into how postmodern typographic styles evolved, such as from New Wave, Swiss Punk typography to New Academy. This evolution of typographic style shifts towards designers who are much more experimental and share expressive values rather than definitive style. The term and title “Typography as Discourse” comes into meaning due to how designers “rebelled against Helvetica and the grid system that had become the official American corporate style”. The experimental and progressive nature that new designers took an approach to create a “discourse” of sorts in the typographic design world, in many ways that can also be applied to other genres of design evolutions. When the author brings up the thought that:
…no longer are there one-way statements from designers. The layering of content, as opposed to New Wave’s formal layering of collage elements, is the key to this exchange. Objective communication is enhanced by deferred meanings, hidden stories, and alternative interpretations…
An idea is presented that in the aspects of linguistics and the world of design, there is much more than direct communications through design, and the authorship notion becomes not so important in comparison to a design and its audience. There are so many developments of depth within the design that can be compared to the layers of acrylic on a painting. Many ideas are to be sought out within a work rather than one, which opens the conversation for individual interpretations by different parts of an audience. An example of postmodern graphic design during the 1980s would be Barbara Kruger’s silkscreen portrait work titled “Your Body is a Battleground” (1989). Clearly illustrated through the split image of a woman’s face, the bold, red white, and black contrast indicate the work’s intention of targeting the topic of gender inequality. Women were often seen as objects of nature with the sole duty of following societal expectations, thus Kruger’s work challenges these ideals while also responding to the anti-abortion laws of the time. The bold, white sans-serif font in conjunction with the red statement color pushed forward the intended message, while the use of the split image of a woman’s face ties together the issues that women face during the time. Of course, Kruger does not directly state her intentions with the typeface in this work but rather uses language that almost ironically compares it to a war recruitment poster like Uncle Sam’s “We Want You”, where women are the soldiers in context.
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