Make Do Type, New York Times, Day Save Time

The New York Times commissioned a typesetting of six poems to "mark the end of daylight saving time". It has been a really enjoyable project; an excuse to develop variants of Make Do Type and building on a notion of how attributes might develop within the rationale, which is to make do with a limiting grid, a monospace set width, a single line weight and, inevitably, a typographic outsider's patched knowledge.

Also to test balance imagery and type. My fascination is the way that type, when drawn from the same hand, can take the onus away from imagery and allow it to be sometimes something other than figurative.

The two variants here, a condensed (created to fit this poem's setting into the column width and maintain a consistent x-height with the rest) and a slab serif. This one does pull on established solutions for optical balance in a monospace 'i', for example. So I looked a lot and gained greater appreciation of Courier and the favourite Prestige Elite. Wanted to see how familiar or not Make Do would become when taking on board some of these features.

And then keeping stray awkwardness in some characters, like the double-height 'g'.

These examples are taken from a great Walker Design Blog piece here by Ryan G. Nelson, on Typographica's 1962 piece on typewriter typefaces.

I'm looking quite a lot at visual explanations (also for a Camberwell teaching project) and wanted the header to read as something almost ornamental, arriving out of dense information related to November and December 2010 Northern Hemisphere moon cycles, onset weather bleakness, land and sea strata. Maybe a cross too, between the influences of Wiener Werkstätte (via) and Susan Kare (very nice article here on the process behind the original Macintosh system software).

The inter-poem patterns were simply referring to time passing, incremental permutation, reversals. Apparently each of the poets sent their pieces mechanically typewritten. All the more reason to set all of this into an inflexible matrix. The type and imagery were all designed to the NYT's 0.2 inch gutter width, which then became a modular grid. Concrete poetry was the first moment early on (as in, Art Foundation Course early on) where I could get hold of some essence of typography as a thing in itself.

Discovered Dom Sylvester Houédard's work in an old ICA catalogue. A Benedictine priest and concrete poet, he corresponded with Herbert Spencer and Typographica through the 1960s. For me the work stands out because it seems less locked into its time of making; aerated in a way that destabilises the Olivetti characteristic or puts the tension between mechanical and improvised composition in an odder place.

He said: "Words: hard and lovely as diamonds demand to be seen, freed in space; words are wild, sentences tame them. Every word an abstract painting, read quickly in a phrase words get lost: in concrete, eye sees words as objects that release sound/thought echoes in a reader. Concrete poems just ARE: have no outside reference; they are objects like toys and tools, jewel–like concrete things-in-them-selves".

I also like Ernst Jandl, much for other reasons, in the purity and acceptance of the letterness of letters.

1 comment:

kindra said...

Great work and post!