- Drucker outlines how typography developed from a strict, regimented beginning with the invention of the printing press to an experimental art form in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She writes that lithography, a creative avant-garde, and increased adverting due to the rise of industrial production all combined to produce a new approach to typography that emphasized the use of a range of typefaces, styles, and layouts. This transition was indicative of a larger shift in print philosophy that pushed past centuries-old conventions and opened print up to new and innovative applications.
- The most important aspect of typographic experimentation is in the advertising industry. “The graphic arts witnessed the development of typographic forms to accommodate the burgeoning needs of the advertising industry. In tandem with the increased production of consumer goods resulting from industrial capitalism, the advertising industry provoked production of an unprecedented variety of typographic means” (Drucker 93-4). New forms of typography were needed to catch the attention of consumers, so producers and advertising companies worked to create new, attention-getting types and styles. Until this boom in advertising, literary text, which had largely existed in “single grey block[s] of undisturbed text,” had been largely unchanged since the invention of the printing press (Drucker 95). That advertising was largely responsible for these changes shows the importance of understanding the social and historical contexts of print. Doing so prevents a deterministic view that undermines the importance of human involvement.
New public language, or marked typography, differed markedly from literary language because it utilized a variety of “type faces, styles, and sizes,” all of which could be combined on a single page (Drucker 96). Marked language also broke pages up into different zones and used “circular, shaped, and diagonal elements” (Drucker 96). All of these new developments are predicated on the reader’s interaction with the text. These new styles indicate a shift from author-based text to reader-based text.
The development of marked language came about through a change in attitude rather than because of new technologies. Literary language used (and continues to use) single blocks of text that allow the reader to focus on content without being distracted. Marked language “relies less upon syntax, and more upon rhetoric” (Drucker 97). It had been taboo to “disturb the linear order” of a text because to do so would undermine the authority of the writer (Drucker 96). It was only after people realized the usefulness of marked language in advertising that conventions were broken down and new applications utilized.
- I don’t completely understand the role of the Dadas and Fururists. Were they all underground people just doing things for the sake of going against the norm? Or did they have a specific objective for typography?
What about industrial capitalism specifically led to the rise in advertising? Why did it take until the late eighteenth century for large-scale advertising to come about? Did industrial capitalism need to reach a certain level or was it because conventional norms took a long time to be broken down?
- Is typography still an experimental art form today? With the sheer number of typefaces and styles prevalent today, is it even possible to create an entirely new type? Where might we see these experiments taking place?