In Drucker’s Experimental Typography as Modern Art Practice article, she discusses the shift print took to a more “avant-garde” literary practice. Drucker explains the new experimental practices literature is taking on and how it effects its readers.
The first important aspect I found is on page 92 where Drucker talks about the effects lithography had on the new avant-garde movement. She states that the mass production of lithography “…promoted freeform production… The effects lithography and its much expanded range of visual letterforms ae not an integral part of the typographic experiments of avant-garde poets” (92). This is important to her overall argument because she wants her readers to understand that although lithography was important to the Russian avant-grade, it was not as influential in the other avant-garde movements. That it important for our class to remember as we read this article because she mentions lithography various times, and it seems as if lithography was a big step in the avant-garde movement, but it actually was a minor leap in the movement.
The second important aspect I found is on page 94 where Drucker discusses the difference between marked and unmarked texts. She states that the distinctive feature of typographic “…enunciation is a distinction between marked and unmarked texts, with the additional possibility of distinguishing between public and private, personal language through their typographic treatment…the split between marked and unmarked texts corresponds to the split between commercial and literary uses of typography…” (94). This is important to her argument because this is how she breaks up her discussion on typographic texts and goes into detail about each. This also helps her readers understand the importance and the difference between typographic texts, which is crucial in understanding her overall argument.
The last important aspect I found is on page 95 where Drucker gives examples of marked and unmarked texts. She uses the Gutenberg bible as one example by saying that it “…printed two distinctly different kinds of documents…On the one hand he printed bibles…these bibles are the archetype of the unmarked text, the text in which the words on the page “appear to speak themselves” without the visible intervention of author or printer” (95). She then goes on to explain the marked text by saying “…the Indulgences which he printed displayed the embryonic features of a marked typography Different sizes of type were used to hierarchize information, to create an order in the text so that different parts of it appear to “speak” differently…” (95). These distinctions are important to Drucker’s argument by giving her concrete examples for her audience to grasp; it is just as important to her audience because without these examples the marked and unmarked text definition would have meant nothing to us. Now, we have a way to grasp the concept and apply it.
Although this piece was interesting, there were a couple of things that were confusing while I was reading. The first confusing aspect is on page 93 where Drucker is talking about “pseudo-scientific discourse.” She explains it by saying that “They combined a pseudo-scientific discourse with the exhaustive categorization of visual forms and span the full spectrum from parlor game diversions to disciplines with implications for the legal adjudication of the authenticity of disputed autographic documents” (93). I have never been more confused by a sentence in my life, and I honestly have no clue as to how this fits into her overall argument or what she is claiming here.
Another confusing aspect I found is on page 102 where Drucker talks about the “Dada and Futurists artists.” She states that the Dada and Futurists artists “…were inventors of a particular typographic vocabulary falters in the face of such graphic evidence” (102). Who are the Dada and Futurists, and how are they contributing to the argument? I was just confused by the way she explained it.
Lastly, I would ask the class would you consider House of Leaves as avant-garde? If not, what would you consider an avant-garde type of text?