In Johanna Drucker’s “Experimental Typography as a Modern Art Practice,” she explores the different effects that typography can have. As she discusses “typographic enunciation,” she distinguishes between two main types of typography: marked and unmarked. Furthermore, Drucker’s focus is not solely on typography, but it is on typography as experiments conducted by avant-gardists of many different artistic expressions.
One main point that enhances Drucker’s argument is the foundational distinction she makes between “marked” and “unmarked” texts. In order to best explain this difference in typographic enunciation, Drucker refers to the invention of the printing press. She explains “unmarked” texts by giving the example of the printed bible. Drucker describes, “…perfectly uniform grey pages, their uninterrupted blocks of text, without headings or subheadings or any distraction beyond the occasional initial letter. These bibles are the archetype of the unmarked text…” (95). Drucker then contrasts the bible’s unmarkedness with the Indulgences’ markedness. However, Drucker does more here than just provide examples of these two different typographic enunciations, she explains the effects that the differences in enunciation had/have on the reader and the greater society as a whole. The bible was printed with an unmarked enunciation, which allows the text to “possess an authority which transcends the mere material presence of words…” (95). On the other hand, the Indulgences, which utilized different fonts and different font sizes in order to “hierarchize information, to create an order in the text so that different parts appear to ‘speak’ differently…” (95).
The aforementioned distinction then allowed Drucker to build on her argument by categorizing most unmarked texts as literary and most marked texts as advertising. Drucker’s utilization of the four different graphic advertisements allowed the reader to see a visual representation of how fonts, font size, layout, etc. can be used in a way to manipulate the reader/audience to focus on certain things or to evoke certain feelings or responses from the reader/audience. Drucker notes, “In this case, an element inserted on the diagonal breaks up the horizontal linear text, creating an air of unsettledness” (102).
I’m not super familiar with Dada and Futurist cultures, so I’m not sure that I completely understand some of the references and further implications that Drucker’s insights seem to have relating to Dada and Futurist cultures.
Also, I did have to refamiliarize myself with the term and movements of the “avant-garde” in order to better understand exactly what Drucker was talking about. Although I still may not fully understand the depth of importance that this has for her article, I do believe that trying to learn more about anything and everything “avant-garde” helped me to better understand what Drucker was trying to say.
When thinking about the many different fonts, utilizations of page space, pictures, colors, and absence of color in _House of Leaves, _in what kinds of ways is Mark Z. Danielewski trying to manipulate the reader (other than the ways that we have discussed in class already, i.e. labyrinthian reading experience)?