Reading Response #5


In this piece, “Experimental Typography As A Modern Practice,” Drucker is discussing the layout of a page. She develops her ideas to show that how and where you place words, pictures, etc. on a page is more important than the content itself. She chooses to discuss specifically typography’s influence on literary print and advertising print. She also gives background to the term typography as it arose in the nineteenth century out of a response of the “avent-garde attitude” in the graphic art communities.


First, Drucker discusses the development of typography through the lens of advertisement. The rise of advertisement in print lead to an increased pulse of creativity within print. Printers, authors, etc. began to under stand that text could be used to draw the readers attention in different ways based on its placement, format, etc. This kind of ‘marked typography’ thinking increased the focus to the “recipient of the message” instead of the previous focus, “on the speaker” (97) This kind of marked print is explained as using format, shape, size, etc. to make distinctions within a text. This allows for some text to appear less important, etc. giving more emphasis on certain words over others, giving more focus to the physicality of theh page over content. Because of this, the advertising industry and practice really took shape and began to grow rapidly.


Drucker goes on to discuss a very interesting point about ‘unmarked text’. It was fascinating for me to see her connection of ‘unmarked text’, which she explains, puts more focus on the author and the content of the page. In this way, Drucker explains that ‘unmarked text’ largely stands on its own, “without visible intervention” (95) In this way, Drucker is focusing largely on literary text. Most every book is a good example of this because most books are not affected by advertisements. However, advertisements are effected by traditional literary texts forms.


To help clear up confusion, Drucker leads into giving examples of marked and unmarked texts in order to conclude and further support her claims. She uses the Gutenberg Bible as an example. Drucker first explain that the Gutenberg Bible stands as unmarked text because, “the text in which the words on the page “appear to speak themselves” without the visible intervention of author or printer” (95) She goes on to explain how the Gutenberg Bible also produced and represents marked text as well by discussing the format and typography used on the Indulgences. Drucker explains that these texts are marked because information was put in a hierarchy by way of font size, giving some information formatical importance over others. (95) I had a harder time understanding marked and unmarked text until I read the examples she gives here.


Overall, I enjoyed the piece, but found her explanation style to be more confusing that clarifying. As I said previously, I was having a hard time understanding her claims until I got to the examples. I found the information before page 94 to be increasingly confusing and, to be honest, pretty random. Also, towards the end when she begins talking about futurists I was becoming confused again.


I think this piece can relate incredibly to House of Leaves, and I would like us to discuss it. We know that type is ‘played with’ throughout the novel, but is it unmarked or marked? When is it unmarked or marked, why? Is House of Leaves an advertisement of any sort?