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translating the visual element

Written By: jgerken on December 3, 2008 1 Comment

A first post here:

Professionally, I am a book designer. That includes everything from minor editing to typographic design, to the arcane details of hand binding books. It’s a rather broad job description, but I enjoy it. When it comes to languages, I find that I am really a visual language sort of person – reading and interpreting images more than words. And like any sort of translation I find it difficult to put into words the sorts of ideas which come from how a book is laid out or why one typeface is used in place of another.

So much of our lives is mediated by design – much of it bad, but that’s a whole separate topic – that it becomes invisible. We read and absorb information but the design of it is a crystal goblet; an unobtrusive container. The interesting part is when the design of a text is part of the text itself and forces the reader to decipher the whole page. This mediation of the text by the page is becoming more common as design tools are becoming more widespread and authors begin to work with  more than straight texts.

Like a few other posters here, I am also found about this blog in the “Writing and Technology” class. Translating the linguistics and media studies I have been learning about into a visual design framework has been a challenge but it seems appropriate to consider the translation of everything surrounding and containing a text.

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One Response to “translating the visual element”

  1. katie_k on: 3 December 2008 at 5:44 pm

    I’m also interested in the way design interacts with the text itself, though I’m better working with the text than the design/image elements. A couple of the works I have found really amazing due to this image/text interchange are Mallarme’s “Un coup de des” and El Lissitzky’s About 2 [Squares]. These are both modern works, but I especially love medieval manuscripts and the choices their creators made – plus it was all done by hand!

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