Let’s say you’re sitting down to dinner surrounded by friends. The waiter brings you a warm, perfectly flavored Chicken Piccata. You taste the lemon in the sauce, and know that this is good food. Would the food taste any different knowing that Giada De Laurentiis or Bobby Flay made it vs. some girl that never went to culinary school? It would be the same food, just the cook (the culinary author) would be known. It might not be accurate, but this is how I tried to understand Roland Barthes’ text “The Death of the Author.” I mean, when you write something, there is automatically this remove from the author and that which has been written (which itself is never the Original source, but a mediated thing). For instance, Jack Kerouac wrote “On the Road” and we experience this journey through his writing. Even if he had written the novel totally true to events that transpired, we would never be able to experience the original journey (we can never be physically in the same time and place as the true events). This remove in the relationship between the author and the text allows for there to be either A) the symbiotic relationship between the author and the text or B) the death of the author. Option A is what the critics love. They want to know if it was Bobby Flay or Giada De Laurentiis in the kitchen. For them, the food becomes this other entity, one that can’t be removed from the creator. Option B allows for the food to be enjoyed for what it is. The french Avant-Garde poet Stephane Mallarme and later the Surrealists tried to aim for Option B by focusing on the “performance” aspect of language (that “here and now” aspect of text that Roland Barthes describes). It is when the author is unknown, or dead, that the text (or the food) can be simply enjoyed. The Surrealists used literary techniques such as stream of consciousness and Exquisite Corpse to achieve these ends. To Barthes, it is to the reader (or the eater) that meaning is made, and it is the reader (the eater) that should shoulder the burden (or the gift) of the text (the food) and not the author (or the cook).
I’ve used advertisements to explore how rhetorical figures can be used by designers to enhance meaning and message in visual communication. This is an exercise to help me understand this relationship. Like the written language, design can engage elements in different ways that effect what is being communicated and how it is communicated. Designers need to think about the materials and methods that create the design as well as the style and the arrangement of the elements within that design. All of those aspects culminate in the final piece. With that in mind, it is good to design with a mind. To design with all those considerations, it really does help to be familiar with some of the many ways to experiment with the language of design.
Luxor Temple stone relief (Luxor, Egypt): 3,500 years old
‘The blue sky is my first artwork’ said Yves Klein // He signed the sky in 1948
In 1958, at the Iris Clert Gallery in Paris, Klein served blue cocktails (made with Gin, Cointreau and Methylene Blue) that caused visitors to urinate blue for days.
He created blue monochromes.
He painted with nude bodies of women covered in blue in his Monotone Symphony (1960).
The typeface used for the Declaration of Independence is Caslon. Caslon was designed by William Caslon I in approximately 1722. Printed by John Dunlap, this broadside is all that is left of the original Declaration of Independence that George Washington read to his troops on 9 July 1776.
For more information visit the American Treasures of the Library of Congress:
http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/trt024.html (or click on the image)
For more about the Dunlap Broadside:
The futurist sculptor Tullio D’Albisola created a book that aligned itself with the machine and movement. In his ‘litho-tin’ book “Tactile Thermal Olfactive Futurist Words in Freedom (1932),” D’Albisola combined his lithographs along with poetry by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti in an experimental book that reflects the Futurist view of the book as object (the book object). D’Albisola spent over 4 months creating this rare book made out of tin, ball barings, and wire. Tin is a disposable material used by D’Albisola to reference the temporarily of commodities and mass printed ephemera. He gave the reader a familiar yet unfamiliar experience with text – the few who have actually had the opportunity to experience one of only two that exist in the public sphere (this one at home in the British Library).