Beyond the Text: Exploring History through Typography and Graphic Design
Reading is instinctual and automatic. Readability of a text is culturally and linguistic defined. Is it possible to read a foreign language without training? Probably not, if reading is defined as a cognitive process. What if we read a text as an image? If so, reading will become a perceptual process. Cognitive or perceptive, reading involves the art of seeing. My paper will investigate reading beyond and behind the text, exploring the experience of reading in the context of the multilingual environment within the graphics/typographic discipline. Text—letters or numbers, signs or symbols, alphabets or non-alphabets —has shared properties across cultures. Under my working definition, these properties can be assigned to three attributes: graphic (the aesthetic form: shape, size, color of text), geometry (visual strategy: reading direction, grid system), and symbolic (the encoded message: visual pun). They are, I believe, the keys to read/see text/image, potentially modifying the way we see and think.
Chun-wo Pat is Assistant Professor in the Department of Fine and Performing Arts, Baruch College, CUNY. He was a professor teaching Information Design and Typography within Parsons The New School for Design, New York, and assistant lecturer in CityTech, CUNY and has lectured widely.