Postgraduate

Graphic authorship, and the contextual specificity of letterforms

Graphic authorship, and the contextual specificity of letterforms

Barbara Martusewicz

MDes(Hons), 2012

Supervised by Katherine Moline and Wendy Parker

I examine perspectives on graphic authorship. As a graphic designer, I experiment with authorship by designing an artists book as my studio project, in which I present a narrative using enlarged, ‘found’, letterforms. Their shapes, the manner of their reproduction, and the materials on which they appear, reveal information about the time and place of their origin.

Abstract

My research examines the re-formulation of graphic design from a service industry, towards one that encompasses expanded possibilities of agency with content and designer authorship. I present the views of design academics and writers around the designer as author debate. I explore artists’ books as a medium for designer authorship and I originate and design a self-reflexive project in this form.

In my exploration of artists’ books I conclude that Johanna Drucker’s definition, which foregrounds the functionality of the book form, is pertinent to my approach as a graphic designer who constructs viewing experiences when designing publications. Artists’ books can otherwise be understood as sculptural or as visual art objects. I argue that Drucker’s framing of artists books as book forms which provide a sequential viewing experience is implicitly phenomenological.

As content for my artist’s book studio project I explore the notion that the appearance of letterforms, including their design, the manner of their material production or reproduction, and the materials on which they appear, give visual clues about the time and place of their origin. To illustrate this idea I have used letterforms and images selected from a collection of my father’s print and photographic ephemera. They function as artefacts, which trace a story of migration from Europe to Australia, and a career in graphic communication. Letterform details, both hand generated and typographic, are reproduced and juxtapositioned with supporting contemporaneous photographic images to create a narrative viewing experience in book form. The book is titled There is nothing a letterform doesn’t tell us about its time.

contact

bmart[at]clearmail[dot]com[dot]au

Barbara Martusewicz

Barbara Martusewicz, Subject (2012). Digital print (from the artists book); 10.5 x 14.85cm. Photograph courtesy of the artist

Barbara Martusewicz, <i>There is nothing a letterform doesn’t tell us about its time</i> (2012).  Digitally printed books, hard board and cloth covers, edition of 20; 11.5 x 16.2 cm. Photograph courtesy of the artist