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Letter=Image, excerpt from The Triumph of Typography

Typography is far more than type design and layout. It touches on one of the key values of our society: the printed free word, democratic discourse. It is thanks to the power of typography that this discourse has assumed the form of a game of argument and counter-argument. The new-media technology calls into question our accepted notion of typographic communication and raises a number of essential questions that we cannot ignore. Never since Gutenberg's invention of moveable type in the fifteenth century has typographic communication been exposed to such a fundamental change as it is today. Can typography still play a significant role when digitisation and new media shake at the foundations of the typographic trade? Now this trade finds itself at a crossroads. What direction will it take in its further development? This book not only dwells on what moves and inspires today's typographer, but also elaborates on new developments in the field of typography. In The Triumph of Typography, 21 international experts in the fields of typography and communication in the broadest sense of the word share their expertise with fascinating analyses and examples. With contributions by: Peter Bil'ak, Petr van Blokland, Hans Rudolf Bosshard, Paul van Capelleveen, Roger Chartier, Paul Dijstelberge, Yuri Engelhardt, Willem Frijhoff, Christof Gassner, Michael Giesecke, Britt Grootes, Gerard Hadders, Henk Hoeks, Ralf de Jong, Ewan Lentjes, Ellen Lupton, Lev Manovich, Jack Post, Rick Poynor, José Teunissen, Wouter Weijers.

Typography is far more than type design and layout. It touches on one of the key values of our society: the printed free word, democratic discourse. It is thanks to the power of typography that this discourse has assumed the form of a game of argument and counter-argument. The new-media technology calls into question our accepted notion of typographic communication and raises a number of essential questions that we cannot ignore. Never since Gutenberg's invention of moveable type in the fifteenth century has typographic communication been exposed to such a fundamental change as it is today. Can typography still play a significant role when digitisation and new media shake at the foundations of the typographic trade? Now this trade finds itself at a crossroads. What direction will it take in its further development? This book not only dwells on what moves and inspires today's typographer, but also elaborates on new developments in the field of typography. In The Triumph of Typography, 21 international experts in the fields of typography and communication in the broadest sense of the word share their expertise with fascinating analyses and examples. With contributions by: Peter Bil'ak, Petr van Blokland, Hans Rudolf Bosshard, Paul van Capelleveen, Roger Chartier, Paul Dijstelberge, Yuri Engelhardt, Willem Frijhoff, Christof Gassner, Michael Giesecke, Britt Grootes, Gerard Hadders, Henk Hoeks, Ralf de Jong, Ewan Lentjes, Ellen Lupton, Lev Manovich, Jack Post, Rick Poynor, José Teunissen, Wouter Weijers.

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Letter = Image

Gerard Hadders

The Triumph of Typography The scope of typography

Gerard Hadders (1954), co-founder of the Hard

Werken group in 1978, graduated in fine arts and

photography in 1979. Inspired by Robert Venturi

he developed a strong interest in architecture as

sign and symbol. In 1992 he set up the design

department of the Jan van Eyck Academy in

Maastricht with Jan van Toorn. Subsequently, he

taught for twelve years at the master course Post

St. Joost Graphic Design, connecting design with

the research of urban visual culture (CopyProof, a

new method for design education, 2000). In 1993

he founded Buro Plantage. In 2013 he co-founded,

with Edith Gruson, studio Pro Arts Design.

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Introduction

Right from the beginning I thought

of letters as images. Besides being a

sign, a letter was also form. This led me

to an eclectic use of letter design taken

from the history of typography in which

American pulp fiction typography went

hand-in-hand with the typography of De

Stijl or designs from Hermann Zapf’s

Manuale Typographicum (1954) that are

based on mediaeval letters.

During the eighties, monumental

typography gained in significance over

the classical treatment of informative

text. During the second half of the

eighties and into the nineties I produced

large, monumental light works, and in

doing so I came to realise that typefaces

are independent forms that can be

emblematically applied.

By travelling to India and study ing

Mogol and Hindu architecture and

ornamentation, I learned to master the

principle of raunak: converting complex,

interwoven forms or texts into a single

archetypical main form. The next step

was the discovery of the work and

thought of Robert Venturi, with his

emphasis on the importance of narrative

typology and design language in

architecture. From Venturi I learned the

meaning of active façades.

Residual image

It was in designing a flexible,

applicable architectonic skin for a

series of despatch offices for PTT Post

(1999–2001) that I employed the effect

of residual image, which has to do with

the following insight. If a form is properly

broken down into separate, repetitive

elements, it remains recognisable even

after it has been rearranged, at least

if the original form was widely known.

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In this case it had to do with broadly

distributed company logos that had

degenerated into a kind of Gestalt (STIP,

System Typography Integrated Program,

1998).

A further development is applying

the same idea in light works with an

active low resolution (i.e. variable

luminosity), such as the IJ Tower in

Amsterdam and later in and on top

of the Frits Philips music building in

Eindhoven. A static variant was applied

in Geheugenwerk (Memory works) at the

Westerstein complex for the elderly in

Hoogvliet.

Ornamentation

The design methodology used

in the Post St. Joost Graphic Design

master’s program in Breda, on which I

worked until 2008, was aimed at the

role of design in the context of urban

visual complexity. The focus was on

the development of alternative visibility

strategies within the usual cacophony of

commercial and directional messages.

Visual research resulted in the notion

of ornate seeing, which refers to the

fact that every person who makes use

of what the city has to offer is led by

a perception that differs from that of

other users. The result is an approach to

design that is aimed at the application

of a graphic form as an independent –

call it ‘monumental’ – phenomenon that

concentrates on one user group and as

such can be read in the urban context.

Ornamentation plays an important

role here. An ornamental approach to the

typeface makes it possible to add visual

elements that reinforce the orientation of

the message.

These alternative visibility strategies

can also be applied in the standard

media, which are dominated by the

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Letter = Image

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massiveness of the resources used. After

all, the only law that applies in communication

is this: whatever is visible is

also observed. In practice this means big

and many, and often both. In order to be

visible between the chinks of this media

barrage, a design language is necessary

that is self-referential. Every typeface

has to be a bearer of the elements of the

message; every letter has to be a logo.

Applying the typeface in a

commercial culture

During the eighties a commercial

glorification of the street culture

took place that has continued virtually

unchanged. Major changes in the youth

culture, such as pop music and fashion,

no longer manifested themselves as the

replacement of an earlier culture but

became part of a motley mélange where

rocker, hippie, punk and yuppie mixed

together in the street scene and the

media.

These developments had a huge

impact on mass communication and the

brand culture, which came under pressure

from the steady expansion of medial

forms of expression. One consequence

of this was greater refinement in the

development of medial distribution strategies

for combating the fragmentation

of the message, as well as a stronger

focus on the target group in the design

process.

Against this background the brand/

logo began playing an increasingly

important role in expressions of communication;

it took the place of simple

signatures and came to set the tone for

the image of the sender – a marketing

tool.

The key word here is complexity.

First of all the viewer has to be visually

stimulated and tempted, if necessary,

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to observe the product. In the monumental

projects for KPN Post and TNT

international, the logo design became

so complex that observation exceeded

the repetitive recognition and the viewer

took pleasure in looking at the banal,

everyday graphic form.

In the case of simpler applications

such as correspondence and websites,

the form must be applied in a coordinated

way, as in the case of the standard

corporate identity, although with greater

and more coherent visibility and in a

manner that departs from that of regular

(classical) typographic expressions.

Every expression – from printed version

to website – should exude an identical

visual stimulus.

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01

Hard Werken-group 01

a.

Design of a silkscreened

poster from 1981 for

a dance performance,

cut directly from red

film. The choreography

took place on either

side of a diagonal that

hung above the dance

floor. The painterly

form is loosely based

on the handwriting of

Henk Elenga (Hard

Werken), as he marked

his cassette tapes with

felt-tip pen. The colours

are based on the stage

set and costumes.

b.

Design from 1982 for

an exhibition on a new

Dutch generation of

‘wild painters’ at the

Rotterdamse Kunst

Stichting (RKS), organised

by Filip Peters.

Felt-tip pen and India

ink are used to produce

a joyously irregular

typographic mess.

c.

Spread from Zien

magazine, 1985. The

aim of the magazine

was to become a total

work of art, according

to publisher Gerald

van der Kaap, so the

typography played

a monumental role.

The typeface used is

Stan Republican Party,

optically distorted in the

Staromat (photographic

headline setter).

Gerard Hadders

Letter = Image

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02

Hard Werken-group 02

a.

The Manuale typographicum

style book by

Hermann Zapf from

1954 clearly shows that

playful constructions

can be made with classical

fonts without any

loss of ‘decorum’. The

book combined great

beauty with elegant

variation.

b.

The bestseller cover

from 1983 is loosely

based on the Zapf

style exercises from

1954 combined with

American pocketbook

design. Depicted here is

the working drawing as

it was sent to the lithographer.

Mounted in the

red area is a picture of

an unknown monastery.

The initials are from the

Nebiolo type foundry.

People in the book trade

spoke of ‘a black day’ for

the publisher when this

kind of trash appeared

in the bookshop.

Nevertheless, 600,000

copies were sold.

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03

House style for PTT

Post & Artwork

a.

Artwork intended

for the PTT Post

Dispatch Interchange

in Leeuwarden, 1985.

The logo of PTT Post

is enthroned on a

12-metre-high construction

with flexface

stretched across it. The

figure on the textile

consists of the binary

code of the premises,

and the neon figure

indicates the year the

building came into use.

The illuminated sign

with the logo serves as

a weather vane.

b.

The rise and fall of

the PTT house style:

neon frieze spanning

6 × 80 metres and

6 × 9 metres for

the Terbregseweg

Dispatch Interchange in

Rotterdam, 1991. The

story of the development

of the logo from

1965 (Total Design) to

1987 (Studio Dumbar)

is told in four chapters.

The first ‘screen’ has to

do with the primacy of

the Univers typeface

in the house style, the

last ‘screen’ shows the

demise of Univers as

only one element in

Studio Dumbar’s suprematist

game of shapes.

After three adaptations,

the neon frieze was

dismantled at Post.nl

in 2012 due to lack of

funds.

Gerard Hadders

Letter = Image

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04

Mughal architecture &

Raunak

a.

Taj Mahal, Agra, India

(1631–1648).

b.

Khajurao temple

complex, India

(950 –1050).

The notion of ‘Raunak’

plays a role in both the

Hindu and the later

Mughal architecture. As

with lacemaking in the

Low Countries or with a

well-trimmed Christmas

tree, the image consists

of a distinct main

form and a seemingly

endless compression

of ornamentation within

it. In principle Raunak

means ‘movement

without distinguishing

forms’ (Yogi Panghaal,

1998).

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05

Venturi façade

architecture

a.

Robert Venturi and

Denise Scott Brown,

Learning from Las

Vegas, 1972. Analysis

of the narrative aspects

present in vulgar,

commercial forms of

architecture. Here the

focus is on architecture

as sign and leads

almost automatically

to typography as

architecture.

b.

Robert Venturi and

Denise Scott Brown,

LED façade for the

Whitehall Ferry Terminal,

Staten Island, 1996.

A perfect example of

an active façade. In

the nineties, daylightresistant

LED (Light

Emitting Diode) walls

made it possible to

transform entire buildings

into storytelling

monitors.

Gerard Hadders

Letter = Image

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06

Serial signalisation &

STIP architecture

a.

Parcel office for PTT

Post, Leeuwarden,

1999. Serial architectural

traffic signs for

a chain of distribution

centres (implemented

for thirty branches in the

Netherlands).

b.

The so-called LEW

wall (Light Emitting

Wall) of the IJ tower in

Amsterdam, 2001–

2007. A low-resolution

LED wall, 120 × 84

pixels. From close range

it’s a decorative light

wall, from a distance the

wall offers iconographic

possibilities.

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07

STIP matrix: study

Visual study of a

systematic approach

to parcel offices with

different users led to

the development of a

discontinuous 9 × 9

STIP matrix of retroreflective

prismatic foil.

In this way the logos of

the various users could

be applied to the façade

as images of equivalent

value.

Gerard Hadders

Letter = Image

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08

Geheugenwerk

(Memory works),

Westerstein,

Rotterdam-Hoogvliet,

2006

Sprayed work on vinyl

– statistical application

of the discontinuous

9 × 9 matrix. Photos

of beloved ones from

photo albums of the

residents of an elderly

home as covering for a

20 × 40-metre façade.

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09

Ornate seeing |

Superfacial

a.

Four of twenty-four

different observation

possibilities within the

street scene by different

users (visual essay, Kolk,

Amsterdam; Post St.

Joost student work).

b.

Simulation of subjective

observation by a fouryear-old

(visual essay;

Post St.Joost student

work).

Gerard Hadders

Letter = Image 335

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10

Visibility strategy,

Hofbogen, Rotterdam,

2007–2009

Man-sized numbers,

each consisting of

three different stencils,

were used to number

hundreds of walled-up

railway viaduct arches,

thereby rescuing them

from ‘architectonic

anonymity’. The second

layer of this project

consisted of anecdotal,

stencilled texts, a

wall newspaper and a

website, all using the

same visual style.

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11

Façade of the INTI

(International New

Town Institute) in

Almere: design and

website, 2008

The graphic identity is

based on cartographical

notation from the

1950s, when there was

an explosion of New

Towns. Each letter is

a cogent bearer of the

graphic identity. The

typeface for the running

text is an adapted

American Typewriter.

Gerard Hadders

Letter = Image

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12

‘Making Almere’,

auxiliary branche, ABR

(Architecture Biennale

Rotterdam), Almere,

2012

Graphic identity,

exhibition concept and

merchandising all make

use of the same visual

language, where the

focus is on a recognisable

‘personal’ typeface.

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13

Corporate logo

a.

Traditional Coca Cola

advertisement: the

logo is used as ‘sender’

(referential) and is

part of the pay-off, the

closing line of an advertising

statement.

b.

‘Product-specific’

approach with a central

role for the logo.

Formerly reserved for a

point-of-sale (that is, the

shop), now decisive for

marketing in general.

c.

At Nike you see the

same reversal taking

place in the 1990s.

Gerard Hadders

Letter = Image

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14

TNT Benelux, Houten:

neon frieze, 1998

The TNT logo is

presented in six

different neon filaments.

The white neon line

switches on every five

seconds, resulting in a

slow animation: ‘rush

hour art’ along the A27

motorway.

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15

Muziekgebouw Frits

Philips, Eindhoven,

2009

Graphic identity,

monumental light applications.

An extensive,

coordinated graphic and

visual programme based

on ‘the representation of

music’.

Gerard Hadders

Letter = Image

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