Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Your turn

I think we can start our discussion. Don't mind me adding a few touches here and there.


amy Poliakoff said...

Any technological advancement has a major impact on graphic design. The advancement of technology changes the production process. For example, in terms of looking at the photography revolution, William Henry Fox Talbot had introduced the Calotype and Louis Daguerre had introduced the Daguerreotype. Both men knew each other and although they were competitors, they shared ideas in the beginning. Now, exposure with the Daguerreotype in photography was cut down to twenty minutes as opposed to all day long in previous work done by Niepce. This effected efficiency. Talbot however had kept the progress of Britain behind by about 15 years because he had withheld so many patents. The real issue with the photography revolution was that the Daguerreotype was more detailed than Talbot's Calotype.

For a brief period the Daguerreotype was everywhere. Everyone had a Daguerreotype made, but it is the negative to positive process of Talbot’s Calotype that was reproducible. The Daguerreotype was more accurate by was a direct positive process. It could not be reproduced. Thus the Dagguereotype was a more detailed exposure but since it could not be reproduced in a neg. to pos. process like the Calotype, it was not as marketable. In looking at graphic design and learning that reproduction leads to immediacy in graphic design, it is clear that mass reproduction of images leads to mass production in general. This is where the idea of profit over art comes into mind. We struggle with this concept today art vs. money in the studio film industry.

Photography itself allowed for a new immediacy. People can now mentally and visually travel the world through visual education. This new type of instant gratification effected graphic design much like the immediacy of Guttenberg's typographic printing press. With the reproduction of photographic images now possible giving way to mass production, the economic factors contributed more heavily to the graphic art industry. This leads to an important question; Is it more important for people to have access to art or for that art to be brilliant (like the hand crafted illuminated manuscripts of the incunabla period. )

John said...

I think that question might be working at cross purposes; I believe art is about accessibility in some fashion or other.
For instance, look back to the beginnings of the course, and the cave paintings. Those have been accessible for thousands and thousands of years. The classic canvas painting is about accessibility in that it's portable, it conveys some message, and it can be displayed for any number of people to access it over any period of time.
I think when it came to books, the desire for display and accessibility lead to things like the illuminated manuscript. While some of the illustrations may have been for greater insight into the text, or to make the text accessible, i think its safe to say they were made for display and permanence. They did go through a lot of trouble to craft something more stable than a scroll, so might as well make it beautiful.
So back to the question: If art is to be brilliant (and for the purposes of this theory I'm going to completely ignore aesthetic arguments, although i think a case could be made that accessibility and aesthetics are interlinked) then it has to improve accessibility - I think you see that with every major movement in art, whether its accessibility inherent to the medium or accessibility to a new point of view exposed through technique.
thank you to Amy for informative post, the middle paragraph started churning the gears to produce the above ramble.

A.T. said...

I follow John. But what do you mean by "brilliant" in this case? And does art need that property after all?

bmerrill said...

This was supposed to be u last week, but I'll throw it on here instead.

Celtic texts, as early as the Book of Darrow, have impacted graphic representation of information until this day. Stylized borders are one of the most enduring characteristics that the pages of Celtic books first drew a great amount of attention and recognition for, and could be the most easily noticeable attributes to any text of the era. The intensely detailed patterns that formed these borders are replicated in flowing-lace style around works springing from the fashion, closely resembling a common painting frame. I believe this was important, it was an easy way to artistically coordinate and highlight information in words as though it were a framed work of art, bridging the gap between words and images that translated well into the upper classes who purchased illuminated manuscripts for the home or as gifts. The longevity of this stylistic choice is almost unparalleled, used by all types of cultures, even to this day, for example by Peter Behrens (German, c.1900) and even into internet-based graphic styles that lay out pages of information with innovative digital borders. The presentation of information has been linked with the actual words portrayed since the beginning of recorded writing, back to the aesthetic cuneiform language.

John said...

brilliant, as in the opposite of mundane, i think. In the same way an idea is consider brilliant if it's ground breaking in its insight, I'd want to use it in the same way to describe art. Like the branding that Apple created in the late nineties is brilliant; it simplified the message, the look, the color, the feel and has become the standard for a lot of firms. People create ads in this aesthetic to sell everything from vodka to volkswagens to t-shirts to bathroom sinks.
I think Amy might have meant something more along the lines of wonderful, something closer to an aesthetic judgment, where as I want to re-purpose it to describe novelty of the work.

bmerrill said...

Something that I took from the lecture on Monday was the photograph's impact on how visual information was now recordable with the innovative Calotype. It's bearing on the question of what makes art 'brilliant' is echoed by the immediate shift in the arts used by mass media and communication purposes. We have all seen the verisimilitude executed by european (most notably Ducth and Flemish) painters, striving to capture the exact look and even feel of the still life. Life, however, is not still, and the gap bridged by photography could be said to make this obselete. I disagree with this of course, because each work of art has an intrinsic value, and the finely crafted works by those artists shall always be appreciated. But, with the introduction of a photograph, the human element of art could almost be said to have become obselete. I say almost for a reason. The history of graphic expression, dating back to Lascaux and the like, has always involved a person crafting the image into an impression of what they are seeing. The influence of their personality, artistic ability, and motivation to construct that invdividual piece have always echoed visually in the creation of a work. With a photograph, some people assert that this is now dead. Again, I disagree, for the photographer does not usually point and shoot to create a work of art. Their influence is still within the work, brought across by their choice of framing, the subject matter, the time of day, and the implied meanings of what is happening within the photo. Brilliant art may have been seen to many at the time as only an artist's man-made creation, but the very idea of man using his intellect and technology as a means to creating art adds a brilliance to the work all it's own.

Barry said...

The many scientific and technical innovations that occurred in Britain in the 18th century, gave rise to Industrial Revolution. Developments in iron and steel manufacturing, the production of steam engines, textile production, increased mechanization, and the development of railroads were all powerful influences that worked together to transform the economy. As this progress spread internationally, dramatic shifts occurred and the basis of economies changed from agriculture to industry.
The technical and social shifts of the Industrial Revolution had an especially dramatic effect on printed materials, publishing, and graphic design. Beginning during the 1820’s, lithographic print businesses were established in most of the older, large cities in the eastern United States. These businesses were able to quickly and cheaply produce book and magazine illustration, advertisements, maps, sheets music, and popular prints for decoration. As the US population grew and shifted, markets for these lithographic print businesses were established in other parts of the country. Cincinnati was one of the first cities outside of New England to establish a successful lithographic industry. Ehrgott, Forbriger & Co was established there in 1856 by an artist and a printmaker, Peter E. Ehrgott and Adolphus F. Forbriger. In 1869 Adolphus Forbriger died. Later that year, Adolph K. Krebs joined the firm and the company’s name was changed to Ehrgott & Krebs. In 1874 Ehrgott withdrew, and Krebs Lithographic Company was formed.
During the Industrial Revolution, businesses moved to be closer to each other in order to be more efficient. Consequently people moved from rural to urban areas in search of work. These economic changes, in turn, brought about dramatic social changes. This growth of densely populated cities, general prosperity, advances in science, and a decline in the role of religion, all affected the public’s collective attitude.
This newfound prosperity, freedom, and hopefulness was manifest in the visual design of the period as seen in the in the examples by Krebs Lithographing Co. These printed materials are a profound departure from the materials that we have discussed previously this semester. The fact that they are advertisements separates them from printed documents from previous eras. These ads were products of the new commerce. Previously most printed material was religious, legal, historic, or literature.

All three of the images from Krebs display a playful quality in both their subject and formal design. I am particularly intrigues by the advertisement for Prang’s valentine cards. The figure is posed in a provocative way with her hand on her hip and her attention intriguingly focused on some unknown activity. She has a richly patterned, loose gown and flowing hair. The ribbon of text appears to have been hastily discarded as if she is disrobing. The ambiguous outdoor space and twilight also serve to further exaggerate the mysterious tone. This combination seems bawdy and suggestive especially when compared to printed imagery from earlier periods. But then when you take into account the leashed cherubs, which are strikingly secular in their haughty poses and gestures, and the figures overall air of confidence the image seems overstated to the point of being ironic and camp.

I readily admit that my interpretation may well be distorted by my contemporary postmodern point of view. It just seems to be an exaggerated parody that could not have existed prior to this period.

A.T. said...

Barry: Interesting point.

A.T. said...

By the way, did you notice the black cherub on Prang's late 19th-Century postcard? The girl is not blond either.

amy Poliakoff said...

In refering to my post above, I was also stating that due to technological advances like the photographic revolution the accessibility of art increased. So John, it is the immediacy now placed in the art world that leads to mass production and dictates an economic factor in the production of graphic design. This is where the question of art vs. money comes into play.

Gretel said...

Of all the images shown in class last Monday I found the photographs by Paul Nadar to be the most impressive ones. Photography since its beginnings has captivated people’s attention and has gained its own place as an individual art form.
Looking at those by Nadar I see a recently born technique. The inevitable influence of the dominant medium of the time, painting, is visible in many aspects. The poses are studied and predictable as old academic portraits. The carefully chosen backgrounds and attires remember those of the great aristocracy members in their endless sessions before a painter.
It is only looking attentively that we discover those new elements that makes photography a truly modern medium. The look on the subjects’ eyes is direct and intense, as only a copy of reality can be. And the sense of immediacy, the fact that each single photograph captures a precise, irreplaceable moment in history is the real essence of a qualitative change in the way of representing and manipulating images.

amanda said...

Something I find to be so fascinating within the Krebs Cincinnati Exposition is the use of so many different fonts and font sizes within the same work, from the decorated text of “Exhibition” (which slightly seems to echo 15th Century lettering such as that of Ratdolt and Tory) to the simple and modern yet illegible text at the bottom. It is a style that is often seen today in graphic design (although normally limited to three fonts), and is executed in a way that is balanced and artistic. The viewer’s eye is directed first to the largest text of “Exhibition”, which serves as the whole foundation of the poster, followed by “Cincinnati” and then the image in the center. The center portion of the poster seems to be a mirror image, which is evident especially in the “opening” and “closing” date text and the small circular illustrations as well. The poster also possesses a warm tone which is offset by the cool blue hue of the woman’s clothing. With yet another interesting aspect being that the background of the poster has an elaborate textural design, it’s no wonder designers are duplicating this “antique” style today.

Zureyka said...

Photography has always been a fascination for me and once I learned the history and actual evolution of how photography was made to the way we know of it now, is remarkable and makes me appreciate it much more. Joseph Niepce made the first photograph and he photographed the “View from his Outside Window at Le Gras”. This photograph did not take a few seconds or even a few minutes to expose in order for it to be made; rather he exposed it for an entire day. As time progressed, the process of exposure and the development process became better and eventually allowed the public to be their own photographers. With the invention of photography, it not only documented portraits of well-known people during that era, but it was able to record history itself. It allowed Eadweard Muybridge to record and study the act of motion, such as the example of “The Horse in Motion”. This changed the perception of motion because this is where Muybridge revealed that when a horse is in motion, its feet leave the ground and the legs are underneath the horse instead of what was once believed by illustrators. Photography even paved the way for documentary work, such as what Roger Fenton, Matthew Brady, Timothy O’Sullivan and Alex Gardner were able to do when they recorded history in the making as well as the results of the American Wars during this era. If it were not for them, we would have no recorded recollections of the wars back then or even have seen the reality and brutality of the wars. With the use photography, from the beginning till now it has changed the perception of life and the world around us.

Jomar said...

I too was initially drawn to Krebs Lithographing Co. poster for Cincinatti's 9th Exposition of Art and Industry (1881) and the many typefaces used. I find this work masterful in it's use of intricate typefaces combined with lesser, sans serif, smaller more serious print. I find the use of imagery exceptionally effective in communicating its intent.

Comparatively speaking, the later Krebs Lithographing Co. poster for the 11th annual Cincinatti's Exposition of Art and Industry (1883), found in our text, I consider to be less effective in conveying the subject matter outright. Taking into account the times slower pace and how the dramatic imagery was designed for greater viewing time, I do not think the lesser use of type, typefaces, and more imagery was as effective.

On another note, I hate to admit, but I don’t think I ever gave much thought to the miracle that Photography is until I studied the segment on Photography as “the new communication tool and its inventors. I found myself mesmerized by Niepce’s first photographic image, as well as Daguerre’s, and seeing the first people to ever be photographed. In addition to the obvious awesomeness of the breakthrough, the pictures themselves are incredibly beautiful in both, subject matter and composition, in my estimation.

A.T. said...

Amanda: Interesting point.

Your point about Muybridge is well taken, Zureika. I should post some of his work.

steph said...

According to our text, William Sharp created the first American chromolithograph in 1840, though chromolithography had been used in Germany, England, and France since the turn of the nineteenth century. Despite the fact that they took months to produce, chromos took post-Civil War United States by storm because of their mass-productibility. In fact, the era was dubbed the “chromo civilization.” By the end of the Victorian era, chromos were widely used in advertising, arts publications, educational materials, and a variety of home décor.

In the midst of the Industrial Revolution, general suspicion and opposition surrounded all manner of technological advance, including the production of chromolithographs. A primary fear was that they were anti-humanist and undermined artistic talent. Specifically regarding fine art, people were bothered by inauthenticity and categorized chromos as “bad art.” Many famous paintings were reproduced as chromos, but since they weren’t originals, they were considered too mechanical—thus lacking the artist’s creative spirit.

Louis Prang (“father of the American Christmas card”) persisted to produce and refine chromolithography despite criticism because he believed that original and inaccessible fine art was elitist. Because of pioneers like Prang, chromos effectively made their way into the middle-class home, changing the nature of art (a relevant scenario nowadays, right?). As production costs (and transitively, quality) decreased, chromos became widespread… some artists began to use chromos to increase the exposure and accessibility of their works. By the turn of the century, chromos became more affiliated with business than with art because of their pervasive, low-quality spillover into advertising and product marketing.

In the 1930s, offset printing largely replaced chromolithography as the dominant form of commercial printing. However, chromos were still generated by artists in the form of limited edition prints, reproductions, and art posters.

Regarding the other comments, I agree that “brilliance” is subjective and difficult to qualify… I think the debate’s about accessibility versus quality—assuming the stance that accessibility and quality enjoy a symbiotic relationship—basically, reiterating the aforementioned apprehensions about widespread chromolithography as applied to art. The crux of the debate is the classification of “fine art.” Coincidence that the chromolitho dispute (ideologically) bled into the Dada movement? Same debate we encounter when reviewing pop art… conceptual art… ad nauseum. The question of what constitutes art has always been on our minds. The commercial nature of graphic design begs the very question.

My two cents: I agree with Prang, art shouldn’t be elitist (even though it is). Like the Beuys aphorism, “Everyone is an artist.” Accessibility doesn’t automatically engender crap art… we ought to accept that the nature of art is constantly changing… it’s supposed to.

Also, yeah… the one black cherub is curious…

JF said...

I agree with Steph… Everything changes, everything has a season. Why shouldn’t art have that same principle?

I think it’s pretty cool to see today’s practices manifesting in our books. Applying the principles of design (balance, unity, contrast, proportion, and emphasis) in a new medium can be very challenging to apply and create it’s on nitch however when accomplished it can be very rewarding,

In the images of Paul Nadar, you can see the evolution from paint to photography. The ability to stop time and capture a moment contained so many possibilities. With that medium change you still forgo some opportunities to be creatively free or to take some liberties. As an art form it can be very limiting…

Under the umbrella of graphic design, this allowed more flexibility for advertisers to utilize, what they believed, to be the best way to sell their product. Again though the challenge of deciding, or utilizing, a medium offers a new challenge to artists and designers it be very stressful, because you can’t incorporate everything, you’ll end up doing too much.

Natali said...

Renaissance, Reformation, Counter-Reformation, Enlightenment, and Industrial Revolution—during these Western economic and socio-political phases covering a stretch of three centuries, the innovative engine of the printing press harnessed and drove knowledge and ideas into the various vernaculars of Europe at a pace dangerously miraculous for its time. Since the start of the Renaissance, Medieval Latin was the word of God, and now no longer was the Church hierarchy and some few others the only ones who could read. Fast-forward, and by the time the Industrial Revolution was in high gear, modern natural science and the scientific method—a result of the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment-- had begun the process of supplanting traditional religion as the primary, if not the sole, source of reliable truth.

There is coercion and there is persuasion. While the Catholic Church largely was employing the former during the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, the presses were fast at work persuading innumerable souls contrariwise. Born of innovation, a mechanical demon had been unleashed which challenged and eventually ruptured the authority and control the Church exercised over Europe. The Age of Reason and the Enlightenment grew out of this demonic momentum, and the inertia carried over, and indeed, was the impetus for the spirit of science and innovation that still drives us today.

Now this science, the method of modern natural science--the harvest of centuries of struggle, and in no small way the fruit of the Renaissance--is being harnessed to fleece a secular flock that was lost by the religious shepherds centuries earlier.

Luis Ernesto said...

Graphic design, as a dynamic endeavor, assimilates the social and economic trends of a particular time. This characteristic of change and development is evident during the 19th century Industrial Revolution. Graphic design, during this period, set aside the classical doctrines of proportion and elegance for a more “rugged”, economical form of printed communication. These changes ran parallel to the economic and social situation of the time, as society celebrated the innovations of transportation (the steam engine / train), the graphic design of this era consequently resembled the mobile and highly efficient manner of the populace. The emergence of steam powered printing solutions and the use of untraditional “display” type, were at the forefront of this era of design, where printed communication took on the form of an economic tool. Similar to today, graphic design shifted its course and now targeted the urban sectors of society as a whole. The eminent consumerism of the masses and the marketability of design gave rise to corporate and product branding, as seen in the chromolithographed package designs below.

The contributions in design during the Industrial Revolution solidified design as a powerful social and economic phenomenon. These contributions are still in practice today and will continue to exist far into the foreseeable future since the social and economic incentives of society demand the use of design.

- Luis E. Piñol

Paul said...

After the Industrial Revolution, the improvement of machines used to manufacture advertisements, as well of the cheapening of raw materials such as paper brought about huge advancements in the production of graphic design. In most of the advertisements for the California gold rush, Caslon type became flavor of the revolution. Because there were no telephones, or ways of mass communication besides print materials, the designers for the gold rush advertisements started to dictate the way everything was designed. The letters were bolder, the font sizes all improved and varied. Graphic design became the next frontier being that it was now the new visual way to communicate.