Phase 4: Week 15

This week is about the analysis and inquiry of the Subiaco. I am trying to overlap the written with the practical.

My intentions is that through a social semiotic inquiry I will be able to enable a better understanding of ideology in relation to visual signification of 15th century roman type. 

In practicality that means to

  • examine the different modes of the typography 
    this will probably be in part comparative as I may include scripts and typography relating to the Subiaco. Micro- and mesotypography.
  • look at the level of design and intermodality
    Macro- and paratypography.
  • look at the context and sign-maker

My primary sources of investigation are the Cicero’s Oratore (1465), the first book printed in Italy and outside Germany.  And Lactanius opera (October 1465) both printed with the Subiaco.

I think that this may rather be more of a visual essay than a research kit.

Group crit / tutorial

Overview of format an intended function of each format.

Notes from comments:

Need to figure out where the creative input is going to come into place.

What methodologies do I employ, needs to have some structure.
This is something I have spent some time this week to try and figure out.

Within the formats try and test as many things for them–let loose.

 I am giving a lot of limitations –which is good 

Inside the structure: let go of any other limitation 

Push any form of research–I need to push the experimentation. 

Needs to break out of the limitation inside these formats. 

There is no risk of things feeling disconnected allow myself to be more playful.

Stretch everything a bit more–to the extreme–find a bit balance.

Maybe look at what other people work with in that. 

Celine recommended I should have a look at a Korean alphabet. From a specific dialect. It reflects the form of the face when the letter is being pronounced. Almost as an instruction. It’s called Hangul:


What methodologies for exploration?

I need to establish how I approach my formats that are supposed to explore the letterforms, their development etc. I have three main formats for exploration that will be in dialogue with the written research and make more accessible.

In the exploration of letterforms over time I will conduct a visual study of the micro- and mesotypography of the Subiaco relating to other connected scripts and types. This is much about enhancing the visual connection and visualising influences. May include extracts from levels of macro- and paratypography.
This will require that I

  • Map out Subiaco’s connections to other scripts/types
  • Find visual commonalities (in the micro-, meso-, macro- and paratypograhy.)
  • Define a way to visualise these commonalities for the format.
    This visualisation may be exaggerated and not ‘true to the original’.

In the explorative examination of modes I relate letterforms to other ways of communicating that letterform. Sound, articulation, tounge placement, etc. This will require that I

  • Map possible modes to visualise
  • Define how to visualise the modes
  • Visualise them
    This visualisation is preferably incoherent , meaning that the wider the visual expression of these modes are–the better. This is the intended ‘refraction’ of the letterform. Every fold up of a letterform should be done with some anticipation, it should be something ‘new’ everytime.

The examination of context is intended to present a development beyond a linear periodization and show that development over time is complex. The visualisation will focus on visual development from different classifications in relation to their origin and how they have spread. This will require that I:

  • Establish what scripts/types to work with from what connected scripts/types I mapped in the letterforms format.
  • Establish their place of origin and spread over time

Notes from read articles

I still read a lot weekly, but its too much work to make notes in the journal. I usually do them in my documents where I write. But here are some notes from recent read articles.

Tracing the shapes of multimodal rhetoric: showing epistemic powers of visualisation by Jana Pflaeging and Hartmut Stöckl.

They mention how Karl Bühler (2011: 30-39) “acknowledge the essential rhetorical fact that any sign use must in effect express the ethos of the rhetor, represent their rational take on the world (logos) and appeal to the emotional mindset of an envisaged audience (pathos). “

For me, this really further establishes the importance of looking into the sign maker and their context when working with multimodal analysis.


For my visual analysis I will use Hartmut Stöckl’s toolkit for typographic grammar. The reason is that it is a model that I can relate to since I have been taught and teach myself, typography from the premises of these domains. They are familiar to me. And mainly because they connect well to the semiotic analysis. I use Stöckl’s model as a starting point but will add certain aspects I find relevant for my analysis. I find some properties to better belong in other domains, but I will align with Stöckl’s logic since it will make the work of the analysis more friction free.

Domains of typographic workTypographic building blocksTypographic properties
relates to the design of fonts and individual graphic signs.
– typeface
– type size
– type style
– color of type
– characteristics
– garamond, verdana, etc.
– point size.
– ‘graph’, ‘style’, ‘mode’
– black vs inverted or coloured etc.
relates to the configuration of graphic signs in lines and text blocks.
– letter fit
– word spacing
– line spacing
– amount of print of page
– alignment of type
– position/direction of lines
– mixing of fonts
– standard, spaced, reduced, etc.
– narrow, wide, etc.
– double spacing, single spacing.
– signs/print per page.
– left-/right-aligned/centered
– horizontal, vertical, diagonal, circular, etc.
– hand lettering / other types
relates to the graphic structure of the overall document.
– indentations and paragraphing
– caps and initials
– typographic emphasis
– ornamentation devices
– assembling text and graphics
– size of text blocks, distance between blocks.
– ornamented / coloured
– underlined, italics etc.
– headlines hierarchies, enumerations, tables, charts, indices, footnotes, marginalia, etc.
– image-caption-relations, figurative letters, ‘typopictoriality’.
relates to materials, instruments and techniqures of graphic sign-making.
– material quality of medium
– practices of signing
– thickness, format, surface, etc
– graphic, characting, composing, moulding.

upcoming week:

exploration of letterforms over time

map connections to subiaco

print and do the visual analysis (use book for visual analysis in written)

sketch as i go

find connections