Analysis / 973 words


The case studies within this piece of writing have supplied an insight into the relationship that typography and meaning connect to the systematic order of modern society in relation to movement.

When looking at Paul Virillio’s theory on speed and its affect on technology and society it clear that speed is the connecting factor when looking at typography and it use within specific spaces.

Trains, cars and aeroplanes are all transport systems that move people at great speed. Along with technological advancements speed in transportation naturally increased. Virillio felt that speed “Ruins Progress”. (Virilio, 2006, p.46) However the political implications of speed were due to the feeling that there was too much progress, progress in terms of movement especially within society which.

To slow down this movement, systems and structures had to be put in place. By enforcing these standards of type, it created a sense of conformity. This meant that the typeface could change the way in which people experienced things. Conformity was a way of inflicting rules and making people behave in a certain way. From what Patrick Joyce said before the system needed a specific kind of person who lived in accordance with the system of the city. Institutions such as North Easter Railway and The Ministry of Transport used typography to create systems that would standardise and control a space as well as people.

Joyce’s thoughts on how 19th Century maps could standardise space mimics the purpose of the Transport typeface as well as the use of Gill Sans across North Easter Railway. Standardising the use of a typeface therefore standardises the use of a space.

By using a consistent typeface across Britain’s roads it physically mapped out a space and the typography was what defined the space. This is also the same for the use of Gill Sans. By using a uniform design throughout all printed material, most importantly within the timetable it allowed a mapping of time and distance.

Typography was not something that defined a space, but more so how space defined a typeface. When a typeface is created it is for a specific reason and has a job to fulfil, it has little or no social/contextual connotations, however once used in specific way for example in an era that is modern, industrial or of social progress it then gains them connotations.

This typography control of space and movement is a key within each case study. As the space changes so does the extremity of the control. The North Eastern Railway in terms of speed and movement has a relatively straightforward path. The track is fixed and goes to a specific destination with some cross sections. This means that the control system in place mostly revolves around the start and end of the journey.

When looking at the use of cars and the motorway the type of control has to change. With regards to a car the kind of travel is slightly less direct. People can be impulsive about using a car where as using a train you have to plan around departs and arrivals.

The car user is harder to control therefore by using a mapping system of road signs it allows a sense of freedom. Similar to what Joyce said before about maps, they show certain places but they also miss some out. From this you also have the aeroplane.

The control of movement in this case is slightly different to the rest. easyJet as a company are more like the liberals that Joyce refers to. They wish to move and travel where they like and when they like and this causes major issues for the elite. In easyJet’s case the control was projected on to them. The regulations of travel and movement from the government were to reduce the movement of the masses. easyJet used their standardised type to able the masses not to control them, but to suggest that there was freedom of movement.

As referred to at length in the literary review, Adolf loos was a great believer in how modern design could benefit society and that the appreciation of decoration is something of a backwards society. By society trusting timetables and road signs in modern and simplistic typefaces it would suggest that society had advanced due to them not needing to see unnecessary or stylistic decoration.

The use of Cooper Black by easyJet, even though it is modern typeface, it still feels slightly ornamental. In terms of what Loos said, it was suggest that society was backwards. However this use was intentional as this airline is focused on providing travel for all not the elite. Loos argument enforces social barriers and easyJets use of Cooper Black is an attempt to use these different classes to their advantage.

Loos ideas surrounding the rejection of ornament also link to the economic concerns explored within each of the case studies. Loos believed that ornamentation was a waste of resources therefore the use of machinery was much more appreciated due to it being cost effective. As understood, during the poor economic times there was favouritism to simplicity as well as more focus on a countries infrastructure. As the case studies suggest in an attempt to boost economy it is key to push society into using the transport system. Where there is movement consequently there is good economic growth.

It is apparent the economy determines quite significantly the process of design. With economy to consider it forces the designer to make conscious choices of materials and mediums. For example the rise of capitalism in the Victorian era meant that making profits within manufacture was important. Handcraft production meant that labour costs were high and this was not economical therefore the concept of modern machine created products was much more appealing. This is a clear example Virillio’s theory on how speed affects society in all aspects.


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