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Re: [BKARTS] WOID #XI-38. American Gleichschaltung

Mr. Werner:

I am quite interested in what you've sent to the list.  However, the task of mentally removing the equal signs and other extraneous characters is exhausting.

Can someone help him turn that off?  Or can you post your message to your web site?



> From: Paul T Werner <paul.werner@xxxxxxx>
> Date: 2004/07/08 Thu PM 12:10:26 EDT
> To: BOOK_ARTS-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> Subject: WOID #XI-38. American Gleichschaltung
> I) =
> Today=92s New York Times has a sensitive analysis of a desensitized choic=
> e=2C the typeface for the cornerstone at the so-called Freedom Tower at t=
> he World Trade Center=2E As the reporter=2C David W=2E Dunlap=2C put its=2C=
>  the typeface reflects =93the inherent ambiguity of the project=3A a sole=
> mn memorial =2E=2E=2Ethat is simultaneously supposed to be a defiant rest=
> atement of the city=92s commercial gigantism=2E=94
> Well=2C yes=2E The type in question is nominally new=3A it=92s called Got=
> ham=2C and was designed in 2002 by Hoefler and Frere-Jones=2C of New York=
> =2E It=92s a conscious=2C clean pastiche of the New Deal Gothics found al=
> l over New York City buildings=2E Unfortunately=2C as Dunlap points out=2C=
>  the Freedom Tower inscription uses only caps=2C which point its message =
> towards the formal power of the brief titles on local landmarks like the =
> =93PORT OF AUTHORITY BUILDING=94 (as New Yorkers like to call it)=2C and =
> away from its own content=2E As the typographer John Kane puts it=2C =93U=
> se of upper- and lowercase would have democratized the message=2C removed=
>  its institutional pretensions=2E=94 In the case of the Freedom Tower Ins=
> cription this formal weight appears to be compensated slightly by a relat=
> ive compression of the spacing=2C but that=92s hard to judge from the pho=
> tograph=2E
>  =
> The irony is=2C that New Deal American Gothics had much in common with Fu=
> tura and other sans-serifs of the =27twenties and =91thirties=3A all were=
>  conscious attempts at what the Nazis were to call =93Gleichschaltung=2C=94=
>  =93planification=2E=94 Type=2C like architecture=2C like the organizatio=
> n of society itself=2C was to be reduced to its bare=2C efficient essenti=
> als=2C rid of undesirable=2C local or ethnic elements=2E =93Gleichschaltu=
> ng=94 eventually came to mean the elimination of non-German elements from=
>  the academies=2C the courts=2C and even from typography=2E Certainly the=
>  American New Deal was nowhere as violent as the German=2C but it followe=
> d the same ideology of streamlining=3B one look at any number of =91thirt=
> ies-era post-offices should lay that issue to rest=2E
> Dunlap concludes that the choice of Gotham is apt=2C at once for its symb=
> olic and formal connotations=3A formal=2C in that it conveys a certain =93=
> institutional pretension=94 and symbolic=2C in that the typeface itself r=
> efers back to similar historical conjunctures and needs=2E It=92s a truis=
> m by now that the Freedom Tower is a rather sad compromise between grief =
> and greed=2E The article ends with a quote from the designer Ann Harakawa=
> =3A =93The idea of being slightly ambiguous is interesting=2C because no =
> one has any idea of what=92s going to come=2E=94 =
>   =
> II) =
> Least of all from the past=2E Futura and other such typefaces played a cr=
> ucial role in the economic shifts of the Great Depression=3A because hot =
> type constituted a major part of the capital investment of any printer th=
> e constant introduction and promotion of new typefaces left the small sho=
> ps powerless to compete with the large industrial printers=2E To the exte=
> nt that Futura was a =93fashionable=94 face it was a threat to the small=2C=
>  highly trained shop owners who (in Germany at least) drifted into the Na=
> zi Party=2E To the extent that Gleichschaltung promised =93Ein Reich=2C E=
> in Volk=2C Ein Futura-Bold=2C=94 it offered the illusion of an even playi=
> ng field=2C in Germany as in America
> There is simply no similar system of production at play=2C today=3A indee=
> d=2C the most curious aspect of the long debate over the new replacement =
> for the World Trade Center is the near-unanimous belief that capitalism a=
> nd aesthetics are at loggerheads=3A in effect=2C that there is no reconci=
> liation possible between the use of this building (or typeface)=2C and it=
> s intended meaning=2E =
> The technologically appropriate response to this problem would have been =
> to enlarge and carve a hand-written inscription=2E That at least would ha=
> ve conveyed the felt ambiguity of the whole project=2C while promising th=
> at technology - the bringing into play of the means of production =96 off=
> ered a reconciliation of the democratic and the institutional=2E In Commu=
> nist China=2C of course=2C such inscriptions were penned by Party leaders=
> =2C but there=92s no need for that=2C as yet=3A in fact=2C the quietly co=
> rrupt Governor of New York State asked that his name and the names of all=
>  officials be removed from the stone=2C marking it as the ultimate repres=
> sion of =E9criture=2E The Freedom Tower Inscription marks the point where=
>  Post-Modernist irony appears for what it is=2C now=3A the sneer of defea=
> tism and self-contempt=2E
> Paul T Werner=2C New York
> http=3A//theorangepress=2Ecom
> WOID=3A A journal of visual language
>              ***********************************************
>                                    =20
>                        Spring[binding]Hath Sprung
>          Worldwide Springback Bind-O-Rama and Online Exhibition
>             Full information at <http://www.philobiblon.com>
>                    ENTRY DEADLINE -- September 1, 2004
>                                    =20
>       Book_Arts-L FAQ and Archive at: <http://www.philobiblon.com>
>              ***********************************************


                       Spring[binding]Hath Sprung
         Worldwide Springback Bind-O-Rama and Online Exhibition
            Full information at <http://www.philobiblon.com>
                   ENTRY DEADLINE -- September 1, 2004

      Book_Arts-L FAQ and Archive at: <http://www.philobiblon.com>

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