Compendium for literates: a system of writing

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MIT Press, 1974 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 180 pages
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Karl Gerstner is one of Switzerland's-and therefore the world's-best and best-known graphic and typographic designers. His high ambition in this book, first published in German in 1972, is to provide a complete and systematic taxonomy of writing, a programmed investigation into the underlying structure of script and type; Gerstner writes that his book is meant to "encompass the aspects and possibilities of the alphabet in their totality." It is this systematic and programmatic approach that sets the book apart. Most studies of typography and its larger graphic setting and context are concerned with the history of the development of writing and printing, or are collections of typographic models or typical examples, or are textbooks on layout and design. This one is organized into five sections that take up, in turn, Script and Speech-the relation between writing and language, different alphabets, reading directions (the eye follows directions and moves in a direction), style; Manual Graphics or craft-materials, tools, methods, procedures, reproductive techniques; Images-letter pictures, word pictures, sentence pictures, handwriting, size, proportion, type weight, form, harmony, texture, brightness, color; Function-as effected through dimensioning, spacing, grouping, layout, integration; and Expression-as achieved through coordination, articulation, emphasis, diversion, and the spirit of play. As a physical object, the book is more than a passive repository of examples of typographic display. It makes a dynamic and integrated typographic statement of its own and as a whole as it progresses and develops in accordance with its internal program. The book is nearly square and opens vertically rather than horizontally. Type is printed on only one side of the sheets, which are folded back on themselves along the outer edge to form double leaves, so that there is no distracting show-through "noise." There are words printed in blind embossing and stencil cutouts. And color is used with an elegant restraint, appearing only at the book's mid-section climax-its very sparseness amid the prevailing sharp black and white contributes a luxurious effect.

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About the author (1974)

Grafikdesigner und K??nstler, gr??ndete 1959 zusammen mit Markus Kuttner die Agentur Gerstner + Kuttner, der sp??teren legend??ren Agentur GGK, die Auftr??ge f??r VW, Ford, Swissair, Nestle oder IBM gestalteten. Sp??ter arbeitete er alleine weiter und entwarf Corporate Identities u.a. f??r Swissair, Burda, Ringier oder Langenscheidt.

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