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Project. reading+writing=arithmetic

Purpose. To develop a structured series of investigations into language,
writing, and typography. To generate a series of type designs as the basis for research and development. To develop design procedures based on research methodologies rather than aesthetic considerations or rhetorical expositions.

Assignment. This is a self-initiated project at the Masters level where the student explores the outer limits of the typographic experience. It consists of approximately twenty investigations into typographic and written forms, with the objective of exploring the algorithmic systems on which they are based.

Each individual experiment is intended to investigate only a single aspect
of the subject. The design process for these test pieces consists of
researching, prescribing, and executing a series of individual self-authored ‘briefs’ in a standard format comprising a proposition, a methodology and a proposed outcome. Several of these small-scale projects are worked on simultaneously, with new directions being developed in response to results.

A significant feature of this approach is that it allows the designer a
continuous close awareness of the decision-making process, providing
opportunities to build continuously on previous work and the space to learn from failure. The role of the tutor in the context of this personal journey is not that of an instructor or initiator but one of ‘critical friendship’, providing ongoing support and general advice regarding research methods and objectives.

The examples shown on the following pages cover only a small part of the overall project. For additional information contact Paul McNeil at

Format. Approximately thirty publications in book format/various sizes. A series of Postscript typefaces. A program to generate glyphs automatically.

Time. Six months.

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Russell Bestley: A senior lecturer at the London College of Communication, United Kingdom. His work has been primarily concerned with research, through education and practice. Russell Bestley is currently undertaking a PhD into the second generation of UK punk and graphic design.

Ian Noble: Currently active as the Director of Research and Postgraduate programmes within the School of Graphic Design at the London College of Communication. Ian Noble has worked professionally as an editorial designer and as an educator and design writer.

Student. Paul McNeil: © Paul McNeil 2003

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