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Project. Writing Excerpts

Purpose. The purpose of this project is to explore the potential of typographic variables and the placement of letterforms within a composition to communicate the meaning and the essence of a text.

Among the goals are to expose students to examples of superb writing, encourage them to examine language carefully and discover the power and beauty of typography as the visual representation of language.

Assignment. Excerpts from texts by writer William Faulkner, naturalist William Beebe, writer Scott Momaday and the 1925 Scopes Trial argument between William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow are randomly assigned. Students must read the given texts carefully and then develop a visual hierarchy. This is a preliminary exercise to visually diagram all the parts of the text to better understand its meaning, hierarchy, structure, sequence and all interrelationships within. From this exercise students develop a concise communication goal, focusing on a specific sentence, phrase or key words. Students then identify three specific visual variables (size, weight, shape, texture, position, orientation) that might successfully support, enhance, or otherwise reinforce their communication goal and explore the variables individually. Students evaluate their three interim compositions and develop their final solution. The final solution may be the best of the three compositions or a synthesis among all three. This assignment is designed for Junior level students.

Format. 10 x 10 inches (25 X 25 centimeters)

Time. 18 hours + 3 hour critique

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Bruce Ian Meader, Associate Professor, Graphic Design, received his undergraduate and graduate education in graphic design at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. He has taught at the University of Michigan and now teaches at Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York.

Mr. Meader's expertise is in solving complex information design problems involving language, instruction, navigation and comprehension. An article he co-wrote on his redesign of the Michigan Bell Telephone bill appears in the Volume 6, 1990 issue of Information Design Journal. Mr. Meader's current professional work has been a collaboration with a local architectural firm on wayfinding guidelines and projects for Rochester's Monroe County.

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