What does Lupton mean . . .

Answer all three of the following questions. What does Lupton mean when she asserts (in Thinking with Type):

  • “Text can be solid or liquid, body or blood” (p. 63)?
  • “Design is as much an act of spacing as an act of marking” (67)?
  • “Typography is an interface to the alphabet” (p. 75)?

About vizrhet

Dr. Angela Haas (aka vizrhet) is an assistant professor of English at Illinois State University. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in cultural rhetorics, visual rhetorics, technical communication, and American Indian literatures.
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9 Responses to What does Lupton mean . . .

  1. kaliannshevlin says:

    1) I think what Lupton was insinuating that typography is a living medium that communicates its message through the visuals. When graphic designers use the text as the body they in a consistent and coherent matter by allowing small chunks to represent big ideas. When its used as a blood they make the flow of words easy so that readers don’t have to read so much.

    2). When a designer uses typographic elements a person has to take into account all the spacing that represents the sounds between characters. The marking part deals with how the letters and punctuation relate to each other. If words and punctuation were bunched together nobody would get.

    3).Typography is a design that does best in the background so that we don’t over analyze the alphabet in modern type. Subtly can help the reader perceive construction of the letters or identify the page and product.

  2. Susan Grogan says:

    To answer the first question, I think Lupton was expressing how text emulates the modes of speaking we use, specifically how one gesture might be larger, another more compact, or anything in between. It also called to mind how we gesture in ways that flow or impact, and again, anything in between. Text is a form of communication more nuanced and intricate than we may be realize, because its subtitles are something we’ve become accustomed to interpreting without conscious thought.

    In answer to the second question, I think that he is talking about the rhythm of speech as represented by text. At least that’s how I thought of it when I read it, because I had already started on my rough draft of Module 2. While working on my project, I found myself looking for fonts and arrangement that capture the silences and rushes of the words as I read the poem aloud. When looking to do so, finding fonts with the right leading was as important as the form of the letters.

    To question three, I will say that while the ideas I touched on in question one and two are important, the power of typography to make a reader interpret without distraction is vital. A balance between quiet perception and eliciting the intended response should never reach a point of distraction that disrupts the flow of communication. If we are too lost in typography, everything falls apart.

  3. Megan Gorsuch says:

    • “Text can be solid or liquid, body or blood” (p. 63)?

    Solid text strives to be indisputable. The law is written in solid text. Authority, confidence, factual based writing is solid. Like a brick wall, this text builds upon itself and interlinks. Liquid text is mutable, flexible, open to interpretation. Creative writing, journal writing, free form poetry is liquid. It slides around and creates impressions instead of building walls. A solid form of poetry would be a sonnet. A liquid form would be stream of conscious. Liquid text inspires creativity.
    Text can be body. Body text is solid text, the brick wall. It loves restrictions, propriety, and rules. Blood text, fluid text, evokes emotion, making the reader bleed. Blood is also the basis of life and so blood text is living text, open to interpretation.

    • “Design is as much an act of spacing as an act of marking” (67)?

    Marking can be interpreted many different ways. Graffiti artists mark walls. Dogs mark territory. The act of writing on a page leaves the page marked. Artists also space design (design space). Where and how images are placed is key to design. Writing is essentially tagging/marking a page and spacing determines the impact/effect of the marks on the reader. Letters and words, themselves, are a series of connected marks. Typography names these marks (stem, serif, spine). Children learn to make letters by learning what marks to combine to form the letters. These marks which become letters are put together (designed) to form words, then sentences, then paragraphs.

    • “Typography is an interface to the alphabet” (p. 75)?

    One definition of interface on dictionary.com is “a thing or circumstance that enables separate and sometimes incompatible elements to coordinate effectively.” The two separate elements of the referenced quote would be people and the alphabet. Typography is what makes the alphabet accessible to people. The alphabet exists as a system. This system cannot be used by people unless agreed upon methods are accepted by groups and societies. Typographies are our cave drawings. Societies, groups of people, corporations utilize different typographies to convey different messages and form common bonds. To outsiders the specific typographies use may seem foreign or alienating.

    An interface can also be an interaction. Typefaces allow people to interact with the alphabet. The interaction can be playful, professional, serious, and/or comical. The alphabet becomes more than just a set of letters. Through typography it becomes a means by which purpose and emotion can be portrayed before words are even read; typography creates first impressions.

    One quote I like from Lupton is “paragraphs do not occur in nature” page 102.

  4. ljbusch says:

    I think Lupton is saying that solid text can be seen as a thing unto itself, the real “meat” that solidifies the main purpose of a writing. Body text can stand alone; it carries weight, and does not have to depend upon other elements (images, etc) to make a point. At the same time, this solid text may not leave much room for flexibility in interpretation; it may be less likely to flow to other parts of a writing to stimulate the readers mind in making connections and drawing conclusions.

    Until now, it never occurred to me how much artistry has gone into spacing and marking. It is not just a haphazard thing, throwing in a space here or there, or slapping on a marking to make letters look interesting. This is a well-thought out process that allows the reader to make meaning of the words and letters one sees. Typography has made text tangible, something that a reader can think about in different ways and use to convey personal feeling.

    The alphabet and typography interact with each other in the sense that while we have the set rules of the alphabet (nothing changes the fact that “abcdefg” is “abcdefg”), typography allows us to make alterations to the letters of the alphabet that can invoke personal style and emotions without changing the sounds of letters or the meaning of words. Typography can give us control over how we present images to an audience.

  5. artawlk says:

    When Lupton says that “Text can be solid or liquid, body or blood,” I believe she is trying to express that text can take many forms and be used in many highly variant formats. By saying text is “solid or liquid,” Lupton is explaining the fluidity of text, and how it can be rigid and unmoving, such as in a technical textbook, or free and fluid, like a in a highly designed poem or children’s book. By using metaphor, Lupton is inducing a close relationship with text. She wants the reader to understand text on a level that goes behind a surface value, and find something deep inside of them to which they can relate it to.

    Lupton begins her section on spacing with the idea that “Design is as much an act of spacing as an act of marking.” She is explaining to the reader that one not only has to consider what marks they are making on the page, but what blank spaces those marks will leave. There is enormous rhetorical potential for empty space, including pauses, inflection, minimizing/maximizing, chaos, order, confusion, separation, togetherness, and many more. Even if a designer is not looking for any type of effect, they need to be aware of what space can do as to not unintentionally give the wrong message.

    Lupton refers to typography as “an interface to the alphabet.” A dictionary definition of interface is “a common boundary between two things.” What she is trying to say is that typography fills in the meaning of the words with design and style. A font can mean many different things to any reader, but given the appropriate context, typography can enhance what a designer or writer is trying to accomplish. Typography essential separates the words from the meaning, and the font that one chooses can make the difference between one interpretation and another.

  6. lmeagle says:

    I think that when she writes that text can be “solid or liquid, body or blood” she is referring to the fact that text can be very radically difference depending on design. It can change easily, it can be anything. A block of text in our book can seem heavy or a post on a personal blog or in an email can seem light and fluid. Which typefaces we choose can influence this. Bolded fonts make the text seem weighty whereas script or italic fonts seem light and airy. How the text is arranged can also show its tendencies. A justified block of text seems very solid, but text in alternating lines or designed in arcs seems more fluid than a block of text. Therefore, text can be anything, it’s alive and ever changing.

    How spacing impacts design is straightforward. Spacing can make things readable, unintelligable, provide distance, be close together, provide organization or disorganization. Just as the typefaces and markings of the piece are important, so is how they are visually aligned on the page. Spacing is an integral part of that. Whether an author/designer chooses to space out their headings, fill up the page, make the lines of text seem tight and bound together, the space can affect how we interpret or are able to read an article, an advertisement, or anything else. Therefore, the spacing on a page is just as important as the text and markings on the page.

    As for typography as an interface to the alphabet, I think that she’s referring to the shared qualities between the alphabet and typography. ABC is a set thing in English, but how we display these letters or words with typography can drastically change a meaning. For example, “Hello” here seem very serious in this font, but if written in “Curlz MT” in Word, “hello” might seem fun and quite less serious. The Choices made in choosing a typeface matter in the meanings we wish to convey and even in readability. Typefaces change the effect of a message/text. Therefore, while the alphabet is steadfast and relatively unchanging for us, typography can greatly impact what we get out of what we see.

  7. demay4 says:

    ■“Text can be solid or liquid, body or blood” (p. 63)?
    It’s discussing the “flow” of text. It can seem almost stuck on the page in a container, structured and fit in that position, or it can seem to flow from one page to another as a continuation (not stuck in one place). When I think of it as a fluid, I think of the certain cues given to readers to move from one piece of text to the next by things such as paragraph breaks and punctuation.
    ■“Design is as much an act of spacing as an act of marking” (67)?
    Lupton is talking about how although it may not seem this way, creating the blank areas on a page are important and take as much work as creating the actual words. Slivers have to be inserted to create desired spaces. When designing a page, one has to focus on both the blanks and the filled spaces to decide if the whole image works together or not.
    ■“Typography is an interface to the alphabet” (p. 75)?
    This reminds me about how we were talking about not focusing on the letters, but reading by words because we are familiar with shapes. It talks about how the writer chooses what to look at. Typography can give meaning to words depending on color, font, size, bold or italics–all of these factors can generate different meanings, so typographers need to be aware of what a general audience would interpret from certain typefaces.

  8. msthangthe1 says:

    As far as text being solid, liquid, body or blood this makes me think of text as being chameleons. We can use text in the context we need at that precise moment. For example solid can be us talking or writing about something unmovable and unchangeable like inalienable rights. Liquid can be things that constantly change or are transferred such as fashion, popular culture, etc. This can be in the literal sense of what is communicated and in the visual sense of how it is communicated to viewers. Typography in terms of body and blood is the way type is arranged.

    The second statement means to me that as much as we obsess about how to fill up space and where to put things, what styles and colors to use etc., we should and do apply that same amount of energy to space. The most important text in the world still needs to have some sense of “white space” throughout. This gives our eyes and brain a break and allows us as viewers to process information at a healthy rate.

    Typography is the boundary or moreso the bridge between gibber gabbish on a page and language. How we present and arrange type on a page inevitably affects the meaning gleamed from the work. Therefore, it acts as the interface. It’s a simple translation from nothing special to a written work.

  9. ekjohn2 says:

    • “Text can be solid or liquid, body or blood” (p. 63)?
    As the body, text is solid: it is the main “stuff” of the document, acting as a whole to convey a specific message. As a liquid, text is like blood. It allows the reader to interpret the body of the text naturally. While reading, we recognize words unconsciously because this is what we have learned. As the blood, text can personalize the body and add emotion. Lupton is proposing that text can act as both: the document as a whole, and the individual components that increase its chance of interpretation.

    • “Design is as much an act of spacing as an act of marking” (p. 67)?
    Lupton is referring to the idea that spacing, though blank or “empty” affects the design of the text more than we might realize. We don’t realize the impact it has on our understanding because we have grown accustomed to spacing such a one after a period, or the distinctive doubled-spaced type paper. However, spacing affects the text in other ways as well. Space between words or large areas of blank space can be used to convey a specific meaning or change the interpretation of the reader. It can also add a more exciting visual element, instead of having a block of text that is rigid to MLA format.

    • “Typography is an interface to the alphabet” (p. 75)?
    Lupton writes that typography allowed text a fixed position to become a visual object. As an interface to the alphabet, typography lets the reader/writer give a word a different meaning by what syllables they may stress or by the style (roman, italics, bold, etc.) This can change the entire meaning of the message and have a great effect on the reader. Because typography is the design of the text, as in, how it is created, arranged, modified, etc., spacing can be considered an element of typography.

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