Max Ernst said of collage, Collage is the noble conquest of the irrational, the coupling of two realities,
irreconcilable in appearance, upon a plane which apparently does not suit them.
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THE AESTHETICS OF TRANSCIENCE
Every message in any medium is affected by the interpretations of designers and viewers. The contexture and evanescence of erratic signs induce new patterns of meaning.
Where the Modernist grid tends to separate text and image, and order both types of content in a rigidly hierarchic way, the post-modern aesthetic favours much more open relationships between fragments of content. It favours the kind of ad-hoc narrative that is the greatest asset of good storytellers: rearranging the basic elements of their tales each time they tell them.
Graphic design is now about subjective interpretation of signs.
Heavily influenced by post-modern thinkers like Derrida, Lyotard and Baudrillard, a view of graphic design has evolved that evaluates every visual communication in terms of the underlying code systems. Face value of a word or an image is not enough anymore. In this view any combination of words and/or images is a game of connotations. A language game, moreover, that surpasses the obvious ‘denotative’ meanings of a word or an image, sometimes to the extent of losing connection altogether. What counts in this way of looking at visual information is that it’s possible: a word and an image, words and images, can have a meaningful connection. Which meaning is greatly dependent on context and on the interpretations made by designers, whereas the ‘readability’ of those meaning is for a large part delegated to the eye of the beholder.
Obvious meaning is obsolete.
Readability is not the holy grail.
The readability of the fragments is often subordinated to the ‘readability’ of the whole. What counts is not so much the simple message but the complexity of possible connotations, allusions and meanings that is implicit in the message. To give form to that complexity often becomes rather more important than to give form to the message itself – the message is in the complexity.
Like poetry, the aesthetics of transience invites the reader to look between the lines – and behind the screens.
-Max Bruinsma, “The Aesthetic of Transcience,” EYE, Summer, 1997, 43.