Skip to Content Skip to Search Go to Top Navigation Go to Side Menu

"Azart" Tag

One Super Story

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

• Even if you enjoy only one story, a daytrip to “Super Stories” in Hasselt [B] will have been a day wel spend.
Tugged away on the attick of an the old Jenever brewery museum I found such a story, on which Malin Bülow wrote this essay.

On Azart and the “linguistic relativity principle”

Have you ever pondered about why time is a line, why it is horizontal and not vertical, why future is ahead of you and history behind you?
A fundamental debate in cognitive sciences is the extent to which our language influences or constrains our perception. Benjamin Whorf quite radically argues that “we dissect nature along lines laid down by our native language”(1), meaning that language directly affects cognition, the way we think, how we look at things and experience reality. This way of thinking, referred to as the “linguistic relativity principle”, suggests that we can’t imagine things or events or anything else that does not have a corresponding word in our mental lexicon. Therefore our language influences the manner in which we understand reality and behaviors. Coming back to the initial pondering on our perception of time, the way we talk about time: “timeline”, “looking forward to tomorrow”, “ahead of time”, “behind schedule” etc, explains our cognitive reference of time being a two-dimensional horizontal line. The cognitive visualization of time is then secondary to the words describing time. One can say that our reality is trapped in words, physical letters, which forms and appearance are highly coincidental and not at all connected to the actuality they define. Quite an amount of studies on color perception (2,3), categorization (4,5) and numerical cognition (6) among others support this view.

Guy Rombouts, (1940-, Geel, Belgium) seems to make a comment on how the flatness of letters and words can create a reality and make that reality non-existing without the words, in line with what the “linguistic relativity principle” suggests. Rombouts does this by inventing a new alphabet; the Azart, a name that refers to A-Z art, but also to the French word “hasard” meaning coincidence. In Azart each letter is translated by a corresponding line, on the basis of the first letter of the word which describes the line. A is angular, B is barred, C is curve, D is deviation and Z is a zigzag line. When the lines are linked together closed forms or word-images appear. What is going on quite literally on the paper when forming Azart words, goes on in our mind when forming realities of alphabetic words. The arbitrary letters of the alphabet also obtain meaning in our mind.
Words written in Azart visually define them selves, forming isles of meanings, while words of the alphabet is defined by means of other words. These words, however, are formed by the same letters as the word they define. A circle of definitions are formed, referring again literally to the Azart circled words.

Cassiman, B. (1989). Guy Rombouts, Narcisse Tordoir. (Dublin: Douglas Hyde Gallery)

some other links: (work, movies and interviews): La Paloma part 1 & 2 : SKOR (Art in the Public Space): De Appel (exhibition): Bridge (Java Isle Amsterdam): =vorm=word=image=content= : Guy Rombouts/Azart at Rietveld Designblog researches: at the MUHKA Antwerp: one final image~story……..

you can download this research by Malin Bülow: as a pdf

Objectiefied Bits

Friday, January 30, 2009

Maybe you find it puzzling that this posting about Helvetica and Wim Crouwel starts with an image of Paul Elliman’s “Bits” Alphabet.

Extremes can sometimes meet when you least expect it, and this fascinates me. It became apparent again during the investigation by the FoundationYear C group, into Gary Hustwitt’s Movie “Helvetica” and our consequently visit to the Wim Crouwel exhibit last month at the “van Abbemuseum”.

left: Bits by Paul Elliman, right: Objectified by Build (click images for blog info)

“Bits” was developed by Paul Elliman in the mid 90ties and published in the 15th (Cities) issue of Fuse’s conceptual Font Box. quote: “Language moves between us and the world on patterns of repetition and variation, and a mimetic example of this might be something like an alphabet”
Later, in 2004, it was included in the Cooper-Hewitt Design Triennial N.Y. which made “concept type” part of the established design world.

Gary Hustwitt’s new documentary “Objectified” takes design, and as a matter of fact “Bits” too, one step further by making it popular in the same way as he did with “Helvetica”.

Modernist thinking, or even constructivist-, lays at the base of the “Helvetica” concept and the work of Wim Crouwel, as this first movie on typography has him stated. As a true Dutch graphic design icon Wim Crouwel illustrated this through work, presented at the library exhibition of the van Abbemuseum, celebrating his 70th birthday. A small but beautiful display of catalogues and posters made for both this and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.

pages by Crouwel versus pages by Jan van Toorn from publication “Het Debat”

Extremes met in person when Crouwel and Jan van Toorn celebrated their life long controversy with a recurrence of their famous 1970 debate. Functionalism versus engagement. Jan van Toorn succeeded Crouwel as a designer at this museum under the directorate of Jean Leering to manifest in an inspiring cooperation what that leads to in terms of exhibition concepts and graphic design (“Museum in Motion” at the library). Jean Leering also closely work together with Jan Slothouber (read part 1 of C group’s research) at the TU-Delft where the published several internal essay’s on the philosophical and social consequences of design.

80/20/100 © Nijhof&Lee booksellers – Laurenz Brunner, final exam poster

More research was conducted to explore related content or work approach of other designers like, Laurenz Brunner’s “Akkurat”, his successful contemporary remake of Helvetica, Experimental Jetset convicted users of Helvetica, the cooperation “8020100″ between Vivid Gallery in Rotterdam and Nijhof&Lee Bookstore in Amsterdam. Context was created by turning the focus on Adriaan Frutiger, designer of Helvetica’s conscientious alternative “Univers”. To further explore the relation to language and image we further focused our investigating efforts on the visual legacy of Charles & Ray Eames, the “El Hema” exhibition/store and Massin‘s timeless publication “Letter and Image“.

With the inclusion of Belgian artist Guy Rombouts the full circle of our focus on type design was completed. The investigation into his visual language concept “AZart” will be presented soon in a separated part 3 C_group posting. This was part II of the C_group research
All researches linked in this posting can be downloaded in A4 format and are also available as hard copy research prints at the ResearchFolders available at the academy library

Log in