Orthography?

by vasilysitnikov

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In the recently published article titled Everything is already an image, John May draws the following logical conclusion: “If the world of the orthographer was simultaneously a text and a drawing, the world of postorthographer is simultaneously an image and a model – an electronic image and an electronic model, signally mapped onto one another.” Perhaps due to the medieval-ish typeface and layout of the LOG magazine, the long-forgotten topic of orthography has captured my attention. In deed, the relation between the sign and the  signified is fundamental to the design theory. When should form be logically legitimized? And when is form allowed to stay arbitrary? Looking back, Vitruvius was making up (or reproducing) all those amazing narrative constructions, telling tails to explain why the Corinthian order have that exact composition and not another.  Yet, Kant was the one to notice that aesthetics as an excessive formal development of the sign draws us away from the signified, e.g. obscures the meaning. This discourse is an endless battle of cultural and rational argumentation, it is suspending somewhere as a ghost in the text, that  easy to read from the the following sentence: “If the graphic language of historical precedent was once used to legitimize architectural object, we now use the [digital] imagery and language of real-time data: images of performance, efficiency, fidelity, and control.” He goes on speculating on the topic of a digital design tool, a drawing technique that he calls architectural orthography – an unnatural, cultural construction that affects our thinking on a meta-level.  Closer to the conclusion he’s stating the following: “There is no harm at all in this process, unless one underestimates its significance…”