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Re: The King is Dead, Long Live the New King

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  • Gerald Lange
    Ludwig I think the claim could be made that machine composition actually did improve typography (proving both you and Jason right; improved tools, improved
    Message 1 of 51 , Dec 1 7:23 PM
      Ludwig

      I think the claim could be made that machine composition actually did
      improve typography (proving both you and Jason right; improved tools,
      improved typography). Though the fitting of matrices of machine
      composition were in no way the match for those from a quality foundry,
      I'd think that Monotype, Linotype, Ludlow were more the firms that
      caught on to the typographic revival and promoted fine typography. The
      typography of the late nineteenth century, most of it hand set, was
      about as bad as it could get. And the well established metal type
      foundries were quite slow to catch on.

      On the other hand, with notable exception, digital versions of most of
      the libraries, from Monotype and Linotype specifically, were based on
      the photofilm versions, not the metal. Photofilm suppliers quickly
      realized that the idea of selling several size-optimized versions of a
      face would not fly in a market where the consumer could easily adjust
      type size with a camera. So digital type renditions of these,
      especially if they are not optically sized, aren't necessarily better
      than the metal versions. When you buy a digital font, you are
      essentially getting only the small-text size. Using this at larger
      sizes only serves to bloat the face.

      Building intelligent rendering software to force better typography can
      only go so far. So while the niceties of typography might be more and
      more available, more glyphs, better hyphenation, better spacing, etc.,
      especially if included as part of the package, if the consumer cannot
      understand the need to actually buy more than one size version of a
      face, we really are hardly further down the road than when machine
      comp ruled supreme. So probably best not to across the board diss
      those fine press printer Luddites quite yet. The measure is still
      ultimately the responsibility of the typographer. And this can't be
      forced on an unwilling or uninformed consumer.

      Gerald



      --- In PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com, "Ludwig M. Solzen"
      <ppletterpress@l...> wrote:
      >
      > Gerald and Jason
      >
      > > I think it is essentially true that OT was developed for the Asian
      > > market.
      >
      > Take the case of ligatures. Of course the OT support of automated glyph
      > replacement commercially zealed for the Asian markets, where the use of
      > ligatures (and their easy implementation) are orthographically
      obligatory
      > (Arabic, Hindi, Tibetan &c). This shouldn't mean of course that fine
      > typographers weren't to gratefully embrace the OT features facilitating
      > their work in - amongst a lot of other things - the replacement of
      glyphs by
      > the proper ligatures, also in Western languages, where their use
      might be
      > considered purely aesthetical (although I wouldn't agree on that
      > completely). Also the technical possibilities of 16 bit data files,
      > resulting in much larger glyph palettes, obviously had type designers
      > devising glyphs they wouldn't have even considered before, or only
      seldom,
      > such as long-s and fb, fh, fj, fk, ft ligatures, for which their was no
      > place in the regular expert sets. Perhaps these new possibilities
      gave font
      > developers too much room for design extravagancies. But then again, I'd
      > rather have too much technical means than too little - I don't use these
      > imho profligate ct en st ligatures.
      >
      > > but I would not agree that these improvements have likewise
      > > improved my or anyone else's typography
      >
      > Generally speaking, typographical improvement in practical daily use
      _can_
      > be noticed thanks to improvements on behalf of the typographical
      software.
      > Just compare photographically set newspapers from the late 1970s
      with most
      > of today's. And although I heavily dislike the plump traits of Times New
      > Roman, it sure is a better default system typeface than Courier was,
      so that
      > I am at least slightly less vexed when receiving a letter of some
      > typographically insensitive secretary.
      >
      > > Having typographic niceties does not mean that most folks
      > > will use them, or even know how to use them properly.
      >
      > It all depends from the default settings of the system. To take up
      the case
      > of ligatures again, which is my typographic hobby-horse. I really
      hate it
      > when people don't use them, although in most fonts (PS1) at least fi
      and fl
      > are available for a long time and since the introduction of Windows
      XP are
      > also accessible by non-Mac users. One day I got the master thesis of a
      > friend. His typographical knowledge didn't exceed the average, but as a
      > mathematician he used the LaTeX typesetting system. Ligatures were
      all over
      > the text and with a meticulousness rarely met in Quark or Pagemaker
      > documents. When I asked my friend about them, he hadn't even noticed
      that
      > they were there, in fact, he didn't know what they were! It seemed that
      > their implementation was a default setting of the software. Meanwhile, I
      > contentedly noticed that this became true for InDesign as well:
      thanks to
      > these technical defaults we can look forward to a brighter typographic
      > future, without jobbing designers and common pc users having to be even
      > aware of what the machine is doing for them.
      >
      > > Building the capability into the system is great, but its a gift to
      > > typographers, a panache.
      >
      > No doubt. Even with all these great techneutic features we cannot
      expect a
      > 'spontaneous generation' of fine typography under the bluntest of hands.
      > This has been true for all the arts, where it comes to aesthetic
      genius, or
      > plain good taste. But technological innovation may help to bring
      better into
      > expression artistic brilliance; just think of what the invention of oil
      > painting meant for European art. Of course there were more poorly
      talented
      > painters then there have been Raphaels, but at least we have that one,
      > unsurpassed Raphael. Likewise, in the digital age, there will be a vast
      > majority of poor typography still, but I am happily awaiting the new
      > Jensons, Bodonis and Mardersteigs, fully exploiting the new
      technologies in
      > realising what couldn't be achieved by the physical restrictions of
      metal
      > type.
      >
      > > It really isn't until the 20th century that such concerns become fully
      > > developed and stabilized.
      >
      > Quite so. Hanging punctuation and kerning can't be traced in the Aldine
      > publications, afaik, even less in the work of Plantin. Gutenberg's
      42-line
      > Bible, however, has it - and more. In general, I'd say typography
      has gained
      > a lot thanks to technological progress, and although myself an
      enthusiast of
      > incunabulian beauty and all the great achievements by the geniuses
      of our
      > typographic history, the hand printed sheets of the earlier days are
      often
      > rather poor, when compared with the clean products of the motorised
      cylinder
      > press.
      >
      > > the vast majority of typesetting and typography gave way to
      > > DTP and a complete disregard for setting correct type because so much
      > > of correct setting was simply not possible with the tools at hand.
      [JD]
      >
      > Frankly, I guess hot metal typesetting is to be blamed a lot more. The
      > Linotype, Intertype and, above all, the Monotype machines have
      produced much
      > better books than photocomposition and early digital. But, in
      essence, the
      > disregard for correct typography principally came across for the
      first time
      > with hot metal; photocomp and (early) DTP are but its even more
      degenerate
      > offspring. Think of the typically Linotype truncated overhanging glyphs
      > (notoriously the italic f), the bad kerning on Monotype by lack of
      necessary
      > logotypes and so on. And don't even ask about marginal kerning. In
      regard to
      > the quiet handwork at the stone, these boisterously products of
      industrial
      > commercialism are responsible of the readers' getting used to bad
      spacing
      > and mutilated type characters. This is why I am suspicious about those
      > 'Luddite' fine press printers claiming typographical excellence with
      their
      > Mono's, at the same time haughtily denouncing digital letterpress.
      In a way
      > digital typography is steadily restoring and emulating the handwork
      of those
      > glorious days before Mergenthaler's however technically genial
      invention.
      >
      > Hot metal is dead: Long live the digital metal!
      >
      > (Perhaps a bit too charging, but nevertheless)
      >
      > yours kindly,
      >
      > Ludwig
      >
    • Gerald Lange
      Per I cut off the last of my post to you by mistake. I think the date of Schöffer s entry into the project is fairly accurate primarily because somewhere was
      Message 51 of 51 , Apr 1, 2006
        Per

        I cut off the last of my post to you by mistake. I think the date of
        Schöffer's entry into the project is fairly accurate primarily because
        somewhere was a reference to his being in Mainz prior to the fall of
        Constantinople (1493), which was of considerable concern to the
        European community.

        Gerald
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