T1: Helvetica

Helvetica is a documentary by Gary Hustwit about, well, Helvetica. Some people hate it and others love it, but regardless it seems that everyone has an opinion about it. I've never been able to identify typefaces by name before taking typography and after watching this documentary, I'm amazed at how much Helvetica is or has been used. What I found most interesting about the documentary was the different perspectives and approaches to typography in general.

In the documentary, Massimo Vignelli and Mike Parker talk about the spacing between and around type faces that I found quite interesting. Vignelli talks about typography in terms of black and white, black being the letters and white being the space. He believes that typography is not about the black and white, but just about the white. Later in the documentary Parker talks about how the Swiss typographers pay more attention to the background and the space between the characters and how they hold the letter. The background is shaped, not the letter, it's the letter that resides in a powerful matrix of surrounding space that makes Helvetica so successful.

At the end of the video Rick Poyner talks about how visual communication is accepted and understood by more people as an expression of ones identity. This phenomena has a great deal to do with social networking sites like mySpace and Facebook and the ability to customize them. The decisions in choosing the typeface, color or layout of your page become expressions of yourself just like the clothing you wear. The first time I opened photoshop was when I was in middle school and wanted to customize my Xanga page. The ability to customize my page is one of the events that introduced me to graphic design.

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