What does it mean to engage in a critical typography practice? Necessarily, our professions focus on the pragmatic concerns of designing and/or using type. Readability, functionality and artistry are reliable measures of success for communicating a message or solving a design problem. While criticism is primarily concerned with articulating an informed opinion, critical design, borrowed from the studio Dunne & Raby, initiates forms of thinking and making that challenge established conventions. Questioning assumptions about type in a variety of social, cultural and technological contexts, speculative typography suggests opportunities for future, emergent practices. In my work, I explore the performative and expressive possibilities of type as a critical design practice. This presentation will examine speculative typography as it relates to investigations around font intelligence, visual interpretations of speech patterns, representations of cultural stereotypes and textual ephemera on the web.
Amy Papaelias is an Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at the State Unviersity of New York. She has spoken about her research and teaching at TypeCon, Face Forward, AIGA Design Educators Conference and Theorizing the Web, among others. She recently co-edited (with Jessica Barness) “Critical Making: Design and the Digital Humanities”, a special issue of Visible Language (49.3). In her spare time, she helps keep the lights on at Alphabettes.org, a showcase to promote and support the work of women in type-related fields.