Do we need ligatures at all? Searching for answers with the Plantin Institute of Typography and the University of Antwerp this September
An intensive 5-day programme on the value of research for a better understanding of type and typography takes place this September in Antwerp and you are invited to join the search for answers.
Meant for international bachelor and master students who want to gain a deeper understanding of typography and type design as well as professionals such as graphic designers, graphic consultants and web designers the summer school highlights the need for critical approaches to typography.
"Today everyone who uses a computer is practically a typesetter and typography is hardly considered a specialism anymore. Conventions are automatically maintained: practitioners of typography – professionals and amateurs – base their typographical decisions on what is considered common. The legibility aspect, for example, seems easy to control by selecting type that is generally accepted, without the requirement of knowledge of what legibility exactly comprises. As a consequence the conventions and related conditioning are basically never questioned" writes the summer school's press release.
"Art historian Ernst Gombrich notes that the stimulus patterns on the retina are not alone in determining our picture of the visual world, and that its messages are modified by what we know about the ‘real’ shape of objects. In other words: ‘One cannot see more than one knows.’ But what exactly do we know of type and typography and what do we consequently see? What forms the basis of the typographical conventions and how solid is this basis anyway? Could research, whether scientﬁcally based and/or empirically oriented, tell us more about this basis? Furthermore, would the resulting knowledge be useful for the practitioners of typography?"
"This summer school will investigate and discuss the value of research for typography. The ﬁve keywords are ‘Perception’, ‘History’, ‘Convention’, ‘Technology’ and ‘Legibility’. Answers to the related research questions will be, for example, distilled from the study of artifacts in the collection of the famous Museum Plantin-Moretus. After all, the typographical conventions were ﬁxed with the invention of movable type (and related technical constraints) during the Renaissance. Present-day font technology is developed with the same conventions and even Renaissance technical constraints in mind still. Hence, during the course also the focus will be on how digital font technology has developed since the early 1970s. The technical possibilities for Latin and non-Latin scripts will be further investigated, theoretically as practically, in relation to the typographical conventions."
In the summer school Dr. Frank E. Blokland, type designer, founder of the Dutch Type Library (DTL) font producer, software developer, and Senior Lecturer at the Royal Academy of Art (KABK) in The Hague and at the Plantin Institute of Typography in Antwerp and seven guest speakers (Jan Dries, Guy Hutsebaut, Dr. Goran Proot, Lara Captan, Walda Verbaenen, Dr. Juergen Willrodt and Patrick Goossens) will guide the students and the attendees to a journey for better typographic choices in the future. "We will critically reconsider these typographic conventions, so we will be able to avoid amateurish mistakes in the future and we will be knowledgeable to make better choices. When and why should typefaces be tracked or letterspaced? Do we need ligatures at all? Which fonts make a good combination and which ones combine badly? How can we improve the legibility of our documents?" notes the Association of European Printing Museums., historian and conservator, Antwerp.
All sessions will be in English and the venue will be the city campus of the University of Antwerp, in the city’s historical center.
The application deadline is 2 June 2019. Learn more here.