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The tone of the article is overwhelmingly positive. While it is admitted that an unimaginative design is a detriment whether the cover is imagistic or typographic, Saller also asserts that "Even when the title lacks pizazz, typography can deliver it."
|"Smoke Screen" by Maciunas|
All of this ties in to a small but sturdy volume I picked up at a used bookstore this weekend. The book is called Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Editors, & Students. I haven't had a chance to give it a thorough going-over yet, but looking at its index, Maciunas's name does not appear. His influence, however - through the mashed-up type style and stark use of Helvetica and other sans-serif fonts - is definitely felt.
Certainly Maciunas was not the only one to use this approach. Kurt Schwitters, Russian Constructivists, and the Bauhaus all developed versions of this type-heavy graphic style. Using words as art, with either one or no graphic elements besides, is a long-standing mode of expression.
The West, in many respects, is an image-dense culture. It is interesting to see the way in which these text-dense approaches can catch us by surprise or strike us as a novelty. We seem to naturalize the image as the norm, and imagine text as the substrate of our visual lives. As these several examples show, this is hardly the actual case.