Typography restoration as a sign for understanding political discourse

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Typography Restoration as a Sign for Understanding Political Discourse Arthur Asseo and María de Mater O’Neill

Typography restoration as a sign for understanding political discourse
Arthur Asseo and María de Mater O’Neill, San Juan, Puerto Rico asg@rubberbandpr.com, mmo@rubberbandpr.com Date: Friday, June 18 ,2010 San Juan, Puerto Rico Paper Submitted to the 4th International Conference onTypography and Visual Communication on the theme of "Lending Grace to Language". Department of Design & Multimedia of the University of Nicosia, Cyprus.

Abstract
We will propose that a typeface design project can be used as a tool of historical research as well as an educational venue for designers to understand historical events and their current social political wave. The Design Explorationresearch model used in the creation of the Hotel Excelsior typography consists of three chained elements: the Artifact, being a 1966 hotel logo from San Juan, Puerto Rico, the Phenomenon, with the use of mid-modern design in concordance with Cold War government's progressive values, and the Statement, which is to provoke a pro active thinking in a weak democratic context. Transforming the 11-letterlogo from lettering to a digital typography with a contemporary use raised two intertextual venues: a rescue, true to the spirit of a graphic designer who had no formal training, or fixing the icon due to its formal typographic errors. This was an interesting dilemma that revealed who we are in the way we shape a narrative of design history. Creating this typeface unraveled a social paradigm wheredemocracy is placed in colonial and neocolonial societies within a post-colonial world. The procedural knowledge developed in this praxis of design implies a philosophical way of thinking about socio-political phenomena. Reflecting from a pragmatic perspective, the act of deconstruction of a design artifact has shown unresolved historical political issues.
Theme: Development of epistemologicalknowledge through the design methodology of typeface project to study a socio-political and cultural phenomena. Keywords: procedural knowledge, design exploration, Mid Modern Design, intertextuality, national branding, colonialism, Caribbean architecture, design teaching Authors: Arthur Asseo is a designer, in 2009 he obtained a BFA (magna cum laude) in Image and Design, Escuela de Artes Plásticasde Puerto Rico and is presently attending the Smithsonian-Corcoran History of Decorative Arts Master in Arts Program, U.S.A. María de Mater O'Neill is a designer, artist and educator with a BFA from Cooper Union, New York and is a doctorate candidate in Design Practice, School of Design, Northumbria University, UK. Asseo and O'Neill are partners in Rubberbandpr.com, a value driven design studiofrom San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Arthur Asseo and María de Mater O’Neill, San Juan, Puerto Rico

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Typography Restoration as a Sign for Understanding Political Discourse Arthur Asseo and María de Mater O’Neill

Introduction
The subject of this paper aims to explain how a typeface design project was used as a historical research tool and as an educational venue for designers to understandhistorical events and their current social political wave. The two voices present in this paper will be the ones of: María de Mater O'Neill, project initiator and art director, and Arthur Asseo, designer, former student and now O'Neill’s business partner. It is important to note that, with this presentation we simultaneously perform and describe the action of a Speech Act (Austin, 1975), this conceptwill be clearing itself out as we develop the paper's theme.

The Hotel Excelsior Typography project started in 2007 within an academic context with then Professor O'Neill and a group of her students; and has since then evolved into the professional practice of 7 designers, where O’Neill no longer was their professor, but a colleague. This project began as O'Neill 's act of madness, combined...
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