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You are here: Home / Conferences / Amsterdam 2013 / Presentation programme

Beyond classification:

new legs for a dead horse
When Sun 13 Oct 1140
Where Krasnapolsky A
What Typography
Who Will Hill

This conference paper proposes a realignment of thinking around the recurrent topic of typeface classification. Respondents to the Atypi SIG on this topic have described it variously as a party game, and a solution for which the problem has not yet been defined. It is futile and unilluminating to compare systems based upon extrinsic factors of history and cultural origin, against those based in the analysis of formal properties; one of the unsatisfactory aspects of the Vox system is the manner in which its categories move between these. For type taxonomy to be brought successfully forward to meet the challenges of the digital age, it may require a revised analysis of the problems it purports to address. Starting from a recognition that the idea of a single comprehensive classificatory system is not only unattainable but antithetical to the development of design tools in the twenty-first century, the paper examines a range of different perspectives including the work of Catherine Dixon, Robert Bringhurst, Thomas Christensen, Gerrit Noordzij, Indra Kupferschmid, not as ideals competing for dominance but as complementary approaches suited to different purposes. Rather than arguing the merits of some new synthesis, the paper will adopt an inclusive and pluralistic approach in which it is recognised that classificatory preferences reflect philosophical perspectives, and are useful tools for a variety of defined purposes. Recognition of this fact should provide a basis for the development of multiple complementary and contrasting classificatory systems; harmonised, mutually respectful but independent.

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