“How then to express oneself clearly? By image and by myth, as the sages of all time have done.” — Rene Adolphe Schwaller de Lubicz (1887-1961); Egyptologist, author of The Temple in Man: Sacred Architecture and the Perfect Man.
In my last post, I explored the energetics of color, drawing from my own exploration of ancient wisdom teachings about the frequencies of light expressed in different colors and their impact on mind, body and spirit. For this post, I researched the evolution of alphabetic forms of writing and how the forms and shapes of different typographic fonts might also have an effect on our psyche and emotions.
The earliest forms of written communication were through pictographs or symbols used to represent ideas and things, rather than sounds (Egyptian hieroglyphics for example). Through my research, I learned that circa 1100 BCE, Phoenician traders developed the beginnings of the modern day phonetic alphabet. This earliest alphabet consisted of 22 letters to represent consonant sounds, and was much easier for traders to learn than Egyptian hieroglyphics prevalent at the time.
This sound based form of writing also facilitated use across multiple languages which probably accounts for it’s adoption and expansion into ancient Greece by 800 BCE, and further evolution and use through most of the world.
When I think about the power of pictorial forms of communication to evoke an experiential connection between author / artist and reader / viewer, it makes me wonder if we have lost something by not using more pictorial forms of written communication. Yes, the phonetically-based alphabet lets us communicate more easily across multiple languages and cultures, but how do the letters on this page convey any of the emotional impact that pictorial forms of writing might have done?
Well, perhaps that’s were the imagination of the creators of different type styles comes to the rescue! Just think about the increasing proliferation of type styles that have evolved since Gutenberg’s first printing press. Fast forward to modern day print and digital media, and we can see how different type styles are used to generate emotion, incite action, or otherwise assist in conveying a deeper or fuller connection to the idea or concept being conveyed in the written word. Type styles are clearly an art form, and their creators put lots of thought into the objectives and intended use of the type styles they create. This became very clear to me as I explored blog sites of typography artists and what they wrote about type styles they have created.
Bringing all these ideas back to my passion for exploring photography as a medium of self-discovery, expression and even personal healing, I decided to experiment with the use of text and different type styles within some of my photographs. My goal is to convey ideas in a visual form, with writing and type styles that compliment or enrich the idea or visual metaphor that I wish to communicate through my images.
Of course, we are all familiar with the use of inspirational messaging in photographs or other forms of visual art. All too often they come across as rather trite or perhaps “preachy”. I hope to avoid those pitfalls in these images, while at the same time, sharing a few ideas that have become important in my own life experience; exploring the emotional or even healing effect of words and images combined with typographic styles that further support the intent of the image. I welcome your comments!