Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Field Journal #2

In this week, I've read Meggs' History of Graphic Design Chapter 1 to 4. It took me a while to go through every pages, however it was exciting because I felt like I was studying a world history. Then I realized that world history and the history of graphic design, art, and our writing styles are strongly related each other. 

The book begins with the Innovation of writing, which was found over 200,000 years ago in Africa. 
Yet there was no way to represent oral words, they were painting pictures or figures on the wall of cave or rocks for visual communications, rituals and recording stuffs. 
I can't even think about the time there was no writing language but to draw pictures to communicate with people. 

As time goes by, there is a need to keep records for religious need and dominating or governing their own countries or colonies. So the writing style changed its form little by little, such as Cuneiform, Sumerian writing, and finally Hieroglyphics of Egypt.
The story of Rosetta Stone is well know by many people, which is that Napoleon send expeditors to Egypt and they found a stone with 2 languages and 3 scripts, then in 1822 they finally succeeded to read the sentences.
Not only the writing system but also the things to be written are innovated at that time.
There was a tablet, made out of mud, and in Egypt they made paper-like substrate for manuscript called papyrus. 

Then, there came a time of invention of Alphabet. It took some centuries for the original alphabet to became the one we are using now. But finally after Roman conquered Greek in 2nd Century CE and they replaced Greek alphabet to Latin alphabet which is the most similar style of the modern English. 

Chinese calligraphy is totally different from Alphabet system, because it is visual language and there are more than 40 thousand characters. Here is a my favorite quote from the book; Chinese calligraphy was said to have bones(authority and size), meat(proportion of the characters), blood(the texture of the fluid ink), and muscle(sprit and vital force) (Meggs' History of Graphic Design p.37.) As a Japanese, whose language is similar to Chinese ones, I can really understand what this quote honestly means. 
Printing technique was first invented in China, which really surprised me. But I think it was only possible because they have also succeeded to make papers out of pulps.

The evolution of writing system and calligraphies made people possible to publish illuminated manuscripts which is really important for their religious briefs. I can't believe that people around that era could make such a perfect hand-writing manuscripts by taking much time and effort. It can be evaluated as a whole art.

In our society, written language is really important for our daily life, but it was the same in the very beginning of human beings dawn for almost the same purpose. But it is really interesting to know how our writing style has developed due to the environment and needs for each time of history. 

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