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22 SEPTEMBER 2014

Jean-Luc Godard's Critical Appropriation of Graphic Design

"The films of Jean–Luc Godard have been written about perhaps more than any other cinematic works, often through the lens of cultural theory, but not nearly enough attention has been paid to the role of designed objects in his films. Collages of art, literature, language, objects, and words, Godard's films have an instant, impactful, graphic quality, but are far from simple pop artifacts. The thesis this presentation derives from, 'Objects to be Read, Words to be Seen: Design and Visual Language in the Films of Jean–Luc Godard 1959–1967,' explores and interprets the role of visual language within the films–title sequences, intertitles, handwritten utterances, and printed matter in the form of newspapers, magazines, and posters.

By examining le graphisme within the cultural context of Paris during the 1960s, this thesis seeks to amplify the significance of graphic design in Godard's first fifteen films, beginning with 1960's À Bout de Souffle (Breathless) and ending with 1967's Weekend. While Godard was not a practicing graphic designer in the traditional sense, he was an amateur de design, an autodidact whose obsession with designed objects, graphic language and print media resulted in the most iconic body of work in 1960s France."

(Laura Forde, 30 April 2010)

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TAGS

1960s • A Bout de Souffle (1959) • amateur de design • appropriation • autodidact • Breathless (1959) • cinematic visual language • cinematic works • critical appropriationcultural context • cultural theory • design and visual language • design sense • designed objects • designed thingsend titlesFrancegraphic design • graphic language • graphic quality • hand lettering • handwritten utterances • iconic body of work • intertitlesJean-Luc Godard • Laura Forde • le graphisme • magazinesnewspapersParisPierrot le Fou (1965)postersprint media • printed matter • title sequencetitle stillsTwo Or Three Things I Know About Hertypographyvideo lecturevisual languagevisual sensibilityWeekend

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
08 MAY 2011

Educators who have repeated the same kerning and hand-drawn letterform exercises will find themselves teaching at a school that simply isn't focused on typography anymore

"We are a culture that increasingly questions consumption and advertising, which are at the heart of industrial and graphic design disciplines. We rely on a dynamic and constantly evolving technological platform that touches all aspects of life. There is an increased demand for service–based jobs as our country re–evaluates economic sustainability. People are demanding quality, reflective and meaningful experiences in their world.

Yet design education, as a whole, hasn't embraced these challenges and opportunities.

To be direct and explicit, educators who have taught the same foundation studies courses for years will need to dramatically revamp their courses or face irrelevance. Educators who have repeated the same kerning and hand–drawn letterform exercises will find themselves teaching at a school that simply isn't focused on typography anymore – and tenure notwithstanding, these individuals will find themselves without a role. Educators who are unwilling to retrain themselves will be replaced.

If you are one of these educators, or you work at one of these programs, you may acknowledge these necessary shifts, but find personal action to be difficult. It is difficult. And it's difficult because the shift is large, fundamental and of critical importance. You'll need to read, and take courses, and attend new conferences; you'll need to re–build yourself and your expertise in a new light. You'll go from knowing all of the answers to not even knowing the problems.

But it's no longer a matter of choice. Because if you aren't able to find a new opportunity, a new specialty, and embrace the topics described above, you may soon find yourself alone or replaced. Our subject matter is too important, and our role too fundamental, to leave to the traditions of even great educational movements like the Bauhaus. The subject of design is the humanization of technology, and as long as technological advancements continue, so the pragmatic and day–to–day jobs of designers will continue to morph. And so must design education continue to evolve."

(Jon Kolko, 2010)

Jon Kolko (2010). 'Remapping The Curriculum', AIGA | the professional association for design

AIGA Design Educators Conference "New Contexts/New Practices", October 8–10, 2010, at North Carolina State University in Raleigh

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CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
08 APRIL 2011

The typography of Jean-Luc Godard

"To me watching the films of Jean–Luc Godard is like watching a white Rauschenberg painting or listing to John Cage's '4:33': it isn't something I do for entertainment. They're historically significant because he broke all the rules in the book, but I just don't enjoy watching them. Since I only add titles from films I've seen myself there weren't many Godard films present in the Movie title stills collection.

On december 3rd, Atelier Carvalho Bernau released a free typeface to celebrate Godard's 80th birthday. The typeface was inspired by the title sequences of Godard's 'Made in U.S.A' (1966) and '2 ou 3 choses que je sais d'elle' (1967). When I started googling I found surprisingly few stills or videos from Godard's films, that's why I decided to add the most interesting ones to the Movie title stills collection.

I've located almost all films from the earlier part of Godard's career and took all stills containing typography: titles from the opening title sequences, intertitles and end ('Fin') titles. Like silent films Godard used lots of intertitles, which make his films much more typographic than other films from the '60s and 70's.

It's quite interesting to see the designs evolve. In this digital age it's refreshing to see type that isn't made on a computer: the imperfect and handmade look of the letterforms, the bad kerning, the large gaps between letters and words, the justified blocks of text, the awkwardly dotted capital I's. Even when he used an existing typeface – like Antique Olive in 'Week end' (1967) – the letterforms look as if they were cut out with an Exacto knife.

Sauve qui peut (la vie) (1980) is the last film featuring custom typefaces. In his later films Godard used existing typefaces like Futura, Univers, Helvetica and Garamond."

(Christian Annyas, 16 December 2010)

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CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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