The Montréal premiere of Helvetica: Matt Soar, organizer of Logo Cities; Gary Hustwit, director of Helvetica; and, Hélène L’Heureux, Associée principale, Interaction/design, and director, SDGQ. Photo credit: Elida Arrizza.
IT’S NOW FOUR WEEKS since over sixty of us convened in Montréal for two days of intense talk about signage, branding and lettering in public space, and only now have I recovered sufficiently to attempt some kind of reflection.
When I had the idea for the symposium I knew I wanted to keep it small because: a) it would be more manageable (simply choosing to call it a ‘symposium’ rather than a conference certainly helped me); b) it might well be more productive (the best events I’ve attended have been focused around a set of consecutive rather than concurrent panels); and, c) I couldn’t imagine that there were too many people out there with the similar interests.
It turns out that there are lots of people who care passionately about signs, logos and lettering in public space, some of whom took the time to come to Montréal to share their insights. It’s also abundantly clear, in retrospect, that signs are even more remarkable than I had imagined: While they are often reductive in terms of design, routinely brazen in terms of their placement, and rather ephemeral as historical artifacts, the conclusion we all had to draw after two days of panels was that they are also immensely complex cultural and material signifiers (as the selection of papers posted on this website attest).
Several people expressed interest in attending Logo Cities 2. While I don’t have any immediate plans of my own for such an event, I’m open to suggestions as to when and where that might happen. I do have plans to try to secure a publishing contract for a book based on Logo Cities, and will post any news about that initiative on this website.
Over the coming weeks I will also be adding more information and media to the Logo Cities website, including: an expanded bilbilography based on the work presented at the symposium (this was Johanna Drucker’s idea); an interactive documentary about signs in Montréal; a gallery of logos and signs drawn from memory by visitors to the gallery show (thanks to Pata Macedo for those); and, a selection of photos from all the Logo Cities events.
After two days of intense and fascinating panel presentations, a constructive and revealing roundtable, and a marvelous keynote, the Symposium has finally come to an end. We closed out with a public screening of Gary Hustwit’s film Helvetica, which drew a huge crowd – we figure close to 600 people. In the coming days and weeks we’ll begin posting some of the media from the symposium on the website. Thanks again to everyone who helped to make this possible: the sponsors, panelists, artists, moderators, grad assistants, and all the volunteers. Bravo. And now I must go lie down.
The Logo Cities Symposium begins Friday 4th May. Registration is now on-site only, beginning at 8.15am, subject to availability (currently we still have extra space).
Faculty/Professional Faculté/Professionnel $75
Student/Unwaged Étudiants/Non-salariés $40
The registration fee includes: access to all panels on 4 and 5 May, including the premiere of Helvetica on 5 May; plus admittance to the Logo Cities gallery reception on 3 May.
Final program here.
The Québec premiere of Helvetica: 7.30pm Saturday May 5, 2007. Venue: Hall Building H-110, Concordia University. Admission by donation on the night only. More info here.
All Panels: J.A. de Sève Cinema (Library Building LB-125) at 1400 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W. on the Sir George Williams (ie downtown) campus of Concordia University. CLICK HERE FOR MAP
Helvetica screening: Hall Building H-110. 1455 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W, on the Sir George Williams (ie downtown) campus of Concordia University. CLICK HERE FOR MAP
(29/4/07. Subject to minor adjustments)
THURSDAY 3rd MAY
5-7pm Logo Cities Gallery Reception
(Registered participants and special invitees only)
VAV Gallery, 1395 René Lévesque Blvd. W.
FRIDAY 4th MAY
NB All panels will take place in the J.A. de Sève Cinema (Library Building LB-125) at 1400 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W.
8.15am Registration table opens
8.45am Words of welcome: Dr Matt Soar (Concordia University)
PANEL 1 (9am-10.30am) Signs in/and the Community: Interpretation and Critique
Moderator: Kim Sawchuk (Concordia University)
Darren Wershler-Henry (Wilfrid Laurier University) Sonic Signage: [murmur], the refrain, and territoriality
Ann McDonald (Northeastern University) Whose Skyline? Public private light, sign as sensor and node
Karen Lewis (University of Kentucky) Yellowtown: The aesthetics of poverty, the graphic design of urgency
Stuart McKee (University of San Francisco) Street Democracy
PANEL 2 (10.45am-12.30pm) Global Histories and Geographies of Lettering and Signage
Moderator: Monika Kin Gagnon (Concordia University)
Vishal Rawlley (artist/producer, Mumbai) Typocity: A documentation and analysis of typefaces in public spaces of Mumbai
Shannon Mattern (The New School) Calligraphic Qatar: National typography and civic identity
R. Hakan Ertep (Izmir University of Economics) Chaos or Homogenisation? The role of store signs in transforming urban fabric in Beyoglu, Istanbul
Bernard Zirnheld (Yale University) Coming To Life: Advances in Reprographic Technology and the Architecture of Fin-de-siecle Paris
Alessandro Colizzi (L’Université du Québec à Montréal) Local Idioms from the Netherlands
LUNCH (on your own)
ROUNDTABLE (1.30pm-3.00pm) From Signs of Life to Signs of Excess: Contemporary Perspectives on ‘Logo Cities’
Matt Blackett ( Spacing magazine, Toronto)
Chris DeWolf (journalist, Montréal)
Johanna Drucker (University of Virginia)
Bill Kovacevic (Enseignes Transworld, Montréal)
Johanna Drucker (University of Virginia)
Friday screening 7.30pm (J.A. de Sève Cinema)
Behind the Bright Lights (Handy (Jam) Organization, 1935) 7:09
Enjoy (Gordon Winiemko & Julie Wyman) 14:00
Whizeewhig (Chihcheng Peng, 2002) 3:00
Lost Buildings (Ira Glass, Chris Ware and Tim Samuelson, 2004) 22:35
Fliengenpflicht Für Quadrat Köpfe (Stefan Müller, 2004) 10:43
[Interstitial: Flatland (Chihcheng Peng, 2001)]
SATURDAY 5th MAY
NB All panels will take place in the J.A. de Sève Cinema (Library Building LB-125) at 1400 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W.
8.30am Registration table opens
PANEL 3 (9.00am-10.30am) Documenting and Archiving Signs: Streets, Malls, Campuses, Harbours
Moderator: Michael Longford (Concordia University)
Tom Russotti (Rutgers University) Brooklyn Storefronts and Signs
Patricio Davila (Ontario College of Art & Design) A Thick Coating of Signs: Travels through suburban strip malls
Nancy Marrelli (Concordia University) The Evolution of Concordia University Logos and Signage
Laurie Churchman (University of Pennsylvania) TYPE AHOY: Technology, perception, and originality in boat graphics
PANEL 4 (10.45am-12.15pm) Media/Culture: Past, present, future
Moderator: Chantal Nadeau (Concordia University)
Michael Golec (Iowa State University) “Enjoy Coca-Cola,” the Discourse of the Other, and Lacan in an American City
Sarah Teasley (University of Massachusetts Dartmouth) Silent Film and Commercial Art as Urban Intervention in Interwar Japan
Will Straw (McGill University) Letters of Introduction: Film credits and cityscapes
David De Benedetto (Red Dye Studio, NYC) Typographic Historiography: Ideology and the cinematic assumptions of future urban signage
LUNCH (on your own)
PANEL 5 (1.30pm-3.00pm) Design and Signs: Perspectives on/from Professional Practice
Moderator: François Gagnon (Université de Montréal)
Alex Bitterman (Rochester Institute of Technology) Defining Place Branding: A practical taxonomy for professionals and the public
David Gibson (Two Twelve Associates, NYC) People and Places: Signs symbols and landmarks, New York, Beijing, Dubai
Louis-Charles Lasnier (Atelier Louis-Charles Lasnier, Montréal) Signalisation intérieure, Nouvelle gare d’autocars de Montréal
Will Temple (North Carolina State University) Placing Demands: Challenging legibility in public space
PANEL 6 (3.15pm-4.45pm) Artworks and Interpretations
Moderator: Rhona Richman Kenneally (Concordia University)
John Armstrong & Paul Collins (Toronto and Paris) Painting in Public: An illustrated overview of collective and individual artwork
pk langshaw and Carlos Pineda (Concordia University) in significant sites of mexico
Joey Medaglia (Ryerson University) Explorations in Deconstruction/Reconstruction
Maroussia Lévesque and Jason Lewis (Concordia University) Cityspeak
7.30pm: The Québec premiere of Helvetica
Hall Building H-110, Concordia University, 1455 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W.
NB The screening will immediately be followed by a Q&A with Gary Hustwit (director of Helvetica , Brooklyn) and Hélène L’Heureux (Interaction/design, Montréal; directeur, Société des designers graphiques du Québec)
Dr. Drucker is the Robertson Professor of Media Studies and was the first director of the Media Studies program which she created at the University of Virginia on arrival in 1999. She has a PhD in Ecriture (University of California, Berkeley, 1986) and has been on the faculty of Yale University, Columbia University, the University of Texas at Dallas, State University of New York at Purchase, and Harvard University where she taught art history, theory, and practice. Her publications have been in the field of 20th-century art history, the history of writing and the alphabet, artists’ books, experimental typography, and visual and concrete poetry.
Her most recent publication is Sweet Dreams: Contemporary Art and Complicity (University of Chicago Press, 2005). Her other scholarly titles include: Theorizing Modernism (Columbia University Press, 1994), The Visible Word: Experimental Typography and Modern Art (University of Chicago Press, 1994), The Alphabetic Labyrinth (Thames and Hudson, 1995) and The Century of Artists’ Books (Granary Books, 1996).
She is also internationally known for her work as a book artist and writer and has been publishing experimental editions since 1972; her most recent titles include Figuring the Word (Druckwerk 1998), Narratology (Druckwerk, 1994), and Nova Reperta (in collaboration with Brad Freeman, JABbooks, 1999), Night Crawlers on the Web (2000), A Girl’s Life (Granary, 2001), Quantum (2002), Damaged Spring (2003), and From Now (Cuneiform Press, 2005).
She is currently working on a large-scale digital project, Artists’ Books Online.
The deadline for proposals for the Logo Cities Symposium has now passed. Here is a brief review of confirmed panel and gallery participants (in no particular order; updated 20/4/07).
- Vishal Rawlley (artist, Mumbai) Typocity: A documentation and analysis of typefaces in public spaces of Mumbai
- pk langshaw and Carlos Pineda (Concordia) in significant sites of mexico
- Will Straw (McGill University) Letters of Introduction: Film credits and cityscapes
- Sarah Teasley (UMass Dartmouth) Silent Film and Commercial Art as Urban Intervention in Interwar Japan
- Nancy Marrelli (Concordia U) The Evolution of Concordia University Logos and Signage
- Ann McDonald (Northeastern U) Whose Skyline? Public private light, sign as sensor and node
- Tom Russotti (Rutgers) Brooklyn Storefronts and Signs
- Michael Golec (Iowa State) “Enjoy Coca-Cola,” the Discourse of the Other, and Lacan in an American City
- Alex Bitterman (RIT) Defining Place Branding: A practical taxonomy for professionals and the public
- Darren Wershler-Henry (Wilfrid Laurier) Sonic Signage: [murmur], the refrain, and territoriality
- Bernard Zirnheld (Yale) Coming To Life: Advances in Reprographic Technology and the Architecture of Fin-de-siecle Paris
- Karen Lewis (U. Kentucky) Yellowtown: The aesthetics of poverty, the graphic design of urgency
- Laurie Churchman (U. Pennsylvania) TYPE AHOY: Technology, perception, and originality in boat graphics
- David Gibson (Two Twelve Associates, NYC) People and Places: Signs symbols and landmarks, New York, Beijing, Dubai
- R. Hakan Ertep (Izmir University of Economics) Chaos or Homogenisation? The role of store signs in transforming urban fabric in Beyoglu, Istanbul
- Louis-Charles Lasnier (Atelier Louis-Charles Lasnier, Montréal) Signalisation intérieure, Nouvelle gare d’autocars de Montréal
- Shannon Mattern (New School) Calligraphic Qatar: National typography and civic identity
- David De Benedetto (Red Dye Studios, NYC) Typographic Historiography: Ideology and the cinematic assumptions of future urban signage
- Patricio Davila (OCAD) A Thick Coating of Signs: Travels through suburban strip malls
- Will Temple (North Carolina State U) Placing Demands: Challenging legibility in public space
- Joey Medaglia (Ryerson) Explorations in Deconstruction/Reconstruction
- Alessandro Colizzi (UQAM) Local Idioms from the Netherlands
- Stuart McKee (U San Francisco) Street Democracy
- John Armstrong, Louise Noguchi (Sheridan) & Paul Collins (École d’art de recherche de Caen la mer) Painting in Public (collaborative gallery installation)
- Jason Lewis and Maroussia Levesque (Concordia) Cityspeak (gallery installation and panel presentation)
- Matt Blackett ( Spacing magazine, Toronto)
- Bill Kovacevic (Enseignes Transworld, Montréal)
- Gary Hustwit (director of Helvetica, Brooklyn)
- Hélène L’Heureux (Interaction/design, Montréal; directeur, Société des designers graphiques du Québec)
Anyone can register to attend the Symposium. There is currently a special preregistration rate which requires that the registration form is postmarked no later than April 1 (details here). Please note that seating for the Symposium is limited. (Symposium registration includes admission to the Québec premiere of Helvetica on May 5.)
If you don’t want to attend the Symposium, but you do want to join us for the screening of Helvetica on May 5, admission will be by donation on the night. (Please note that we will not be selling tickets for the screening; however, the auditorium we will be using holds 700 people.)
We’re very excited about the level of interest the symposium is generating – especially from design professionals and scholars of media and culture.
Many of you have only recently heard about the event, which is why we’re extending the deadline for proposals to the end of this week, ie Sunday March 4th. (Applications can be submitted up to a week after this deadline, but priority will be given to those received by the 4th.)
Your proposals only need to be 1-2 concise pages, plus a descriptive title and your contact details. We will begin making decisions on March 5th and will publish the initial program here on the Logo Cities website by mid-March.
We will be adding further information to the main symposium page , including preregistration details, over the next few days.
We’ve already received some terrific proposals for the symposium from educators, designers, architects and artists, including enquiries from Canada, the US, Turkey, Hungary, Japan, Scotland and England. Remember the deadline for proposals is February 28th. (As a guide, formal proposals should be 2-4 pages in length, although 1-2 concise pages should suffice. If you’re unsure what to include, we suggest the following as a guide: give a clear sense of your general area of interest, the scope and relevance of the project or paper you want to share, how your own work relates to existing ideas and arguments, and perhaps the kinds of conclusions you might ultimately draw. Please include a succinct title and your full contact details. Supporting images or links are encouraged but not necessary (guideline: 3-6 small jpgs).)
The Symposium will begin with an informal reception on the evening of Thursday May 3rd. This will be held at the VAV Gallery, which is located just two blocks from the main symposium site in downtown Montréal. On display will be artworks and examples of old and new signage. All symposium participants will be invited to attend. Over the next two days there will be a series of morning and afternoon panels, organized sequentially (ie not concurrently) in order to facilitate cumulative discussion and debate. There will be an informal screening of various films and videos on Friday night, with the Québec premiere of Helvetica on Saturday night.
Confirmed participants to date include: Matt Blackett (Spacing magazine, Toronto); Bill Kovacevic (Enseignes Transworld, Montréal); Gary Hustwit (director of Helvetica, Brooklyn); Hélène L’Heureux (Associée principale, Interaction/design ; directeur, Société des designers graphiques du Québec); and, Will Straw (Art History & Communication Studies, McGill University).
The main Logo Cities Symposium page will continue to be updated regularly.
7.30pm, Saturday May 5th, 2007
Hall Building, H-110
1455 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W.
The ‘signs of the times’ can be found on the literal signs of the times. The use of Helvetica on so many of them expresses our need for security, for visual proof – if nothing else – that the world’s machinery still runs.
So wrote ad critic Leslie Savan in 1976, in a prescient Village Voice article called ‘This typeface is changing your life.’ Thirty years later, this archetypal Modernist typeface is more ubiquitous than ever, on posters, annual reports, tshirts, and signage in city streets, train stations and airports across the world.
We’re delighted to announce that, on the evening of May 5th, we will be hosting the Québec premiere of Helvetica, a new documentary film which promises fresh insights into a typographic phenomenon that has inspired all manner of love and loathing during its 50-year history.
Gary Hustwit, the director of Helvetica, will be on hand to introduce the film and, after the screening, to respond to audience questions. More information about the film can be found here. (Image courtesy G. Hustwit.)