A few uppercase words, centred or ranged at the top-left corner of a page, set in the regular weight of any grotesque font. More often than not, it’s black type on white, or the reverse, but colours may appear. Be it an international design exhibition, a show for the Venice Biennale, a new artist-run space or the output of a design school, in recent years our western “art-design” bubble is flooded with similar solutions.
While I was vainly waiting for this trend to slowly fade out, like any other tag on Trend List (which doesn’t list this one), I realised I needed a name to define it and to explain the annoyance I felt about it.
Over time I recognised a similar annoyance when randomly listening to music on the radio, and realised there is an audio equivalent to this typographic sameness: it’s Auto-Tune. Auto-Tune was originally developed as a tool to automatically correct vocal tracks in order to make them sound perfectly in tune, by removing accidental deviations from the melody; as we all know by now, it has turned into the standard voice treatment for a great amount of contemporary pop music productions, and is widespread to the point of being almost impossible to avoid.
Likewise, this default, CAPS-LOCK typographic treatment is largely present in our visual landscape. It can be applied to almost anything, and makes this anything instantly look OK, fit for our times (at least from a designer’s perspective). This is AUTO-TUNE TYPOGRAPHY.
In 1995, on Emigre#34, Mr Keedy wrote a piece titled Zombie Modernism. It Lives!, claiming that “modernism is no longer a style, it’s an ideology, and that ideology is conservatism.” What I’m observing in recent years is not a new personification of that conservative take on modernism: this one is apparently devoid of any ideology, and goes even further in renouncing to visually and typographically articulate a thought.
. . . .
AUTO-TUNE TYPOGRAPHY could be considered as one of the many manifestations of “normcore” or “post-authentic” graphic design, two labels currently used to identify reactions to previous visual trends seeking an idyllic “authenticity”; both labels relate to the concept of “default systems design”, which has been discussed for almost twenty years now.
Link to the rest at Medium
PG will admit that typography can be an art and he has seen some printed books that are beautifully designed.
However, type also has a utilitarian function and PG knows that he’s not the only one to find the presence of strange and unorthodox fonts an off-putting barrier to understanding what has been written. At times, he has suspected the creator of not feeling confident enough in her/his words, sentences, paragraphs and story structure to satisfy the reader’s expectations and has decided to throw in a strange font to liven things up.
PG also notes the OP uses the caps-lock to present AUTO-TUNE TYPOGRAPHY. The title of the OP was also produced with caps-lock, likely a sarcastic typographical comment on the subject of the author’s disdain.
PG substituted initial-caps instead so the post title wouldn’t look amateurish when visitors to TPV encountered the headline under circumstances that didn’t provide the opportunity for them to appreciate the original author’s superior disdain for Times Roman and other pedestrian type styles that are the accepted way of doing things online.
And tend to provide the best reading comprehension results for viewers.
Should a groundswell of demand for creative typography on TPV, PG will consider himself in error and might try to comply. However, the vagaries of various programs and apps used to read web content could easily turn cutsie, ironic and/or witty inside font tricks into a visual dog’s breakfast for most visitors.
(For any who wish to start the journey into the typographic avant garde at no expense, click here to obtain a free font, called Pepper Roman.)