Publication Design

April 5th, 2018

Publication Design

Hidden Pleasures brings together the major essays on Borges’s fiction by leading scholar Evelyn Fishburn and is published by the Borges Center at the University of Pittsburgh.

The volume is designed to accommodate a series of scholarly texts woven with citations in multiple languages and scripts, and buttressed with copious marginal notes. The layout, typographic styles and cover design contribute to establish a flexible framework for future collections of essays to be published by the Center. The cover design is predominantly typographic and is supported by a single color and a pattern design inspired by Jewish motifs in reference of the major essay in the volume, “Through a Jewish Lens: ‘Enriched by Conflict and Complexity.’” The system allows for future publications to re-iterate this title-colour-pattern system.

La Senda, also published by the Borges Center, was written in 1917 by Jorge Guillermo Borges (the father of J.L. Borges). This philosophical manuscript discusses a range of themes, being the most salient the relationship between the State and the individual. The edition is based on Maria Laura Rossi’s transcription of the text and was edited by Daniel Balderston.

This volume is designed as an intimate small book that includes several types of content, including an introduction, a note to the text, the main transcription and images of the photocopies of the original, a series of poems, and an essay on J.G. Borges by Sarah Roger.

Translations / Transactions

April 3rd, 2018

Translations / Transactions

This project looks at the translation and transaction of a series of manuscripts by Jorge Luis Borges into typographic texts as autonomous aesthetic objects. The studies are based on Borges’s handwriting at the time when his vision deteriorates. This hand can be described as a deformation of his typical and mature hand in the occasion of blindness: it consists of sparse strokes, exaggerated ascenders and descenders while the middle section of the letterforms dramatically lose definition. In aesthetic terms this is a very moving set of gestures of a hand searching for the strokes that describe letters and the general shapes of words.

HAND D. Mid-late 1950s. A section from “Una Rosa Amarilla” 1956, [17 x 22 cm] at the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas

Typographic Manuscripts

April 3rd, 2018

Jorge Luis Borges’s Typographic Manuscripts

This project looks at the transcription of a series of manuscripts by Jorge Luis Borges into typographic texts that function as both research tools in the field of genetic criticism and autonomous aesthetic objects. Genetic criticism focuses of the reconstruction and analysis of the process of making a text; and for the Borges scholars, many of his manuscripts are still terra incognita. Many of Borges’s manuscripts, as is the case in the drafts for “The Aleph,” are particularly interesting because they reveal a branching-out system of possible wordings or sentences; other manuscripts, especially the essays, have a specific system of marginal bibliographic references.

A fundamental aspect of communication design, translation between semiotic systems is a core element of this work. It involves a deeply focused material exploration in the setting of type in relationship to calligraphy that raises questions on the nature of graphic translation, adaptation and reproduction.

Initiated during a 6-month sabbatical in the Spring 2017, and in collaboration with the Borges Centre, the project brings together a series of Borges’s manuscripts, many of them unpublished texts, and through a practice-based research approach develops the standards for the production of their typographic transcriptions. The corpus of transcriptions is being gathered in a series of books co-authored with Borges’s scholar Daniel Balderston at the University of Pittsburgh. Each of the three anticipated volumes (Poems, Essays, Short Stories) includes a selection of manuscripts, their typographic transcriptions and commentary, and a reflective chapter on the process and nature of the typographic translations.

The first of the three volumes, Poemas y Prosas Breves, is available for purchase at Amazon.

Learning, Freedom & the Web

September 27th, 2014

Learning, Freedom
& the Web

Ebook Design, Research collaboration with Mozilla Foundation, 2011

This collaboration with Mozilla was focused on their work in support of the open web; in particular, we worked on the ebook design for their publication Learning, Freedom and the Web, a book written by Anya Kamenetz (of Fast Company and DIYU) that is part catalogue and part manifesto and that tackles crucial questions about the future of learning.

“How can the ideas of the open source movement help foster learning? What are the most effective ways to bring learning to everyone? How does openness help the spread of knowledge?”

These questions were the starting point to think about the publishing possibilities beyond the conventional codex. The book needed to reflect in both form and distribution the new paradigms and implications of digital technology and open learning. And so it became imperative to create not only a print book, but also a freely distributed ebook that could be read and experienced on a variety of devices including iPad and Android tablets, desktop computers and smartphones.

The Emily Carr team on this project included Jonathan Aitken and myself, along with SIM Director Alexandra Samuel, and four undergraduates: Briana Garelli, Justin Alm, Amy Wang and Danielle Hall. We consulted with Vancouver-based development company Steamclock Software, and we concluded the most appropriate approach was to build the book in HTML5, Javascript and CSS.

We took inspiration from the print book design by Chris Appleton, and created a digital text that related to the look and feel of the print version while developing a navigation system that made the text both easy to browse and easy to search. Student researchers created animated illustrations, embedded videos, and did the majority of the hands-on coding to bring the book to life.

The resulting book went online in late 2011, and was officially launched on January 25th 2012. This represented one of the very first ebook design projects taking place at the SIM Centre and a starting point for me on a research focus and body of work related to ebook design. For Mozilla, the project represented a new channel for supporting their work on an open Internet, and a demonstration of the potential for tablet publishing with open standards.