Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Language of Design

I reviewed this very powerful YouTube video posted by "sphereboy" that uses several elements of design in it's demonstration of typography. This video uses an excerpt from Edna St. Vincent Millay's poem, Renascence. The video creator uses a combination of rhythm, texture, and proximity to develop this video.


The video, which is entirely text-based, shows a multitude of movements using the text as it appears on screen. Words sometimes appear suddenly providing its own "verbal beat" and sometimes they spiral in movement, along with the changing of text size from bigger to smaller, giving the appearance of falling from the sky or from smaller to bigger, giving the appearance of reaching for the sky, which reflects the verbal message on screen. The video uses music along with the movement, which makes the viewing experience more intense, but even without the music, the typography provides the rhythm in this case. The text is never static on screen, and often emphasizes the meaning of the words such as big, screaming, and pressing. An example is shown below. The video creator uses very strong, intense movement of those words on screen to visualize their verbal meaning.


The video creator uses only black text (with some shades of gray to show "fading") on white background. The video changes the texture of the words to emphasize verbal meaning. For example, "Look my fill into the sky" becomes out of focus, like your vision does when you just stare straight into the sky -- you stop focusing on anything specific and it all just becomes a blur. In another case, the video shows letters split into parts that become jagged to emphasize their verbal meaning, "forced back my scream" as shown below, implies rage and fear through the texture of the typography.


The use of proximity to create visual tension is extremely powerful in this video. The way the words appear on screen, move, repeat, become jagged or faded, move toward each other and away from each other, etc. provides a level of intensity that matches the verbal message. The words of the poem have their own intensity and frustration, and the way the video creator uses all of this in this "kinetic poem" is fascinating. Even without listening to the music that accompanies the text, the visual typography creates its own intensity.

The video creator very effectively uses elements of design to express emotion and verbal meaning through design.


Poets Online said...

your review prompts me to watch it again (that's good!) I like the screenshots of single frames to point out points in your argument. Nice analysis.

Catherine R. said...

Thanks! I was really impressed with the way typography brought the words to life in this video.