The Opacity of Writing. Massin’s Interprétations typographiques Between Text and Image

Auteur / Author: 
Valentina MANCHIA (Università degli Studi di Siena, Italie)
Vendredi 26 Août 2011 - 10:45

In Discours, figure Lyotard talks about the thickness (“épaisseur”) of writing, both mixing “espace du texte” and “espace de la figure”. Following his suggestion, it seems, we might deal with a peculiar density and opacity of writing — referring here to the well-known Marin’s distinction between transparency and opacity — when graphematic form is accompanied by a visual, sensible impact in the same expression-substance. In particular, this is the case of those verbal texts in which the graphic expression-substance plays a key role: you could bracket together both the ancient visual poetry examples and a good part of the production of concrete poetry, plus the visual researches of contemporary graphic and type design. In this case it is the text itself that become image, by mixing poesis and pictura. The main theme of my research project, in particular, is centred around Massin’s work, one of the most important post-war French graphic designers. His graphic experimentations (famous, amongst others, the Interprétations typographiques based on Ionesco’s plays) attempt to bring a page to life by purely typographical means, working on the connection between writing and the other ways of signification (visual, musical, gestural). In addition, Massin’s work on graphic substance of written text doesn’t arise from a mainly poetic or artistic need (such as for visual poetry or Futurist experimental layouts) but from the deepen reflection on graphic creativity of the so-called “expressive typography”: a creativity always working with the author’s text, re-interpreted but never re-invented. The aim of this paper, then, will be to focus on different possibilities of articulation of text and image in complex verbal-visual texts, such as the Massin’s ones, in which writing is not only a notational system, according to Goodman, but also an expressive practice.