Greer Gainer

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Greer Gainer

Reconfiguring Legibility: On the Rhizome with Graphic Design

In the 1980s and into the 1990s, a few American graphic designers, such as Lucille Tenazas and David Carson, proposed that illegible typographic forms could be productive modes of communication. In this period, American designers were questioning the authorial function of graphic design. Rather than simply relaying information through an authorial message, they searched for ways to activate a communicative process through complex visual means. Their supposedly illegible designs inflected the broader inquiries and transformations that were happening in the design field at the technical, formal, and theoretical levels. Considering these artifacts of graphic design through Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s rhizome, this project interrogates the production of audience engagement through illegibility. Rather than seeing the illegible designs through reductive, linear, representational forms, this rhizomatic reading reframes them as complex, nonlinear activations.

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