Immutable: Designing History by Chris Lee

Immutable: Designing History explores the graphic genealogy of the document and its entanglement with statecraft and colonial(ism/ity). This is framed as a roughly 5,000 year chronology, imbricating the developments of money and writing from Mesopotamian clay tablets to distributed blockchain ledgers. Immutability figures as a design imperative and hermeneutic for considering securitization techniques (material, technological, administrative) against the entropy of a document’s movement through space, time and the political.

This project is proposed as a counter-position to the imperatives of graphic design education, which foregrounds logos, books, websites and branding while passports, money and property deeds constitute the field’s more profoundly consequential genres.

As an alternative historiography, Immutable gestures towards anthropologist Laura Nader’s call to “study up” on those in power, and the radical educator Paolo Freire’s recognition of the “limit situation” presented by documental forms as a generative condition for the study and creative exploration of emancipatory praxis. The book’s aim is to orient graphic design towards the vocation of imagining, naming, and remembering beyond the horizons of its role as a managerial, administrative, and colonial instrument, helping impose a rationality of vision and accountability upon what is knowable, thinkable and sayable.

Designed by Chris Lee

Edited by Library Stack and Benjamin Tiven

Published in ePub form in 2022 by Library Stack and Onomatopee, with NN Contemporary Art, Northampton UK

Ebook ISBN: 978-1-737370017


Ming Romantic by Synoptic Office

Ming Romantic: Collected and Bound, vol. 2 folds together reproductions of historical documents with contemporary texts to examine how Chinese typography can evolve through the use of digital tools and manipulation of form. The ebook also illustrates the design process of Ming Romantic, a display face reinterpreting a style of printed type originating in China’s Song and Ming dynasties. The typeface is one of the first Didone-inspired Chinese typefaces, and it imagines how the character set could look when divorced from the effects of the brush.

Ming Romantic comprises three sections: “Possibilities: Typographic Speciation”; “Translations—Putting It Together: Conversations about Language & Form (Ming Romantic)”; and “Myths: Chinese Typography from Afar.”

With contributions by Chris Wu, Gabriela Carnabuci, Abby Chen, Jonathan Lee, and Dustin Tong

Designed by Synoptic Office (Caspar Lam and YuJune Park)

First published by Synoptic Office, 2017. Republished in ePub form in 2021 by Library Stack, with NN Contemporary Art, Northampton UK

Ebook ISBN: 978-1-7373700-0-0

Ming Romantic Cover