Alex Galloway wrote in a recent RHIZOME RAW post:
"I am trying to define a font as separate from a mark (ink, light, etc.)
and thus as sort of list of directions for visual representation."
I think first you need to figure out what writing is, like that's
simple. Fonts are a type of writing, so you need to get clear about one
before the other. Thus far, I can't tell what the difference is between
the points you're making about fonts and the points one can make about
Johanna Drucker, who I mentioned in the last post, puts forward, in _The
Visible Word_, "a theoretical model of materiality which would be
adequate for the interpretation of typographic signification" (Johanna
Drucker, _The Visible Word_, U Chicago Press, Chicago 1994). Maybe the
ideas of materiality are useful here.
In her introduction, Drucker writes:
"The use of semiotics as an interpretive tool, as I first made use of it
in the early stages of this work, had the advantage of offering a means
of distinguishing the visual manipulation of the linguistic signifier
from the verbal signified in the process of linguistic signification.
This (albeit artificial) distinction provided the leverage to insist on
the role of that visual manipulation and call attention to the material
character of the typographic signifier within poetic process."
(she's kind of really smart).
Drucker brings up Jakobson, as does Culler in _Structuralist Poetics_.
I'm no expert on this stuff, but I think his argument is something like
that poetry happens where "normal" language is "self-consciously
foregrounded" (Drucker). So think about fonts this way, that they
foreground the text; this can --seem-- transparent or it can call
attention to the text through it's own form. But this whole thing of
transparency you bring up makes me nervous, when you write that "one
time there *was* a more direct connection between content and
representation." I'm not comfortable with the thought that either a)
content was previously locked down into one specific manifestation (the
bible, the AP news story) or b) that any form that any "content" takes,
the minute it hits the world, has a natural or original
"representation." It's true that the massive availability and access to
numerous fonts has led to certain shifts; the "copy-fight" phenomena in
skater culture and German techno where corporate logos are made to say
different things. But whether this is any sort of schism or so on, as
much as hypertrophy, I'm not so sure.
"I see the difference between the "digital/semiotic world" and the
"virtual world" as follows: the "digital/semiotic world" seems to be a
collection of digital values, like machine code, that work in systematic
ways, i.e. they are compiled, listed, loaded, ... Thus, it is like a
more traditional sign system. the "virtual world" refers to any
situation where content and context are both provided by means of
computer; this includes any sort of non-traditional interface such as a
website or VR."
I'm afraid I still don't really understand it. What is it about a vr
environ or a website that is not digital or subject to some sort of
semiotic analysis? When is it that content and context are provided by a
computer? Just because they are read on a screen? I thought people
provided content and context. Dunno.