Typographical Portabilities: The Designer and User in Communication Technologies

Maragiannis, Anastasios. 2018. Typographical Portabilities: The Designer and User in Communication Technologies. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis investigates how the gradual shift from print to portable screen based technology has
impacted typographic communication. The transition from print to portable screen based
devices, from material to virtual space, and from the textual to the visual has inevitably altered
our relationship to type, as readers and as designers. Virtual typography can be defined as a new
form of typographic communication that is reimagining the way we understand type as a visually
communicating medium; we have moved from viewing type in print as “voice” to increasingly
regarding type in screen based environments “as image”. This thesis takes the form of practiceled
research conducted as a comparative study that explores the nature of virtual typography,
counter to formalised models and established print based frameworks, in order to demarcate the
nature of virtual typography in its current form and how this affects the activity of reading and
design practices. Virtual typographic communication exhibits a tendency to suspend the
constraints underlying conventional understandings and approaches to legibility and readability,
suggesting that the communication process is undergoing a paradigm shift. Print typography has
been guided by the ideological tendency to fulfil the role of mediator between author and
reader; driven by the sole purpose of imperceptibly transmitting authorial messages to a reader.
Virtual typography has redefined these parameters in its ability to convey and go beyond the
remit of textual language; it has formed a direct relationship between designer and reader and
has gone from transmitting messages to acquiring the capability of generating its own messages,
partaking in the activity of narrative construction. Virtual typography is neither invisible nor
silent rather, it reveals and informs the complex cognitive and perceptual processes involved in
communication and the reciprocal relationship between designer and reader. Kinesis combined
with interaction in virtual typography escapes the fixity of meaning without suspending it; in
contrast it generates the conditions, which enable the creation of a multiplicity of meanings. The
original contribution to knowledge and argument of this thesis is that mobile technology has
reinvented typography and as a result, the changing landscape and conceptualisation of
typographic practices are in turn, redefining the communication process.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):



Design, Reader, User, Co-design, Participatory design, Readability, Legibility, Portable devices, Interaction, Communication, Technologies

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



31 October 2018

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

01 Mar 2019 15:40

Last Modified:

07 Sep 2022 17:14



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