Ingold and Writing

I chose to write about the first article assigned for today by Tim Ingold. The beginning of Ingold’s article focuses on examples to show us the distinction between notation and script. Notation is seeing the shapes, learning the names of shapes, and memorizing their tendencies, while script is using many notations to create a sort of system. Ingold then goes on to say that writing is a special type of drawing, in that what is drawn is elements of notation. The example is given if someone who only knew English was forced to copy a Japanese text. The discussions moves on to some history of the letter “A” and how it was developed from drawings meant to represent something (an ox, in this case) to what we have today that only represents itself. Writing can be considered a form of art mainly in calligraphy. Ingold talks about writing being a kind of dance – every movement is caught up in the entire body, even if it is just one letter being put on the page at a time. Even language that is based in movement, such as sign language or writing in the air, can be considered an art. The hand can then remember the form of notation even when the eye has forgotten it. Ingold states that is was not writing that separates language from art, but the process of moving from writing to print because it takes away the body memorization portion and sense of movement. Writing, unlike drawing, is a technology of language. Ingold believes that it is the separation and linearity of characters that distinguish writing from drawing.


My example based on Ingold’s article is this piece of typography by Fabien De Lange. It uses the foundation of calligraphy to create a piece of art made up from letters. The individual letters follow the very basic notations of English letters, but it has added flourishes and stylization. I think this would be considered closer to a drawing because it is not a linear piece of print. The letters do make up words, but not in the linear, informational sense. I think this is also art because these notations would be difficult to translate into a hand or bodily gesture, but notation of normal writing is not hard to translate.

My question is where is the line between writing and art? The examples in the article were very extreme, but I think it would be hard to distinguish a font that was slightly flourished as writing or drawing.


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