Sunday, July 01, 2007

Lawrence Wallis, desktop publishing, time travel

Lawrence Wallis has raised some interesting issues around desktop publishing, seen as commencing around 1985. It is now possible for individuals to combine typesetting, page design, graphic reproduction and even copywriting on occasions. I am copying some of these words from the Printweek website. Here's a short quote-

The mechanical era of letterpress printing, a component of the industrial revolution, was a supreme example of the division of labour. It was characterised by groups of specialised craftsmen that jealously guarded skills through dedicated unions.

Lawrence Wallis refers to a critique of the industrial revolution from people like William Morris and Eric Gill, "more concerned with the inner spirit of man". Wallis thinks it possible they would have approved of the modern approach, "if not entirely of the methods".

I am not sure what there is not to approve of. Could it be the industrial scale made possible by the web? The arts and crafts movement seems to me to be concerned with unique objects. There is resistance to describing something digital as art when it can be easily reproduced and distributed. Some of this is after 1985 but is part of the same trend.

For example I have taken this graphic from the Web Gallery of Art in Hungary. The size was changed by Blogger as it loaded. The design of the blog page is a standard format that I selected.

According to the Web Gallery of Art, this is a "relief etching, handpainted with watercolour and gold". So nothing digital involved. But there is more to discuss. 1985 is only one of the dates in the history of desktop publishing.


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