From Paul Soulellis
When we teach typography the focus is on control. But we learn to master these rules as though they're universal, as though there exists an optimized way to read. Perfect typography means predicting an idealized reading experience. And a very particular power dynamic, involving knowledge manipulation and control.
...mythology of the genius, singular type designer ... as if designers have a monopoly on some sort of sacred knowledge and control that other people do not have.
Who are the unseen powers controlling the read in these environments? Who do they speak for? What kind of idealized audience has been imagined in their design? How do we, as designers, participate in these logics of success?
The Politics of Legibility, James C. Scott
Legibility is a condition of manipulation. Any substantial state intervention in society...requires the intervention of units that are visible. The units in question might be citizens, villages, trees, fields, houses, or people grouped according to age, depending on the type of intervention. Whatever the units being manipulated, they must be organized in a matter that permits them to be identified, observed, recorded, counted, aggregated, and monitored.
surveillance in legibility + visibility politics
From Paul...Participation in these logics of success demands legibility. The clear reading and gridded organizing of bodies and identities that leads to prediction; predictive models that lead to policing; and modes of surveillance that accelerate and engage with every aspect of our lives
illegibility policed as a threat to the state
There is no physical container for a typeface. Impressions on a clay tablet, scratches on the inside of a sarcophagus, the typographies of a tribute buried alive. Every glyph is itself a tablet and impression, the tracings of shadows on a plane of light. Counterform cuneiform shards slice through time. Surface without depth, infinitely draped over endless, formless void. A typeface is not a thing. Young technocrats circumnavigate and juggle cities like Settlers of Catan expansion packs. An additional Cards Against Humanity module. The physicality of hot metal type is an anomaly on the invisible, weightless language-reality textile continuum. Language is a virtual currency, its value poetically inherent. Every glyph a coin, a hidden star. A typeface has no sound.