Repetition and variation remain two of the most powerful design sensibilities out there. One of the key images being used in the 2024 promotion of Romeo+Juliet, plays quietly off the plus “+” sign in terms of it’s integration of image to text.
The above photo suggests a form similar to the + sign within the image through both the horizontally extended arm and a vertically formed area of negative space from between the vertices of overlapping legs below and the outstretched arms above.
Additionally, the man’s outstretched arm and his bent leg reinforce the horizontal layout of the text elements.
Rhythm is certainly alive and well. Remember, at the core of rhythm lie repetition and variation.
All art and design involves structure, the apparent lack of it, or something in between. Order can be observed in the spiral pattern of sunflower, a nautilus shell, wire mesh and in the grid of Manhattan. On the other hand rippling waves of tall grass swaying in the wind may exude randomness but the same could certainly be said for the meandering layout of London. The difference between the two states of randomness may be organic, geographic, economic, even political and most people won’t even care. But stay tuned in. A pattern begins to emerge in regards to art and design, that the most dynamic results in all visual forms and artifacts boil down to an issue of how much order vs. how much randomness or chaos is being expressed at a given time.
The humble grid: Accessible and efficient; the expression of order at its zenith. A counterpoint to random eruptions.
The layout of 1909 London. No humble grid but instead an evolving network of hamlets, villages, roads and interchanges resembling more the circuitry of a brain than a planned event.
The above installation by Sol Lewitt expresses order through the use of repeated forms generally arranged to imply a grid. These modules, however, are arranged in a manner that exudes a rhythmic sense of variety along both its footprint and silhouette.
The above layout by Nicholas Felton demonstrates order by employing a three-column grid per page upon which are placed varied but similar typographic items. Each numeral or phrase is arranged in fashion that strikes a balance between both controlled variety and unapologetic randomness. Both left and right pages feel equal to each other in visual weight.
The above image by Herbert Bayer represents a field of randomly occurring stars in contrast to a pair of hands and eyes whose proximity to and alignment with one another represent unity.
The above painting by Jackson Pollack at first glance expresses pure randomness, however the rectangular edges represent containment and certain degree of control; context is in a sense the default state of being. His paintings take on different personas depending on whether the painting’s edge are predetermined or determined later after being subdivided.
Order and randomness (or chaos) are both somewhere to be discovered in all of the visual arts. This site is dedicated to that discovery. A video on the topic can be found on YouTube.
45th Montreux Jazz Festival Poster
The Montreux Jazz Festival has been attracting music afficionados to Switzerland and the Lake Geneva shoreline annually since 1967. The idiom of jazz contains a wide variety of styles, shapes, textures, patterns and approaches. Capturing the essence of jazz in a poster – a relatively small piece of visual real estate – could at once seem daunting or intuitive ripe. The legion of artists and designers who’ve contributed their substantial talents to this event and particularly this graphic medium have gone to great means to embrace the excitement and underlying dynamic of the event.
For the event’s 2011 festival, Francis Baudevin decided to take a very unique approach and to breach what amounted to a then-tradition of richly evocative imagery. His initial attempts were rejected, but then Baudevin researched the festival’s archive and discovered a poster designed by famed Swiss designer Max Bill for 1991, the only previous abstract expression of the event.
That poster became his portal into a deeper investigation. According to Baudevin’s interview with Reuters, “he (then) found inspiration in the rhythmic repetition of music and the abstract musical notation of experimental U.S. musician and composer Anthony Braxton.”