Pro: David Rudnick
Do not be alarmed. That unfamiliar sensation you are currently experiencing, the lancing arc of retina-searing joy blistering down your neural pathways, is entirely expected. The News has planned for this. It has focus-grouped for this. It has spent many consulting, digesting, sleeping, refreshing and then re-consulting demographics, typographics and heiroglyphics. And the answers have come.
So great was the effort, so consumate the skill with which the operation was conducted, that not one inch of the past remains. What you are reading today is entirely new. Though 34 percent of test subjects may think nothing has changed, everything has changed. No longer will reading the paper for over thirty minutes cause your eyes to bleed, or the buccal cavity in infant subjects to detach. Yale’s daily paper no longer contravenes any of the articles of the Geneva Convention. Thanks to mathematical formulas previously unknown, we can now confirm that no one item of news is too large to fit inside the finite space of this newspaper.
This paper has been redesigned.
A sophisticated system of optical feedback combined with pressure sensors on all pages indicates that you are currently reading this sentence. That means this article is performing at near-optimum efficiency for 97.4 percent of near-optimum subjects. To reward you for your participation in this operation, the News has composed the following typographic formula, recorded as providing sensations of mild pleasure and satisfaction in a percentage of human viewers so high that the obverse is statistically negligible.
Con: Alice Buttrick
As a race, we are enamored of the art of remakng. We renovate, reinterpret, reframe and we redesign — we think that somehow our representations will grant us a new narrative and consequently new life. To some extent they do. Few things are more seductive than the allure of aesthetic salvation, the promise in a fresh coat of paint or new school clothes. However, in locating that potential, one must also appreciate the ethical questions which accompany all exercises of power. One cannot help but be wary of the second-chance make over, the conspiratorial possibilities of ‘re’design.
Firstly, re-presentation can point to a failure in aesthetic expression — in which case a new look is certainly valid. More seriously it may indicate a breaking-point in the initial concept. If content has not been similarly elevated, is it fair to say that appearances are powerful enough to distract us from more fundamental errors? Of course, I am not coming down against a more beautiful world. Facades should be as expressive as one has the capacity to make them, but the transformation should be holistic.
Graphic designers are always taught to make their design reflect its content — a rule not simply for the sake of coherence. A redesign which wanders too far from its message does a tangible disservice to the message itself. There is certainly such thing as a design which is ‘too good’ if only for the simple fact that it is dishonest.
Misleadingly attractive design amounts to the same false advertising as the first girl you found stuffing her bra — the image is a good one until the truth is uncovered: so much tissue paper and a flat chest.