Sulki & Min

Distant Reading

I’m currently reading Franco Moretti’s book Distant Reading. It’s about approaching literature from a distance to discover larger patterns in a greater amount of works, as opposed to the (traditional) close reading, which focuses on a select few works and tries to untangle their intricacies. It’s about finding long-term tendencies and large-scale changes in topics, artifices, genres, or systems. This method can be used to compare ideas cross-culturally, looking at how comparable ideas emerge in different regions and cultures, and how principles from one culture are copied / twisted / merged / enhanced by others.
I’m fascinated by this work, because I think you can apply Moretti’s method to graphic design as well. For example, we can analyze, as Moretti does with his study on “world literature”, how the Western forms of typography are negotiated with Korean contents here—how the incongruity created certain tensions, and what roles ornaments play in lessening the tensions. If we could collect enough data and develop efficient tools for analysis (Moretti relies on sophisticated computational methods and a huge database), then it would be interesting to compare situations in different cultures. Min Choi

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