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From ASCII Art to Comic Sans: Typography and Popular Culture in the Digital Age

From ASCII Art to Comic Sans: Typography and Popular Culture in the Digital Age

Current price: $40.00
Publication Date: September 19th, 2023
The MIT Press
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A fresh and provocative take on typography, computing, and popular culture, viewed through four idiosyncratic typographical phenomena from the digital age.

From ASCII Art to Comic Sans offers an original vision of the history of typography and computing in the digital age, viewed through the lens of offbeat typography. We often regard text as pure information and typography as a transparent art form without meaning of its own. In this richly illustrated book, however, Karin Wagner offers a fresh perspective that shows how text is always an image that conveys meaning, and how typography, far from being meaningless, has in fact shaped modern visual and material culture in significant ways.
By juxtaposing four odd typographical phenomena—the pedantic practice of ASCII art, the curious-looking machine-readable typefaces, the blurry letters of dot matrix printers, and the much-maligned font Comic Sans—Wagner paints a vivid picture of how functional technologies influence popular culture when used in ways their original creators never intended.

Design practitioners, as well as fans of media, graphic design, type history, and computer technology, will enjoy this breezily sophisticated perspective on visual and digital culture. Spanning the material and visual aspects of typography from the 1960s to the present, From ASCII Art to Comic Sans is a unique contribution to the study of popular and material culture that fills a gap in the history of typography and computing.

About the Author

Karin Wagner is Professor in Art History and Visual Studies in the Department of Cultural Sciences at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Researching photography, digital culture, design, and visual communication, she has published articles in Journal of Aesthetics & Culture, Visual Communication, Museum & Society, and Archival Science.