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This chapter explores the nature and communicative uses of irregular and distressed shapes in graphics. Its argument begins with a paradox.

Consider the three graphic structures depicted as Figure 9.1a and 9.1b. While all three-depending on the situation-express the concept of ‘circle’ or ‘round’, they look distinctly different. Figure 9.1a has a clean, regular outline whereas the outline of Figure 9.1b is distressed and irregular, showing many little dips, bumps and streaks. Figure 9.1c, on casual inspection, appears regular, but attention to detail reveals many little irregularities. We produced the three circles ourselves using Adobe’s vector-based Illustrator software for Figure 9.1a and a cheap, flat 1-inch paintbrush and watereddown black acrylic paint on plain white 100-gram photocopy paper for Figures 9.1b and 9.1c. Neither of the first two marks, Figures 9.1a and 9.1b, took particular effort to produce. Figure 9.1c, however, took considerable effort.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Materiality of Writing : A Trace Making Perspective
EditorsChristian Mosbæk Johannessen, Theo van Leeuwen
Place of PublicationNew York
Publication date2018
ISBN (Print)9781138679726
ISBN (Electronic)9781315537306
Publication statusPublished - 2018
SeriesRoutledge Studies in Multimodality


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