The polarization of our media driven experiences has caused us to form overlapping and bisecting associations for exploits in each realm. We use familiar language and metaphors to stand in for complex happenings in new virtual worlds. The more familiar and associative the digital event, the more willing and less fearful we are to engage in it.
The role of the metaphor and language in the design realm is ever apparent and infinitely important. As these metaphors become so engrained in our lives, as children grow up with technology so much so that they touch screens and expect activation, the metaphor fades and our associations shift. Two Dictionaries explores this evolution of language and association across the interface and into our digital environments. Beginning with an ever expanding collection of homonyms specifically comprised of relics from both the physical and digital realms the project bisects and separates the relationship of language along these divides to challenge and reveal this distinction. Here, the Google Search becomes an interesting juncture to visualize the new associations media has engrained in us. We can see how history has shifted the implication of these words and how words—so tied to real and tactile moments—now take on vastly different connotations based on our digital associations. This project reveals and expands on the simultaneous distinction of these words and worlds.
To compound this distinction, the book is split into two sections. The verso page is dedicated to the analogue, and the recto to the digital. This polarizing move is to highlight these environments and allow the audience to locate them-selves in each, individually and simultaneously. Subtle shifts in typography and color are also used to brand each zone. The analogue takes inspiration from the origins of media and knowledge dissemination. Printed in black ink, and using the typeface Larish Alte by Radim Pesko, it references the tradition of metal type printing. The digital is slightly shifted. The ink is a process blue, referencing the television or computer screen, and the typeface is Larish Neue, a more mechanical and contemporary version of its traditional cousin. The verso represents the human, the recto the machine. This subtle shift highlights the vibration between environments and also emphasizes that while they are distinct, they are also parallel, influencing and mimicking one another.
The first section of the book focuses solely on the words. Each is displayed in alphabetically order, but doubled to represent both analogue and digital definitions. The terms are represented in sync both visually and verbally. Presented with the written terms first, the viewer may form their own mental associations to the potential visual result.
In the second section, the visuals are introduced. Here, the theme of the Google Search is then reinserted into the physical book. The browser frame traverses the gutter, yet the visual search results remain within their respective environments. The gutter acts as a seam which blurs the boundary but also maintains the continuous and singular frame. Throughout this section, different patterns erupt to comment on our verbal distinctions in alternative environments. Sometimes, as is the case with the term ‘archive,’ the bisection is almost nonexistent. The formal nature of the images are consistent, yet the artifacts within them change. Other times, as in the case of ‘icon,’ this evolved association is amplified. The word takes on vastly different connotations which reveal how our mental associations have shifted in the digital age. In the case of ‘icon,’ the analogue definition seems the most foreign.
To round out the bisected event, the last section of the book reveals the actual search terms used to split the Google Search along its digital and physical divide. This reveal, similarly to the definitions, visualizes the contemporary resting place of many of these terms. The single word is often obviously apparent in either the digital or physical environment, but in order to gener-ate its inverse, more detailed and often absurd searches were necessary. In the case of ‘icon’ again, the digital search remains simply ‘icon(s),’ while the analogue requires the addition of ‘religious icons’ to specify a collection of visuals isolated from our more common contemporary association with mobile buttons.
The goal of this project is to slightly vibrate our associations with language in contemporary society. By isolating the traditional bonds with these particular homonyms, the book shows multiple aspects of our contemporary relationships with language in both analogue and digital environments. First, its mass—304 pages—reveals how much of our language translates across the interface boundary. Second, it reveals the power that our digital occupations have on our everyday lives. Words evolve and their innuendo within the bisected homonym shifts drastically. This vibration is about revealing that while the distinction between the two associations may be vast, the experience of their use is far less polarizing. In reality, these associations and uses happen simultaneously. We are in both worlds at once and thus, the interface is no longer a gateway to another place. It is a place unto itself.
Available for print at Lulu.com.