Thursday, February 11, 2010

Designer Bio: M. C. Escher

I've chosen M. C. Escher as my "key type designer, graphic designer, or non-designer; within my area of typographic interest." I couldn't find any type designer or graphic designer who specifically works within this area of dimensional typography and multiple messages & perspectives. So... I chose Escher because I see many of the same problems he had to solve within my own typographic experiments. Reading multiple messages out of a single form and reading the same message out of a single form from different perspectives and planes. Although he doesn't delve into typography the same principles apply within my own area of interest. Here is a brief page I wrote on him.


The Dutch artist Maurits Cornelis Escher was one of the first artists, or graphic illustrators, to master optical illusions. M.C Escher known for his mathematically inspired works that were called ‘impossible structures,’ created a whole new art and science of reading multiple messages out of a single form through his playful formulas of perspective, and also, the same message out of a single form at different angles and planes.

Born in Leeuwarden Netherlands in 1898, Escher was the youngest son of a civil engineer; one could say he was born into the fields of theoretical and applied mathematical science. Having taken many carpentry and piano lessons as a child, Escher started developing his interest in the arts early in life. When 1919 came around, Escher attended the Haarlem School of Architecture and Decorative Arts. He briefly studied these new creative disciplines where he learned from Samuel Jessurun de Mesquita, a graphic designer who had much influence on him, with whom he would remain friends for years. After Leaving School in 1922 he traveled the world looking for inspiration within each new countries’ beautiful landscapes and plains.

Some of his first explorations in this new ill-defined field focused on the improvement of art works from the Moors, using geometric grids which he overlaid with additional designs of animals. This new discovery, while traveling the Mediterranean gave birth to the idea of using symmetry to solve some of his most challenging problems, which he said is “the richest source of information I have ever tapped into.”

Getting frustrated with his inability to work out a specific visual idea or puzzle, Escher lost much sleep wrestling with solutions to his illusory works. He would make 3-D models to work out angles, vanishing points, and other multi-plane details. Upon showing his brother, Beer, a professor of geology, his latest drawings that explored division of planes within a single perspective, Beer immediately connected his brothers’ work with the relativity within crystallography. Escher soon became a mathematician within his many years and note books-full of crystallography research and the principles of symmetry which he could use this within his own work.

    Upon having many dreams about an endless staircase in the 1950s, Escher soon became obsessed with one of his monumentally iconic pieces, the House of Stairs, which all started with the Penrose Triangle. This Triangle, by Swedish artist Oscar Reutersvard, gave birth to a whole series of illusory illustrations that made the same object read on three different planes and perspectives. This complex relativity which features three stairways intertwined in three different gravity planes, and ascending and descending which uses a visual paradox to depict a never ending object.

His eternal studies and research gave birth to many new forms of art and design, which supported techniques of solving creative problems mathematically. This series of studies was published through a story of images in his three volume series entitled Metamorphosis. He shows his greatest graphic achievements in Metamorphosis by applying every mathematic technique and formula available: topology, tessellation, hyperbolic planes, crystallography, stellated dodecahedron, planer gravity, spacial formulas, etc. His works have married with other designers and artist which have created foundational illusory techniques such as the Necker Cube, the Penrose Triangle, and isometric illusions that are continuously studied today. His works from illustrations to his woodcuts, mezzotints, and lithographs, Escher has redefined the world of art through fun illusions and has produced new opportunities for designers to economically solve problems through reduction and conservation of saying many messages within a single form.


James Kingston, Visual Illusions
TAJ Books International LLP, 2009

No comments:

Post a Comment