Thursday, June 18, 2009

Master of Puppets liner notes in Helvetica

When first I saw the words "Blog Submission - Helvetica Metal" in my e-mail inbox, I feared the worst -- did this e-mail come from a young American metal band trying to name itself after the Norwegian term for hell ("Helvete"), but unknowingly aligning itself with a sans-serif font? Nope, it was just a blog post about artist Noah Venezia's harebrained scheme to re-set the liner notes to Master of Puppets in a more pleasing typeface (which turns out to be Franklin Gothic, not Helvetica).

Venezia's project re-contextualizes  the angry critiques of Master of Puppets' lyrics as texts to be studied. Reduced to blocks of text, laid out on one page in a font mostly used in books and advertising, the above liner notes resemble a newspaper story about the album. Perhaps this project engages purely academic questions of visual aesthetics more than it engages issues specific to metal. Still, it does raise a couple interesting questions. We've all debated the badassedness of heavy metal logos (see here for an example). What makes a font "metal?" and why do we place a valence on something as objectively meaningless as a font, anyway? The brain, it tingles!

For those readers in New York, this poster is on display TODAY (June 19th) at the Littlefield art & performance space in Brooklyn.


Andrew Childers said...

*bumps the documentary helvetica up a few more notches in netflix queue*
it's amazing how much something as simple as a font can tell you and how advertisers can use them to manipulate you. we're funny animals.

Etan said...

Woah, thanks for hipping me to that documentary! It's like it was created just to answer the questions in this blog post.