Game Theory

Choose ten sentences from Gamer Theory by McKenzie Wark and ten rules from a found game, either from the internet or print. Each of these sentences should be typeset in either 12, 36, or 72 point arial regular (with 12, 36, or 72 point line spacing).

In addition to collecting and setting this linguistic material (which we covered last class), please bring in 20 images you find, in a book or on the internet, from the following or related keyword queries:

Rule, play, fun, constraint, order, improvisation.

Make 5 compositions to start using sentence, rule, or image. Make 25 copies of each composition using the risograph in one color. Each color can only be used once per stack. Trade stack for stack. Add sentence, rule, or image. Trading may continue until you deem it complete. Repeat.


1. Identify and locate the first piece of graphic design you can recall making. Find it as a digital file, hardcopy, image … it doesn’t matter.
2. Examine this first work carefully. Ask yourself (now) why you (then) made the decisions you made in assembling it. Consider your answers, and keep them to yourself for the moment.
3. Take at least one full day, 24 hours, between following instructions 2 and 4.
4. Write one compact paragraph (between 5 and 12 sentences) that indicates the answers you arrived at in step 2.
5. Typeset the paragraph that you wrote in step 4 (now) how you would have done it (then) at the time you made the piece of work identified at the start of this set of instructions. The result should sit comfortably on one vertical sheet of 8.5 x 11 inch paper.

From David Reinfurt

Revolutionary Types

Browse one of the “revolutionary” books distributed in class. Take 15 minutes to look for phrases or sentences that could be typeset as a “political poster.” Pick one page from the text and copy it. Highlight the phrases you chose with a black sharpie. Print 25 copies on the risograph, using pink or yellow as the highlight color. Collate and distribute.

Read “Robin Fior” by Richard Hollis. Consider his work and biography and especially the different formal and material senses of revolutionary typography that Hollis elucidates for Fior’s work.

Create a tabloid sized poster that typesets words from #1. Using only typography, develop a revolutionary form for your content, one that takes up a cue from Hollis’ text.

First draft due Monday 11 March

Oblique Strategies

Collect material related to the photoshop exercise “under constraint” from a classmate. This should be one of the prints from the ten iterations, and the sheet which typesets the name of the photoshop tool and a description of the original image. If you want, you can ask your classmate for the digital file.

Draw two cards from our deck of oblique strategies.

Follow the first card to make a new composition using the material you collected from your classmate.

Follow the second card to further to produce a second composition, one which iterates the first composition.

Oblique Strategies

These cards evolved from our separate observations on the principles underlying what we were doing. Sometimes they were recognized in retrospect (intellect catching up with intuition), sometimes they were identified as they were happening, sometimes they were formulated.
They can be used as a pack (a set of possibilities being continuously reviewed in the mind) or by drawing a single card from the shuffled pack when a dilemma occurs in a working situation. In this case,the card is trusted even if its appropriateness is quite unclear. They are not final, as new ideas will present themselves, and others will become self-evident.

First Deck (1975)
One article, among many, about Oblique Strategies.

Photoshop Under Restraint

Find an image that relates to the concept “under restraint.” Make the image large enough to fit on a letter size sheet, portrait orientation. Choose one retouching or painting tool from the photoshop toolbox and vigorously edit the image using only that tool. Test the tool : make it do something it wasn’t designed to do. Investigate all possible variables and parameters for the tool. Make 10 iterations that each visually communicate a different sense of the concept of freedom versus constraint.

Event Script

In the spirit of Alison Knowles and Yoko Ono, write a script in a single concise paragraph that specifies an event which might produce — among other things — printed material. This is an exercise in both precision and speculation, in detail and possibility, in material specification and the evocation of social and political lifeworlds in and beyond graphic design.


Look carefully at Jan Tschichold’s Der Berufshotograph poster. Write 5 rules which, if followed, could produce the poster. The rules should be abstract: following them should allow for the possibility of a very different poster than Der Berufshotograph. As you write your rules, think about: the conceptual relation of type to image; printing techniques and media properties; and compositional relations of type to image, and type to type. Make your poster “contemporary”. Execute these rules once, on a large format (two trimmed tabloid sheets).

Wild CSS

Pick a Wikipedia entry which follows from the entry on “Rules.” Copy its HTML and link it to a CSS sheet in which you declare a value for every possible property of every HTML element. Explore CSS as a means for the wild production of new visual forms. Forget about the legibility of words and instead visually articulate the different HTML elements (the tags). Make two formal constraints to regulate the visual profusion.





example code block



border-top: 1px solid black

display: ;
float: ;
margin: 0 0 0 0;
padding: 0 0 0 0;

outline: 1px dotted white;



Restrictions, Mevis & Van Deursen


This very short text is from Recollected Work, a retrospective of projects by the Dutch designers Mevis and van Deursen. The text is a sort of transcription produced by Paul Elliman (the editor of the book) after talking with the designers.

Read the text and consider the following:

Mevis and van Deursen describe their design practice as a game playing activity. How does this game work? What do you think of the entanglement of freedom and constraint which their description implies? How can a “living voice” be engendered in this sort of practice?

Think about your own experience as a designer. Consider a specific project — in what sense did restrictions structure the work? How might you imagine future work in which “content”, “form”, and “production” conscientiously become constraint variables which you set in order to play the game of your work?

Write and print a 100 word response on a single letter-sized sheet of paper. Use one typeface that begins with the letter “T”.