osp blog

Free Operations

2 day workshop
Werkplaats Typografie, Arnhem (20 + 21 November, 2007)

What permutations between typeface, typesetting and text can you imagine? How to design through scripting and can you read differently with computer manipulations?

Full brief:

Design could not exist without a larger eco system of cultural works around it. Even the most commercial of design practices are nourished by historical or contemporary artworks, films, photographs, lay-outs, images, ideas produced by others; at the same time, design feeds into culture.

For culture to grow, it seems counter productive to fix it in place with restrictive copyright licenses that prevent good ideas from what they do best: to spread. Open content licenses such as the Free Art License, Creative Commons, General Public License were invented to subvert intellectual property laws in order to keep culture in circulation. They are an unfortunately necessary asset when 'public domain' has become the exception to the rule.

OSP (Open Source Publishing) is a small design research team from Brussels, involved in various aspects of the publishing cycle. From typography to editorial work, OSP tests out in practice how graphic design could work differently, using Free Software and copyleft licenses. We try to think out loud about what other tools are possible and what is possible with other tools; to demonstrate to ourselves and our colleagues the potentialities and limitations of Free Software, how they can be tools to think with and how they can be put to work in professional design environments.

For the *Free Operations* workshop, we will work exclusively with content that is in the public domain, with fonts that expressly allow for modifications and redistribution, and we will process those materials using open source tools.

Point of departure is Project Gutenberg, the first and largest single collection of free electronic books. Including Max Havelaar, Flatland and Dracula, the project brings together many classic texts. Once retyped and corrected, they are than re-entered in to the public domain as digital files. Besides an immense and valuable library of literary works, The Gutenberg project makes a searchable database available of text files, paragraphs, words and letter combinations.

What permutations between typeface, typesetting and text can you imagine? How to design through scripting and can you read differently with computer manipulations?

*Free operations* starts with an installparty, adding FontForge and Inkscape to your harddrives. When these two pieces of software are strung together, they make other ways of doing design possible. We will learn how to use the command line or console to communicate differently with your computer, and experiment with new ways of processing text through pattern matching using regular expressions.

Free Operations proposes a two day sampler of what Open Source methods could mean for design in general and typography in particular. It is a way to think about authorship, software and distribution in relation to your practice, and an invitation to explore new territory.