Poor Screen Resolution

As printmaker in the 1980’s, I learned to appreciate the unique strengths of hi-res versus low-res media. It’s perhaps counterintuitive, but low-res media often has the greatest emotional impact. Think of Edvard Munch’s wood
block prints. note

Screen design in 1991 had limitations analogous to woodblock printing. Kevin’s experience was making video, another low-res medium, where the same lessons apply. Low-res visual media have a will of their own, and will frustrate any artist who tries to impose a high-res vision. The artist in a low-res medium is never more than a collaborator; the medium always
makes its presence felt, through wood grain, or NTSC interlacing, or chunky
8 bit pixels. note

Boy we had it tough. Why is this still interesting? Well, there’s always a new low-res medium; today it’s mobile phone screens. More importantly though, low-res is worth exploring in it own right, because:

Low-res requires abstraction, and abstraction requires understanding.
Abstraction amplifies meaning by cutting away noise and leaving only essentials.
Hi-res lets us get away with not abstracting.
Understanding low-res makes our hi-res work better.

Of course, some lessons ought to be forgotten. For example, who made the rule that you should never use serifs for system type? OK we did, but that’s beside the point. The point is it stopped being true several years ago. Just as good paper made Bodoni possible, high-res (and CCS) are making sensitive on-screen typography possible. Georgia, set 14/18 is quite readable, in my opinion. The serifs don’t turn to mush; they enhance, not impede readability. (Windows users, please tell me you have font smoothing turned on). note


Page: LFL02 version: 0.9 | 02.14.2005