“One of today’s greatest graphic designers reframes yesteryear’s greatest media prophet.” (Popova M).

Continuing on from my last post I will be looking at The Book of Probes to help develop my ideas and understanding of Typo Texts for my own project.

The Book of Probes is a modern update on McLuhan’s sharpest probes culled from his books, speeches, classes, and various writings published between 1945 and 1980. Edited by Eric McLuhan (McLuhan’s son) and graphic designer David Carson, the book reinvents and modernizes McLuhan’s ideas. McLuhan excelled in using creative textual wordplay and provocative metaphorical language and this combined with Carson’s visual metaphors that provide us with a fresh insight into the legacy of McLuahn’s work.

Below are some examples from the book.

Figure 1 - 5. The Book of Probes.

Figure 1 – 5. The Book of Probes.

BoP 2 BoP 3 BoP 4 BoP 5Despite The Book of Probes (BoP) serving as an updated representation of McLuhan’s probes, I actually prefer the style of The Medium is the Massage and similarly, The Age of Earthquakes. I think Carson’s book is visually bold and striking, and it does captivate it’s audiences attention well. However I feel the ideas that are portrayed are lost in translation. I feel that the design is quite noisy and it over powers the messages and therefore reduces their impact. The design reduces the comprehension of the meaning as the visual aid requires a lot of attention and so I feel that this is not as effective as the previous two books mentioned. I also think the readability of the text can be too demanding and again this is a factor.

Also I feel that from my own perspective, I prefer the use of black and white over colour in this instance and I think this is something that at the minute, I feel I will pursue. I wouldn’t say that I don not take any inspirations from Carson’s book as I do really like some of the more abstract and colourfully bold imagery and I think the abstract style is something I would use sparingly.

A very apparent difference is the other two books make very good use of white space and I really think this feature works well, especially in a metaphorical way in some senses. Also, I think that this book is structured more around text overlaying a background image. Whilst the other two books did have similar examples, they had a lot of content which was designed in a more segmented/ framed way and (especially with The Medium is the Massage) they very frequently divulged in breaking the conventional constraint of symmetry in the layout. This as I said in my previous post was something I really thought was different and provocative – and very importantly, memorable!



Figure 1. Image available at: http://dcd.rawquality.com/img/120222/bookofprobes1.jpg [Accessed on 01/04/15]

Figure 2. Image available at: http://dcd.rawquality.com/img/120222/bookofprobes7.jpg [Accessed on 01/04/15]

Figure 3. Image available at: http://www.brainpickings.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/bookofprobes13.jpg [Accessed on 01/04/15]

Figure 4. Image available at: http://go.distance.ncsu.edu/gd203/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/bookofprobes5.jpg [Accessed on 01/04/15]

Figure 5. Image available at: http://boxesandarrows.com/files/banda/the_book_of_probes/probes-2.jpg [Accessed on 01/04/15]

McLuhan, M., Carson, D., McLuhan, E., Kuhns, W. (2011) The Book of Probes. Gingko Press Inc: USA.

Popova, M. (n.d) ‘Design Legend David Carson Brings Marshall McLuhan’s “Probes” to Life’. [online] Available at: http://www.brainpickings.org/2012/02/17/book-of-probes-david-carson-marshall-mcluhan/ [Accessed on 01/04/15