It’s those lazy Sunday afternoon strolls that are at times most fruitful. Especially when one takes the pleasure of perusing amongst the dust and tatter of back-alley second hand book shops. Two rare gems caught my eye on this particular occasion: Graphic Design in Education Television (Beverley Clarke, Lund Humphries London 1974) A short yet precise introduction to understanding the techniques for broadcast design and in particular, educational television. Although a lot of its contents are today redundant, the book is testament to the state of graphic design in early television production. Clarke drives forward her claim for “The importance of graphic design for educational television…..(which) surprisingly has rarely been discussed.” She continues, “This is clearly an omission in a rapidly expanding profession.” Her claim is a bold stance to take for the time, graphic designers receiving little credit for their work in this domain, but foresaw a definite rise in the role of the designer and many educational programs.
Television in the 1960’s and 70’s was considered as an important medium for extending educational curriculum in schools. One of the better known instructional systems in the UK was the Open University which started transmission in 1971 and was an educational partnership with the BBC. The graphic design unit grew out of the parent department of the BBC creating a shift from presentational graphic work to informational graphics.
Interestingly, we have seen a rise in ‘information graphics’ on the Web in the past five years. Melhil Bilgil’s diploma work, ‘History of the Internet’ being one of the latest fine examples of how graphics can inform. Andrew Vande Moere’s superb website, Information Aesthetics documents this trend.
The second book to pop out from the shelves was The Technique of Film Animation (John Halas & Roger Manvell, Focal Press 1959). John Halas wrote incessantly about all aspects of animation and always with the intelligence that the finer realms of this medium demand. What is striking about this collaboration with Manvell, considered as the authoritative source book for its time, is the scope of animation they manage to present. Whole chapters are devoted to commercial work, public relations, propaganda, avant-garde, instructional and educational animation. Indeed, Halas went on to publish a complete book entitled Film & TV Graphics, a comprehensive survey of graphics in the domain from around the world.