Uwe Loesch Posters Essay, Research Paper
Uwe Loesch s posters have a strong meaning, without a predefined visual style, his work reveals an intellectual posture with innovative ideas when it comes to communicating a message. The historical and socio-political conditions of the country where a person lives are revealed in their behavior, beliefs and therefore in the style of their work. Uwe Loesch was born in Dresden, Germany in 1943 and studied graphic design at the Peter-Behrens Academy at D sseldorf from 1964-1968. Growing up in the post war Germany, obviously affected the way he perceives and transmits ideas. Loesch s primary medium is the poster since as it is known historically, it is the most elementary carrier of word and image, providing popular means to illustrate aesthetic change and social and political history. Posters have been present in Germany s history from Jugendstil to Post-Modernism and through two world wars. His posters have no particular style, their effectiveness depends not on word or image independently, but on the meaning or meanings that derive from their interaction. Ambiguous use of words, visual disappointment , wordplay and allusions are some of the resources he uses to blend imagery and type into one concept. Loesch’s ideal conceptualism is achieved by a mixture of his personal German bourgeoisie upbringing and the feeling of political responsibility, raising public awareness. His work began to appear in the early 1980 s, and almost instantly attracted the critics attention by his mastery of the typographic and photographic skills. After having received many prizes and worldwide recognition he currently is a communication design professor at the University of Wuppertal in Germany.
In Loesch s posters we can observe how they attract the eye and still take some time to deliver the full charge of meanings. Some examples of how he employs the different graphic and linguistic resources are more evident than others. However, his work is directed at respecting communication as an independent factor in man’s social existence rather than manipulating it. Loesch attempts real experience from the spectators with linguistic resources such as the ambiguous use of words, wordplay and allusions in his constant assailment of communication. When interpreting each one of his pieces it should be taken into consideration that part of the wit and meanings would inevitably be lost in the translation from German to English.
In his billboard poster Punktum (see image #1 from appendix), we can appreciate the ambiguous use of a word. This ad was produced for two clients, a printer and a reproduction company that had introduced a system for producing large scaled color halftones in a single scan. Loesch uses the image of the enlarged halftone screen to demonstrate the process of production that is being advertised and also comments the process of perception, which allows the human eye to fuse the points into an image. Punktum means period or stop in German and implies enough said . He draws attention to this meaning by following the one word headline with a period. The word can also be read as a caption for the image (a beauty spot) which is like the rest of the spots on the surface. It is interesting to mention that the German for spot is punkt. Here we can observe how with only one word he gets five different meanings and all are related to the main theme.
Another resource commonly used by Uwe Loesch is visual disappointment . This is when, for example, the viewer expects a rectangle, but it is confronted with a square. The spectator then has to adjust to the idea of an implied perspective, which he was not counting on at his first glance. This is the case of the poster for the Cologne Academy of Media Arts (see image #2 from the appendix), where a square was placed halfway up the height of the poster and slightly displaced towards the left. Usually, the viewer would expect it to have been placed on the center. According to Loesch, this form is the sum of all images because it is flat and three-dimensional at the same time.
Another visual disappointment is the use of lines of type that are not parallel to the edge of the paper, and posters trimmed to irregular shapes. In the poster for the bicentennial celebration of the French Revolution (see image #3 from the appendix); the bottom of the paper is trimmed into a guillotine blade and the baseline of the type is also trimmed irregularly. As a result, the poster s background becomes its image. Conceptually, the guillotine represents the historical abuse of power and the contemporary elimination of human rights.
It is probably through wordplay the most effective way to get visual attention while delivering a strong message. Loesch insists that design is a political profession since designers have the tools to address the masses. Therefore it is their responsibility to diffuse positive messages that raise public awareness of international and social issues. We can appreciate how this is true by taking a quick glance through history, especially in the Europe where Loesch grew. Posters have always been the most popular means of public information diffusion. During the World Wars, they served as military and political propaganda, delivering strong messages through the use of typography and asserted imagery. His most remarkable poster under this category is the Little boy (see image #4 from the appendix), a peace poster commemorating the fifty years of the atomic bomb at Hiroshima. Here he composes an equation between word and image, the source of violence and the victim. Little boy is the name given to the bomb by the US Air Force and simultaneously it labels the image (treated with infra-red film to suggest radiation) of the boy that represents every human being and every victim of the bomb. The hyphen after the word boy is known in German as Gedankenstrich or thought line and the space is given to emphasize on further thought.
Another poster that uses the same resource is Alkohohl (see image #5 from the appendix). This poster is part of a series from 1985 called Health and Safety at Work . It consists of a featureless head with the word alkohohl written across. Instead of alkohol, it is misspelled as hohl which means empty in German. The concept behind this wordplay is the empty headedness that results from drunkenness.
Finally, we can observe the allusion in another poster from the same Health and Safety at Work series. This one features three black circles (see image #6 from the appendix), the first two represent the precaution of wearing safety goggles and the third one alludes to the symbol used in Germany by the blind to indicate their disability. The viewer s interpretation can be reasoned as cause and effect, where if goggles are not used at work an accident leading to blindness might be the result. Therefore, it is proven how separate elements can make the viewer draw an allusion between what he sees and existing symbols in order to create a meaning.
An important aspect of effective design is the movement between consciousness and communication. Uwe Loesch provides magnificent examples of this fluent and continuous movement in his posters. German history has made European designers of the previous generation (and obviously Uwe Loesch) more sensitive to the image and its relation to the political power and the bourgeois ideology. The stylistic resources employed in his works, that combine image and type resulting in various meanings, require a thinking process behind the visual first impression. It s like discovering the evident, and while observing it, more and more meanings show up. He is successful at communicating because he bases his designs in a rational concept. The balance he creates between image and text is essential aesthetically as well as conceptually, because it unifies the piece as a whole. In the visual aspect the dynamics of communication depend on asymmetry, unbalance and misunderstanding it is evident that Loesch takes into his practice effectively. In his work, Loesch demonstrates the ability to resist conventional communication design. His work restores communication while attempting to liberate products from their images and detach thoughts, emotion and imagination from their linguistic. He calls it regaining our freedom of the senses , when thinking, feeling and imagination are not subject to conventional communicative stimuli.