This project explores text and typography as a medium for designing a system of information. The piece features an article written in the Atlantic Magazine in 1945 by Vannevar Bush, and a response to that original article written by me. The form of the piece is a web page, where a selection from the original piece is reproduced on the left side of the screen. As the user scrolls through and reads the article, an animation develops on the right side of the screen that depicts some of the things that the article is talking about.

In the article, Bush, who has just finished work with the US government on the Manhattan Project, describes his utopian vision of future scientific research and collaboration. The timing of the article casts some doubt on the validity of his point of view however, as the article was published only one month before the United States used the nuclear weapons that Bush helped to create. The piece seeks to gradually make this point clear to the reader as they progress through it.

The process for this project involved many iterations that sought to clarify the relationship between the original text itself and my response text. I experimented with many different formats and methods for conveying this information, but eventually settled on the webpage as a medium. In the article, Bush describes a device that future scientists can use for research, THE MEMEX, and so my response eventually became a simulation of this machine that Bush had envisioned. But the machine betrays Bush’s intentions, and rather than promoting a peaceful scientific future that ignores the realities and consequences of its work, my Memex provides context for Bush’s words.

Tools: Adobe Illustrator, HTML, CSS

This project was my first venture into typography, and as such, I wanted to keep it simple. I chose a clean layout with a very simple interaction, one that only relies on scrolling. This restricted vocabulary allowed me to be deliberate in each of the choice I was making, which I think strengthened the project as a whole. Future work on this project, however, could investigate a more thorough representation of the Memex machine, with more of the functionality that Bush mentions implemented.

Compose a text-based response to a text that you have read for Critical Histories. Combine the original text and your response into a finished whole so that a person can read all texts, leaving with a clear idea of the argument that you have made. Your final piece can use any medium — web browser, social media, paper, stone, light, etc. The selection of format, form, genre, technology, and context should be intentional, related to the overall concept of the piece.