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Subject: Ducks; was: Appropriate face for business letters
From: Gunnar Swanson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Discussion of Type and Typographic Design <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 9 Aug 2000 09:29:03 -0700
Content-Type:text/plain
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Robin,

I've never read Peter Blake's -God's Own Junkyard-, the source of the Long
Island Duckling photo in -Learning from Las Vegas- so I don't know the tone
of its use there. The duck and suburban sprawl photos that Venturi, et al,
also reproduced from that book, were used widely to decry tackiness before
Venturi, et al, rescued them.

[Speaking of ducks, does anybody have a source for a photo of the old Chili
Bowl restaurants in LA? If so, please contact me off list.]

The undecorated shed may not exist. By the -L from LV- definition, a
minimalist glass box is a duck--its meaning is imbedded in its overall form
rather than added on. (It was wise of them to point out that "duck" and
"decorated shed" are functional rather than essential descriptions. If I
remember correctly, they noted that a Gothic cathedral is a duck in the
sense that it has a cruciform floor plan and a decorated shed in the sense
that narrative material is added to the somewhat arbitrary surface. One
could, I suppose, argue duckness for the upward visual flow, etc.)

Where Venturi and Friends differ from the Gropius Gang on this point is
that, assuming they'd accept the categories, the modernists only approve of
ducks. Not to say, of course, that they approve of all ducks; the original
Long Island drive-in is a case in point.

The nice twist of their rhetoric is that all architectural meaning ends up
with a description that is at least superficially derogatory, diffusing the
"decorative" put downs of Vegas or of various Venturi projects.

Gunnar

>Right. Tufte borrowed the 'duck' from Venturi (and, if we're being
>complete, Denise Scott Brown and Steven Izenour, co-authors of Learning
>from LV). Not often noticed: Venturi et al liked ducks and decorated sheds
>equally - both have been and are fine approaches to architecture, they say.
>What they don't like are undecorated sheds (the dreaded modernism). Tufte
>ignores all that. He just keeps the word 'duck', as a put-down of
>too-pictorial graphs. He doesn't like decorated sheds either. He just
>sticks with the term 'duck' - and turns it into a term of abuse. Not so
>subtle.

note new phone numbers:
----
Gunnar Swanson Design Office
59 North Linden Drive
Ventura CA 93004-1236
(as of August 15, 2000:
536 Catalina Street
Ventura CA 93001-3625)

v: +1 805 444 4532
f: +1 805 715 2005
e: [log in to unmask]

director, multimedia program
California Lutheran University
v: +1 805 493 3241
e: [log in to unmask]

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