Words and things

Since 2009, the Seine-Saint-Denis County Council has been backing “la Culture et l’Art au Collège (CAC)”. This project is based to a large extent on the presence in class for several weeks (40h) of an artist or scientist whose mission is to engage the students in a process of research and creation. 

 

Tutors: Caroline Cutaia, Alice Gavin et Valentin Bigel/ graphic designers

Project manager: Anna Mezey

 

Objectives:
In most cases, when we have to design a reference work that anyone can turn to for an explication — such as a book, an encyclopaedia or a newspaper —, we use words and writing. Rather provocatively, certain graphic designers now contest this single solution and promote dictionaries without words. Will the pupils follow them down this path?

Workshops:
Graphics are something else
The classes explored the world of graphic design through a selection of books, magazines, posters, logos, etc. provided by the tutor. Comprehension exercises were used to help them to understand the relationship that the drawings suggest between the meaning of words and the meaning of pictures. In this phase, the pupils consulted all sorts of written and visual dictionaries.

Testing words
Specifications were drawn up to help the pupils develop skill and an artistic approach: What type of dictionary you want to make? Who will it be for and what shape will it take? How will it be used? The two classes decided to base their dictionary on an in-depth exploration of a feeling: anguish, enthusiasm, stress…

Talking pictures
How can we talk about a feeling by arranging graphic forms on a page? The idea was not to define a series of words as such, but to bring out what goes through the pupils’ minds when they try to associate images of all kinds. The classes were divided into several teams to make a mock-up of the dictionary that they had designed.

Outcome:
The work of two classes was combined in a 72-page dictionary, printed in colour, (15.9 x 22.5cm). The pupils distributed fifty copies in their schools. This atypical dictionary shows how the two classes hope to communicate their feelings without using words.

 

Outings (selection):
- GUIDED TOUR OF THE EXHIBITION "TYPORAMA", MUSÉE DES ARTS DÉCORATIFS (PARIS).
- PARTICIPATION IN THE WORKSHOP “MAKING A PRINTED BOOK”, BIBLIOTHÈQUE NATIONALE DE FRANCE (PARIS).

Participating schools:
- Class (5th SEGPA) Collège Robespierre, Epinay-sur-Seine
- Class (3rd 3) Collège Jean-Vilar, La Courneuve

 

Photo: PIERRE ANTOINE
Graphisme: BIBLIS DUROUX

Words and things