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Introduction:






Longum iter est per praecepta, breve et efficax per exempla 
Teaching by precept is a long road, but short and beneficial is the way by example.
--Lucius Annaeus Seneca

"Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, “and what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversations?”
--Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventure in Wonderland, New York , Crowell

[W]here art history is concerned, in the beginning was the eye, not the word.
--Otto Pächt

This note has a rather long and perhaps volatile history; here is that story: when I was a young professor teaching various courses in Graphic Design in the early 1970s, at a number of art faculties in Iran, I could not find a satisfying book to be used as a reference material for my students. Hence, I created a set of lecture notes that many of my students found quite useful. When I moved to Europe and later on to North America, copies of those notes accompanied me at the bottom of a box that contained the paraphernalia of a gradually forgotten life. Many years later when I was working at my studio gallery at the Granville Island in Vancouver, a couple of young professionals entered into my gallery and introduced themselves as my former students. It took me a little while to recognize them and then, despite their receding hair-lines and mature demeanor, I saw, in my mind's eyes, gradually their younger faces of the older times emerge.

To make a long story short, they wrote an article about that meeting in one of the newspapers of Toronto, and later on they asked my permission to publish my old lecture notes in Wikipedia. However, my notes were more than thirty years old, and in the past three decades Graphic Design has seen many progresses and drastic changes, both technically and conceptually, and therefore I decided to revise the notes thoroughly and completely. The revised notes were submitted to the Persian Wikipedia, but the publication was confronted by many hurdles arising mainly from the various administrative rules and regulations of Wikipedia. Regulations such as: the published article should not be an original research! It should not contain a Point of View ( i.e. it should not represent the value judgment of its writer) and so on and so forth. Nevertheless, the text was published, albeit subject to a drastically re-edited version that cleansed it of any of my personal artistic judgments and views. Unfortunately, the article was also drastically curtailed and the works of many graphic designers were eliminated because of copyright concerns. Of course, as a not-for-profit educational material these notes are subject to Fair Use Doctrine (FUD), in United States copyright law, that allows certain use of copyrighted material without requiring permissions from the rights' holders, for uses such as commentary, criticism, news reporting, research, teaching or scholarship.

The Persian restrictions invoked the very motivation for me to translate my materials into English and publish them in the English Wikipedia. The English Wikipedia's copyright regulations are somewhat less intransigent, particularly for educational materials. They adhere, somewhat, to the FUD, for instance  they let an author to incorporate copy-righted images into their article that are more than thirty years old, since apparently after this period many images will enter into the public domain. For some other copyrighted materials, such as Mondrian paintings, one may resort to the argument that their publications for non-profit educational purposes are legitimate since they are unique and cannot be represented by other materials in  teaching. These criteria are usually posted in the licenses that are attached to each image. Unfortunately, caught up in the torrent of the everyday flood of the gibberish and hacked materials, Wikipedia's editors and managers, who are mostly enthusiastic young college students have no time to distinguish between a genuine piece of informational material and the otherwise; or they are simply incapable of such a judgment and therefore they idiosyncratically allow or disallow certain images. As well, they are heedlessly following a maze of cumbersome procedural WP policies that have exploded in the past few years into voluminous files and are often contradictory, inconsistent and irrational. As a result, although under the auspices of one my students, these lecture notes in their totality were published in the English Wikipedia, nevertheless parts of it were senselessly mutilated and degenerated into sorry states. At the same time some of the over-zealot editors eliminated some of the images based on the argument that my notes are image-heavy! Of course, this was a direct assault on my philosophy that a history of graphic design should ideally be self-explanatory by its judicious use of images. I want the textual explanation to be at minimum and provide only some factual information about their chronological aspects together with some circumstantial information that would help to place a particular design in its proper historical trajectory. So there you have it. I will try to publish this long history in various segments, and hopefully this time I will have less problems. gN







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