Dot Zero, 1966

Dot Zero, 1966

The following is the editorial introduction to Dot Zero, an ambitious publication to connect graphic design with other disciplines such as art, philosophy and architecture. The magazine was the in house publication of Unimark International and ran for six issues. This was art directed by renowned design Massimo Vignelli and has some wonderful modernist layouts. This introductory text places the magazine in a time and place, and presents an editorial ambition that is, perhaps, somewhat lacking in our times and within graphic design practice.

Editorial transformation of our world is accelerating so rapidly that quantitative change has become a qualitative difference. Areas and disciplines that yesterday seemed unrelated are today discovered to be interwoven and interdependent at a more meaningful level. Matters no longer join up by pressing solidly against one another, but by the pull they exert against one another. 

It no longer surprises us that a polished steel surface at one million magnifications looks like a satellite photograph of earth, or that a man, rather than an angel, is floating gracefully around the earth at orbital speed. We have swallowed ideas and images that our grandparents would have choked on; we are no longer in the condition of the aborigines who were so unused to reading flat pictures that they couldn't recognize a photograph even of their own neighbors. We have come so far beyond Jules Verne and H. G. Wells that we can almost face the idea that anything man can even think of, he will one day be able to create. 

But if our old ways of thinking, seeing, communicating, have become obsolete, our new ways can become obsolete even more rapidly. Before the paint is dry on the protest poster, the issue has shifted-so much has our rate of communication changed. With frequent and multiple exposures at this rate, any position rapidly becomes a parody of itself; it is no accident that the advertising profession has accepted parody itself as one method of communication. Adaptable as we are, however, the pace is dizzying. It is nearly impossible to adjust our thinking fast enough to make good use of all our new potentials. It is small wonder that many of our new attitudes lack wholeness, grace, and adequate recognition of the proper human use of human beings. No problems are any longer simple problems, and it is to the recognition of this fact that DOT ZERO is addressed. Good design is no longer a matter of good taste and intelligence alone. Better cities are not made by better intentions, or better political administrations alone. Better solutions today, in communication as in other areas, require deeper probing, broader understanding, and more thorough integration of the growing mass of pertinent factors. The functions of communication, in particular, are beginning a more highly articulated grasp of the design problem; men engaged in these functions need a matrix of understanding of design in all its applications. 

DOT ZERO is aimed at meeting this need. It is an interdisciplinary quarterly covering a network of design topics on an international scale. It will deal with the theory and practice of visual communication from varied points of reference, breaking down constantly what used to be thought of as barriers, and are now seen to be points of contact. Wherever possible, we will ask members of one discipline to discuss the problems of another, from their own point of view. We shall work, within each issue, toward a correlated system of articles, each of which sheds light on the others, Each issue will embody a central theme, around which thinkers and writers, as well as eminent designers, artists, architects, photographers, typographers, printers, teachers, and businessmen will ply their variously shaped orbits. On these articles, we shall feel free to editorialize, separately and italically, always maintaining the distinction between the contributor's thinking and editorial comment. There is nothing here intended to be final or definitive; we are a point of departure: DOT ZERO.