How to ski by the french method

How to Sky (our highlights are in green)

How to Ski by the French Method by Emile Allais, with photos and layout by Pierre Boucher, Editions Fleche Publishers, Paris, 1947.

In our opinion one of the most complete exemple of text synsemically displayed. A contemporary “synsemic masterpiece”.

In this picture all the graphic “tools” are used as writing elements, without distinction and separation between pictures, alphanumeric characters, graphic elements.

Photography, graphic elements and pictures perfectly supplement each other.
Body is the context that defines all the other graphic elements. The latters help to disambiguate the pictures.
In this case there is not a “main” text separated from and commented by a secondary text (illustrations or notes). There is just one caption.

[It’s important to notice that the graphic composition is strongly “modernist”, this means that it’s possibile to write precise information without using a sort of “infographic style”. It’s a sort of calligraphy.
This is photography, typography, graphic design, information design in one artifact, in one word “writing”.]

Synsemic analysis (pdf)

Luciano Perondi & Leonardo Romei

You can find some images of the rest of the book here, here and on Flickr.


2 responses to “How to ski by the french method

  1. Enrico Poli

    Since you pointed this book to me, I’ve taken a look at some of its double-page spreads.

    One thing concerns me about this kind of writing, even in such a particularly excellent example, is the order of reading. While is useful to get the big, synchronous picture, at some point you have to digest the elements sequentially.

    As far as I can see (but I’m waiting for a printed copy), “How to ski” use a number of different techniques to suggest in which order to scan the page (the eye my follow a spiral starting from the upper left, or there may be block of text of alternating black/red color, so you have to read them checkerboard-style, or again the red text and the black text run parallel, and you have to read the black stream separately from the red stream etc.? But this is just a first cursory look at it).

    In any case, some work by the reader is required to decipher these rules and find how to navigate the pages (there may be more than one right way, or no particular right way at all: see this DK’s children book for a typical serious case of “where-should-I-start?” – which soon then become “what-I-should-read-now?” or “what’s-left-to-read?” – kind of problem: )

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