Ellen Lupton: My Shirt’s Coming Un-Buttoned


Ellen Lupton just came on threatening/promising to do a speech about sex. We got really really really psyched but somehow, in between our publishing the last post and trying to keep up with what’s going on here, she’s going through NYC street signs and examining the often mis-use of the apostrophe and its worst avatar, the “dumb quote.” Which are the quote that are around the phrase “dumb quote.” Those quotes. Just there. That we just wrote. Meta.

She’s just asked the best question we’ve ever heard. “If people aren’t afraid of being dumb, what are they afraid of?”

We’re catching on: Ellen Lupton’s soapbox of the day is the proper use of the “dumb quote,” which we’ve by now gathered is a straight-up-and-down typographic mark.

So she’s developed a campaign for Interactive Dumb Quote Training: “Dumb quotes cause hair loss.” “Dumb quotes cause erectile dysfunction.” signs all over NYC, and a game where you kill dumb quotes and spare curly quotes.

She’s showing a film made by her son Jay Miller, called “Rated R.” It’s “about how to recognize fonts by the letter R.”

Fonts are: Interstate, Helvetica, Arial, and Futura, “four of the world’s most fearsome fonts,” battling to the death.

Now it’s just a fight between all the letter R’s. We can’t really explain any more than that, but it’s exactly what it sounds like. R on R R-hating.

And another film, Hunting for Helvetica, “an ode to the typeface Helvetica.” She says: “We need to all come together as a community to ensure that Helvetica survives.”

We’re gonna watch the four-minute movie now. Back in a jif.