Emblem Books
Emblem Books
Emblem Books
Emblem Books
Emblem Books
Emblem Books

Emblem Books

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While boys are entertained by nuts and youths by dice, so playing-cards fill up the time of lazy men. In the festive season we hammer out these emblems, made by the distinguished hand of craftsmen. Just as one affixes trimmings to clothes and badges to hats, so it behooves every one of us to write in silent marks. Though the supreme emperor may give to you, for you to own, precious coins and finest objects of the ancients, I myself shall give, one poet to another, paper gifts: take these, Konrad, the token of my love. – Preface by Andrea Alciato on his book of emblems, to Konrad Peutinger of Augsburg 

The emblem can be considered one of the primary vehicles of cultural knowledge during the early modern period (ca. 1500-1750), capable of expressing highly complex ideas in compact and compelling forms. The purpose of the emblem is to indirectly convey moral, political, satirical, or religious values in forms that need to be decoded by the viewer. The pictura often juxtapose ordinary objects in an enigmatic way so as to offer a reader the intellectual challenge of attempting to divine all the allegorical meanings. In this way, emblem books typified the extraordinary Renaissance and Baroque aesthetic in which objects were thought to contain hidden meanings and concealed links between apparently dissimilar objects were believed to exist. 

The canonical emblem can be defined structurally, and often is, as a tripartite composition consisting of a brief motto in Latin or a European vernacular language (inscriptio), an enigmatic picture (pictura), and an epigram (subscriptio). This definition works fairly well, until scholars and students start to encounter forms that do not have all three of these parts, but are nevertheless clearly emblems. To the initiated, even brief allusions to an emblem were often sufficient to generate the memory of an entire emblem complex in the minds of readers. Scholars and students might also encounter so-called “nude” emblems that consist only of text and have no pictura. Any part of the emblem can be absent which makes learning what an emblem is confusing to beginners. Experience helps. Once users become accustomed to the special interplay between texts and images that characterizes the emblem, distinguishing an emblem becomes easier. Thus while the structural definition of an emblem is a useful starting point, students of the emblem realize that a more complicated definition is helpful.

The hybrid forms of the emblem present an argument composed of words and pictures. Thus, another way to define the emblem is as a process of reciprocal reading of texts and images, whereby the back and forth between the words and the pictures creates meaning. The picture presents the reader with a recognizable scene or symbolic collage, and the text then reorients the reader’s understanding of that scene to present a new and unexpected message. More than the sum of their parts, emblems involved innovative reading practices combining words and images. They redirected readers’ thinking, and were intended to change their perspective, for example, to produce new insights, to make political, social, ethical, and religious commentary, to make a joke or a pun meaningful, and to juxtapose visual and textual meanings, thereby creating new knowledge.

While the relationship between the texts and picture can be relatively straightforward, it is too simplistic to say that the pictura illustrates the texts or that the motto and epigram explain the meaning of the image. Emblems consist of a special kind of play on meaning among its parts to create significance. The emblem is a compact and concise hybrid genre that depends on the intersection of meaning across texts and images. It also exploits the tension between overlap and separation in the connotation of words and pictures. Emblematic strategies permeated the early modern world and are important resources for study of the period. They open a window on the attitudes and mentalities of the early modern world. They are also fun, and emblems are still created today.

The genre began with the publication in 1531 at Augsburg of Emblematum Liber by the Italian jurist Andrea Alciato, and in the following centuries the individual emblem often expanded from a single page or opening of the book to lengthy, often multi-lingual, text-image constructions consisting of multiple mottos and numerous paratexts that could include poetry, prose commentaries, marginalia, sermons, references to the liturgical year, and other literary and devotional texts. Layouts with multiple emblems on a page or emblems spanning multiple page-openings also emerged over time. During the 16th and 17th centuries, leading authors and artists worked with printers and publishers to produce emblem books on topics ranging from natural history and politics to love and religion. The genre of the emblem is therefore always the work of an ensemble. Emblem production was not limited to the printed page, and ‘applied emblems’ were painted, carved, and etched both onto decorative objects, such as tankards and furniture, and into architectural spaces, including churches, town halls, manor houses, and hospitals. Emblems were enacted in the theater, and they embellished court pageants and funerals. At a time when national languages were developing their particular literatures in the wake of Renaissance humanism, emblems explored the meanings of adages and proverbs. Familiar texts and images were reassembled to create new meanings.

- Mara R. Wade, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign http://emblematica.grainger.illinois.edu/help/what-emblem

‘Decorated with beautiful figures engraved in copper, illustrated with poetic tableaux, and explained, to the end that the eyes and the mind are not only regaled but also induced to a profound contemplation of natural things.’ – Stolcius’ preface, explaining the purpose of his book and the whole genre

Emblematica Online / UIUC 
Given the widely dispersed nature of the physical emblem books, their often rare and fragile condition, and their necessity to the informed study of the European Renaissance, digital emblematica are of particular interest to scholars. Today, the study of emblems informs multiple academic domains, spanning disciplines such as art history, cultural history, literature, semiotics, political science, musicology, and religious studies. The surviving exemplars of early modern printed emblem books are geographically widely spread, with half a dozen libraries in Europe and North America holding the primary research corpus.

The physical collections at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign of 730 volumes of rare, and in some cases unique, emblem books in the Rarebook and Manuscript Library are among the best in the world. The digital collections from the University of Illinois and the Herzog August Bibliothek emerged from a digital project whose aim was to increase significantly the number of these rare emblem books available on the Web and to open paths into them with motto transcriptions and Iconclass metadata. From these items, Emblematica Online, working in cooperation with Internet Archive, digitized 356 volumes from 2009 to 2011. In a new workflow in 2015 the project digitized additional items in house, for a current total of 415 emblem books. Thus the project presents 56% of the collections as full facsimiles. Users should note that this means that 44% of the collections remain available for their physical inspection at the University of Illinois.

The term "semantic web" is so often used that it has almost become a meaningless buzzword. That is very unfortunate since a semantic web is exactly what the portal is spinning over a unique corpus of early modern imagery and texts. By gathering well over 10,000 specimens of one of the most popular and widespread art forms of the Renaissance and by offering access to its subject matter in unprecedented depth and detail, completely new forms of research become feasible. Creating a database of the mottos and indexing the meaning of the imagery and the visual means-situations, persons, objects-that were used to express it, make possible highly associative searching and browsing that by its very nature offers the opportunity of what may be called "knowledge discovery." This concept, often used to describe new forms of research that become possible when biomedical or chemical data are collected in huge databases such as PubMed, will also be applicable to Emblematica Online. The essential analogy is that a large quantity of material is combined with sophisticated information about its content. Reliable quantitative information will become available about the occurrence of themes and motives in artistic and literary sources, a hitherto unknown phenomenon. Scholars using this material will no longer have to describe many thousands of images to grasp their content; they can devote their energy to new research questions.

Karel Teige
Karel Teige, Toyen (real name Marie Čermínová, 1902-81) and Henry Styrsky (1898-1942) enriched Czech art with a new form–the picture poem: combining poetry, assemblage and collage. It applied techniques used by the European dadaists (see Merzbau) and Russian constructivists (e.g. El Lisicki) on a reduced scale. Influenced by photomontages from magazine and book covers, advertising materials, posters by Russian typographers and teachers and students from the German Bauhaus movement, they created new compositions based on free association. They combined parts of pictures with postcards, newspaper cuttings and maps. Image poems were often practically used in book culture: as envelopes or illustrations of avant-garde poetry and prose. The tone was defined by the contrast between image and textual fragment–lending the composition a degree of tension. 

The title of one of Teig's studies, Building and Poem (1927) clearly indicates the premise of poetism: linking constructivist clarity in the visual (literary, architectural) construction of work with poetic content. The proximity of picture and poem was described thus: ‘the poem should be seen as a picture, and the picture should be read as a poem.’

The contrast between the free invention of poetic words and a fixed vocabulary distinguished poetry from purposeful communication. Writing in the late 1920s, when the Czech avant-garde was drawing closer to Surrealism, Teige argued that "intellectual literature" used words catalogued in dictionaries, where they acquired definite and unequivocal meanings. Such words, however, grasped only what could be perceived in daylight, while "infrared and ultraviolet reality fatally escaped it." Posters, journals, and telephone dispatches–that is, products of industry and calculation–used dictionary words, whereas poetry, following Guillaume Apollinaire's appeal in "Victory" ("And may all things bear a new name"), used words invented by poets.

Teige declared that after Apollinaire, poems were read like modern pictures, whereas modern pictures were read like poems. It was this iconicity of the poem that prompted Teige to contend that a typographic poem equaled a modern poster that is read at a glance, all at once, and that it was a poem "without words."

Writing of the possibility of a new universal language, he speculated:
“It could be that this will not be a language at all, that is, a philological system. It will perhaps be an optical system…A language without words. A language without an alphabet…Perhaps a typographic word will be born, a word that will be perceived only by sight, without having to translate it into hearing.”
Poetism and Picture Poems

The Emblem エンブレム Enburemu
The Emblem is an object that appears in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. These items resemble giant rings with wings and ribbons, reminiscent of title screens from the classic games, and sport Sonic on them (or the team symbols in Heroes). These items are used to gauge game progress, and also unlock new mini-games, characters, levels or achievements/trophies depending on how many a player collects. There are 130 emblems to collect in Sonic Adventure, 180 in Sonic Adventure 2, and 120 in Sonic Heroes. This Guide is not for the inexperienced player. Most of the requirements for the Emblems demand a skilled and refined playing style, and many of the maneuvers required for getting some of the Adventure Field Emblems the "weird" way are pretty tricky. So make sure you know how to make gut-instinct maneuvers, tricky jumps and are familiar with every characters' moves.

First, a quick briefing on the nature of the Emblems. Emblems are rather large medal-looking items that can be obtained from Action Stages, Sub-Games, found in Adventure Fields, and hidden in various other places. They look very much like the Power-Up item in Sonic R for Saturn and PC, except these are yellow and have a picture of Sonic's head in the middle.

Emblems And Electra
Often credited with inventing the term "graphic design," W. A. Dwiggins was a quintessential maker—fabricating his own tools, inventing techniques, and experimenting with design in areas as wide-ranging as modular ornament, stamps, currency, books, kites, marionettes, and theatrical sets and lighting. More than any of his contemporaries, he united the full range of applied arts into a single profession—designer.

The early 20th century designer William Addison Dwiggins was an ardent advocate for decorating the printed page. Like the fleurons of early printers, he designed ornament that harmonized with type, “not by reworking elements culled from early printed books; rather by making his own designs,” said Dorothy Abbe, Dwiggins’ long-time assistant.

Linotype had Dwiggins on a retainer, which meant both great creative freedom and no guarantees. “He could blue-sky to his heart’s content, and then they would pick which ones to carry into real metal,” says Kennett. “Several of those types were developed to the point that entire books were typeset in them, but Linotype never brought them to a full commercial release.”

A 1942 effort, Tippecanoe, was meant to provide a decent tribute to the 19th-century Italian designer Giambattista Bodoni, whom other contemporary designers had attempted to imitate, in Dwiggins’s words, with “all the fawn-like grace of a galloping cow.” Linotype brought Tippecanoe all the way through the pilot stage, but no further. And the paintings of Frans Hals, a 17th century Dutch portrait painter, inspired Stuyvesant, to which Dwiggins gave “a certain well-fed robustness”—and which was also never made. 

There was Arcadia, which Dwiggins described as “round and crisp—like the new moon one day out—a trimming of Diana’s toe-nail.” There was Winchester, designed for easy reading. Neither of these made it past the pilot stage. By the time the war was over, Dwiggins’ health was beginning to fail. He never revisited many of these ideas.

On a few, bright occasions, though, everything did work out. Dwiggins created several fonts that have stood the test of time, and successfully made the transition from metal typesetting to film, and then to digital. One, Caledonia, was the result of those years of working to remake Scotch Roman—it was snuck into production in between the Depression and the war, and has stuck around since, usually in books. Another book typeface, Electra, was released in 1935. Dwiggins meant for it to combine precision with “a warm, human, personal quality—full of warm animal blood.”

His pamphlet “Emblems” is the announcement of the new Linotype face to be called “Electra,” cut from designs drawn for The Mergenthaler Linotype Company. The Face–at this stage completed in twelve point, roman and italic–provides a new type texture for book-page composition. 

Perhaps the most interesting survivor of all is a set of what Kennett calls “modular decorative units,” the Caravan Ornaments. These don’t form words at all; instead, they are strictly decorative, meant to be used for individual flourishes or, taken together, as a wide field of pattern. Although they can’t be read, they are recognizably related to letters, like cousins that majored in theater and dance. “He saw these as a very magical extension of the alphabet,” says Kennett.