Wednesday, 14 October 2009

The Letter X

In Law, an 'X' is a mark inscribed to represent the signature of one who is unable to sign their name.

The letter X seems a highly impersonal and de-stylized mark to represent something that is such a personal aspect of identification. It becomes text, or a mark of typography rather than a signature which typically adopts a certain recognition based on handwriting and preference.

Similarly, the type-writer has no personal style or analogue influence to the aesthetic result of its typography. All letters are identical, and this applies whether the imagery is on the page or on the key indicators on the type-writer itself.

Is human influence suggested through notion of the 'X' replacing the signature?Through inscription? Typing? Writing? Signing? After all, in both signing an 'X' and typing one, human involvement exists in the function of the hand. However, it could be argued that both also suggest an absence. The type-writer has increasingly evolved from analogue to digital, resulting in what we now know as the computer, which is capable of functioning without human influence or supervision. The automatic age has introduced the idea that the formation of our identities no longer require ourselves. One of the many meanings of 'X' is 'the unknown', for example "There was 'X' amount of rainfall this year", therefore implying a representation of something unspecific, or something that may not actually be present.

Yet, in research I carried out, where twenty-four people were asked to sign an 'X' to represent their signature, asking them specifically to concentrate on developing their own personal style, I found that, despite the 'X' being an apparently crude mark due to its universal qualities to represent a person, human touch and personal influence were actually very prominent.

Therefore in my final piece, my aim was to incorporate both ideas of personal and impersonal and both ideas of absence and presence in one piece. To do this, my aim was to use the image of a type-writer, but instead of using standard A-Z generic text, the image would be altered by replacing these letters with just one repeated 'X', focusing on the personalised 'X' composed by individuals featured in my research.