octavo 88.6 editorial — written by s.j. with input from mark holt,
   hamish muir and michael burke.
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In the contemporary environment we are besieged by a cacophony of words, signs and images, each directing, shouting and cajoling; we are all targets of the communication industry. Despite our increasing concern with environmental pollution, we are seemingly oblivious to visual pollution — the proliferation of signs, information and advertisements, which are often the clearest visible indicators of our continuing exploitation of the environment, and are usually the result of short-term commercial thinking; disposable communication for a throw-away culture. Our unquestioning acceptance of this situation should be a cause for concern, if only because these forms of communication are unavoidable, and thus affect us all. Unlike television or the printed word, we have no choice in the matter; we are forced to look at them because they have become an integral and insidious part of our environment. There are so many signs screaming for our attention that they almost cancel each other out; we tend to edit them out of our vision, not really taking them in, only absorbing them subliminally. In this way they help to desensitize us to our environment. As consumers we are in turn consumed — by information, words and images. The modern phenomenon of words and slogans appearing on clothing testifies to this. Often the meanings of the words are irrelevant. It is merely their presence which is crucial. They function as a means of personal status projection, of group identification, of somehow ‘belonging’. Corporate endorsement has become fashionable; logos have become icons of the corporate religion. This is symptomatic of the contemporary triumph of form over content. As designers and typographers, it is one task to know how to mediate, to give form to communication, but we need to know not