Friday, April 9, 2010

Google Imitates Jackson Pollock

Shortly after writing about Pi Day on Sunday March 14th, I discovered an essay in the Sunday New York Times T magazine called "Google's Doodles." The author, Alice Rawsthorn, talks about the Google tradition of creating day-specific logos, and the possible broader implications for branding and design. Google, she argues, pushes against the "consistency imperative" (my words) that typically rules under Apple/Nike-style branding. Instead, many of its day-specific logos seem casual, or even amateur in their execution. Yet they fit, somehow, under the wide sweep of the Google identity.

The image used for that article, courtesy of Google, is a take on a Jackson Pollock painting. Of all the day-specific Google logos, this more subtle one is my favorite. It reminds me of a Smithsonian magazine article by Henry Adams, from November 2009, about his wife Marianne Berardi's discovery of a hidden Pollock signature in the 1943 painting Mural. Because the letters in both images are so obscured, they evoke the very act of "searching." Rev up your search engines, and look carefully behind the lines.

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