Thursday, February 7, 2008

CHEMTRAILS Dumping Poison from Airplanes!

This miniscule sticker is found on the backside of a “No Parking- Tow Away zone” sign on the “Drag” at the intersection of 21st Street and Gudalupe Street. The sign speaks of a conspiracy theory about possible toxic chemical substances being released into our atmosphere and our government being responsible for these unusual aerial activities. Chemtrails are argued to be different from regular contrails; they tend not to follow a typical airplane’s singular vapor trail pattern, created by ice crystals in the air from condensation. Instead, chemtrails are found in various crosshatching patterns resembling tic-tac-toe grids and/or “X’s” that thin out and last for hours. The proposed purpose of this chemical pollution is associated with our government’s attempt towards social mind control, biological warfare, military causes, weather control, or research for some other unknown purpose.

One must question the group or person responsible for taking the time to design, print, and post these stickers and whether they are avid believers in this conspiracy. Believe it or not, there are numerous websites, videos, books, and even organizations (such as Blue Skies International) devoted to educating the public about the chemtrail conspiracy. William Thomas is an investigative journalist— turned author and videographer—who specializes in ecological, health, and military matters. He has written a book titled Chemtrails Confirmed 2007 and created a video named “Chemtrails.” In these two works he lists numerous eye-witness accounts of strange aerial activity, where jets flying in the sky suddenly turn around and cross their original path in a perpendicular fashion; the consequence being an “X” shaped contrail. Thomas has also researched chemtrail related operations and has constructed a timeline dating back from 1969, starting with a so called “Operation Cumulus” which was a scientific experiment on the creation of rain that resulted in close to 40 flood-related deaths in Devon, England. The timeline also includes chemtrail educational milestones such as a documentary aired on the Discovery Channel and chemtrails’ recent addition to Wikipedia. Both Wikipedia and William Thomas mention that the term chemtrails was mentioned in the Space Preservation Act of 2001 specifically in House Bill HR 2977 under the foreign weapons category. The foreign weapons category was, however, later removed.

Although the chemtrail conspiracy theory information was printed on a rectangular sticker no larger than 3 by 4 inches and being oddly located on the backside of a road sign— that is usually overlooked by passing pedestrians anyway—the word “LOOK” caught my attention as I walked on the sidewalk down Guadalupe Street. Placing the word in all uppercase, a formal property typically used to express an inflection in someone’s voice, was nicely and appropriately used. The sign itself is simple and well organized, using a hierarchal method. The unknown designer must have felt it was necessary to use various font sizes and weights, including different typefaces: Arial Black, Impact, and Tahoma, to grant certain words more significance.

Arial Black is part of the Arial sans serif family designed by Robin Nicholas and Robin Saunders for Monotype Typography and Monotype Imaging Inc. The typeface includes more humanistic and curved qualities in comparison to some other industrial san serif typefaces designed during the late 20th century.

Arial Black

In 1965 Geoffrey Lee for Stephenson Blake’s design firm, created the Impact typeface. Due to its bold, and slightly elongated, compressed characteristics, it was designed for use in headlines to do just that—make an impact on the reader.


Mathew Carter designed the Tahoma typeface for the Microsoft Corporation in 1994. Like Arial Black, it too has organic, humanist characteristics. Two prominent features that separate it from the other two typefaces used in the chemtrail poster include a slightly narrower body and tighter letter spacing.


Another interesting feature is that the information is broken up into three notable sections similar to an essay. The “LOOK UP IN THE SKY” acts as an introduction meant to grab your attention, “ Chemtrails Dumping Poison from Airplanes” is the body presenting “facts” or the subject matter, and “Geo Engineering or Biowarfare?” is the conclusion, leaving the viewer to question whether or not he/she should take the advice.

The image that has been purposely placed underneath the attention grabber to give the viewer a sense of the topic at hand is a key visual element to the sign’s composition. It would be difficult to describe what a chemtrail is considered to be without a provided photograph to use as a reference.

It was interesting investigating how I could try to capture the true essence of the content in visual form in a reiteration of the chemtrail sign. As I began redesigning the sign on a larger scale with only text, I began to question if I would be able to do justice to the sticker and achieve an implied visual while clearly communicate the information and without actually using an image.

For my first iteration, I knew I wanted to play with the words and bring out the meaning of the information through appropriate typeface and layout. I also wanted to give the sign a feel that one of these conspiracy believers had taken the time to cut out newspaper headlines and paste them together forming this propaganda poster. Thus, I combined seven different typefaces containing a variety of serifs and sans serifs: Arial Black, Book Antiqua, Helvetica, Abadi MT Condensed Extra Bold, Birch Std, Geneva, and Arial. I also included a few visual elements by creating a pointing device with the words “up,” “in,” and “the” to lead your eye upwards toward the word “sky.” I repeated the word “poison” three times, descending across the page to emphasize and help visualize it being “dumped” from airplanes.

As I began designing my final iteration of the chemtrail poster, I discovered more challenges in trying describe and give meaning to the term chemtrails. In keeping with using text to provide both a message and a visual, I created an image of an airplane and its chemtrails with only text. Although the concept was good, the final result was not as clear as the original chemtrail sticker. Thus, I decided drawing an actual airplane would effectively help the viewer understand how a chemtrail is produced.

For my final iteration, I used two different typfaces: Arial Black and Abadi MT Condensed Extra Bold. I followed the original sticker’s hierarchal technique and chose appropriate size fonts for each section. I kept the color palette simple, using three colors on the typography: yellow, yellow-green, and white, and decided a black background would capture the mysterious and dark qualities the message evoked. The dark gray airplane helps define its eeriness and makes you question who is flying it and for what purpose.