See through propaganda

The designer of Eastern Europe’s most famous marque is behind the on-screen graphics for Freedom’s Battle, a BBC TV series marking the tenth anniversary of the fall of communism.

Jerzy Janiszewski created the logo for the Polish union Solidarity, which launched the Polish revolution in the Gdansk shipyard. He features in the first programme, Icebreaker, which focuses on this event.

The idea to approach Janiszewski came after producer/ director Eva Ewart ‘found’ him during research for Icebreaker. Frederick Baker, who produced and directed the other two programmes, describes the Eureka moment when he cracked how to integrate Janiszewski into the title sequence. Baker was inspired by the Jackson Pollock show at the Tate Gallery, featuring film of the artist painting on to glass.

This technique was adopted for Freedom’s Battle – only this time using a large sheet of Perspex. Baker wanted the footage to recreate the fluid graffiti style of the solidarity marque. Despite its appearance of a string of spontaneously dashed off letters, Solidarity had been carefully conceived, and this process was repeated by Janiszewski for the title sequence. ‘It looks spontaneous, but it was very judged and designed,’ says Baker.

Technically, the exercise was more complex than expected. It took four full takes to get the final solution, and each time the designer redrew the type under the lights it became more and more difficult to wash the paint off the Perspex. The process was filmed each time using a motion-controlled camera over Janiszewski’s shoulder and another shot from the front, looking up through the Perspex.

The first of the BBC Two trilogy, Icebreaker, will be screened at 8pm on 31 October.

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