Sunday, March 28, 2010

xType xHibit Redux

The month of April marks the 2nd Annual Student xType Culture Show at the school's Hunter Art Gallery. This show features the work of 48 students and their experiments creating alphabets which are fantastical, found, illustrated, photographed, videoed, animated, 3D, baked, stamped, stenciled, sketched on pavement, burned in grass, and imagined. The rules of play were to construct an experimental display font of 26 letters out of any media (with the exception of flammable, toxic or xRated, but this edict was even ignored), and they were bound only by time, money, materials and their imagination. After enduring a previous quarter of intensive book design where micro-typography conventions were the order – this was a big paradigm shift. I confronted them with new objectives; be playful, be expressive and examine what it means to create a font without any fundamental notions of legibility, readability, function or aesthetics. By challenging them to avoid these traditional typographic principles – where the function of type and reading are impaired – it made for some very surprising and creative results. It allowed the students to view the alphabet (whether real or imagined) in an entirely new context and challenged some of their own preconceptions. They were compelled to often carefully examine each letterform and in some cases deconstruct them into vaguely pixelated shapes. These playful typographic experimentations take flight in all directions and their results continue to impress and amaze me. I am happy to provide a sneak preview of some of their alphabets here. The show opens on Thursday, April 8th at the Hunter Art Gallery in the school's atrium from 5 to 8pm. The gallery is open M-F, 9:30am–3:30pm and also T and W evenings from 5-7pm. 1701 Broadway on Capitol Hill in Seattle.

Sand Serif, the elaborate video above, created with sand on top of a light table in a darkened room, is the work of two multi-cultural and multi-talented students, Mykhaylo Sinenko, originally from the Ukraine and Priyanka Basu from India. It is beautifully choreographed, and with over 7 hours of video editing alone–is a marvel to watch.

The Leitura Paper Swashes film below, is a stunningly beautiful stop action video created by Chloe Scheffe. She brings Leitura Swashes to life with cut paper, fishing line and tape.

Leitura Paper Swashes from Chloe Scheffe on Vimeo.

Populations, above, by Erin Kendig is an interactive demographic of the population of 26 letters on page 167 of The Great Gatsby. Erin presumes that letters are a metaphor for humans as they have feet, legs, arms and she goes on to illustrate how they each populate the randomly chosen page 167. Give it a whirl here.

The following works are Fleuras, by Donna Belnavis, a font produced with forsythia flowering branches; Enlightened Letters, by Jee Lee, a paper engineered pop-up book structure electrically lit by an LED bulb. I hope to get a video of this book up here soon; GemType, by Wyatt Carroll, a font designed with amethyst crystals in Photoshop; Boundaries, by Ross Coyne, a tunnel book structure of a stencil-cut alphabet; and Egg Fancy, by Chieu Van, a font with each letter illustrated on an egg in the tradition of Ukrainian egg dyeing, using wax resist and colorful dyes.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Going Rogue

Going Rogue - An Experimental Typeface from Ryan Ogborn on Vimeo.

For someone who has serious contempt for firearms, I find it ironic that my last 3 posts all have a gun-related theme. This one comes from my student, Ryan Ogborn, who took to a shooting gallery to "design" his experimental font this quarter. He claims it is inspired by the font, Bernhardt Medium and Sarah Palin. I admit I was very reluctant to give him my blessing on this production, but I think it is quite mavericky–and in that case–experimental. I'm rather offended however when I see the bullet-riddled face of Bernhardt, (Cheney could have done better), but sometimes one has to take a hit for art's sake. Frankly, I think Ryan scored a big hit with his Palin-inspired tribute. However the winking emoticon on his poster (click to enlarge) got a big zero.

Misinformation Graphics

Ok, I don't mean to get all political, but this creepy infographic steps on the toes of free speech. It appeared recently on Sarah Palin's Facebook page and lists 20 Democrats who voted to approve the Health Care Reform Package, and who were elected in previously Republican districts. Their locations are identified on the map with crosshairs – a rather crass metaphor to take up arms to defeat these Democrats in the November elections. In recent days, a number of these targeted politicians have received death threats and even had bricks thrown in their office windows. After the health bill was signed on Tuesday, Sarah shouted a plea to her Palin posse on Twitter, "Dont retreat, RELOAD!". Palin's scare tactics and her inflammatory firearms rhetoric are a shout-out to her base to take aim at these politicians and target their election campaigns. I am all for dissent and free political speech, but I find this sort of discourse and infographic offensive and irresponsible. Sarah is not going rogue – she's going ballistic. And as designers, I think we all have a responsibility to be very careful about what messages and information we promote in the name of free speech. Our actions may come at a very high cost.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Designers Don't Let Friends Use Powerpoint

From information designer, Mark Goetz, comes this satirical take on firearms and Powerpoint. It's IRONY folks – not reality! No kittens were harmed in the making of this infographic.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Get yours today!

From designer, Mary Huang, comes the Designer Action Figure in all various styles. Some tools included.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Chartered Territories

Information is everywhere. We are all drowning in it. As part of an exercise this past week, my student's were tasked with collecting data and displaying it as a personal geography. Their objective was to display the information in a visually interesting and entertaining manner. It was also to be fact-based, include a title and display handlettered text. From some of their many fine results are Things People Leave on Trains, by Hiroko Ebizaki; An Apartment's Surface Area, by Marta Sivertsen; The Analysis of a Scarf Collection: Belonging to the Twins, by Chelsey Scheffe; and Some Stuff in My Body, by Dane Herforth. Click on images for larger views.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Shoes You Can Use

Of course you have to have the shoes to go with the dress! And you will always find your way home in these fashion footware from designer, Jennifer Collier of Stafford, England.

Wear Everrrr

Working on maps and information graphics in class this week has taken me to many far off places exploring other people's wonderful maps. Is it me, or are there an explosion of new sites about maps and infographics these days? I never grow too tired of looking at new ways to display information. It has been fun seeing lots of new material from my students this week which I will display here in short order. Meanwhile, take a further look at Elizabeth LeCourt's lovely map wear here.