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3D Typography

3D Typography

by Jeanette Abbink & Emily CM Anderson
Asia Pacific Offset China & Mark Batty Publisher, New York, 2010
224 pp. Trade, US $45, UK £ 32, CA $60
ISBN: 978-0-9841906-2-1.

Reviewed by Martha Patricia Niño Mojica
1900 NW 97th Avenue Suite 7222-1898 USA


The book is divided in six chapters and has over 100 different contributors. The text explores 3D typography in a wider sense, meaning that you can find in it a number of crafts, photographs, and art installations that depict 3D typography with common and unusual materials, such as wood, sugar, food, water, moss, hair, sand, bricks, clothes, tubes, cardboard, skin, chairs, disks, security tape, the human body, hose, neon, thread paper, among other types of objects. Thus, the main topic of the book is the un-tethering of letters from conventional 2D paper.

The book also deals with the electronic image and the information that we sometimes consider a mere blip of glass or intangible, remote, non-corporeal, elusive or transitory communications. In order to describe some of the outstanding work found in the book, I am going to list and summarize the most interesting among them: Ebon Heat focuses on work composed by a circular arrangement overlapped typography that resembles computer generated art using recursive mathematical functions. He calls his work "typographic sculptures." This approach is his attempt to propose a body language that is able to transcend the possibilities of plain paper (p. 19). Aoyama Hina is a Japanese paper artist who creates fine pieces of cut phrases in French with an organic font type that resembles paper embroidery (p. 22). Yulia Brodskaya is a Russian who pursued a masters degree in Graphic Communication at the University of Hertfordshire and uses textile painting, origami, and collage to create highly detailed objects for companies like the New York Times, Hermes, Starbucks and Nokia (p. 29). The London based designer, David Aspinall, produces typographic experiments with shredding paper create pieces - that, after being folded - resembling an alternative to intaglio (p. 35). The Glasgow School of Art Graduate, Alida Rosie Sayer, presents paper cutting combined with computer techniques to achieve a work that resembles a 3D navigable phrases (p.36). Vienna based artist, Brigitte Kowanz, uses light and language to created multilayered work with steel, neon tubes and mirrors (p. 62). Andrew Byrom constructs work in neon. UK Based graphic designers Miles Gould and Joe Luxton created an installation entitled "Last time I dreamt that" in which participants could actually weave their dreams through a structured pattern grid that resembles algorithms for pattern creation (p. 54). Designer and illustrator Ana Garforth creates living texts using moss that creates calligraphy in the stone facades of buildings (p. 78). Rhett Dashwood used Google maps to create an alphabet using images of both landscape and architecture (p. 85). UK designer, Amandine Alessandra, uses shelves as typographic grids (p. 106). Claire Morgan is another London based artist that uses organic processes in order to create sculpture and installations in huge spaces that employ thousands of fragments of white polythene suspended in horizontal steel threads. Two other of his installations use nylon threads and pink polystyrene to ask for silence (p. 114). UK based designer, Richard J. Evans, uses laser cut wooden letters that seem to emerge from a faucet in order to represent the liquid properties of new media and the way internet and television are easily and rapidly disseminated (p. 166). Oscar & Wan is a small London based design studio that created the physical sign "Agency" that is made by sticks and responds to wind and movement. They also created the work "Discovery" for Metropolitan Works London using a nylon rapid prototyping machine as well as a 3D Environment (p.190). Jonas Valuation photographed milk at high-speed motion in order to create an alphabet (p.194). In a similar way, the design team at Biwa Inc., working with Shinichi Maruyama, took photos at 1/75000 of a second for creating calligraphy with water splashes (p. 195).

The book has many other interesting contributions from a variety of topics and techniques, and only few of them have the potential of shocking the reader because they use a direct reference to death or use human bones as an ordinary material. This book is very recommended for people interested in illustration, design, and photography. At the end of the book, you can also find a selection of interviews and a good directory of all the contributors and their websites.

Last Updated 1 December 2010

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