Syllables (anatomy of a typeface)

Wax, pigment
Dimensions variable
2020

Ingeborg Bachmann once said “no new world without a new language”. 

This series of sculptures takes its starting point in language. A typeface is constituted by letters, which can be dissected into parts: the anatomical features of the font. As examples: the “shoulder” is the curved stroke of an n, while the “ear” is the small stroke that projects from the g. The sculptures consist of these disassembled limbs. The features – with their bodily counterparts – give the font a personality and a mood.

I worked with typedesigner Kasper Pyndt to dissect the features in 2D. These shapes were CNC milled for precision and subsequently cast in pigmented wax, with the pigment diluted with every cast. The wax is responsive to the warmth and the humidity of the space, brittle and translucent, yet flexible and slippery.

As physical objects, the sculptures function as remnants of the specificity of an advanced writing system, but are not discernible in their free form: an abstraction within that which makes the system specific. A curved stroke nestles in the corner while a belly-shaped opening tucks itself in beneath the heating element. Orifices, tails, spines, vents and mouths merging into new symbols, signs and letters.


Installation view: Sirin Gallery (Copenhagen, DK)
Photos by Jenny Sundby