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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 composed by letters, which can be dissected into parts: the anatomical features of the font, also called the anatomy of the typeface. These features are divided into positive and negative elements, the positive elements being the specific curvature of an S, the crotch of a Y or the flicked tail that projects from a Q. The negative elements are also called the “counters” – the partially or fully enclosed spaces within characters. These features as a whole give the font a personality, a mood.

The features were dissected in 2D and CNC milled – precise movements across a porous surface, with just slight digital traces revealing this particular method of sculpting. Heavy plaster moulds, then hot wax casts, turning into brittle shells of paraffin. The wax of the first cast is heavily pigmented, then diluted with every new cast, so that the material from the first exists also in the last, tying ends together that way. The waxcasts are responsive to the warmth and the humidity of the space they are in, bending and moving, surfaces caving in. Brittle and translucent, yet flexible and slippery.

As physical objects, the sculptures function as remnants 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, holes, vents and mouths merging into new symbols, sounds and syllables

Photos by Jenny Sundby