Thursday, September 9, 2010

Come Together Right Now Over...Type?

Every year the Smithsonian Folklife Festival is held in Washington DC. This festival celebrates the cultural heritage of numerous countries and cultures. It attracts millions of people who participate in the music, dance, performances, and art of other nations.
Foon Sham, a sculptor and professor at the University of Maryland, contributed an outdoor wooden sculpture to the festival this year. Resembling an over-sized guest book, visitors were asked to write their name on the sculpture, along with a one word description of theirself. The sculpture is a clever comment on globalization. The vertical panels force the signer to write vertically, a reminder that languages are not always written horizontally, from left to right like in the Western world.
I love this piece because it incorporates type in a symbolic and meaningful way. It shows how different people from different places can come together and fit like a puzzle. The different languages and and characters begin to lose meaning in conjunction with each other. Letterforms are art in themselves, not only because of their aesthetic appeal, but because they are an expression of who we are as people. Handwriting is my favorite form of type because it is so personal. It feels more like art than any other form of typography.

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