The Alphabet's Bastard Children

the alphabet's bastard children

Ever since Alef and Bet, we have taken their existence for granted. But the letters are beset by mutation. They writhe, they shift, and in the end they succumb to the erosive force of changing media. They have had to retrofit to survive. Steal to flourish. Hack upon hack. It was inevitable that this would happen. Witness now their twisted progeny.

Diploid Perversity!

Michael Schmitz encodes familiar fonts with diploidal genes
and breeds them with, shall we say, mixed results. genoTyp.

Subliminal Innovation!

Graham Hicks uncovers the inherent brilliance of handmade signage, with Found Typography. Meanwhile, Kibo makes fun of same, in Lettering with a Capital Hell.

Groupthink in Action!

Kevan Davis taps the collective consciousness for the ultimate in design-by-committee with The Smaller Picture.

Genetic Manipulation!

Golan Levin, Jonathan Feinberg and Cassidy Curtis grow fresh nonsense from rootstock with their Alphabet Synthesis Machine.

Algorithmic Frankenfonts!

Matt Chisholm deconstructs, reconstructs, and generally raises hell with his Alphabet Soup project.

Cultural Imperialism!

See Paul Haeberli plunder ten million character-years of glorious Japanese graphic tradition, and emerge with a beautiful, shining Kanji/Roman Alphabet.

Graphic Contortionism!

Watch silently as Scott Kim tortures sense
from calligraphy with his Inversions.

Gonzo Post-Modernism!

Show respect for the illegible.
Read the Codex Seraphinianus.

Balls-Out Hubris!

Apparently alphabets just aren't good enough for some people! Witness the valiant efforts of mortals to change the course of human thought.

Family Photos

Snapshots from the tangled lineage:
Pantographia. Glagolitsa. More.

Evolution in Progress

Calligraphy isn't dead, it's just changed venues. The real stuff is on the walls. Art Crimes. ("A" appears courtesy of German graf artist SCUM.)

Hybrid Vigor

When alphabets interbreed, does it make them stronger?

It Continues

The very technology that froze alphabets solid
now asks us to change our habits.

Books of Great Quality and Interest

Anderson, Donald M. The Art of Written Forms

Diringer, David. The Alphabet: A Key to the History of Mankind

Drucker, Johanna. The Alphabetic Labyrinth: The Letters in History and Imagination

Nakanishi, Akira. Writing Systems of the World

Sampson, Geoffrey. Writing Systems: A Linguistic Introduction

These Things Are Related to Those Things.

It may not be obvious at first. You must have trust in the potency of the link.

The Rosetta Project
Constructed Human Languages
Encyclopedia of Western Signs and Symbols
The Voynich Manuscript