form & communication

February 4, 2010

Typography has always been fascinating to me, especially foreign languages for whose meaning I have no clue. By looking at the strokes or the way the words are spelled out, I sometimes can feel what it is trying to say. Or sometimes I just stare at it really hard, hoping I will know what it means eventually.

That idea inspired me for this experiment. I created a page filled with the word “typography” in Chinese. Although I can read in Chinese, the crowded page soon becomes unrecognizable, and the negative spaces start screaming loudly when they become forms.


After a long stare, I started seeing shapes that are recognizable again within the negative and positive spaces. That’s where I started punching out some of the shapes into an alphabet. I found the alphabet “A” at first — then, one after the other, soon I had the entire alphabet made out of these unrecognizable Chinese characters.

The alphabet cannot be recognized by itself without the other shapes that give form to the individual letters. Then I matched the discovered letters with some images that I found.

I love to compare the relationship between the unrecognizable shape of an alphabet letter with an out-of-context image. The relationship or the language between the two speak differently to different people. By combining the two forms together, an entire new form is being created.

I am not yet done making these forms into something transparent. So stay tuned for more of the form-making process. In the meantime, check out an experimental type design I created in the past. view