Futura & Chance

Words to think about; harmony, balance, discord, fracture, placement, composition, poetry and serendipity. The task – to create a random placement/composition using every letter from our alphabet in the ‘Futura (medium)’ typeface. Designed in the mid 1920’s by Paul Renner, its geometric shapes were inspired by the Bauhaus, which was commercially released in 1927 with additional weights being added in the years after. We were told that this piece should be specifically “not a design,” and were told to think about how we can consciously not design.

My method for this was to write out the alphabet, splitting it in half calling A-M heads and N-Z tails. Next I selected the letter on the outside edge from each half and flipped a coin, whichever side the coin landed represented which letter was ‘chosen.’ Then came the more difficult part, two ways, which I alternated, would determine where the letter would fall on the small piece of paper. Using the A3 pages of A-Z Futura, in 3 sizes, the first way was a simple spin of the paper, roughly held over the letter in question, which was then traced wherever it landed. For the alternate way, the four corners of the page got numbered 1-4, the coin flipped, and corner number 1 was placed in the middle of the previous letter on the font sheets, rotated 90 degrees clockwise, and traced. As previously mentioned, the two methods of placement were alternated, similarly the corners used for rotating, and the three sizes of fonts e.g small, medium, large, small, medium, large etc. This long process only got half of the letters in the alphabet onto the tracing paper, as for every two letters brought forward, one was selected, so the process was repeated until every letter was used, and the page filled. A trip to the photocopier and 141% enlargement of the tracing paper provided me with another composition decision, using a view finder the exact size of the lino we were given (not pictured) I found ‘the right’ one. A sheet of carbon paper between the photocopy and the lino made mapping out the composition easy. Then came the long cutting process, using a V gouge for thin lines around 1mm deep. Ink applied, shoji paper on top, and through the press. I felt challenged in the beginning, which drove me to produce work to the best of my ability. Looking back, the results do clearly show a random collection of line, NOT a design.

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