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Type as Abstraction

Over three billion people use the internet, and they’re all using type. What was once relevant to a small group of specialists is now ubiquitous. Typefaces are available in a dizzying array of styles. Some are expressive, and others stoic. Some are rooted firmly in historical forms, while others deliberately and dramatically break away from typographic tradition. Across this spectrum, the core function of type is basically consistent: to act as a carrier for language, and to aid in the communication of an idea. Type is oriented towards clarity to some degree or another. Now that typefaces can be variable, colored, and otherwise digitally manipulated; new possibilities might exist. This has driven the explorations of artist and designer Martin Grasser, who has spent copious amounts of time developing different ways to use type. The result is a collection of fonts and digital interfaces focused not on clarity, but on abstraction and participation. This includes a plug-in that renders the internet in colored dots, as well as an interface in which users can manipulate sliders to produce .TTF files of varying resolutions, hues, and shapes. Grasser will discuss his practice, its historical precedents, and the possibilities for further type design oriented towards abstraction and participation.


Martin Grasser

Designer And Repeat

Martin Grasser is an artist and designer based in Sausalito, California. Through his studio, And Repeat, Grasser makes work in an iterative mode; isolating core concepts and expanding upon them through repetition. This approach is evident in both Grasser’s art practice and in his commercial work for brands such as Twitter, Nike, and SoftBank. Type is central to Grasser’s output, which includes everything from custom corporate typefaces to abstract experimental fonts with accompanying digital tools. Grasser’s type has been featured on It’s Nice That, Design Milk, Design Boom, and more.