|Visitors have a look around the 'Sundries' section of the 2019 Typojanchi: International Typography Biennale at Culture Station Seoul 284. Courtesy of Typojanchi|
By Kwon Mee-yoo
In celebration of Hangeul Day, which falls on Oct. 9, Typojanchi: International Typography Biennale opened its sixth edition to explore the relationship between typography and objects.
Typography is defined as "the art and technique of arranging type to make written language legible, readable, and appealing when displayed."
Artistic directors Jin Dal-rae and Park Woo-hyuk said they wanted to shed light on disassembly and assembly in the composition of typography in relation to letters and objects in this year's biennale themed "Typography and Object."
"Previous editions of the biennale combined typography with themes such as city and body. This year, we shifted interest to something around us ― objects," Park said. "The objects are inevitable elements of our life and we thought the public could relate to typography better with such familiar objects."
The sixth edition of Typojanchi features 193 works of 127 artists and groups from 22 countries including France, Finland and Australia. Hosted by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and supervised by the Korea Craft & Design Foundation, this is the only international biennale on typography.
The biennale is titled Typojanchi in Korean ― "janchi" is the Korean word for party, suggesting the biennial exhibition's focus on promoting the modeling system of the Korean alphabet and its cultural value.
|'Hangeul CR_magnetic rubber plates' by Han Jae-joon / Courtesy of Typojanchi|
Park said Hangeul characters were invented for typographic design, making shapes and patterns using letters.
"Foreign celebrities wear T-shirts featuring Hangeul designs, recognizing the semiotic beauty of the Korean alphabet. However, Koreans feel awkward about the Hangeul design, because it is different from the common design using English typography," he said. "The key principle of typography is assembly and Hangeul has an architectural quality as consonants and vowels are stacked to create a character (representing a syllable)."
Five different curatorial teams brought a wide range of approaches toward the relations between typography and objects in six subcategories of Kaleidoscopes, Polyhedrons, Clocks, Corners, Sundries and Plants.
"An object in a narrower sense is specific and individual, but it could refer to more abstract ideas such as math and music in a broader sense," Park explained.
In the "Plants" section curated by Noh Eun-you and Ham Min-joo, visitors are invited to stroll through a forest of texts. "On Plants," co-created by Park Yu-seon and the art studio 818 Architects, features multilingual typefaces and various fonts of words related to forest.
The curators also related the idea of growing plants into variable fonts, a new font format with flexibility of weight, width and other attributes.
Lee Yun-ho and Kim Kang-in curated "Sundries" section, a fun combination of all kinds of daily and professional goods related to typography such as old typefaces, letter-shaped furniture or toys, learning tools and games.
A notable part of the collection is lettering guides, which were used to make fonts before the digital era. A variety of guides from Korean and English to unfamiliar foreign languages are on view.
The "Polyhedrons" section centers on the shape of invisibility expressed through letters through installations and videos. "FaceReader," by graphic studio Everyday Practice, is an interactive installation that reads and analyses the audience's facial expressions and interprets it into emojis.
|'Seeing Trap' by Cho So-hee / Courtesy of Typojanchi|
"Kaleidoscopes" is inspired by small colorful pieces of glass or paper in a kaleidoscope and explores how each dot and line of an alphabet create a variety of shapes, using objects such as figures, materials, animals, plants, sounds and movements instead of letters.
The "Clocks" section interprets mechanical properties of the clock, such as the numbers, letters and time on the face of the clock, from the perspective of typography.
"Corners" is a pop-up section without a curator. As a corner means a point where two surfaces intersect, the booth is dedicated to emerging designers' experimental works. The participating artists in Corners will rotate three times during the biennale period, opening up more opportunities.
The biennale runs through Nov.3 at Culture Station Seoul 284 in central Seoul.