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  • Video: watch every single /a/ over at Google fonts

    A video featuring every single /a/ over at Google Fonts was posted on Twitter and we have to repost it because... history. 

    Alpha (uppercase Α, lowercase α; Ancient Greek: ἄλφα, álpha, modern pronunciation álfa) is the first letter of the Greek alphabet. In the system of Greek numerals, it has a value of 1.

    Alpha was derived from the Phoenician and Hebrew letter aleph and the letters which arose from alpha include the Latin A and the Cyrillic letter А.

    In English, the noun "alpha" is used as a synonym for "beginning", or "first" (in a series), reflecting its Greek roots notes Wikipedia.

    The letter alpha represents various concepts in physics and chemistry, including alpha radiation, angular acceleration, alpha particles, alpha carbon and strength of electromagnetic interaction (as Fine-structure constant).

    Alpha also stands for thermal expansion coefficient of a compound in physical chemistry. It is also commonly used in mathematics in algebraic solutions representing quantities such as angles. Furthermore, in mathematics, the letter alpha is used to denote the area underneath a normal curve in statistics to denote significance level when proving null and alternative hypotheses. In zoology, it is used to name the dominant individual in a wolf or dog pack. In aerodynamics, the letter is used as a symbol for the angle of attack of an aircraft and the word "alpha" is used as a synonym for this property.

    Plutarch, in Moralia, presents a discussion on why the letter alpha stands first in the alphabet.

    Ammonius asks Plutarch what he, being a Boeotian, has to say for Cadmus, the Phoenician who reputedly settled in Thebes and introduced the alphabet to Greece, placing alpha first because it is the Phoenician name for ox—which, unlike Hesiod, the Phoenicians considered not the second or third, but the first of all necessities. "Nothing at all," Plutarch replied. He then added that he would rather be assisted by Lamprias, his own grandfather, than by Dionysus' grandfather, i.e. Cadmus. For Lamprias had said that the first articulate sound made is "alpha", because it is very plain and simple—the air coming off the mouth does not require any motion of the tongue—and therefore this is the first sound that children make.

    According to Plutarch's natural order of attribution of the vowels to the planets, alpha was connected with the Moon.

    Alpha, both as a symbol and term, is used to refer to or describe a variety of things, including the first or most significant occurrence of something. The New Testament has God declaring himself to be the "Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last." (Revelation 22:13, KJV, and see also 1:8). Because of this symbolism, the characters ⍺ and ⍵ denote the left and right arguments in the APL programming language.

    The term "alpha" has been used to denote position in social hierarchy, examples being "alpha males" or pack leaders.


  • Guggenheim 60: a typographic ode to the museum's milestone anniversary

    Founded back in 1937 the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and its first New York-based venue for the display of art, the Museum of Non-Objective Painting, opened in 1939. 

    With its exhibitions of Solomon Guggenheim’s somewhat eccentric art collection, the unusual gallery—designed by William Muschenheim at the behest of Hilla Rebay, the foundation’s curator and the museum’s director—provided many visitors with their first encounter with great works by Vasily Kandinsky, as well as works by his followers, including Rudolf Bauer, Alice Mason, Otto Nebel, and Rolph Scarlett. 

    The need for a permanent building to house Guggenheim’s art collection became evident in the early 1940s, and in 1943 renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright gained the commission to design a museum in New York City.

    The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum opened it's doors to the public on October 21, 1959, and 2019 sees the 60th celebration of the museum as an architectural icon and “temple of spirit” where radical art and architecture meet.

    Dedicated to promoting the understanding and appreciation of modern and contemporary art through exhibitions, education programs, research initiatives, and publications the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation has built an international constellation of museums aka the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice; the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao; and the future Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.

    To celebrate the milestone Typeroom delves into the museum's treasury to rediscover artist interventions for a typographic-infused ode to Wright's spiral of knowledge and shrine of art. 

    Jenny Holzer's 1989 exhibition, selections from her series “Truisms,” “Inflammatory Essays,” and other language-based works raced the length of an LED display board running up the inner wall of Frank Lloyd Wright's spiral ramp, transforming the museum's rotunda into a dazzling electronic arcade.

    Her installation brought up such issues as the viability of public art, the commodification, and consumption of art, and the conflation of the personal and the political—some of the most pressing issues of American art in the 1980s.

    In 2008, Jenny Holzer created “For the Guggenheim,” in celebration of a recently completed restoration of Frank Lloyd Wright’s landmark building. 

    In this piece, the artist’s own writings and selections from poems by Wisława Szymborska were projected onto the museum’s newly renovated facade one night weekly throughout the autumn. The fragmented texts scrolled steadily upward over each of the Wright building’s rings, vanishing into the darkness above. 

    “For the Guggenheim” turned the museum’s exterior into an environment for looking, discussing, and gathering.

    In 2008, Douglas Gordon presented a site-specific, text-based installation, “prettymucheverywordwritten,spoken,heard,overheardfrom1989…” (2008) throughout the rotunda, walls, floor, and lobby as part of the exhibition “theanyspacewhatever.” 

    Gordon’s text installations utilize and animate their surrounding architecture and are “completed” through the audience’s interaction with them. 

    This work, which included phrases such as “Nothing will ever be the same,” “I’m closer than you think,” and “There is something you should know,” evoked ambiguity and revealed the artist’s obsession with opposites—fact and fiction, good and evil, and so on—and the ways in which such dichotomies often collapse into one another.

    Greek-born artist Chryssa moved to New York in 1954, finding inspiration in the spectacle of the advertising neon signs of Times Square. She began incorporating neon into her work in the early 1960s, and was one of the first artists to transform it from an advertising medium into fine art. 

    For Chryssa, the illuminated signs were a perfect example of the intertwining of the vulgar and the visually poetic in U.S. popular culture. She engaged this quality in her neon works, which are illegible but often recall deconstructed letters.

    Chryssa's “Fragmented Signature” (1970), on view in Guggenheim's Artistic License. 

    Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “The Death of Michael Stewart” (1983), informally known as “Defacement,” is the artist’s attempt to envision Michael Stewart’s fateful encounter with the police. 

    Originally painted on a wall of Keith Haring’s Cable Building studio laden with tags by graffiti writers, Basquiat’s painting was a deeply personal lamentation that has rarely been exhibited publicly.

    “TO THE SEA / ON THE SEA / FROM THE SEA / AT THE SEA / BORDERING THE SEA” (1970) is an example of Lawrence Weiner’s sculpture which uses language itself as a medium: to describe material processes and physical conditions, and to delineate space and indicate location. 

    Since 1968, when the artist concluded that the physical construction of a work is not critical to its existence in the world, he has authored hundreds of linguistic artworks.

    Weiner's linguistic sculpture “TO THE SEA / ON THE SEA / FROM THE SEA / AT THE SEA / BORDERING THE SEA” (1970), on view in Guggenheim's Artistic License. 


    Roy Lichtenstein, “In,” 1962, @ Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

    All images via Instagram

  • Branding gone wrong? South Dakota's anti-meth PSA is viral

    Depending on which side are you on, Broadhead's anti-meth campaign for South Dakota is either super successful or super wrong. 

    Launched this week South Dakota's new public health ads raised eyebrows for its ambiguous tagline. 

    The State decided to help tackle methamphetamine addiction with the message “Meth. We Are On It” and Twitter exploded. 

    South Dakota’s governor, Kristi Noem, hoped to draw attention to methamphetamine addiction in her state. “There’s a problem in South Dakota and we all need to get on it,” the posters explain. “Because together we can get meth out of here.”

    Twitteratis was quick to mock the slogan’s phrasing. The Guardian reports that South Dakota’s department of social services paid the Minneapolis marketing agent Broadhead $449,000 for the campaign. In a statement provided to The Guardian, Beth Burgy, president of Minneapolis based agency Broadhead, said that the agency was proud of its work.

    For many, the campaign is so controversial and eventually delivers. 

  • From Missing Scripts to letters as numbers: what's on Alphabetica 2019

    This Saturday, on the 23th of November, Alphabetica 2019 sheds light to the missing scripts of humanity and more. 

    Organized in correlation with the exhibitions Missing Scripts (Alphabetum IV) and Laws of Form (Alphabetum III) this one-day symposium about letters, scripts and languages is a must if you plan to spend the weekend in Den Haag.

    Presented in collaboration with the Institut Designlabor Gutenberg (Hochshule Mainz), Atelier National de Recherche Typographique (Nancy), SEI Departement of Linguistics (Univerisity of Berkekey, USA) and Type and Media (KABK Den Haag)

    Alphabetica 2019 kicks off with Johannes Bergerhausen & Thomas Huot-Marchand introduction to the obscure, the historical and the so-called Minority Scripts -aka the 140 scripts which are still missing on our computers- and the Missing Scripts Project. 

    This long-term initiative focuses on research and type-design for these lesser-known writing systems which are to be presented by the students of Atelier national de recherche typographique (ANRT) in Nancy.

    Michael Everson will talk on the delays and obstacles in character encoding, Erik van Blokland will show how, under the right conditions, letters will behave as numbers -“not just look like a number, or represent one in a mathematical statement, but really perform arithmetic” and more. 

    Check the full program here.

  • Graphic design email scam: a warning

    “Do not take the logo-design bait” warns Eye on Design's Emily Gosling in her report “Gone Phishin’: What Graphic Designers Need to Know About a Weird Internet Scam Targeting Creatives.”

    Gosling explores the scam which starts upon receiving text messages with design proposals varied from “Christian t-shirt logo designs,” to a logo and brochure design for “BLACK DIAMOND FURNITURE,” “Lambent Dreams Furniture,” or “Ashglade Furniture&Home.”

    “It’s pretty easy to tell a scam when they just dump the entire project on you and never mention cost,” one Reddit poster pointed out. “Also, the grammar is a dead giveaway.”

    “What is this scam exactly? What’s the end game? How can scammers possibly profit from asking you to make a logo design? I decided to do some digging” reports Gosling of the scam which specifically targets the graphic design community.

    “Those most at risk are freelancers—designers whose websites and emails are easy to find, and who are used to getting clients via word of mouth and communicating primarily over email” notes the report. 

    Read more and learn some essential tips to avoid the phishing attacks targeting the creatives here.