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Illustrated Scientific Typeface
Collecting, photographing and eventually bending scientific instruments into letters is a long process, feasible only when one is obsessively attracted by the aesthetics of science and that’s not difficult, just odd. Science and technology museums being a personal natural habitat, the abundance of raw materials required at the begging of any illustrated alphabet was mostly there as the fascination with surgical tools, machinery and microscopes has been long and consistent. Knowing so little about the function and secrets behind such objects is I think my only regret for being such poor student in these subjects.
Sciphabet is a natural extension of my science or more truthfully, scientifically looking illustration work. Breaking apart perfectly good and honest devices for research and precise documentation, transforms them to raw materials waiting to be mangled, fused and twisted into images that communicate science but couldn’t be any further from accurate knowledge of any sort. Having discovered early on that appearing clinically attractive is convincing, inspiring, or even ironic, made a point of using such secret formula for some of the most conceptually challenging assignments. And this is where Sciphabet comes in to bring high science into the most elementary building block of our written language by fusing the traditional, rusted and obsolete with the modern, experimental and shiny. But also provides a healthy dose of social criticism that doesn’t shy away from pointing out the potential for abuse every time something new and wonderful is discovered, as its dark side lurks just around the corner.
Other than keeping me busy and out of trouble, providing with something to exhibit and an excuse to endlessly photograph strange little details, do we really need such alphabets? Maybe as a continuation of a long tradition for that kind of thing or education, as it seems that the abecedarian format is popular for making anything interesting to youngsters. Illustrating headlines and turning them into the message itself before they are even read? Or illuminating initial caps to decorate a block of copy and provide it with twist?
As The Politics of Science cover for the New York Times Book Review, art directed by Steven Heller, was my first cohesive published experiment with scientific type, it seems that Sciphabet revisits the subject and fulfils an old promise to complete the set.
Viktor Koen, April 2016