Vista Sans Wood Type Project
Detail of a Vista Sans print with laser cutting in progress
Part art project, part utopian visionary action, The Vista Sans Wood Type Projectis an unsinkable love affair with technology in service to art and art as a vehicle for the possibility of a collaborative community. Specifically, long-time collaborators Ashley John Pigford and Tricia Treacy describe their project in the following abstract:
The Vista Sans Wood Type Project is highly collaborative and experimental pursuit involving the creation of wood type of the Vista Sans™ typeface with a purpose-built CNC router. The type will be printed by 21 different international artists/designers/printmakers/letterpress studios, and the creation of a set of prints that will reflect on the post digital and multidisciplinary nature of contemporary artistic practice.
Whew, makes me feel a little over-caffeinated just thinking about it!
They are investigating the post-digital state of things by developing a project that will model both in process (making type, printing, exchange, exhibition) and artifact (the type and the print) the way,
[t]he post-digital reality we now live in is composed of artists and designers operating between digital and analog systems, between cognitive/ on-screen and physical/offscreen experiences, between high tech and high touch. ..Further, with digital technologies readily available and humanized (i.e., D.I.Y.) post-digital artists and designers are able to experiment with the blending of archaic and modern processes of production, with the values of each embedded into the product.
So the aim is a recombination of the old and new in a project revolving around the design and production of new editions of Vista Sans on a homemade CNC Router.
More stuff after the jump!
After successful prototyping their type-milling process (as seen at SGCI 2011) they planned out how to open up the project.
In the spirit of collaborative, interdisciplinary artistic practice,..We asked 20 individuals, collaborative groups or studios if they would be interested in joining the project. We said we would send them a set of wood type (either five-inch or seven-inch high side-grain oak or ash) and Bristol paper (donated by Legion Paper of New York), if they would send back an edition of 40 prints. We would then send them a set of all 21 prints (we would print a collaborative edition also), and be left with 10—15 sets for exhibitions and collectors.
A good old fashioned print exchange with a twist.
The participating artists were further challenged, with a few conceptual constraints, first, they must print with the type and paper we provided, and unknown to the participants, they all received the same letters, t, o, u, c, h, which they explain,
The word “touch” is conceptually connected to the corporeal phenomena and materiality of wood type, printmaking processes and the post-digital nature of a purpose-built CNC router.
If this is all starting to sound like a sprawling folly project, let me be clear, this is not something they are proposing to do they are already doing this. They have shipped the type all over the world, the work produced has been exhibited in six different venues in the past year, including right now, as part of the Object Play exhibition at Press Street’s Antenna Gallery in New Orleans, LA which is an SGCI 2012 related exhibition.
The internaitonal collection of artists and print studios who have already signed onto this collaboration include, Megan Adie, Katie Baldwin, the Baltimore Print Studios, Inge Bruggman, Macy Chadwick, Angela Driscoll + Yuka Petz, Firecracker Press, Rose Gridneff & Alex Cooper, Rick Griffith (above), Bethany Heck, Dafi Kuhne, Josephine McCormick, Robin McDowell, Peter Kruty + Sayre Gaydos, Ben Levitz + Sam Michaels, April Sheridan + Daniel Mellis, Nick Sherman, David Shields, David Wolske, and Karen Zimmermann. To say nothing of the supporting sponsorship of Legion Paper, The college Art book Association, and the University of Delaware.
Why Vista Sans? Treacy explains,
We started with a contemporary Emigre typeface, Vista Sans, designed by Xavier Dupré, because it was created as a blend of, to quote the designer: “the rhythm of blackletters; big contrast, emphasis on the vertical, graphic and strong looking” and “humanist shapes.” This mix of graphic/mechanical form and a styling rooted in the human hand is paired with a similar production process: the mechanization of a Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) router and the anomalous (human) nature of wood type and letterpress printing. We emphasize the grain of the wood in the printed letterforms, choosing to mostly use side-grain or low-quality plywood instead of traditional milled/planed end-grain wood, to infuse the material with meaning.
A well considered synthesis of form and function.. OK, that seems like a good reason.
Printing at Fire Cracker Press above.
And I’ll end on this sweet variation by Dafi Kuhne, print and video below.