‘Fringe’ Font Friday

Notebook with hand drawn "Observer" text

The TV show ‘Fringe’ aired between 2008 and 2013 on the Fox Network. The series follows members of the fictional Fringe Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, based in Boston, Massachusetts, under the supervision of Homeland Security. The team uses fringe science and FBI investigative techniques to investigate a series of unexplained, often ghastly occurrences, which are related to mysteries surrounding a parallel universe. (More information at Wikipedia and IMDb.)

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Fingerprinting Font Metrics Font Friday

AE Æ glyphs

These University of California, Berkeley researchers studied a method of compromising web user privacy, “fingerprinting” of online text: using font glyph* measuring techniques in various browsers to decipher text. (More pages, or buy the ebook or paperback, at books.google.com. Not to be confused with my post Fingerprint Font Friday.)

*Loosely, a typographic unit

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1595 Font Friday

Decorative initial E

From the Public Domain Review. See also my post 1510 Font Friday.

Hoefnagel’s Guide to Constructing the Letters (ca. 1595)

Hoefnagel banner

Joris Hoefnagel (1542 – 1600) was a pivotal figure in the history of Dutch art, playing an important role both in the latter stages of the Flemish illumination tradition and the birth of the new genre of still life. In the last decade of his life Hoefnagel was appointed court artist to Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II, and it was in this time that he appended Georg Bocskay’s Model Book of Calligraphy, of thirty years previous, with his own beautifully exquisite Guide to the Construction of Letters, examples from which are shown below. In each he surrounds the typographic diagram with a colourful array of symbolically charged motifs and, for some, an excerpt from the Bible which begins with the letter of focus. See the Getty site, by clicking on each image, for further commentary.

The Getty
Underlying Work: PD Worldwide | Digital Copy: No Additional Rights
Download: Right click on image or see source for higher res versions

Guide for Constructing the Letter E

Guide for Constructing the Letter Q

Guide for Constructing the Letter R

Guide for Constructing the Letters f and g

Guide for Constructing the Letters h and i

1510 Font Friday

Decorative initials A and B

From the Public Domain Review. See also my post 1595 Font Friday

16th-Century Pattern Book for Scribes (ca. 1510)

This scribal pattern book—dated to around 1510 from Swabia, Germany—was made by Gregorius Bock and is addressed to his cousin Heinrich Lercher Wyss, who was the official scribe of the duchy of Württemberg, most likely put together with the purpose of aiding Wyss in the refining of his art. The first part includes alphabets in various scripts with the second part presenting some decorative initials. Some of the styles found in the book include gothic textura, round gothic, round humanistic, as well as the unusual inclusion of letters and texts from Greek and Hebrew script. Bock may himself have been a monk in the Benedictine monastery of Ochsenhausen in whose library the manuscript was found.

Housed at: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Underlying Work: PD Worldwide | Digital Copy: No Additional Rights
Download: Right click on image or see source for higher res versions

Free Tree Font Friday

The phrase "about trees" in the Tree font

From Atlas Obscura.

Read the Tree Leaves, With an Artist’s Invented Tree Font

The plants are speaking. Time to read what they have to say.

The phrase "about trees," shown in the font Trees

The phrase “about trees,” shown in the font Trees

The book About Trees, now being reprinted after selling out its first small run last year is, as the title says, about trees. Like other books, it’s also printed on trees, in the form of paper. Unlike any other book, it’s printed in Trees, an arboreal font (free to download) in which each letter corresponds to a different type of towering plant.

Creator Katie Holten, an Irish artist, describes About Trees as a “recycling” of texts that, considered together, provoke much thought about the relationship between humans and nature. The 256-page book contains tree-themed works by prominent authors and other luminaries, from Plato to Radiohead, via Jules Verne, Charles Darwin, and Zadie Smith. The text of each piece appears in English alongside a Trees translation.

A line from Zadie Smith's novel NW, translated into Trees

A line from Zadie Smith’s novel NW, translated into Trees (All images courtesy of Katie Holten)

In selecting the texts, Holten aimed for an eclectic yet cohesive mix incorporating fiction, philosophy, non-fiction, and academic writing. All the translations are confined to one page, meaning short works are transformed into orderly rows of trees, while longer works appear as dense forests.

For the Trees font, which was created especially for the book, Holten delved into her archive of New York City tree drawings, created 10 years earlier. “I wrote out the alphabet, A through Z, and then realized I could match a tree that had the same letter: A for apple, B for beech, C for cedar,” she says. (V and X were a bit trickier, but Latin names came in handy.)

The numbers are represented as twigs, while the punctuation marks are shoots, leaves, and, in the case of the period, an acorn.

The Trees alphabet

The Trees alphabet

Having established a tree alphabet, Holten is now considering ways to write messages into the landscape. One way is to incorporate words, spelled out in trees, when planting a garden or reforesting a developed area.

She is currently in talks with Google’s ecology team about a possible “typographic forest” installation at the company’s California headquarters, which would involve developing a new alphabet tailored to the area’s native flora.

The Trees translation of Liberty Trees, a story by Robert Sullivan

The Trees translation of Liberty Trees, a story by Robert Sullivan

Holten also has her eye on the forthcoming Obama Presidential Library in Chicago, which she believes would benefit greatly from a garden filled with hidden messages written in Tree.

In the meantime, anyone is welcome to use the existing tree alphabet to plant their own message. (If you don’t have space or access to the requisite saplings, you can plant a virtual garden in a Word doc—the Trees font is free to download.)

About Trees is now available for pre-order and ships in late July.