One of the items to be filmed in this reportage on the Khatt Foundation for Al Jazeera English — Artsworld Program is of course our latest and ongoing project of Typographic Matchmaking in the City. The date for this film short was set for Thursday morning of the 14th of May. The filming took place at our next meeting/workshop location at René Knip’s atelier in Pingjum Friesland. The location was perfect in many respects and I am very grateful to René’s generous hospitality in hosting us for a good 2-hour session. Also many thanks for Max, Melle and Jan for joining and specially to Max for volunteering to drive all of us to Pingjum and back.
The film shoot in René’s studio centered of course around a general discussion of the project and then the specific approach and latest work (design developments) of each of the 3 teams represented by Max, Melle and René.
We specifically reiterated why we were doing this project, what it means to design outside your comfort zone: for a culture you know little about, a script you cannot read, and in a medium slightly unfamiliar, and in cooperation with people from different design disciplines and cultures that you meet for the first time through this project. We discussed the project’s focus on typography’s use in placemaking within an urban context. How each in their own way is investigating the way that typography can merge with urban design to create public spaces with a unique sense of place (spaces that attract people because they are pleasurable and/or engaging, involve social encounters and immersion in the sights, sounds, and atmosphere of the locale). Also what are the possibilities that the design of the type can be inspired, on the visual and conceptual level, from specific sites and locations in the city where bilingual (Latin and Arabic) textual communication can be employed.
Then each of Max, Melle and René showed how and what issues they will be addressing with their designs and showed examples of the work. It was interesting to listen to René describe their project as an organic dance between two scripts, an improvised reaction and response of creating Latin lettering in opposite feel to the Arabic lettering that will be created by Reza Abedini for the project. How that in their last meeting they opted for moving away from the square kufi Arabic lettering style and for inventing a more unique and organic/fluid lettering that carries better the idea of the DNA double helix. Melle on the other hand explained how the idea of the Kashida is still central to their dual script solution, where the continuous Kashida becomes a line (of connection physically and conceptually) that bends an forms either Arabic or Latin letter and keeping the idea of connected lettering and three-dimensionality central to the final design. Their work at the moment consist of experimentation with shapes of the letters and the technical possibilities of materials and production methods of such a system. He also showed 3D models of some of the letters and the way they look and can be read in real space. Max demonstrated the storyline concept and the importance to the team of both the visual as well as narrative content of their design. he showed samples of the screen units that would display a glyph each, working on the idea of poetry as content (with 4-6 words poems), and the interaction between both the scripts and the instantaneous translation of the words from Dutch to Arabic to English to Arabic to Dutch... you can read more about each team’s design developments on their blog on typomatch 2.0
The session ended with a quick improvised lunch and a discussion on how to best boil an egg... and event there I had 4 completely different opinions and instructions. ;)
About Artsworld Program on Al Jazeera English
ARTSWORLD is half hour weekly programme broadcast on Al Jazeera English. It includes four 5-minute inserts each week from around the world.
Amidst the war and destruction, famine and corruption that often makes up the majority of news programmes - ARTSWORLD comes as a breath of fresh air. It’s an arts programme with a special Al Jazeera feel - about those people and places that don’t usually make it onto mainstream media.
The show aims to highlight artists, musicians and cultural events around the globe but with a particularly Al Jazeera feel. From a glassblower in Tunisia, to a reggae musician from Gambia and a filmmaker in Iran ARTSWORLD tells the stories of people whose talent brings beauty and colour to the world.
BUT it’s not just about pretty pictures, it’s also a look at how people use the arts to bring about social change, highlight injustice and provoke political reform. Stories that change peoples perceptions about the world we live in and allow for a greater understanding of one another’s cultures and traditions.
We want stories from all spheres of the art world from music, dance and painting to sculpture, film, poetry, fashion, animation, multi-media, comedy.
They should be stories that sit comfortably with the Al Jazeera philosophy – how do people use the arts to represent controversy and/or community; how are the arts involved in political and community issues and activism; and how do the arts reflect ethnicity and local cultures and forms of expression; and without sounding glib, how do the arts give a voice to the voiceless?