Thursday, January 12, 2012

Oded Ezer: “Biotypography”—imaginative discovery rather than pragmatism

The pieces shown above (top) Tipografya poster, 2003 and Helvetica Live! poster, 2008 were designed by Oded Ezer of Tel Aviv. Currently, the posters are included in an exhibition titled, Graphic Design: Now in Production, which is on display until 22 January 2012 at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. Here’s an observation of the Walker exhibition catalog by Rick Poynor.

The “Tipografya” poster showcases the Frankrhulia type design, which is motivated by the adaptation of the classic Berthold’s “Frank Ruehl” Hebrew font. Ezer’s poster features the logotype for the Hebrew word for typography. Oded’s letter designs carry on the very fine Hebraic typography tradition. Traditional Pentateuch Hebrew typography fully appreciates the design elements of the letter, the word, and the book. Perhaps the essence of Hebrew type design is artistry that concentrates, like the Psalmist, “the inner soul of the poet and musician.” [1]

Oded has coined the term Biotypography in reference to the organic nature and “bio”-diversity of his typographic work. Paola Antonelli writes about this synthesis of art and science:
Ezer thinks that since, very often, a type designer chooses a typeface for its ability to embody and render the feeling of a project, the step from object to creature is direct and typefaces should really become living, biological beings. As he explains it, “The term Biotypography refers to any application that uses biological systems, living organisms, or derivatives thereof to create [to make] or modify typographical phenomena.” [2]
Ezer’s beautifully eccentric typographic designs are mainly about the impact of visual form and expression. The compelling detail in his work are the accentuated appendages that simulate moving legs and antennae. These posters also allude to the mutual feature of ubiquity suggested by the “Frank Ruehl” Hebrew text font style and the font Helvetica. Both are still widely used today. Although unintentional, it’s fascinating how one’s reflection faintly merges with the framed glass of the pieces that are in the Walker exhibition.
  1. Antonelli, Paola. “The Typographer’s Guide to the Galaxy.” Design Observer: Observatory. Ed. Michael Bierut, William Drenttel, Jessica Helfand, Julie Lasky, and Nancy Levinson. The Design Observer Group, 16 June 2008. Web. 11 Jan. 2012. Here’s the link.
  2. Ibid.

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