Fluid Typography

“Fluid Mechanics: Typographic Design Now,” essay by Ellen Lupton, published in Donald Albrecht, Steven Holt, and Ellen Lupton, Design Culture Now: National Design Triennial. New York: Princeton Architectural Press and Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, 2000.
Liquidity, saturation, and overflow are words that describe the information surplus that besets us at the start of the twenty-first century. Images proliferate in this media-rich environment, and so too does the written word. Far from diminishing in influence, text has continued to expand its power and pervasiveness. The visual expression of language has grown increasingly diverse, as new fonts and formats evolve to accommodate the relentless display of the word.
Typography is the art of designing letterforms and arranging them in space and time. Since its invention during the Renaissance, typography has been animated by the conflict between fixed architectural elements-such as the page and its margins-and the fluid substance of written words. Evolutions in the life of the letter arise from dialogs between wet and dry, soft and hard, slack and taut, amorphous and geometric, ragged and flush, planned and unpredicted. With unprecedented force, these conflicts are driving typographic innovation today. Typography is going under water as designers submerge themselves in the textures and transitions that bond letter, word, and surface. As rigid formats become open and pliant, the architectural hardware of typographic systems is melting down.

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