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Like water, like Helvetica

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In my last blog post, I was telling you the story of my design trip to MONA in Tasmania, and promised to share with you its most inspiring piece of kinetic typography: a waterfall that can spell out human culture in real time.

For years I’ve been a fan of the work of Julius Popp, and at MONA I got to experience his work first-hand: Bit.Fall.

Hear Julius speak about his work http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AICq53U3dl8&feature=player_embedded

Software synchronizes the magnetic valves on the device’s 128 nozzles. The program forms a bitmap font (over 2000 pt. Helvetica… Julius, did it have to be Helvetica? oy…) by releasing individual drops to create a curtain of water that form falling words in the dry negative space. The words that appear are pulled from Australian news Web feeds and a statistical algorithm biases towards words that really carry meaning.

The type is then “melted down” and pumped back up to be set into new words in the future.

The waterfall also serves as a visual and auditory anchor as you move through the museum. Today’s headlines are readable from several floors.

What have you done this week to stretch the boundaries of how to merge the clip art that is typography mashed up with new modes of technological expression?

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Reviewed October 4, 2012


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