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Functional Typography

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Functional Typography series, 2006. Silkscreen on paper; Functional Typography on a Christian Dior Fahrenheit Perfume Package: 788 x 1,091 mm; Functional Typography on a Hegaon PurePlus Organic Orange Juice 245 ml Bottle: 788 x 1,091 mm; Functional Typography on a Crabtree & Evelyin Summer Hill Hydrating Body Mist Spray 100  ml Bottle: 1,091 x 788 mm; Functional Typography on a Power Supply Adapter for Macintosh G3 PowerBook: 788 x 1,091 mm; Functional Typography on a Bic Mini Gas Lighter: 788 x 1,091 mm.

Functional Typography is a series of posters that show the typographic codes abstracted from the surface of products and packages such as an orange juice bottle or the bottom of a Bic Lighter. The codified letters and numbers, often printed or inscribed in a small size, must be important for manufacturers and suppliers, but we as consumers would never know what they actually mean. What is interesting for us about these codes is not just that they are completely incomprehensible. It is also the fact that they seem very meaningful, yet there’s no way for us to know their meaning. They look very confident and determined, making it clear that they are not arbitrary signs. But their incomprehensibility provokes what the literary theorist Shawn Rosenheim calls “cryptographic imagination,” which is an attitude towards language that acknowledges its opaqueness and slipperiness, endlessly inquiring what actually is behind visible surfaces.