Into the void

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WELLINGTON, Wednesday: Designed by Klim Type Foundry’s Kris Sowersby – and unveiled globally this month – Signifier’s digital immateriality draws on a deeply material past.

Acknowledging the processes and tools of digital form-making, Sowersby worked consciously with the computer to recast the lead, antimony and tin of the 17th century Fell Types into ones and zeros.

Signifier emerged from this alchemy with Bézier curves and sharp vectors determined by machine logic and a Brutalist ethos.

Central to Signifier’s development is an epiphany: “I finally realised that searching for the essential materiality of digital fonts was misguided,” Sowerby says.

“Their essential nature, like all things digital, is immaterial. Form is the void and void is the form.” 

Sowersby’s perception that ‘void is the form’ finds resonance in the work of the mid twentieth-century French artist Yves Klein. The launch campaign uses Signifier to transcribe Klein’s musings on Immateriality, The Void, and the metaphysics of absence.

“Klein’s signature colour International Klein Blue was developed for its dimensionless quality.”

The artist who set out on a quest to touch the infinite now speaks to us from deep inside the digital void.

Klein’s signature colour International Klein Blue was developed for its dimensionless quality.

Here it’s reimagined in the retinal vibrato of pure RGB screen blue, irreverently conflating Klein’s infinite void with Microsoft Windows’ ‘Blue Screen of Death’.

This reference brings us forward in Signifier’s cosmic timeline to ’80s computer graphic aesthetics and early digital fonts like Matrix by Zuzana Licko and Charter by Matthew Carter, which also informed the development of Signifier.

These early digital references extend to the audio of each video. The animation soundtrack features bent, twisted, stretched and distorted sounds native to Apple computers, while the French voiceover used in the subtitled prelude videos is digitally synthesised.

Signifier’s campaign is directed by Kelvin Soh from Auckland’s DDMMYY (Dummy) Studio in collaboration with Klim; featuring sound by Sines and Cymbals and animations by Seskamol.

The campaign began this month with five prelude teaser videos being released across Klim’s social media accounts, and continued in a new series of videos that reveal the typeface and launch it officially for purchase.

Signifier is Klim’s 27th font release since the foundry began in 2005.

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