The Electronic Labyrinth

Experiments in Digital Typography

The displacement of the capital-intensive tasks of printing and typesetting by the advent of desktop publishing has radically increased the availability and scope of fonts and typeface tools. Early computer fonts imitated movable type, typewriter fonts, and those fonts developed through photographic reproduction technologies. The influence of visual artists, business people, and others familiar with digital technology has lead to radical new developments in the field of typography. The very nature of what is considered "acceptable" in a typeface is being constantly tested.

Writing in a special issue of Emigré, typographers Erik van Blokland and Just van Rossum comment on the future of their art:

[W]e became aware that if we treated typefaces as computer data, instead of fixed letterforms, we could create some very bizarre systems. One idea was to connect a font file to a self-copying moving mechanism to create a virus font; a self-distributing typeface: a great way for young and ambitious type designers to get their typefaces known and used. No type manufacturer would be able to compete with that kind of immediate proliferation. Or we could change typographic awareness of computer users around the world by creating a font virus that would slowly transform every Helvetica into something much more desirable--the Post-modern typographer's revenge. Virowolves that travel around the world in a single day, with type designers getting paid by buying network shares. Or we could hand out our fonts at conferences and meetings, but after a while the files will turn sour, just like milk. (n. pag.)

© 1993-2000 Christopher Keep, Tim McLaughlin, Robin Parmar.
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