Typographer-in-residence: Trees, Martinez, Olsson

Mon, Feb 10, 2020 – Sat, Mar 21, 2020

The Typographer-in-Residence program hosts designers, artists, and educators who are investigating new ideas through their professional practice or personal research. Their work reinforces the importance and relevance of typography and language in visual communication.

Joshua Trees, Yvan Martinez, and Krister Olsson will collectively serve as our 2020 HMCT Typographers-in-Residence. Trees and Martinez are designers and researchers exploring publishing as a mode of social enquiry, cultural intervention and public engagement. Olsson is a sculptor and media artist exploring repetition and chance operations, most recently involving AI as a creative tool.

In 2020, Google’s Artists and Machine Intelligence programme granted Trees, Martinez and Olsson a Focused Research Award to build Public Foundry, the first type foundry powered by the public using artificial intelligence. Public Foundry will offer a generative typography tool and community archive for designing and distributing a new generation of open source fonts representing diverse cultures, geographies and histories.

Although the digital revolution is commonly thought to have democratized the field of typography by making computer fonts publicly available, digital typeface design remains an esoteric practice. At the same time, public lettering and signage are being erased and homogenised through gentrification and globalisation. Public Foundry aims to address this paradox by serving as a tool and resource for collecting, archiving and constructing letterforms that express and embody the human voice — socially, culturally and politically: letterforms that express our evolving identities, ideologies and memories, or revive endangered typographies to perform alternative pasts and speculative futures.

During their HMCT residency, Trees, Martinez and Olsson will be developing the first phase of Public Foundry — a case study of invisible letterforms within Los Angeles, resulting in a collection of AI-generated typefaces, an exhibition, public lecture and publication.

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