With a history spanning more than five millennia, the practice of writing serves as a testament to the enduring human impulse to record, preserve, and transmit information across time and space. Writing systems—sets of standardized symbols and rules used to convey language visually—can carry within them a culture’s history, traditions, and collective knowledge, making them powerful vessels of cultural preservation and expression. Quasi: Experimental Writing Systems explores the craft of inventing and designing writing systems that—unlike those that have evolved organically over generations of collective usage—were meticulously created at distinct points in time with intention and purpose.
The projects in the exhibition present atypical configurations of signs and symbols inspired by science fiction, cryptography, modern technology, language preservation, sound, nature, and communication with the dead. Some works are designed to be functional writing systems, allowing potential usage by others, while some exist in a realm where functionality becomes entirely irrelevant. Furthermore, many remain works-in-progress, mirroring the perpetual evolution of language itself—a fluid entity that lacks a definitive version and adapts in tandem with societal shifts.
At the intersection of typography, linguistics, and fiction, the exhibition approaches the invention of writing systems as a speculative process and an exercise to discover new quasi-realities within our systems of communication. This practice reveals a fascination with otherness where mythology and utopia are recurring themes. Through this exploration, Quasi contributes to an ongoing dialog about re-worlding, imagination, and the importance of playing with language to foster linguistic diversity that can reshape our collective narrative.
Participating designers: Ximena Amaya, Johannes Bergerhausen, Coline Besson, C.C. Elian, Sina Fakour, Kobi Franco, Patricio González, Aleks Hafermaas, Simon Fréour, Calder Ruhl Hansen, Ilka Helmig, Marianne Hoffmeister, Simon Johnston, Stephan Kamp, Michelle Koza, Aspacia Kusulas, Lavinia Lascaris, Zeke Oyinloye, Barry Spencer, Simon Thiefes, and The Repository of Wonders
Opening reception: Thursday, November 16 @ 6:30–9 PM
Free and open to the public.
ArtCenter College of Design, South Campus
950 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena 91105
Open daily 8 AM to 10 PM.
(Image at top: D16 Syllabics, writing system designed by Calder Ruhl Hansen)