Typography is the DNA of graphic design


We don’t make tools, we make marks. We construct symbolic systems by measuring and imprinting things, so that our marks also make tools. This gives typography a privileged status as the DNA of graphic design.

Symbiosis, by designer Jelte van Abbema uses literal DNA – a living ink of E coli bacteria – to print posters on agar coated paper. The posters were cultivated on advertising boards with temperature and humidity controls to ensure growth.

“It was like a huge Petri dish. In the evening I had no image and in the morning I had my presentation”

As the cultures feed, grow and die, the design changes in response to the environment. The seemingly unchanging nature of print often implies consensus where none may actually exist. Not the words themselves but the printed artifact.  By contrast, biology never stands still. Every moment is a complex biochemical negotiation filled with triumph and catastrophe. This artwork is a dynamic environment, quite literally alive.

[via] Dezeen

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One Comment

  1. Olaf
    Posted November 12, 2009 at 09:07 | Permalink

    And I’d be willing to bet that after a few hundred generations, the e.coli would arrive at Helvetica as the most optimal type face.

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