Virtual Typography: 15 June 2014

At face-value, typography within a virtual environment raises exciting possibilities for new ways of reading. In practice, we are forced to acknowledge fundamental limitations in the way we perceive and understand texts. Despite experiments to create letterforms dimensionally, we still have not learned to truly read them in that manner. Our understanding only comes from the flattening of these forms onto two dimensional planes.

Various techniques have suggested how typography could naturally exist within virtual/dimensional environments, including the creation of screens in a virtual space (Xanadu Space), extrusion of letterforms (“9” at the Solow Building), or the overlapping of text (Open-source Spying Infographic).

But perhaps the most compelling possibility comes from the illuminated signage of Walker Evans’ Broadway 1930 photograph. Here, we see the hallmarks of a night cityscape which most resembles virtual space: ambiguity of depth, signifiers that communicate textually and visually, and a sense of excitement that compels us to explore the void.