Since the advent of cuneiform, we’ve designed written language to be a two-dimensional medium. Whether we’ve scribbled across a flat tablet or a piece of binder paper, we haven’t had to alter our scripts in any fundamental way. Yet as 3-D eye-tracking displays become part of the norm, it’s worth asking, should we invest more thought into the potential of 3-D typefaces?
Buchstabengewitter, translating to “Letter Storm,” is a project by typographer Ingo Italic (subtle!) from the Berlin studio Letters Are My Friends. The project reinterprets our written language in true, 3-D space. “If something has to be readable for the human eye it is always best to display it on a flat, two-dimensional surface,” Italic concedes. “But 3-D text can be an essential part of what typography is all about … typography in space can help if you have to read while you are moving–in a car, for example.”
Italic starts with a spherical chunk of strings. Each string’s endpoint attaches to what will become a letter. By adjusting each string’s length and position, Italic morphs the ball into every letter of the alphabet. The strings never break from their anchor points, so the transitions from letter to letter are completely fluid.
But one of the neatest parts of Buchstabengewitter is that it appears to play in both 2-D and 3-D spaces. Whether it’s rotating and animating, or it’s simply printed on paper, the typeface is equally legible (though to be fair, we haven’t actually viewed it in a true 3-D space). If only The Future would get here already!