Field Extraction

Visual studies project at The Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), instructor Anna Neimark, 2014

In 1692, the first development of a geometrically unified typeface began. The French Monarchy, beneficiary to this studious endeavor, sought a universal set of rationalized characters with which to identify the officialdom of the court across the country.

Set to a grid with the help of a mathematician, the typeface eventually came to be known as “Romain du Roi” (literally, “Roman of the King”). Rather than crafting each letter individually, the characters found themselves for the fi rst time aligned with one another along a regulated grid. This assured continuity between capitalizations, ligatures and the other common idiosyncracies of the Roman alphabet.

The characters nonetheless epitomize the oddly dual nature of the grid itself. At once, they align to it and conform within its demands, yet a set of tangential circles still breaks forth, rounding corners and fixing other ‘imperfections’ of the overtly rational rhetoric espoused by the designers.

While one might initially perceive Romain du Roi as a nearly computational exploitation of the grid, a deepened study reveals an utterly human persona. The goal of these exercises was to flex this spectrum between authorship and rationality, in the process revealing the fully necessitated interaction of the two. Ironically, to make a form which exudes regulation and conformity, quite a bit is demanded on the part of the author.

Renderings took analytical studies of the Romain du Roi typeface and looked at modes of rendering three-dimensional geometry as a flat image.

Attention was taken to explicate the possibility of overlapping or pixilated lines to describe surface and illumination. The blurred perception of the letter form became a driving factor in examining the crispness or tautness of edges in relation to their subsequent legibility as a form.