Japanese designer Kosuke Takahashi has created an ingenious font that merges different typefaces to allow both sighted and blind readers to use the same text. Thinking ahead to Tokyo’s hosting of the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, Takahashi shares on his website that he hopes his font will “create a truly universal space where anyone can access information.” Braille Neue is comprised of two typesets: Braille Neue Standard, for the English alphabet, and Braille Neue Outline, which accommodates both Japanese and English visible characters and letters. Takahashi’s creation addresses two related problems. In a statement, the designer explains,
Currently, we rarely see braille implemented in the public space since it takes additional space and sighted people consider it not important. Braille Neue addresses this issue by making braille easy to use for sighted people. By spreading this typeset I believe more people will get acquainted with braille… [And] braille tends to be small and invisible, but with Braille Neue it has the possibility to expand spatially into public signages in new ways.
Takahashi acknowledges that he is not the first to combine braille with visible latin letters, but Braille Neue is the first typeface that also incorporates Japanese characters. Braille Neue has its own website and Twitter handle, and you can see more of the designer’s projects on his website. (via My Modern Met)
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Philodendron Xanad is a repeating site-specific installation by Belgium-based artist Ruben Bellinkx that physically imbeds a common houseplant into the walls of galleries and homes. The plant calmly rests on one side of the wall as several of its leaves reach through layers of dry wall and wooden beams to grow on the other side.
“The plant literally grows through the wall,” Bellinkx told Colossal. “I make a hole in the wall and place the plant so that there are enough leaves on the other side. Then I close everything with wooden panels. When there is enough light on the other side, the place grows further and lasts for a maximum of four months.”
The artist is a guest professors at KASK, the University College in Ghent, Belgium in the department of Fine Arts (Drawing), and lives in Brussels. His work is currently included in the group exhibition The Raft. Art is (not) Lonely, curated by Jan Fabre and Joanna De Vos at Mu.ZEE in Ostend, Belgium through April 15. You can view documentation of the installation process for Philodendron Xanad below, and see more of Bellinkx’s temporary installations and photography on his website.
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Handmade Sketchbooks Teeming with Colorful Calligraphy, Diagrams, Sketches, and Travel Ephemera by José Naranja
José Naranja creates beautifully detailed sketchbooks by collaging elements of photography, writing, stamps, and his own precise drawings of everything from poison mushrooms to a bird’s eye view of his dream studio. The ex-aeronautic engineer began working with sketchbooks after he discovered pocket-size Moleskine notebooks in 2005 and realized they were the perfect vessel to document his daily experiences and develop his wildest ideas. After 13 years of using the same style of notebook, Naranja now crafts his own by hand.
“It creates a special link between my journals and me,” Naranja told Colossal. “Drawings of calligraphy are just useful tools to express ideas They are the visible layer in the whole notebook as a piece, a mandala, and it’s the final artwork. Every detail in the process should be taken into consideration because I give the best effort. At the moment they have given me back only good news.”
The sketchbook artist also sells edited copies of his best work in a compilation called The Orange Manuscript, which you can find on his website. You can see up-to-date sketches and follow his travels (which happen nearly year-round) on his Instagram.
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Photographer Joana Choumali‘s photographic series Ça va aller translates to “It’s going to be fine,” a common phrase used by people in Côte d’Ivoire to casually reassure each other, even after a deeply traumatic event. Choumali started the project less than a month after the March 2016 Grand-Bassam terrorist attack, when three gunman opened fire at a beach resort an hour away from her home in Abidjan. The images in the series are all taken on her iPhone, and appear more like snapshots rather than portraits. She wanted the subjects to look natural, as if she was scanning the city.
“Three weeks after the attacks, the atmosphere of the little town changed,” said Choumali in a statement about the series. “The sadness is everywhere. A ‘saudade,’ some kind of melancholy. Most of the pictures show people by themselves, walking in the streets or just standing, sitting alone, lost in their thoughts. And empty places.”
Choumali explains that she began embroidering the images on printed canvas as a way to cope with her own sadness. The meditative process has now become engrained in her daily practice as a way for the photographer to relax and concentrate. The brightly colored threads serve as the sentiments she cannot express verbally, and a way to witness and acknowledge the denied trauma of the Grand-Bassam people.
“This work is a way to address the way Ivorian people deal with psychological suffering,” said Choumali. “In Côte d’Ivoire, people don’t discuss their psychological issues, or feelings. A post-traumatic [shock] is considered as weakness or a mental disease. People don’t talk about their feelings, and each conversation is quickly shortened by a resigned “Ça va aller.”
Select pieces from Ça va aller will be exhibited later this spring at the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair in New York City. You can see more work from the Ivory Coast-based photographer on her website and Instagram. (via It’s Nice That and African Digital Art)
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In her newest artwork, Valerie Lueth has grown intricately intertwined roots and branches to form a 4-color woodblock print titled ‘BRANCHING.’ Lueth, who owns and operates Tugboat Printshop (previously) in Pittsburgh, hand-illustrated one key block and three additional color blocks to combine black, yellow, blue, and grey in the formation of the tree. To create the tree’s subtle shifts in tone and shape, Lueth first drew and carved the key block on 3/4 inch birch plywood. Next, she transferred the image via press onto the three color blocks, and hand-drew and carved each of the three color blocks. Finally, using very precise alignment, Lueth printed all four blocks sequentially on one sheet of paper to create the complete artwork.
The artist describes BRANCHING as “an image of generation and growth,” and it scales thirty inches tall and twelve inches wide. The print is currently available for pre-order on the Tugboat Printshop website. Lueth also shares her works in progress on Instagram.
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German seamstress Agnes Richter (1844–1918) was a patient at the Heidelberg Psychiatric Clinic during the 1890s. While held at the asylum she would densely embroider her standard issue straitjacket, stitching the object with words, phrases, and diaristic entries in deutsche schrift, an old German script. The layers of language make it difficult to distinguish a beginning or end to the writing, and only fragmented phrases have been deciphered from the jacket such as “I am not big,” “I wish to read,” and “I plunge headlong into disaster.”
The object is a part of the Prinzhorn Collection at the University of Heidelberg Psychiatric Clinic, named after collector and psychiatrist Hans Prinzhorn. The collection contains over 5,000 paintings, wooden sculptures, sketches, and other art-based ephemera from patients at the hospital, collected by the psychiatrist during the early 20th-century. This vast collection of work made by psychiatric patients has had a major influence on a modern understanding of “outsider art,” or the artwork created by self-taught artists who have had little to no contact with the mainstream art world.
Over a century later, the jacket remains a powerful item, a lasting object that showcases how one woman transformed a sterile and impersonal garment into a rich record of her life’s journey. (via #WOMENSART)
Update: Sources vary as to whether this article of clothing was Richter’s straitjacket, a regular jacket, or part of a non-restrictive institutional uniform.
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Elusive Spanish artist Pejac (previously) travels the world creating street interventions, often integrating natural elements into man-made structures through a combination of stenciling and trompe l’oeil painting. His most recent projects have brought him to New York City for the first time, where he has created two arboreal artworks in Bushwick and Chinatown.
Pejac formed Fossil, in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood, using a brick-sized stencil to spray paint carefully placed shadows on a brick wall. This illusion of bricks sinking back and surging forward creates a pixelated tree. Chinatown’s Inner Strength is fully hand-painted, depicting a cherry blossom branch growing out of a security gate and surrounding by flying swallows. Pejac, who often addresses humanity’s fraught relationship to the natural world, describes his newest artworks to Colossal:
Taking a sturdy structure and familiar urban element as a base, Fossil is proposing a hypothetical fatal future in which the only memory of nature is the fossilized appearance of a tree on a brick wall. Opposing the first work, Inner Strength is an empowering piece portraying another hypothetical future in which nature breaks the barriers imposed by the hand of man, recovering the lost ground along the way.
In addition to his outdoor work, Pejac occasionally creates editioned prints using a variety of techniques ranging from lithography to screenprinting. You can follow the artist’s travels on Instagram and Facebook. For those in New York, Fossil is located at 27 Scott Avenue in Brooklyn, and Inner Strength can be found at 2 Henry Street in Manhattan.
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