According to research by the Linguistics Department at Cambridge University, once a person has mastered the alphabet and acquired a vast vocabulary, it is easy to pick out misspellings, reversed letters, or guess words that are missing in a sentence. This is part of the concept behind the installation Extra Bold by Mexican artist Ivan Abreu.
The installation, made from cooling tubes, works by responding to the levels of humidity in the air, which vary according to weather conditions and the number of people breathing and sweating in the room. By decreasing the temperature to the freezing point of water, the moisture in the air condenses and solidifies, forming ice. These temperature variations change the thickness of the text’s “font,” producing optical variations (light, medium, bold, and extra bold) in the typographic weight of the white lines.
The installation takes the following paragraph (shown above on the wall in Spanish), and crosses out the words to show only the strokes that hit above and below the line of text. Bars whose height correspond to the lowercase letters, replace the text, and leave an overall silhouette that retains the complexity of the upward and downward extensions of the letters. Although the vocabulary is illegible, the bars mimic their presence.
Aoccdrnig to rscheearch by the Lngiusiitc Dptanmeret at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.
It is interesting to note how the literal meaning of the text disappears and reveals a different aesthetic: its graphic form, which reminds us of the generative typography shown in Mis.shap.en.ess by Reza Ali.
To learn more about the construction process of Extra Bold’s moisture condenser, check out the artist’s website.