Following this thread on mechanics and maritime predators, we stumbled upon an old camouflaging technique used by naval fleets during World War I. Created and named dazzle painting or "razzle dazzle" by British artist Norman Wilkinson, the method draws from nature—think zebra stripes—and uses high contrast patterning to distort perspective, masking a ship's form and direction of travel.
So began our own dazzling experiment, with type as our vessel. We first sketched isometric letterforms, then designed patterns using multipoint perspective grids. The effect confuses the eye and distorts each letter.
Build & Installation
Next we brought our blueprints into the third dimension. We used 2x4s to build wooden frames for our letterforms, covering each in three layers of oversized vellum, to which we meticulously applied strips on strips of black masking tape in our custom dazzle pattern. We cut foam insulation boards to back each letter, but first painted and rigged them with rows of LED strip lights. Finally, we suspended the finished forms in the window at Co-Prosperity Sphere, announcing that year's Typeforce exhibition had officially begun.
Typeforce is the annual exhibit Firebelly Design and Public Media Institute curate and host. Every year the exhibit showcases works from talented emerging lettering and type-based designers and artists. Across the gallery's walls, mediums, methods, craft and style vary widely. The constant of each piece is the presence of letterforms that communicate through exceptional execution.