TRANS-1, 10 POINT: This typeface refreshes itself continuously on the screen, words being replaced by their synonyms. Now autumn begins exists only for long enough to bring present fall commences into existence, which instantly disappears to make room for gift descend embarks, which dies so that talent alight boards ship can live. Trans-1’s creator, IS Bely (1972–), said that he hoped the typeface would illuminate the richness of language, the interconnectedness, the nuance of the web. But instead, Trans-1 reveals language’s poverty, its inadequate approximations, how a web is made of holes, how the river of words flows always away from us.
TRANS-2, 10 POINT: This typeface also refreshes continuously, but unlike Trans-1, words are replaced by their antonyms. Now autumn begins exists only for long enough to bring later spring ceases into existence, which instantly disappears to make room for presently dry riverbed persists, which dies so that never flowing water perishes can live. It was Bely’s intention, with Trans-2, to illuminate the poverty of language, its inadequate approximations, how a web is made of holes. But instead, we see the string connecting those holes, and caught in the net is the shadow of meaning.
This typeface frequently freezes in place, fixed on words that cannot be refreshed. What, after all, is the opposite of God? The meaning is liberated from the words by the typeface’s inability to translate them. These nonexistent antonyms are the reflections of the words we are looking for, the non-approximations, like watching a solar eclipse in a puddle. The antonym of God’s non-existent antonym is closer to God than God will ever be. Which, then, brings us closer to what we want to communicate: saying what we intend, or trying to say the opposite?
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Selections from “About the Typefaces Not Used in This Edition” by Jonathan Safran Foer, a list of fictional responsive typefaces.
Read the whole thing at The Guardian