Research Programmes 2023
The decorative writing of Alfred Erdmann
Alfred Erdmann (1872-1966) studied under Anton Seder at the école des Arts Décoratifs in Strasbourg, before being appointed professor of graphic arts in 1902. He was passionate about lettering and calligraphy, whose forms are renewed with the rise of advertising, and the use of new tools such as “even” pens which produce a mono-linear drawing, with rounded ends. He brings together in a book his research on a “new decorative writing”: delayed by the First World War, it will be published in England in 1924, by Hutchinson et Cie under the title “Decorative Writing and Arrangement of Lettering”. Given its success, this book was republished a few years later by Isaac Pitman, also in London.
Unpublished archives of Erdmann will be deposited in 2023 at the ANRT to be studied. The objective of this research program is to study the genesis of this publication, its visual and technical documentation and to consider digital revivals of his writing models. It is also a matter of situating the role of Erdmann, a precursor in Alsace in the revival of graphic arts and typography at the beginning of the 20th century.
This program is part of the Renouveau project, in partnership with the École nationale supérieure des arts visuels de La Cambre (ENSAV, Bruxelles), L’École nationale supérieure d’art et de design de Nancy (ENSAD), le Musée de l’École de Nancy, la Haute École des arts du Rhin (Strasbourg), les Musées de Strasbourg et le Kaiser Wilhelm Museum de Krefeld (Allemagne).
Gutenberg Jahrbuch 100
For almost 100 years, the Gutenberg Jahrbuch has been one of the world’s leading journals on book and printing history. In addition to the quality of its contributions, the journal is also renowned for its typographic design. Outstanding typographers such as Hermann Zapf, Max Caflisch, Friedrich Forssman, and Ralf de Jong have been involved in its creation over time.
Research presented in the Gutenberg Jahrbuch regularly cites texts from manuscripts and early prints that contain a multitude of abbreviations and ligatures. This has repeatedly challenged the designers of the Jahrbuch, as common typefaces often cannot depict these characters.
The goal of this research program is to design a new typeface for the Gutenberg Jahrbuch, which contains the vast reservoir of abbreviations and ligatures of the modern period, while also functioning as a highly legible text typeface online and in print. As an open-source font, it will also be made available to the wider academic community.
In partnership with the Gutenberg-Institut für Weltliteratur und schriftorientierte Medien, Abtlg. Buchwissenschaft, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität, Mainz (DE). Projet encadré par Dr. Nikolaus Weichselbaumer.
The Missing Scripts 2023
Unicode has become an essential character-encoding standard for exchanging texts electronically. Unicode 15 encompasses 161 different writing systems, and more than 149 000 characters: its ambition is to include all the scripts of humanity.
The decodeunicode.org website, started in 2005 by Johannes Bergerhausen, and its associated book « decodeunicode Schriftzeichen die der Welt » (ed. Hermann Schmidt) gives a fascinating insight into the richness and diversity of the scripts covered by Unicode. And yet, more than a hundred writing systems are still missing from Unicode. Jenticha, Kulitan, Garay (Wolof), Ranjana (Lantsa), Mayan Hieroglyphs… minority scripts, sometimes ancient or undeciphered (but not necessarily complex in their design), which are still awaiting to be approved by the Unicode Consortium.
The aim of the Script Encoding Initiative (SEI) at the University of Berkeley is to provide the linguistic expertise required to submit new proposals for these writing systems to Unicode. Many of these scripts have never existed in a typographic form, and display some very interesting shapes: they represent a kind of unexplored territory for type designers. The Missing Scripts project aims to support the SEI’s proposals to Unicode, through the design of typefaces for the missing entries. To achieve this, a multi-year research program is implemented, based on a classification by Johannes Bergerhausen, who established different levels of complexity for these scripts, based on the SEI database. The work will be conducted over a number of years, combining several levels of expertise: linguistics (SEI, Berkeley), type design (ANRT) and graphic design / mediation (decodeunicode, Hochschule Mainz).
The website The World’s Writing Sytems and the poster show the actual state of research.
The Missing Scripts programme will focus, from Octobe 2020 to March 2022, on the following scripts: BERIA, ESKAYA, GARAY (WOLOF), LAMPUNG, SIDETIC, VITHKUQI, YEZIDI…
Desired profile for the application:
Interest in Latin and non-Latin type design (specify which writing system)
Good organisational skills
Visiting professors & experts:
Pr Johannes Bergerhausen, Hochschule Mainz (DE) / decodeunicode.org
Dr Deborah Anderson, Université de Berkeley (USA) / Script Encoding Initiative The Unicode consortium