fa_2: it has meaning not because you said it but because i repeated it

FA_2 is an assemblage-drawing-tool made by artist and designer, Tjobo Kho for Full Auto Foundry.

Images as memes infiltrate, replicate, and mutate over online communication networks at a pace far surpassing any other development in the history of human communication. At this accelerated speed these ‘small unit[s] of word and image’ are forcing us, as networked subjects, into new and uncharted modes of creating and interpreting meaning.

Any written language is a product of the many technical, aesthetic and socio-political shifts that have taken place over the course of a culture's history. The Latin alphabet that we use today is the result of many different writing systems which have historically operated in vastly different ways—from tokens to pictograms, ideograms, etc. Indeed, the origin of the word ‘alphabet’ actually derives from the words ‘aleph’, meaning cow in Phoenician, and ‘bet’, meaning house. And these descriptors are not only nominal, but also indicative of these letterforms’ pictographic heritage.

As an assemblage of images sourced from Tjobo Kho’s inter-personal communication channels—DM’s, group chats, and social media feeds—FA_2 is a traceable surface which dwells on our contemporary networked condition by formally guiding the process of type design via the ambiguous and humorous interpretation of these images. As the transmission of language changes, how might this be explored in the design of the letters we use to communicate?

The approach to designing an alphabet using FA_2 is deliberately left undefined and open to various interpretations; drawings might closely resemble letter-shapes, or be used to make characters with a more pictographic or abstract quality. Through this experiment in type design, we might reflect on how we shape our tools and how they shape us in turn. If language is a virus, then the alphabet is a meme.

Text by Callum Dean