The English language lacks an elegant term for a 12 hour cycle — the span of time in which a standard clock’s hour hand completes a full rotation. This omission casts serious doubts on the idea that measured time and its representation is a solved problem. By dividing clocks into their subprocesses, I aim to more clearly understand what we can and should do with them.
I decided to move away from the increasingly bloated visual site builder I had been using for years and gave myself a few months to figure out html and css with no prior experience. My main objectives, beyond saving money and learning something, were:
improving information density in both visual and bandwidth terms
adhering to standards
thinking about future-proofing and avoiding trends
using the characteristics of different screen sizes with more intentionality
making use of good tools (BBEdit, mechanical keyboard)
I learned to value the aesthetics and legibility of my code as well as the rendered page. Moving away from social media platforms around the same time reinforced to me how wasteful and overprovisioned almost every online platform has become for most peoples' needs. It is in platform operators' interest to mystify the process of publishing work online, but it remains satisfying, cheap, and simple to do it the old-fashioned way.
What is the relevance of a functional object without function? The twin factors of obsolescence and replacement, and wearing down through usage or neglect, push once-valued things into the dusty shelves and soggy cardboard boxes of material purgatory. A brief window exists to get a grasp of these things as they pass from discreteness to aggregate, and our only option is to take them as they come.
Find a "design piece" you've seen only representations of and you may be surprised by how little it can do for you outside its intended time and place. This project is an argument for a quality that remains independent of something's original purpose. Anticipation of unselfconscious usage evaporates and leaves behind a mist of directionless, unprogrammed visual and tactile interactions.
This project is an attempt to create rich and rigorously objective replicas of found objects that possess this quality. Available here are digital models, each based on a close reading of an object's surface. It is my hope that the process heightened my sensitivity to this quality, and that the models can themselves be used as references, when the originals are not available, for what might be formally "good".
Nicholas Jenson's 15th century roman typeface represents a crucial point on the spectrum between hand-lettered calligraphy and constructed type. Structurally, it is formed by the shape of the pen nib and the movement of the calligrapher's hand, yet it is idealized to remove abnormalities that would become distracting with repetition.
In drawing letters based on this typeface, I wanted to learn why these letterforms were "correct", on their own terms. Applying a set of geometric heuristics, the well-resolved nature of something like Helvetica is clear, but I suspected something else was going on with traditional serif lettering that came from a tradition outside modernist uniformity.
The process for creating the letters began with drawing them at a 5 mm x-height with a 1.5 mm nib in black ink. Each letter was drawn many times to better understand its construction and to obtain better results. These pages were photographed, one instance of each character was selected, and the drawings were cleaned up and vectorized. In some cases, a final digital glyph would be composited from a few different drawings.
It became clear through the process that the logic of the roman lowercase came primarily from the hand and the tool rather than a set of geometric rules. Angles on glyphs like the lowercase e were determined by how the pen was held, and serifs felt like a natural way to terminate vertical strokes.
At all times, a balance had to be made between cleanliness and preservation of aspects of the original drawing. The end result is not necessarily resolved — too much like handwriting by the standards of a typographer like Emil Ruder — but crucially, it does preserve marks of its handmade nature.
A lowercase set of letters with limited punctuation was fine as a proof of concept and had a certain conceptual completeness, but the constraints imposed on the user of the typeface unsurprisingly became a problem. A set of numerals was the first step in addressing the functional deficiencies, but an uppercase proved necessary.
These characters were not originally included because the formal development of the roman uppercase had more twists and turns that that of the lowercase. Instead of a progression from pen stroke to cut metal, the origins of capitals in Roman engravings (themselves perhaps based on brushstrokes, according to calligrapher Edward Catich) had to be considered.
A certain short-circuiting, bypassing the rigidity of the chisel, was needed in order to come up with capitals that matched the existing lowercase alphabet formally and methodologically. Important aspects, namely the consistent pen angle, could not be maintained were the Jenson model followed as closely as before. What followed was a process in which the final form was less predetermined.
Now that certain practical reasons for the shapes of letterforms were better understood, I wanted to test the concept of anticipation in creative work — how known is the outcome at the beginning? As drawing the lowercases was a matter of emulation, I expected all along that each lowercase Terra glyph would bear some resemblance to its Jenson counterpart. Now, for each uppercase character, it was necessary to project something that was visually harmonious with the other glyphs and true to its process but still recognizable and legible.
Once again, many instances of each character were drawn, but the stylistic range tended to be broader in this case, ranging from fluid to deconstructive approaches. Out of these, I tended to select the more traditional options somewhere in the middle. In the final character set, the differences from Jenson are not as drastic as expected. The main differences other than the "handmade" feel are missing serifs on horizontal strokes as well as a more clear relationship between pen angle and stroke width variation.
The impact of anticipation on the process was strongly felt even without direct reference to a precedent. Counting on the process itself to give unforeseen results is not a dependable strategy without developing a sort of counter for oneself against the "weight of history". While this uppercase alphabet is not formally innovative, it has a soundness and consistency — in at least this case, perhaps things are the way they are for a reason.
Poster, programme, and social media for The Immaculate Perfection of Fucking and Bleeding in the Gender Neutral Bathroom of an Upper-Middle Class High School, a play by Daniel Halpern staged by BodyCube Arts as part of the Edmonton Fringe festival.
Atelier Lachaert Dhanis site, 2022
When I bought my secondhand Braun MP 50 juicer, an iconic work of functionalist design, I didn't realize that it was missing the plunger. This part is critical for pushing fruit and vegetables against the blade without risking injury. I looked into a paralyzing array of options for replacing this part, evaluating the material outcomes of each and the implications for usability, aesthetics, and collectibility.
Later, I found a variant of the juicer at another secondhand store. What I realized challenged my assumptions about design as problem solving — buying this new juicer and selling the incomplete one was more profitable than any option for replacing or replicating the missing part. Regardless, I modelled and 3D printed a replica part based on eBay photos and my own measurements.
Lemon juice is widely available in small yellow bottles styled with a lemon-like appearance. A wide range of approaches to shape and texture are evident, with different degrees of abstraction. The bottle cap is typically a verdant green. What if these bottles are superseding our idea of what an actual lemon looks like? A green plastic cap that can be stuck onto any lemon resolves this semiotic anxiety, clarifying that what we are looking at is indeed a source of lemon juice.
Realistic birds as a service, 2021
35mm as a base unit for ideal page composition with ISO formats, and a world without margins.pdf
Anchor escapement, 2021
Collaborative drawing machine, 2021
Document summarizing findings from studies into two spaces in Eindhoven, one domestic and one communal — a cramped student bedroom and a garden. With Théa Brochard, Lucie Gholam, Michelle Jonker, Brenda Salirrosas López, Luna Wirtz-Ortvald, and Maija Zēģele.pdf
A storage system for symbolic and physical things. Objects entered into the system are classified as missing, proxy, or “true” objects — with spaces left empty, replicas or representations constructed, or the object itself incorporated.
Taking advantage of the iPod’s limited feature set to apply an inside-out formal approach to a digital device with analog inputs and outputs, shaping the casing based on its energy and data flows.more
Planning a park for a former industrial plot in the centre of Eindhoven, using the site’s existing geometry to create zones encouraging a range of uses.more
Trapdoor fest cyber edition, 2020
Jack Bull album artwork, 2020
Rather than mapping Eindhoven in the way I might a more familiar city, I responded to the prompt to make a linear map by attempting to more fully translate this place to a flat, narrative representation according to a system of absurd rationality.
I started by travelling around Eindhoven’s ring road by bicycle, looking for a defined entrance to the city. The eastern point where the Ring crosses the canal serves this role.
I identified key sites in Eindhoven that would be immediately recognizable to a newcomer: institutional elements like city hall, national government facilities, and religious congregations; transportation hubs; and a few other cultural centres.
The “entry point” where the canal crosses under the road was the start of radial set of lines that crossed through these key sites to the opposite side of the Ring. Lines perpendicular to these form an intersection on each site, meaning that each site is then associated with three points on the Ring plus the entry point.
The outer lines served as a rough demarcation of the city’s geometric “core”. The remainder of the lines that cross through the core divide it into smaller zones.
The diagram of lines and zones was then distorted so that the lines run only horizontally and vertically, rather than corresponding to degrees on the rough circle of the Ring, reshaping these zones into rectangles.
The same distortion and division is applied to a satellite photo of Eindhoven. The satellite image of each distorted rectangular zone is stretched or compressed to all match in size. This series of resized images is presented in an accordion format, labelled with an approximation of the zone’s actual scale (small, medium, large) to determine the degree of distortion.
The site, 2019
Corner house, 2019
Percussion table, 2019
Biscotti boxes, 2018–19
A small amplifier cabinet (30×30×45cm), solidly constructed of plywood and painted sheet metal with custom 3D-printed knobs. Meant for use at home, it has more furniture- and appliance-like characteristics than comparable portable amplifiers. All controls, inputs, and outputs are readily accessible on the front. The lower compartment, which is easily detachable via low-profile clasps on the sides, can be used to store cables and other accessories and has an integrated power strip. The front panel of the lower section hinges downward and can be used as a surface to attach effects pedals. As naturally as any box, it functions well as an ad hoc stool or side table.
Aluminum box, 2017
Chess set, 2017
Modulating hand, 2017
Park of culture & rest, 2017
A sprawling apparatus that is entirely interconnected but completely nonfunctional and unlinked to external electrical or data systems. Nonsensical junctions like audio cables running into a typewriter betray the solely visual quality of these connections.
Trying to become a hunter-gatherer, albeit without the pressure of starvation. Escaping overthinking by gathering maple keys, peeling off the leaf fibres, drying the seeds, and collecting them in a plastic box.