The Most Sportsmanlike Way To Design Letters

Urbanized Typeface: Shibuya08–09 is a recent project by Takahiro Yamaguchi that appeared on Vimeo last week. As he explains on his website, Apple has always had system fonts with city names pre-installed on their Apple Macintosh machines. These names seem to be arbitrary choices, as the character shapes have no relation whatsoever to the cities they share their name with, nor to the places where the designers of the fonts live.

This is why Takahiro Yamaguchi created the font named “Shibuya2008”. The shape of each character has a direct relationship with the topography of the city of Shibuya, Tokyo. Takahiro attached a photo camera and a GPS data logger to his bicycle, and rode it through Shibuya. The different routes he travelled had the shapes of characters, with the GPS logger recording global positions once per second. By doing so, he “designed” all the characters from A to Z, the numbers and some symbols. These gigantic characters are virtual – as they have no physical shape you could consider they do not really exist.


Urbanized Typeface PV (Complete ver) from yang02 on Vimeo.

Takahiro Yamaguchi then used software to convert the GPS digital data to vector data. Each shape was imported into a font production program, allowing him to build this collection of characters into a fully functional digital font. This latest project is part of Takahiro’s research on graffiti, of which his previous Cityfont project also is an aspect – Takahiro Yamaguchi aims to capture the essence of graffiti through his own work. The characters A to G of Shibuya08–09 can also be viewed in GoogleMap.

Header image: Shibuya Crossing by Altus

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1 Comment:

  1. I did a similar project in 2007 in Utrecht, but without the GPS-part. It can be found here: http://kris.isme.nl/index.php?/projects/utrecht-fonts/

    Posted by Kris on Apr. 6, 2009

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