New York magazine has a short feature on a typeface Google is working on for Android. I’m not really interested in that at all (rumor is Apple has also been long at work on a custom interface typeface), but there was one paragraph that jumped out at me:
Unlike pre-digital fonts, which were essentially set in stone after being finished, Google got to keep working on Roboto. And in subsequent editions, the typeface got a face-lift. The uppercase B got a little slimmer. The comma was made less angular. “The old model for releasing metal typefaces doesn’t make sense for an operating system that is constantly improving,” Duarte said. “As the system evolves over time, the type should evolve along with it.”
There is something really fascinating about a typeface being treated as software. Especially when owned by a company for a specific purpose, such as an interface, the face doesn’t ever have to be “finished”. It can evolve and grow and have versions just like the software it’s sitting in.
We traditionally think of typefaces as objects, even when completely digital we see them a a finished piece of design that remains static and unchanging. What happens when it starts changing and iterating? What if you could adjust the typeface as software improves and continually push out new versions?
See also: Typeface as Programme
The Camera in the Mirror is a strangely fascinating Tumblr by Barcelona-based artist Mario Santamarí that pulls images from the Google Art Project, Google’s initiative to bring its street view technology into museums and cultural institutions. Every time the device rolls through a museum and hits a mirror, we get a glimpse of the making of these walk-throughs—accidental selfies, of sorts.
The result is strange and slightly unsettling, not only because of the presence of a modern, sleek machine in these grand rooms filled with historic art but also because the boxy camera seems human — like any other visitor posing in front of a mirror, poised to take a selfie.