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Humans’ impact on Earth inspired Bleed’s custom typefaces for Anthopros

For his residency at Galeria Marso in Mexico City, artist Javier Barrios explored the era of the Anthropocene – a proposed name for our current time period in Earth’s geology, which began when humans started to significantly affect our ecosystems. Though still unofficial, the term is much debated, and formed the basis of the artist’s studies as he looked at the history of human activity versus nature.

The residency culminated in a book, Anthropos, designed by Oslo and Vienna-based studio Bleed, and is similarly inspired by the themes of humankind’s affliction on the Earth. Showing images of human development, from primates to high-tech societies, it sets out the narrative of the Anthropocene as a visual story and creates a framework for Javier’s diverse research material.

Bleed created two custom typefaces for the book, one display type named after the book, and another called Stone. Together they aim to convey the jolting changes to the planet made by the Anthropocene. “The display type was designed to strengthen the visual cues of disruption and transition – adding aggression to the pairing with Stone, a Neo-grotesque sans-serif,” says designer William Stormdal. “Anthropos is Greek for human, and I found it interesting playing with shapes, rules and compositions that do not mimic the laws of nature.”

The layout of the book is based on an old TV testcard, another reference to technology and its evolution, says William. This concept gave the designer a format that allowed the varied content to be arranged in a haphazard way. At the centre of the book there is a 40-page “gif”, that converts a digital image to print, and shows a live-stock farm being blown up as a test for the impact of atomic bombs.

Again considering the huge variety of imagery, the book is printed in black-and-white Riso so the collected material, text and otherwise chaotic layout becomes, as William describes it, “aligned in hierarchy, making it easier to connect the narrative with the content”.

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