Fans of criminal dramas know all-too-well the investigative formulas that television shows follow. A crime is committed, forensic scientists study the scene, detectives make deductions and the show climaxes at the end of the programme when the crime is solved. Paris-based designer Mathilde Gaussen has followed such shows for years. “I know all the episodes of criminal investigations that appear on television,” she explains. “And what has always fascinated me is the way the investigation unfolds.”
Currently finishing up her master’s degree in Penninghen, the designer has made her somewhat unusual passion the primary subject of her personal work. She tells us about the recent project Code 10-15 which pays tribute to the people who have pioneered new scientific methods to change the face of criminology. She explores how detectives carry out their work to catch a perpetrator with, sometimes, only a few elements at hand.
To suitably fit the subject, Mathilde designed six files and two books around emblematic judicial investigations in France that advanced said industry. Using a range of textured papers and a typewriter, she authentically recreates the look and feel of police files to visually express the research-based project. Along with four small bags that she’s curated together, Code 10-15 highlights “inventions that have changed investigations.”
The designer pays tribute to the likes of Edmund Locard, the inventor of the forensic laboratory in 1910 and Alphonse Bertillon, the man who first demonstrated the usefulness of fingerprints in criminology at the turn of the 20th Century. Additionally, she explored the work of Roger Dambron who invented the photofit picture in 1950. He devised the process by taking pictures of his friends and collecting images of faces from the media. Then, he divided each face into seven parts and collaged various pieces together to create new combinations. Since then, “it has become both a familiar and useful tool for police officers to conduct their investigations” says Mathilde.
Though the project required some “heavy upstream work” for Mathilde. She comments, “I was fascinated by everything I read and this research was essential to be able to build my final work.” Using colour coded paper to separate the contents of archive material; beige for letters, blue for technical sheets and 140 GSM Canson coloured paper for printing reliefs, the typewriter’s ink adding a vintage effect. It comes as no surprise when Mathilde finally adds, “If I wasn’t in the arts (or if I wasn’t an unscientific person) I would dream of working in the forensic science field.”
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor. Feel free to drop Jyni a note if you have an exciting story for the site.