Report from Joel E. Swanson – ATLAS Institute – Univ. of Colorado Boulder
Unrecognizable Letterforms (Alphabits™) 2019
found cereal forms, lead variable
I made this sculptural series from a box of store-bought Alphabits cereal. I pulled out any piece of cereal that was unrecognizable as an alphabetic letterform, and then molded and cast those forms from led lead. Thematically the work addresses the consumption and commodification of language.
Zapf Dingbats Revolved Around Their Y Axis 2015
found typeface, 3D printed plastic
approximately 2 x 2 x 2 inches each
This work was derived from the typeface Zapf Dingbats, a common symbolic typeface designed by Hermann Zapf in 1978. To create this series of micro sculptures, I took each glyph and revolved it around its vertical axis, and then 3D printed each form, creating a series of playful and unexpected forms.
Words are power(ful); my artwork illuminates the subtle but powerful ways that language shapes perception. My medium is text, but my artwork takes many forms including blinking neon signs, interactive digital works, and meticulous hand-made works on paper. Thematically I explore how language structures our world through standards such as spelling and grammar, digital character encoding, and even alphabetization. As tools of language I am interested in erasers, highlighters, and correctional fluid but also typography, spell-check algorithms, and machine learning. Through dimensionality, repetition, and decontextualization my work makes the familiar unfamiliar and the ordinary strange; I want my artwork to make people perceive words from new and unconventional perspectives.
Born in Chicago, Illinois, 1978
Swanson is an assistant professor in the ATLAS Institute and the Herbst Program for Engineering, Ethics & Society at the University of Colorado Boulder where he works and teaches at the intersection of language and technology. He holds a courtesy appointment in the Intermedia Arts Writing and Performance PhD Program. He received his Masters of Fine Art at the University of California, San Diego with a focus in Computing and the Arts.
His artwork has been exhibited nationally and internationally at institutions including The Banff Centre for the Arts, The Broad Museum in Lansing, The Power Plant in Toronto, the 57th Venice Biennale at the European Cultural Center, the Glucksman Museum in Cork Ireland, the North Miami Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver.