Société Réaliste — Monotopia
Past: April 14 → May 26, 2012
In 1989, the American typographer Robert Slimbach designed a serif font named “Utopia” for Adobe Systems. It probably made reference to the eruption of digital technologies and the new territories which these offered to the development of typography. He might equally have wished to underline the umbilical cord which unites the utopian theme since its foundation with the practice of writing. If utopia is actually a place, a place which doesn’t exist, it is a space of potentiality, of the eventualities, like writing itself. Utopia is a territory of text where the oxymoron is natural and evidence impossible.
A landscape of letters, as Thomas More wished for, he who, on the frontispiece of the first printed edition of his Utopia, united two contradictory objects : a drawn map of the Island of Utopia and a typographical table of its geometric alphabet. It is from there that his research emerges, neither the map of the text, not the text of the map but a form of absence in the joining of the two. A transversal time, always past, present and future ; a permanent relocalisation always here and still over there : utopia is a journey through texts, unifying moments with their locations. Unless writing is the body and utopia its shadow.
Echoing the trajectory from More to Slimback and in continuing its work on text and map binding, Société Réaliste created in 2012 the font Monotopia. The protocol for construction is simple : each character of the Utopia font is written on the superposition of every other character. An upper-case letter is written with all other upper-case letters, lower case with all lowercase, a number with all numbers. Like an egalitarian cabala where no matter what the letter, all the others will also be laid down. Or like an obligation to refuse the distinction between ornament and shape.
In the exhibition at the Galerie Michel Rein, Société Réaliste experiments with their typography by presenting ornamental accumulations of Monotopia, reproducing the rythmics of political mantras, mixing the fundamental directions, researching the connections between number and dates, trying to define the shape of any date and any place, registering the common transversality of time and space, or refusing to inscribe the privative “u” of Utopia.