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As CERN released their presentation on the Higgs Boson in 2012, Fabiola Gianotti, particle physicist and general director of CERN, chose to use Comic Sans as a typeface, simply because she liked it. The seeming contradiction to (re-)present such a ground breaking research and discovery in such a »non-serious« typeface went viral on the internet. Regarding the slides, not only the typeface but also the strong use of various colors might hint at Gianotti’s attempt of making the strong encoded scientific data masses more accessible and attractive (Fig.1). An interesting curiosity of visual communication which could lead to the general question how to »appropriately« represent any kind of information which has a strong importance for the future of humanity. Or, to put it another way, how to represent future typographically?
Other creative disciplines and crafts, such as architecture, urbanism or cinematography already gave diverse answers to it with the tools of their crafts – and are constantly looking for answers.
Directing the movie »Her« Spike Jonze chose reduction and uniformation as a tool visualizing the setting is situated within the future (Fig .2). Thinking of reduction, Le Corbusier’s method of photographic manipulation comes to mind. To allude to his idea of future architecture, he more than once manipulated images of buildings, such as the ones of the silos in Buenos Aires of 1923. He removed the classicistical pediments for the purpose of visual magic and architectural speculation (Fig. 3). The approach of speculation within architecture is, not only since archigrams »Walking Cities« (Fig. 4), a common and accepted tool within and outside of the discipline to encourage a discourse and request of our future environments and its representations.
Having a look on the typedesign craft, it seems since a certain amount of time – since the emergence of grotesk letters – type designers have not been that eager looking for answers to this question. On the contrary, there were never as much historical revivals as today. While also the technical progress influenced the visuality of typography, it did not happen that much in terms of aesthetics, the invention of the screen happened roughly 80 years ago, and already 50 years passed since the »New Alphabet« of Wim Crouwel (Fig.5). Technical progress didn’t stop, but for some reasons it doesn’t enter into the general aesthetics of typefaces. If technical possibilities like variable fonts will change that, time will tell.
Inspired by the CERN presentation we were searching for more examples where gaphic design has the implied task to visualize future relevant affairs. The mission patches (Fig.6) which are created for every initiated spaceflight mission by the NASA are an insightful matter: Graphics and letterings on these patches contain the task to communicate the events and framework of each mission within a narrow space. As the NASA is researching central questions of human existence in a progressive way, it stands to reason that the visual language of the »Mission Patches« should communicate in the same visionary manner. A closer look showed that almost every patch contains uppercase sans serif typefaces. Apparently for NASA the future is visualised in sans serifs, majuscules.
Could a serif typeface also imply the futuristic touch which grotesk fonts seem to have – or are they forever bond to their origin in the classical age?
MGD Orion is the result of a playful approach to this question. It indicates the process of technical writing through the straightening of the characters curves whilst still containing a humanist nature. It is our temporality answer, for sure not our last.
Using the hashtag #wetheexplorers MGD A.A.S.R.A.D. took the opportunity to send a quote of Sun Ra’s »Planet Earth« set in MGD Orion to the asteroid »Bennu« as part of NASA’s Osiris REX Mission in 2015. Futura might have been the first typeface on the moon, MGD Orion is the first typeface on an asteroid.