Last Friday, I made a hop, skip and jump from SAIC to Bridgeport for the opening of this year’s installment of Typeforce, the “Annual Chicago Show of Emerging Typographic Allstars.” Rather than your typical gallery opening, this was akin to a house party celebrating artists in Chicago (and beyond) at the vanguard of language, lettering and type. Works ranged across all conceivable formats, from addictively engaging iPad apps that transmutate simple words into quivering beams of light, a site-specific poster installation with an accompanying takeaway zine, interactive voting for which letter was to be Chicago’s “King Of The Alphabet,” a papercut vignette of Chicago, a glitzy homage to piñatas, back-and-forth collaborative letterpress prints by mail, a live painting performance and much more.
Held at The Co-Prosperity Sphere, hundreds packed into the experimental space, sipping craft beer and rum-and-bitters cocktails and yelling over the pumping bass of an ambient-yet-dance-y dj set. “Party favors” (Typeforce 5-branded sketchbooks) stacked up on a beechwood table. Never before had I been to an opening that was… well… this fun. It’s the kind of show where pure enjoyment, and not over-thinking anything, is integral to the experience. One older gentleman grabbed me by the arm and led me to a letterpress print, encouraging me to stand next to him and look from a certain angle to see the type emerging, in his words, “like in 3D without 3D glasses.”
Two SAIC students, both MFAs in Visual Communication Design, have work in the show: F Newsmagazine designer Magdalena Wistuba has a collaborative piece with John Pobojewski (the aforementioned iPad apps), and Megan Pryce has a series of posters addressing personal collections, a cross between a periodic table of elements and an inventory of possessions.
Typeforce 5 runs through March 16 at The Co-Prosperity Sphere, 3219-21 South Morgan Street in Bridgeport, Chicago. Gallery hours are by appointment.