In certain areas of the world, one-of-a-kind hand-lettered signs are still used to communicate goods and services. As noted by Molly Woodward, creator of the digital archive and community-based initiative, Vernacular Typography, such signage is quickly vanishing as mass-produced branded signs replace local artistry.
As US relations with Cuba begin to thaw, large global brands will move in, erasing local lettering in favor of more efficiently reproduced, heavily branded signage. If designers do not begin documenting the remaining unique letterforms, they will be lost forever.
Experimenting with establishing a sense of place in virtual environments brings new meaning to vernacular type. What does the vernacular look like in VR? Can we experience a sense of authenticity? Can we create a unique local culture inside a virtual space? This summer I took a trip to Cuba to document vernacular type and begin to delve into these issues.
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A trip to Cuba via typography, summer 2017