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Making Faces

October 22, 2011

I have just come from viewing Making Faces by Richard Kegler. This film about a local type caster, Jim Rimmer, documents the design and production of the Stern font, the first font to be produced simultaneously as a digital and metal font. The film follows the process from free-hand drawing, to computer assisted design with Ikarus, and by use of the pantograph engraving machine, the production of a metal font.

On one level this was a film about an exacting and unique process that Jim Rimmer had perfected. But on another plane, this was about the integral relationship between a concrete reality and a simultaneous digital product. Rimmer’s achievement was not only in the peculiar skill level that he brought to the task, but that he united the physical process of creating a cast metal font with digital font production.  For Rimmer the font has an intensely physical reality and the fact that it also exists as a digital object does not diminish this.

This film about the creation of an alphabet font, the building blocks of written language, serves as a metaphor for viewing digital communication in its many forms, as a parallel system that enhances but does not replace the concrete reality of physical interaction, of friendships based on shared experiences and geographic communities. While online activity may replace the local community for some, for others it provides a facet of communication that runs alongside a deeply valued sense of the local community and the pursuit of a tangible art or craft, as well as a commitment fo family, friends and lovers.

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