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  • Writer's pictureBertrand Mougel

The Stealthies: Typography

Updated: May 19, 2020

Esther Szac's typography art for the latest book from French writer Alain Damasio les Furtifs (The Stealthies) was my 2019 design revolution. Published by La Volte edition, it is a utopian/dystopian science fiction novel combining political views, technology, philosophy and sociology in a novel full of adrenaline.

Glitching body text

Esther created beautiful typographic portraits, layouts, glitching body texts. Her work also interlaced with Damasio’s story on how the “furtifs” had developed system of writing. The typography was part of the narration which is what excited me the most. Each character monologues started developing their own glitches and typographic styles. Tittles, tails, accents, punctuation, cedilla and ligatures appeared under, over, in the letters illustrating somehow the emotions they go through. The page becomes alive, moving, where signs and symbols come out of nowhere and threaten French writing convention. The symbols take over the space, swarm, vibrate, leap and dance...

Mutating Garamond

The book is written in the Garamond font. This made me realise how beautiful this serif font was. Esther made the font look so natural while becoming hybrid and alien to iself, transforming while keeping a perfect level of legibility.

The blobs

The typographic portraits are also based on Garamond. Those portraits are called blobs, illustrate the temperament, the origin, the nature and the nurture of each characters. I was inspired by these in my Cosmic Egg dinner party booklet.

Sneak the text.

"Les Furtifs" means the furtives, surreptitious, stealthy beings.

Their writing system invented in Damasio’s novel is called the Cryphe or “swykemg”. It consists of letterforms hiding in other letterforms. Words or sentences therefore all hide behind one or two letters. Each letter is carved into the other one with fangs or nails. The word becomes layered into letters instead of spreading on a page from left to right. Letters becomes sediment resting under another letter.

The set up

In short, the novel happens in 2040 in a society that terrifyingly resemble ours. Cities have been purchased by multinational companies, and the majority of citizen customers are constantly controlled in their desired techno-cocoon, addicted to their rings( avatar of smartphones). In those cities, movements, thoughts, words, moods are all recorded in the database of the big companies to provide them with the most individualised product offer. The story is an ode to civil disobedience. In this set up, a discovery of the beings called "furtifs": they are untraceable, invisible, constantly mutable and never the same, resilient and incredibly stealthy surviving amongst us.

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