Zak Group creates shape-shifting identity for Taipei Biennial

Zak Group has designed and art directed the visual identity and exhibition for the Taipei Biennial 2012, Modern Monsters/Death and Life of Fiction, creating new typeface Taowu Sans

Zak Group has designed and art directed the visual identity and exhibition for the Taipei Biennial 2012, ‘Modern Monsters/Death and Life of Fiction’, creating new typeface Taowu Sans to tie together the imagery as well as the Chinese and English languages.

The overall visual identity is conceived as a constantly shape-shifting expression of the exhibition and interweaves Chinese and Latin characters to suggest multiple readings, according to context and constellation. The typeface is named after the ancient Chinese monster Taowu, a shape-shifting creature that sees both future and the past, which the Biennial refers to in its exploration of modern Chinese history.

According to Zak Group, the visual identity is “ripe with metaphors and powers of evocation, functioning as thought-pictures or ideograms. It is a game of symmetrically mirroring opposites: dark anad light, past and present, fiction and reality”.

This ‘making of’ video explains a bit more:

Rather than taking the form of a static symbol or logo the identity appears as an ever-changing constallation of Chinese and Latin characters. Zak Group designed the typeface in three different iterations. With each version the typography undergoes increasing doubling, mirroring and multiplication of the letterforms. “The objectivity of language becomes doubled and ultimately unstable, which directly relates to the strategies used by artists within the exhibition,” say Zak Group’s Zak Kyes and Grégory Ambos.

The exhibition design was conceived in collaboration with architects Co DKT and Zak Group also applied the identity to dual-language guidebooks, an online and printed journal with related essays, the website and the Biennial promotional outdoors campaign.

The Taipei Biennial 2012 at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum runs until January 13, 2013. Most photos courtesy of Zak Group; installation photograph courtesy Taipei Fine Arts Museum.

CR In print

In our December issue we look at why carpets are the latest medium of choice for designers and illustrators. Plus, Does it matter if design projects are presented using fake images created using LiveSurface and the like? Mark Sinclair looks in to the issue of mocking-up. We have an extract from Craig Ward’s upcoming book Popular Lies About Graphic Design and ask why advertising has been so poor at preserving its past. Illustrators’ agents share their tips for getting seen and we interview maverick director Tony Kaye by means of his unique way with email. In Crit, Guardian economics leader writer Aditya Chakrabortty review’s Kalle Lasn’s Meme Wars and Gordon Comstock pities brands’ long-suffering social media managers. In a new column on art direction, Paul Belford deconstructs a Levi’s ad that was so wrong it was very right, plus, in his brand identity column, Michael Evamy looks at the work of Barcelona-based Mario Eskenazi. And Daniel Benneworth-Gray tackles every freelancer’s dilemma – getting work.

Our Monograph this month, for subscribers only, features the EnsaïmadART project in which Astrid Stavro and Pablo Martin invited designers from around the world to create stickers to go on the packaging of special edition packaging for Majorca’s distinctive pastry, the ensaïmada, with all profits going to a charity on the island (full story here)

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