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.

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