Directed by Justine Nagan, Typeface takes a look at the obsolete techniques used to create and print wooden type. The film centers itself on The Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum located in Twin Rivers Wisconsin. Housed in Hamilton’s factory the understaffed museum gives tours, hosts workshops, and attempt to archive the boxes upon boxes of wooden type that are piled about. In the opening scenes we get an overview of the museum while on tour with former Bad at Sports guests the Post Family. Throughout the film we weave in and out of mostly Chicago studios as, printmakers/graphic designers discuss their love for wooden type. The Walker Art Center recently caught up with Nagan and spoke with her about making the film:
W: Why make a film about an obsolete technology?
JN: I became fascinated with exploring the changing importance of analog technologies in our digital age. There is this theory that as we as a society sit at our computers all day, in the off hours, tactile and sensual experiences become all the more important. People are craving things with texture that they can hold in their hands—whether it’s knitting or playing guitar… Then there’s the whole nostalgia factor: LPs vs. ipod, film vs. video, letterpress vs. inkjet.
W: Some obsolete technologies manage to take on a second life by addressing a different need or being adopted by a new (sub)culture in a different context. Do you think a revival or re-interpretation is inherent to any successful preservation movement?
N: I think evolution is key to preservation. Re-imagining and adapting technology, while maintaining the elements that made it interesting in the first place, ensures longevity of the medium. I think the new interest in letterpress and craft is sustainable. The current styles of letterpress may fade, only to be re-invented again by some future generation. Read more