Jerusalem designer Ori Elisar used bacteria-based ink to develop a Hebrew alphabet in the lab for his Living Language-like experiment.
The project was created as part of ElisarBezalel’s final thesis at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Israel, and is part of the designer’s ongoing explorations of typography and the ways in which language can be expressed visually.
“Using my research, experiences and findings, I hope to challenge nature, culture, character and language with new personal theories,” he said.
The ink was created from the paenibacillus vortex bacteria and is the development of a concept the designer proposed two years ago for a biological ink that would grow and thrive on paper.
Together with Tel Aviv University Professor Eshel Ben-Jacob, Elisar spent three months developing the initial concept into a working ink, before taking another two months to create the letters in the petri dishes.
Living letters mix the shapes of the ancient Paleo-Hebrew alphabet and the modern Hebrew alphabet.
The bacteria are placed in each petri dish in the form of an ancient letter, and food made from algae protein is added in the form of a modern letter.
Associated content: see more design using bacteria
As the bacteria consume the food and grow, it gradually transforms into modern alphabet shapes.
“I tried to see if I could recreate the process of evolution of the Hebrew letter, using a living organism,” Elisar told Dezeen.
The project was motivated by the designer’s fascination with biodesign – a discipline that fuses science, technology and design.
“Due to the common interests, both parties benefit and the results are usually no less than mind-blowing,” the designer said.
Associated content: see more typography
“Biodesign specifically allows us designers to answer visual and conceptual questions, and helps us solve design briefs using tools from the world of nature that, based on aesthetics, are difficult for us to recreate. “
Other designers have also experimented with the possibilities of biodesign, with Berlin designer Jannis Hülsen growing cellulose skin for a stool, and Dutch designer Jelte van Abbema printing simple typographic shapes with bacteria.
Although Elisar’s project is not intended to be a functional font, the designer sees it as an alternative to the occasional perception of typography as “the drier, boring area of design”.
“This is perhaps the reason why young designers are trying to reinvent the field, to use new techniques and to work with exciting materials,” he added.
New York artist and designer Moritz Resl also aimed to push the boundaries of traditional letter shapes by compiling a ghostly typeface that spanned every letter of the alphabet from over 900 font families.
Polish design studio Zieta turned to stronger materials, using metal inflation technology to create a metallic alphabet that was cut and welded from sheets of steel as thin as paper, before being inflated like a balloon.