Back Story: Tel Aviv-based graphic artist, type designer, and author Oded Ezer is best known for his fantastical “design fiction” projects (see: Biotypography, Typosperma, and Typoplastic Surgeries). For London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, he recently created eight short “typographic videos” based on the Hari Kunzru novel Memory Palace. And this month, he’s released a project called Veining, the latest in a continuing effort to find an uncharted typographical landscape—this time, under the skin.
To be sure, adorning the human body with typography is not a old phenomenon (ahem, tattoos), but Ezer’s approach is radical: He’s experimenting with how type might become part of the body’s circulatory system. Yes, it’s pretty out there. But as designers and artists explore new frontiers for creating typographic systems that incorporate VR and AR, ferrofluids, DNA and more, the concept behind Veining is not that far afield. Plus, tattoos and piercings have evolved from their role as outlaw signifiers to become more widely-accepted elements of mainstream style. Veining is next level.
Why’s it called Veining? The name Varicose was taken. (Kidding! What else could you call it?)
What are its distinguishing characteristics? Ezer describes Veining as “design fiction,” or an experimental concept that may not ever be practical or possible in real life. Here’s the idea: a tube of script text is surgically implanted and integrated into the body’s circulatory system, then enhanced via a UV injection of a fluorescent liquid to create a living neon sign. The patient undergoes a surgical procedure where a “word module” insert, printed from transparent bio-material compatible with human veins, is implanted into the arm. To accommodate the newly-designed structure, an existing piece of vein is removed and carefully replaced with the word module, which is connected to the circulatory system and evaluated for pressure, leakage, and flow. Valves at either end of the module allow blood to pass through while keeping the fluorescent fluid in place. Recovery time following the procedure would take approximately three to five days as the bio-text becomes fully integrated. The patient is provided with a set of fluorescent fluids in various colors, which can be injected directly into the synthetic vein post-recovery.
What should I use it for? Ezer is challenging our expectations of what we use type for and where we use it, especially when it comes into contact with our own bodies, and examining the function of type as a means of communication. As a typographic fantasy, Veining would theoretically allow individuals to make strong verbal statements through extreme body modification. What would you write using this technique? What word or symbol is important enough for you to make it a permanent part of your biological self? What about typeface choices for this sort of thing? What is in the realm of the possible? Will there ever be such a thing as good typography for veins? The future is wide open.