Cambridge Specimens: Narratives found in the vernacular

Completion Date: 
2006
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The Cambridge Specimens book is a visual essay that weaves a visual narrative out of interpretations of found type – the hand-lettered, imperfect language of grafitti, storefronts, and placards that forms the urban semiotic landscape. Recontextualizing and interpreting such images on the printed page, each book presents a narrative stream of close-readings of widely varied vernacular typographic material: parking signs, gravestones, church signage, and even gas and sewer covers. Each letterform specimen began as a photograph that was then traced, turned into a vector-based outline drawing and then greatly enlarged on a tabloid size page. Through revealing juxtaposition of these typographic specimens and brief, insightful captions, the books offer a unique visual survey or map of the city of Cambridge. Printed on “newspaper” tinted 100% recycled stock and bound accordian-fold style, the humble stock selection echoes the “recycled” and everyday nature of the content.

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