History - Parachute® on Thursday, February 03rd, 2011

Phaestos was an ancient city on the island of Crete. It was inhabited from about 4000 BC. The area upon which Phaestos stood was the site where a curious clay disk, containing a sophisticated pictographic writing, was discovered. It was the Phaestos Disk, an archaeological find, dating from about 1700 BC. The first moveable type! Its purpose and meaning, and even its original geographical place of manufacture, remain disputed, making it one of the most famous mysteries of archaeology. An Italian archaeologist Luigi Pernier discovered this remarkably intact “dish” (about 15 cm in diameter and uniformly just over 1 cm thick) in the basement of the Minoan palace site of Phaestos during an excavation on July 3, 1908.

Physical Description
The inscription was made by pressing pre-formed hieroglyphic “seals” into the soft clay, in a clockwise sequence spiralling towards the disk’s center. It was then baked at high temperature. There are a total of 241 figures on the disc.
Many of the 48 different glyphs represent easily identifiable every-day things, including human figures, fish, birds, insects, plants, a boat, a shield, a staff, etc. In addition to these, there is a small diagonal line that occurs underneath the final sign in a group a total of 18 times. The disk shows traces of corrections made by the scribe in several places.

The Text
Although there is no official Unicode encoding for the symbols on the disk, the ConScript Unicode Registry has assigned a block of the Unicode Private Use Area to be used for the script. Two fonts include support for this area; Code2000 and Everson Mono Phaestos. The text on the disk is given on the second of these links; you can read that text if you have either of them installed.

Strokes and Direction of Reading
There is a number of glyphs marked with an oblique stroke, the strokes are not imprinted but carved by hand and are attached to the first or last sign of a “word”, depending on the direction of reading. Their meaning is a matter of discussion. One hypothesis, supported by Evans, Duhoux, Ohlenroth and others, is that they were used to subdivide the text into paragraphs, but alternate meanings have been offered by other scholars.

The diverse epigraphical facts (overcuts, angulous points of the spirals, corrections, etc.) reveal that the text was written from the perimeter to the center. The scribe was “composing” his text as he was printing it. There is therefore no way to disassociate the direction of printing from the direction of reading.

Attempted Decipherment
The Phaestos Disk captured the imagination of many amateur archeologists. Many attempts have been made to decipher the code behind the disc’s glyphs. Historically, almost anything has been proposed, including prayers, a narrative or an adventure story, a “psalterion”, a call to arms, a board game, and a geometric theorem. Many enthusiasts still believe the mystery can be solved, as it is generally thought that there isn’t enough context available for meaningful analysis.

http://www.historyofscience.com/G2I/timeline/index.php?id=2648
http://www.evertype.com/standards/csur/phaistos.html

New Releases - Parachute® on Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Lindemann Sans is an unusual but immediately inviting typeface with a pleasing distinct visual voice grounded by geometry and golden proportions. This project started in early 2008, when designer Chad Lindemann (an Associate Professor of Art at Wisconsin Lutheran College) was set out to create a geometric sans serif font with traditional ideals, but with a modern tech-savvy voice. Chad was inspired by the mathematical golden ratio and the Fibonacci spiral. This mathematical logarithm appears everywhere in nature from leafs, flowers, pinecones, and most commonly nautilus shells. He incorporated this natural spiral into his final versions of Lindemann Sans.

After choosing this spiral as the cornerstone of the design, the next step was to create a spiral matrix in Adobe Illustrator. This matrix was used in creating all 800 glyphs found within each font. It was the skeletal structure for many design decisions, such as, the x-height being three spirals high, most glyphs being two large spirals wide, and the dissection of multiple spiral intersections to form the angles for many of the curves found within the typeface. An unintended surprise was how clearly Latin glyph shapes could be housed within this matrix and how the spirals themselves became inspiration for the curves found within the finished typeface. Also, many of the lowercase terminals, spurs, and tails were derived from the Fibonacci spirals.

According to Chad Lindemann “it did not become immediately apparent, but all design solutions can make new challenges. When creating Lindemann Sans, this challenge was between balancing personal aesthetics and the mathematical spiral matrix. Thanks must be given to Professor Josh Cross’s perspective that designing a typeface is no different than any other artistic venture. In addition, thanks to Professor Paul Burmeister for his encouragement. Paul never stated the obvious challenges facing designing a geometric sans typeface, but always gave words of wisdom and shared his knowledge of how others solved issues of stem, stroke and crossbar weights within single glyphs. Next, the clear and confident direction, expertise, and advice from Panos Vassilliou was extremely helpful. His advice addressed the ink traps and black concentrations of joints within the lowercase glyphs, which were problems that could not be resolved with a spiral matrix, but only with creative artistic decision making”.

Some aspects of the final version of Lindemann Sans that are the most appealing in retrospect are the inventive open form counter of letter a, the tails found on the letters f, i, and t, the slanted bar of letter e. These special glyphs and many more work as a family to create the specific voice of Lindemann Sans. Each style and weight of Lindemann Sans adheres to the same geometric and golden proportions, however, each weight is innately noteworthy. For example, there is a charm that is found in the ultralight weight’s elegant geometry and lights impressive use as oversized headlines. It shines with true clarity of vision with the book weight and the versatility of the medium. One cannot overlook the power and pacing of the bold and extra bold weights with its clear counters and restrained letter forms. Within Lindemann Sans family each weight has a distinctive role to play but stays true to its purpose.
PF Lindemann Sans is available from Parachute.

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