After being invited by Akiem Helmling of Alphabetum to create a contemporary sans-serif revival of Litterae Ignotae, one following the characteristics of his typeface Logical, Edgar Walthert immediately felt excited about this steep challenge. It brought together his interest in universal languages and optimal typeface legibility. For the past several years, Edgar has explored these topics through the abstracted symbols included in Logical, and through other exhibition and research projects. To give such a revival the fairest and most informed treatment, he needed to consult as many original manuscripts as possible. Enthusiastically planning a research trip to Bingen in the German Rhineland, only to realise the actual sites where Hildegard lived had very little by way of documentation – barely any written examples of Litterae Ignotae survive today – and there was likewise little material online.
Lingua Ignota – Latin for Unknown Language – is one of the oldest invented languages. Its purpose is unclear, speculations reach from secret cipher to universal language. What’s certain is that Hildegard is its author. Since Lingua Ignota only lists 1001 nouns, it is rather a ‘lexique’ than an actual language. The accompanying Litterae Ignotae – Latin for Unknown Letters – are often wrongly attributed as the letters used to write Lingua Ignota, while a lack of the three letters j, v and w points to a use in Latin.
The poster displays the glossary of 1001 words written in Lingua Ignota, Old-Latin, Old-German, English and Litterae Ignotae.
The typeface Logical, designed by Edgar Walthert and released in 2018, includes a rich set of icons that with the help of OpenType features can automatically be accessed by typing keywords. Thanks to this, Richard Niessen, the creator of The Palace of Typographic Masonry, invited Edgar to add a room to the imagined palace structure to share his long interrest in symbols and icons as a bridge between languages.
‘The Annex of Universal Languages’ is located somewhere between the Departments of Sign and Symbol. Here you will find a small display of human attempts to design a visual language that can be universally read, from ideographic systems to all-connecting lingua franca, from utopian alphabets to iconic sign languages.
The folded A1 poster presents 20 attempts to universal and visual languages and is mapping overlapping and contradicting uses of similar shapes on its backside.
Bring monsters into any space of your choice: letterpress printed poster using Nitti Mostro Wood, the woodtype version of Nitti Mostro Solid. Printed in a gradient of two tones of green and bright red ink.
Letterpress printed poster using Nitti Mostro Wood, the woodtype version of Nitti Mostro Solid. Same design as above but printed in silver and gold ink on green cardboard.