Wednesday, 16 February 2011
Move over Helvetica...
This is a poo font. It is a font made from poo.
The X, the R, the S - nothing was manipulated. Arne Gutmann simply sat on the can as you or I do when we go about our business and voila! A perfectly formed "A."
"Dude, everybody's got magic," Gutmann said. "I have pretty good digestive system. Everybody's got magic, man."
One day, about 20 years ago, he was about to flush at his home in Toronto when he took a peek - as so many of us do - and discovered a letter floating in the water.
"I was impressed," he said. "I grabbed my camera and took a picture. And then, I don't know, a couple of weeks or a couple of months later, I got another one. I was like, 'Dude, this is wild.'"
He doesn't recall what that first letter was but it stirred something within him. An idea was fermenting. A photographer by trade (he's active in the Whistler scene, curating local arts exhibits and sitting on the board for the Point) his passion has always laid in the obscure. So whenever a new letter would drop, he'd keep a record of it. It has had nothing to do with a fecal fascination - he claims he has never had one - but he just "keeps stuff." Over time, he decided to make something of all the letters and by using Photoshop to grayscale the images of his excrement he created an entire alphabet. It's now available for purchase at www.poofont.com
"I have so many (letters), man - like the alphabet five times over but in different variations. They're not all the same," he said.
He's clearly amused when showing the raw images of his turds. While they are all quite horrific, they're also uncanny. That the human body can produce waste in the alphabet form is a perverted wonder and unless you see the original images - of which there is no rush, trust - you'll never see the true magic behind the letter "R" or the number "4."
Nothing like this has ever been created before. There are plenty of poo-based fonts, characters and images but most of them are hand drawn. An alphabet plopped out letter by letter over the years...well Gutmann's on the leading edge. No one has paid to use the font yet, and aside from the above headline and a few X's (a trademark, of sorts) given to a few friends it has yet to be used in the public.
People have been talking about it though to gauge their reactions is to gauge the vitality of the font as a work of art. Reactions lie somewhere between revulsion and fascination, often at both extremes and often at the same time.
"It's a natural thing. It's a natural bodily function," he said. "We're all aware of it... but it's also a repulsive thing too."
Gutmann is hardly the first artist to use bodily fluids as a vehicle for artistic expression. Among others, Italian artist Piero Manconi once sold one-ounce tin cans of his feces, complete with a label, in a collection known as "Merda d'artista" ("Artist's shit"). They didn't sell well at first but in 2007 a single can fetch 124,000 euros.
Like Manconi, Gutmann had an idea, and like every artist is compelled to do, he took the idea and executed it. As many artists will testify, the art is not always a biographical assessment of the artist as a whole.
"People are like, 'You're obsessed! You're obsessed!'" Gutmann said." I'm not obsessed, man, it's just a thing, you know? It's my magic and I've realized it and I have tried to capitalize on it," he said.
Gutmann plans to self-publish publish a book featuring all the letters, which include outtakes for letters that didn't make it, as well as original images to compare to the finished product.
We thought so.