Feminist Modernist Studies
An important branch of digital humanities involves prototyping the past. This entails approaching material forms of knowledge as sites within which epistemological and ontological problems may be evaluated as physical embodied practices. This essay discusses the interpretive and methodological implications of using 3D printing technologies to prototype the archival diagrams of a proposed but never constructed plastic segmental alphabet letter kit – a game designed by Mina Loy for F.A.O. Schwarz. Although it is intended as a toy for young children, “The Alphabet that Builds Itself,” is also a work of object typography which articulates a theory of language as kinetic, geometric, recombinant, and open to mutation. Alphabetic segments extend into the x, y, and z coordinates in exponential iterations and conjoin according to polarities established with magnets. Combining elements of contemporaneous typefaces derived from Bauhaus principles of simplicity and the liberatory Futurist typographic fantasy of pure graphemes – free of history – these recombinant three-dimensional letters realize Loy’s unpublished modernist poem; an articulation of language as a physical substance which infers its own morphology.
Original Publication Citation
Konkol, M. (2018). Prototyping Mina Loy’s alphabet. Feminist Modernist Studies, 1(3), 294-317.
Konkol, Margaret, "Prototyping Mina Loy's Alphabet" (2017). English Faculty Publications. 152.