Typojanchi 2013
Seoul International Typography Biennale

August 30–October 11
10:00 am– 7:00 pm
Closed every Monday
Free admission

Culture Station Seoul 284
1 Tongil-ro, Jung-gu
Seoul 100-162, Korea
T. 82-2-3407-3500
F. 82-2-3407-3510


Hosted by
Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism

Organized by
Korea Craft & Design Foundation
Korean Society of Typography


Typojanchi 2013
Administration Office
Korea Craft & Design Foundation
5F, 53 Yulgok-no, Jongno-gu
Seoul 110-240, Korea
T. 82-2-398-7945
F. 82-2-398-7999
E. typojanchi@kcdf.kr

Typojanchi 2011

Single-channel video
2 hours 31 minutes
Designed with Daniel A. Becker, Siri Poarangan, Wenzel S. Spingler and Mathias Wollin
Software developed by Daniel A. Becker
Sound by Roland Korg

Johannes Bergerhausen
Born in 1965, Germany


Unicode is an industrial standard for digitally representing and handling text in most of the world’s writing systems. Coordinated by the Unicode Consortium, a non-profit organization whose members include most of the major computer software and hardware companies around the world, the aim of the Unicode has been to surpass the limitations of character encodings specific to local languages, which were mostly incompatible with each other. In short, one of the ultimate ambitions of the Unicode is to develop a unified standard set that encompasses all the characters of all the languages of the world, living or dead. The first version of the Unicode was released in 1991, which included 7,161 characters for 24 scripts. The latest version (6.2) published in 2012 can represent 110,182 characters for 100 scripts.

Decodeunicode was launched in 2004 by the department of communication design at the Fachhochschule Mainz, as a research project to communicate the facts and knowledges related to Unicode among typographic designers as well as engineers and linguists. An “independent platform for digital type culture,” Decodeunicode has been led by Johannes Bergerhausen, a professor of typography at the Fachhochschule, in close collaboration with the designer Siri Poarangan, with initial support from the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The public website devoted to the project went online in 2005, and has won many international awards. So has the poster displaying all the Unicode characters of the Basic Multilingual Plane. The book Decodeunicode: Die Schriftzeichen der Welt was published in 2011 by Verlag Hermann Schmidt, Mainz. The video “starring” all the 109,242 characters of the Unicode Standard 6.0 was released online in 2012.

The development of Unicode marks a significant point in the history of writing: finally, every language in the world can be represented with a single system. Regardless of the script, the platform or the program, a Unicode character is assigned a unique numeric code. In this sense, Unicode may simply be another ultimate extension of the digital logic of computing. There is, however, a cultural implication in this development, too. Now a designer or a writer can feel much closer to foreign scripts, as Unicode is collapsing the distance both in space (any number of different scripts can be accessed and processed) and time (it can represent “lost” writing systems, such as hieroglyphs). An immediate result has been the emergence of “global” fonts, which provide glyph sets large enough to handle many different languages and specialist settings. More fundamental and truly transformative effects on writing and typography have yet to come. Bergerhausen himself has suggested: “Looking beyond their own Latin alphabet can be useful for designers, typographers and students alike, as it leads to many questions about the theory of design.”

Johannes Bergerhausen studied communication design at the Fachhochschule Düsseldorf. From 1993 to 2000, he lived in Paris and worked for Gérard Paris-Clavel and Pierre Bernard, the founders of Grapus. In 1998, he conducted a research project on ASCII, with a grant from the Centre National des Arts Plastiques. Since 2007, he has been working on a digital cuneiform font. In 2012, he was awarded with the Design Award of the Federal Republic of Germany in Gold. Currently he is professor of typography at the Fachhochschule Mainz.

decodeunicode from Siri Poarangan on Vimeo.


Installation view at Typojanchi 2013

© Typojanchi 2013