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Typophoto Book Project

By Charles Purdy

When it’s done thoughtfully, typography communicates in ways that go far beyond the words spelled out by individual letters. That ability is evident in an unusual book created by students at Budapest’s Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design.

The Hungarian artist László Maholy-Nagy was an early proponent of applied modern technology in the visual arts. As a teacher at the Bauhaus school in the 1920s, he developed a design concept he called “Typophoto,” which he described this way: “Typography is communication composed in type. Photography is the visual presentation of what can be optically apprehended. Typophoto is the visually most exact rendering of communication.”

Today, Hungarian artist Dora Balla is an instructor at the Budapest, Hungary, university that bears Moholy-Nagy’s name. She believes that our era’s technology makes Moholy-Nagy’s Typophoto philosophy more relevant than ever before. So she asked her students, “How does the new generation of artists reinterpret the relationship between classical photography and typography? How do they design typefaces in the new context of the spiritual heritage of Bauhaus?” Those students’ answers, in the form of works that address Moholy-Nagy’s Typophoto philosophy, comprise a book she has titled mo_st_.

Balla has posted the book in full online. (Keep turning pages to get to English versions of the front matter—unless you speak Hungarian!)

Image from Dora Balla's book mo_st_—a tribute to Moholy Nagy's typophoto theory.
cover from Dora Balla's book mo_st_—a tribute to Moholy Nagy's typophoto theory.
cover and back cover from Dora Balla's book mo_st_—a tribute to Moholy Nagy's typophoto theory.
Image from Dora Balla's book mo_st_—a tribute to Moholy Nagy's typophoto theory.
Image from Dora Balla's book mo_st_—a tribute to Moholy Nagy's typophoto theory.
Image of Bauhaus letters/typography from Dora Balla's book mo_st_—a tribute to Moholy Nagy's typophoto theory.
Bauhaus-inspired type from Dora Balla's book mo_st_—a tribute to Moholy Nagy's typophoto theory.
Bauhaus-inspired type from Dora Balla's book mo_st_—a tribute to Moholy Nagy's typophoto theory.
Lettering: image from Dora Balla's book mo_st_—a tribute to Moholy Nagy's typophoto theory.
Silvery Bauhaus-inspired lettering: Image from Dora Balla's book mo_st_—a tribute to Moholy Nagy's typophoto theory
Bauhaus- and Moholy-Nagy-inspired lettering from Dora Balla's book mo_st_—a tribute to Moholy-Nagy's typophoto theory.
Image from Dora Balla's book mo_st_—a tribute to Moholy-Nagy's typophoto theory.
Image from Dora Balla's book mo_st_—a tribute to Moholy-Nagy's typophoto theory.
Bauhaus- and Moholy-Nagy-inspired typography from Dora Balla's book mo_st_—a tribute to Moholy-Nagy's typophoto theory.
Bauhaus- and Moholy-Nagy-inspired lettering from Dora Balla's book mo_st_—a tribute to Moholy-Nagy's typophoto theory.
picture of spread from Dora Balla's book mo_st_—a tribute to Moholy-Nagy's typophoto theory.
picture of spread from Dora Balla's book mo_st_—a tribute to Moholy-Nagy's typophoto theory.
picture of spread from Dora Balla's book mo_st_—a tribute to Moholy-Nagy's typophoto theory.
picture of spread from Dora Balla's book mo_st_—a tribute to Moholy-Nagy's typophoto theory.
picture of spread from Dora Balla's book mo_st_—a tribute to Moholy-Nagy's typophoto theory.
picture of spread from Dora Balla's book mo_st_—a tribute to Moholy-Nagy's typophoto theory.
picture of spread from Dora Balla's book mo_st_—a tribute to Moholy-Nagy's typophoto theory.
picture of spread from Dora Balla's book mo_st_—a tribute to Moholy-Nagy's typophoto theory.