Mathieu Tremblin replaces graffiti with typographic translations

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Mathieu Tremblin replaces graffiti with typographic translations

French artist Mathieu Tremblin has translated scrawled graffiti into legible typography, as part of his Tag Clouds project (+ slideshow).

Mathieu Tremblin replaces graffiti with typographic translations

Tremblin uses stencils to convert each graffitied signature into precise lettering. He applies the same typeface for each collection of tags and keeps their original positioning.

Mathieu Tremblin replaces graffiti with typographic translations

The pieces, which resemble word clouds, set out to make the signatures of graffiti artists more readable, thereby encouraging passersby to take more notice of them.

Mathieu Tremblin replaces graffiti with typographic translations

"It shows the analogy between the physical tag and the virtual tag, both in form and in substance," said the artist. "Like keywords, which are markers of net surfing, graffiti are markers of urban drifting."

Mathieu Tremblin replaces graffiti with typographic translations

In his process, the artist first covers the original tags, which are often hastily spray-painted onto walls.

Mathieu Tremblin replaces graffiti with typographic translations

He replicates the colours of the signatures and replaces graffiti faces with emoticon versions formed using punctuation.

Mathieu Tremblin replaces graffiti with typographic translations

Tag Clouds relates to an earlier project by Tremblin, which similarly replaced graffiti writers' signatures with a legible version. In that instance, he used blue type, referencing hyperlink text often found online.

Mathieu Tremblin replaces graffiti with typographic translations

The artist's approach goes against generally accepted graffiti etiquette, which frowns on the practice of covering another artist's work.

Mathieu Tremblin replaces graffiti with typographic translations

"Spontaneous graffiti writing became the ugly duckling of art in the city," the artist said. "With Tag Clouds, the idea is to make a tribute to spontaneous writing, in order that inhabitants accepts its visual presence by reading it."

Mathieu Tremblin replaces graffiti with typographic translations

Other typographically inspired designs from this year include BIG's modular lighting system, which can be rearranged to form different letters of a typeface, and Fiona O'Leary's pocket-sized font detector.