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Seeing and Hearing Type In Motion

Apr 22, 2021

As letterpress printers, we focus on ensuring that type absolutely does not move while it is in use in a printing press. So to see and hear moving type in the animated shorts made by experimental filmmaker Judith Poirier is as surprising as it is noisy and delightful.

Poirier is a filmmaker, graphic designer, and professor at École de Design, Université du Québec à Montréal. You can watch her short experimental films on Vimeo. Note that she’s printed miles of actual 16 and 35 mm film to produce these short films, and that the sound is generated when ink is printed over the optical soundtrack, embedded in the film.

During the summer of 2017, Poirier spent two weeks in Nashville creating work for a show in our Haley Gallery, merging her filmmaking with additional layers created by letterpress printing. During that July visit, she stayed busy, starting with exploring the entire wall o’ type, from top to bottom.

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While pursuing her master’s degree, Poirier studied with Alan Kitching. A practice that we all share is hand inking and proofing, to work with the physical layers of print work before setting anything into the press bed.

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Poirier cast a wide net, and then whittled the selections down to make the most impact with the final work. We set her up in the back of the shop so that she could spread out and concentrate, but still be part of the daily activity.

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She reproduced selections from her film Setting West—in film strips spanning the width of the paper, or as one frame blown up supersized—to create fields upon which to print with wood type and/or graphic elements from the shop. Each print celebrates the interplay of these two elements with delightfully bold red, silver, black, and gold ink, and the resulting works can really hold their own in a minimalist space, or among a wall full of work.

You can still purchase prints made during Judith Poirier's residency from Haley Gallery, and online!

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What’s next? In the last few years, Poirier has completed her most recent film, Fraktura, featuring some of the shop’s scarier characters. When the time is right, we’ll have her back to Nashville for a screening of the film, and more inky fun in the shop.

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