S.P.Q.R. Extrapolation II: The Baptismal Font, Graffiti and Street Memes of Rome
Font: 1 a: a receptacle for baptismal water b: a receptacle for holy water
As I mentioned before, the word graffiti has origins with the Romans, meaning literally to scratch or scribble. The word "font" also has Latin origins and is related to fountains, fondue and foundries. When I think of "font" in this visceral sense, I think of Richard Serra slinging molten vaseline at the apex of Matthew Barney's Cremaster Cycle. In our digital world, we are losing sense with the original moldings of the meaning of FONT. Sometimes it takes flâneuring in the real world to get back to our fountainhead.
One of the best things about Rome and Italy are the copious public fonts bubbling effervescently with water. The water springs forth endlessly and is free for the taking, and maybe it's psychological, but it tastes great.
A lot of the concrete pieces in my 23 Text Tiles were influenced by the trip to Rome we took eight years ago (see endnotes posted in Diagram). In our more recent flâneurings of Rome, amidst the marvelous ruin, I again found my eyes gravitating towards the inscriptions and letters, even if I don't know Latin. Not knowing the meaning gives even more relevance to the beauty of fonts for the sake of fonts. It revitalized my interest in "concrete poetry," for lack of better term. Here's some images that inspired me.