Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it.
Water is ‘miraculous’– it cleans itself after cleaning others while evaporating, separating itself from the impurities within it while ascending to the heavens. However as with many good things that are produced out of a purifying process, it is also a time-consuming yet magical transformation. Just like how it renews itself, water symbolises rebirth. Water is alive. It symbolises miracles. It is the living water.
Hence came along Heaven & hell(vetica), or Hh for short.
Hh is a result of a study of the duality of things. Water and the impurities. The new and the old. Life and death. Heaven and hell. As this book is parted, the duality of these things will be parted and revealed as well. But like life, you only have one shot at it. Water will part from the impurities within it. The new is here and the old is gone. Death departs from life. Heaven and hell are separated eternally. To explore this idea between the reality of heaven and hell, I studied two great literary works: William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell and The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis. The former work had a vision of a dynamic relationship between a stable Heaven and a highly energised Hell, whereas the latter’s work focuses on the exact opposite, and how the two places are ultimately separate.
Hh consists of three deliverables: an interactive book targeted at designers, a website and a promotional poster.
The book is a one-time experience for its reader. With every page that is parted, something will be revealed to the reader. Ultimately the reader will arrive at a full spread of black charcoal powder and an adjacent spread of invisible varnished text set in Helvetica. They will then have to make the choice of dirtying their own hands with the charcoal powder and spread it over the clean, white spread to reveal the text hidden. This move is entirely up to the reader’s choice, as with how “Heaven does not force its way into human hearts”.
Documentation video of how readers can experience the book for themselves
Every book only allows a one-time experience, just as how there is only one shot at living. And why Helvetica? Known as the “god of fonts”, it is unimaginable for something of that stature to be dirtied and contaminated. However paralleled with the qualities of water, the typeface becomes ‘cleaner’ than before due to the contrast created by the black charcoal powder.
How users experience and navigate the website: instead of the conventional click-to-navigate user experience, the website’s navigational system is designed in such a way that users scroll upwards and downwards to go to various pages. This is inspired by the act of parting from the book itself.
THE PROMOTIONAL POSTER
PROCESS AND PROBLEM SOLVING
Throughout the making of Hh, there were numerous difficulties faced and some resulted in the need to compromise, unfortunately. With limited time and resources available to produce a professionally printed UV spot varnish publication, I had to reproduce the same effect but by other means. In the end after experimenting with different materials ranging from vinyl sheets, acrylic, PVC glue to varnish, only painting varnish through customised laser-cut acrylic delivered the most ideal results.
However, applying varnish through the acrylic stencils also created a risk of the glyphs looking unrefined and out of control. I went through a series of going back and forth wondering if that could be a design intention I wanted to incorporate into Hh and ultimately went against it even though it could have saved a lot more time and trouble, because I felt that it would betray my concept. Ultimately, this project was one that opened myself up to a world of experimentation and taking risks out of my comfort zone. I felt uncomfortable at times working on this project because there were too many uncertainties and too many risks, but then I realised it was the same message I was trying to bring across – I was trying to make my audience step out of their comfort zone into the uncertainty to take a risk, and to deliver an uncomfortable message across. That, was when I started to embrace this discomfort and fear of the uncertain as part of this project.