Black Baskerville tells two parallel stories of place and circumstance – about John Baskerville the renowned 18th century printer and typographer of Birmingham, England, and about the Baskerville family that descended from African slaves on a Mecklenburg County, Virginia plantation. While both stories are factual, their correspondence on the page posits questions about relationships, identities and ideologies –this interstitial space can be thought of as a design fiction.
The idea of being conjoined – by polarity (black/white, free/ captive, etc.) and degree (privileged/impoverished, fact/fiction, and so on) – is expressed through the use of bigrams, which are letter pairs joined by frequent usage. (The most common bigram in English is th, followed by he, in, and er.)
Based on a font of Baskerville Bold Italic, the bigrams’ vector outlines were machined into end-grain maple blocks and are letterpress-printed throughout Black Baskerville. They spell words related to the book’s themes of emancipation and humanism.
Letterpress, Arches paper, inkjet