To the letters in the word topotype I can apply an algorithm to turn the word into a 3d object. I have lots of options how I could potentially do that—many algorithms to choose from. I’ve got one in particular that I like, one that uses the ordinal position of the letter in the word and in the alphabet to help me design an object.
My algorithm requires eight letters exactly. There are tens of thousands of eight-letter words in English, so in addition to ‘topotype’ there are lots of other potential words I can make into objects. I won’t run out of potential word-objects any time soon.
The word-object is no longer a word. It’s something else. Or rather, it’s a version of that word that is now something in addition to what the word once was.
It’s now a particular kind of abstraction—an interface. I mean interface in a similar way that programmers designate something an interface. An interface is a special kind of abstraction—a generalization that declares the potential for a thing to be used as a tool. A tool is an interface put to work.
The items in the topotype series all begin as letters in a word and end up as 3-dimensional objects. The final presentation of each object refers back toward the denotation of the word. For example, with ‘bookends’ the final presentation in porcelain at a specific scale reflects back on the appearance and function of those things you stick on a shelf to keep books from falling over.
It’s a swerve of sorts. The topotypes almost pretend to be literalized illustrations of words, but I don’t think of them that way.