Johannes Bergerhausen & Thomas Huot-Marchand Introduction to the exhibition, project & symposium

In roughly 5,000 years, mankind has created 290 writing systems like Latin, Greek, Arabic or Chinese. As of today, we can use 150 of them on our computers and smart phones. But at the same time this means that 140 scripts are still missing on our computers. These are the obscure, the historical and the so-called ‘Minority Scripts’.

The Missing Scripts Project is a long-term initiative to focus on research and type-design for these lesser known writing systems. Johannes and Thomas present the key approaches of the international research and design project and show why it is important to even get historical scripts on the computer.

Missing Scripts, started in 2016, is a joint effort of Hochschule Mainz, Germany, ANRT Nancy, France und SEI Berkeley, USA.


Deborah Anderson
Script Encoding Initiative

This presentation will discuss the work of the Script Encoding Initiative project at UC Berkeley in helping to get missing scripts into the Unicode Standard. It will also provide background on Unicode and the script approval process, and highlight why the project is important.
Deborah (Debbie) Anderson is a researcher in the Department of Linguistics at UC Berkeley. Since 2002, she has run the Script Encoding Initiative, a project at UC Berkeley. She is a Unicode Technical Director, is the UC Berkeley representative to the Unicode Consortium, and since 2008 has served as the U.S. International Representative to ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC2, which is concerned with character sets. She holds a Ph.D. from UCLA in Indo-European Studies (with an emphasis on linguistics).


Alexandre Bassi
Missing Scripts: Maya script


Emily Aurat
Missing Scripts: Afaka, a XXth century sillabary, for the Ndyuka language, an English-based creole of Suriname


Morgane Pierson
Missing Scripts: Elymaic, an early semitic script


Pierre Fournier
Missing Scripts: a hieroglyphic typeface and studying the history of typography for ancient egyptian


Missing Script Colloquium I


Michael Everson
A Slowly Turning Wheel: Delays and Obstacles in Character Encoding

Sometimes characters and scripts get encoded with surprising quickness. Sometimes the delays to adding new characters make sense and are reasonable… but sometimes those delays are do not make sense, as they do not reflect previous consensus and precedent. A recipe for frustration! This talk will look at several examples, examining the process and offering what is hoped to be constructive criticism.
Michael Everson is a linguist, script encoder, typesetter, font designer, and publisher. For much of his career his central interest was in encoding the scripts and characters of the world’s writing systems in formats for computers and digital media, and has contributed greatly to the Unicode Standard. He is the publisher and owner of Evertype, located in Dundee, Scotland, and has published Alice s’ Adventures in Wonderland in over 80 languages.


Akiem Helmling
Higher Order Writing Logic?

The exhibition 'Alphabetum IV — Missing Scripts’ is giving an important and urgent overview of scripts which still need to be made available for digital communication. The parallel exhibition ‘Alphabetum III — Laws of Form’ is going beyond that. In the same-titled book by the english polymath Georg Spencer Brown a writing notation is applied, which is in contradiction with our current notion of writing. Instead of using different letters, which are assigned to different unique numbers, it is using a single sign (the mark of distinction), which is variable. This is leading to a notation, whereby meaning is not anymore achieved by a sequential logic of different letters, but purely by the relation of a single sign. This way of writing could be understood as relational writing, or even as some kind of higher order writing logic. How does this relate to our current ideas on writing, and the notion of a letter and a script?


Ilka Helmig
From Sound to Shapes

In her talk, Ilka shows the visual aspect of chaotic structures from natural and cultural environments. Her most recent work for Alphabetum/West deals with an experimental construction that makes the speech sounds of every human speaker visible. In this process, the spoken sound is not only an acoustic phenomenon, but also a rapidly generated three-dimensional cloud form that resembles those of fluid dynamics and chaos theory.


Erik van Blokland
Letters are numbers

Under the right conditions, letters can behave as numbers. Not just look like a number, or represent one in a mathematical statement, but really perform arithmetic. In this talk Erik will show how this works, why this is useful in contemporary type design and just what the tool-building and curious type designer can do with it.


Missing Script Colloquium II