International Moving Image Archive

–Moving Types

Prof. Anja Stöffler

Building a digital platform for knowledge transfer

Starting point of the z zg is the extensive and unique archive “Time-based Typography – Moving Types”. It currently contains more than 800 international moving image works at the Mainz location. The archive is supplemented by numerous interviews with international designers and filmic specializations on the topic. Stöffler and Dringenberg have been collecting examples of animated typefaces in the field of film/TV, advertising, the Internet and public spaces for over 10 years – from the beginnings of film to the networked Internet of Things or current AR/VR/AI applications. This makes the archive a highly regarded state-of-the-art compendium and who’s who of the industry as well as an often quoted history of visual animation from the beginnings of film to the beginning of the 21st century. This unique archive on the history and development of moving type across all forms of media contexts is the basis for the award-winning travelling exhibition “Moving Types – Letters in Motion”, which has been shown several times.

Based on the interactive media exhibition, an international community of scientists, designers, programmers, media students and creators has established itself over the last eight years through the international MOTYF Festival, which takes place in biennial rhythm at locations such as Warsaw, Mainz, Dublin and soon Wellington.

The relevance of the topic in today’s world can be seen in the cultural contribution with clear effects on the field of work of the communication media itself. Writing is no longer just an expression in its original letter form, but is being expanded through new media technologies. Machine-generated texts, created by algorithms for reading out large amounts of data and their semantic connections, open up completely new “text worlds”. Sensory units are automatically generated and summarized and serve as source material for further units. These links are made possible by additional virtual information via metatags and the omnipresence in volatile, unstable online media. Writing in real virtual space raises the question of reliability via its immanent meaning. What relevance do texts have that we do not know where they originated, who cited or altered them, or which algorithms revealed them for what purpose, at what time, and for what identity. Against this background, we have been dealing with the question of the “Future Text” at the z zg for several years.

The Moving Types Archive therefore contains not only a historically relevant collection, but also current examples of writing in the context of the networking of things, artificial intelligence, automated virtual identities, and the digital expansion of the human body into a transhuman data store. The focus is on a sustainable knowledge transfer of the idea and brand “Moving Types”, which was created in 2011. The aim is to archive the historical development of “Moving Types” and to initiate a platform for scientific exchange on the topic “Future Text”. By opening up the archive, it is possible to process the artistic history, the creative spirit and the aesthetics in connection with the methods and media technologies of each era in such a way that not only the two universities of Mainz and Gmünd, but also international experts will have digital access. The digital archive can grow with the participation of the community and be continuously enriched with information. This ensures sustainability for future generations.

Outlook and transfer

The processing of the contents offers room for new teaching formats and research work in several ways. By establishing data as a medium of knowledge transfer, the project provides a basis for national and international transfer projects between degree programs, departments, institutes at the university as well as the media industry and media business. The digital archive also serves as the basis for a permanent presence of the collection in the form of a permanent exhibition at the Mainz location.