Type Motion at FACT: 120 years of typography in action

Susie Stubbs
1. Type Motion exhibition, 2014, Installation at FACT Liverpool, Gallery 1. Photo by Brian Slater. copy

FACT heads into winter with an immersive, typographic show that looks set to be as hands-on and good old fashioned fun as it is rooted in some serious research.

It’s all kicking off in Liverpool this November. What with Warhol at the Tate, retro photos at Open Eye and a new exhibition about to open at FACT, the city appears to have taken a collective breath after its Biennial summer, exhaled and said – OK kids, now it’s time to shake things up a bit. Artistically speaking, obviously.

FACT leads the contemporary charge with Type Motion, an exhibition that has been years in the planning and whose curator has spent weeks of her life sifting through film footage that spans almost 120 years. The premise for the show is simple: it’s a look at how words have been used in film, TV and moving-image art. From adverts for Audi to the music vids of Kanye West, via films such as Star Wars and Alien, and jumping from video games to virtual reality, this show is FACT’s autumnal big-hitter, a riotous and immersive beast that is likely to be as headache-inducing as it is illuminative.

FACT’s autumnal big-hitter, a riotous & immersive beast that is likely to be as headache-inducing as it is illuminative

That’s no bad thing, though – not when it includes references to dada and fluxus, and not when the work on show (all 200 samples of it) includes pieces by the likes of Marcel Duchamp and John Baldessari (swoon). Organisers promise a fully immersive environment in the art centre’s main gallery space: they are in the midst of building a life-size street, where mirror-foiled walls lead on into infinity and provide a perspective-defying backdrop to 24 highlight films.

There is a section dedicated to script films (a distinct genre where text is as important as imagery) and, this being FACT, there is an accompanying tech strand to the show. In its ground floor Development Lab, things get a bit meta: the lab sheds light on the exhibition itself, its design and how its interactive elements and immersive spaces have been put together. There will be tech events for families – we like the look of a workshop that teaches kids how to make “techy Christmas decorations from scratch” – while a hook-up with Graphik means a series of design events aimed squarely at those who have memorized the best lines from the film Helvetica (which, incidentally, is screened at FACT in January).

The opening night of Type Motion features an “algo-rave” (at everyone’s fave venue, Camp & Furnace) and karaoke (as the perfect example of type-meets-film) – which tells you all you need to know about this upcoming show. FACT is heading into winter with the same serious artistic and technological intent as ever – only, this time, it’s got a back pocket full of moving-image and typographic fun, too.

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