The Alphabet 2 – A Horn Book Video Experiment

“Behind the scenes” picture from n9ve’s blog.
Alessandro Novelli and Andrea Gendusa’s The Alphabet 2 “is a developmental spelling video where each character visually represents the meaning of the word itself. Playing with different techniques and materials into little and big spaces, but always focusing on Helvetica font’s proportions. A collection of words in a delightful spelling-video.”

Naturally, I was thrilled to see that “A” in the video stands for “Anamorphosis.”
The project’s comparison to a horn book was what initially attracted my attention (and the stellar animation, of course). Horn books, which have been around since the fifteenth century, are two-sided wooden, metal, or leather paddles usually with the alphabet and a few religious verses inscribed on them. They generally have handles and sometimes a strap that could be tied to a child’s belt. The text is typically protected by a thin layer or animal horn (hence the name).
Neither the original horn book nor the video are “books” in the traditional sense, but their appropriation of book-like attributes (at least in name) is really interesting.

This helpful site offers a brief history of horn books and provides a few great images, both of the books themselves as well as their appearance in illustrations. (Images below taken from the site).

The handle seemed to aid in the horn book’s portability, and also enabled it to function as a battledore or racquet for playing with a shuttlecock, as the below image from Andrew White Tuer’s History of the Horn Book (1897) suggests. The second image indicates the object’s potential as a disciplinary tool, as well.

More on Novelli’s work and n9Ve design studio here. They’re based in Turin; I wish I’d known about this work when I was there last fall!

The Alphabet 2 – A Horn Book Video Experiment

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