Pentagram and All of Us in Pen language project

Consultancies Pentagram and All of Us are working with writing collective 26 and charity Pen to produce a ‘visual articulation’ in a ‘typographic space’, through an experiment that looks at interpretation and storytelling across languages.

At the Free the Word festival held last April and hosted by Pen, international writers collaborated with members of the 26 collective. British writers were handed texts in marginal languages, such as Basque Ndebele and the Zimbabwean Shona, and asked to translate them.

John Simmons, co-founder of 26, says, ‘Tom Lynham had a poem by a Colombian poet, Ruben Arcila, so he set out to find the Colombian community in London’s Elephant and Castle, asking people who run cafes and other businesses to help translate it.’

Some of the 26 members have copywriting backgrounds, and Simmons himself has worked with commercial organisations and design consultancies, including Pentagram.

With the help of Pentagram and All of Us, 26 Exchange is being made into a book and an installation which will run from 21-26 September at London’s Royal Academy of Engineering.

Simmons says that the approach is ‘visual and typographic, with projections and sounds’. Writers have been recorded reading allocated texts, both in English and in their indigenous language.

The installation was conceived by Pentagram partner Harry Pearce and will be realised by All of Us.

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