The Sunday Guardian

Digital exhibition on the evolution of Devanagari script


How has the Indian letterform, specifical­ly Devanagari script, evolved from its earliest stone engraving? A new digital exhibition surveys the journey of Devanagari from stone pillars to digital screens.

Titled Fontwala: Stone to mobile, what remains?, the show is by calligraph­er and typographe­r Rajeev Prakash Khare and theatre artiste Shubhra Prakash. It opened at the Kaleidosco­pe Digital Art gallery, Triveni Kala Sangam, on Saturday.

The show investigat­es what is lost and what remains from times when legacies were written in stone and metal to now, when the letterform of the Indian languages have found a presence on various technical mediums.

“Indian letterform­s were labelled as ‘complex’ scripts until the arrival of Unicode that enabled their developmen­t in digital mode,” a note on the exhibition says.

As technology changed from printing press to digitisati­on for computers to mobile screens, scripts other than the Roman needed constant upgrading so native speakers and writers could continue using it.

The transition of something seen on stone artefacts to digital easy-to-type fonts required lifelong efforts by typeface pioneers—one of them being Khare, who designed his first Hindi font for Dot Matrix Printer during his masters’ studies and went on to design IDC Rajeev Normal Hindi font for laser printer.

The show’s seven videos present the developmen­t of Devanagari from Brahimi scripts and its evolving mediums—stone pillars to digital screens.

“Through Fontwala, the audience gets a glimpse in the continuity between Devanagari and Brahimi scripts. One also gets to see the ornamental beauty of the script... The show offers a pause into challenges and dedication of Khare and other typeface pioneers,” gallery curator Mukta Ahluwalia said in a statement on the show.

The artists also unravel the embryonic interconne­ction of all “akshars” (letters) and the inherent beauty of the script with its “maatras” and other accents.

The show runs from July 27 to August 17


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