Encyclies – the French word for the concentric circles formed on the surface when an object falls into the water – is a mémoire by Olivier Petitprez, made at the École Supérieure d’Art de Lorraine (ÉSAL) during the course “Arts et langages graphiques”. This work is divided into four parts; one about circles, one about cycles, one about some revived Labours of Hercules, and one attempt to turn text into a landscape.
The work of Petitprez is a questioning about the place of mankind in time and space. He doesn’t talk a lot about the place of the mankind in the world amongst the other species. It’s the typography that plays this role. In fact, he chooses two typefaces related to nature. Daubenton is used for the titles. Its name is borrowed from Louis Jean-Marie Daubenton, the first director of the French National Museum of Natural History. This font, linked to natural history, has this chiseled characterstic that gives it noble simplicity and calm grandeur, which pairs well with the timeless myths of Hercules. The second font is Faune by Alice Savoie which is inpired by the shapes of animals. In the words of Mrs Savoie: “Although natural history has inspired a lot of literature, poetry and painting, its influence on typography stays very narrow.”
This choice of fonts linked to the animal kingdom could be understood through a reference that Petitprez makes in his memoir. He talks about Herakles by Werner Herzog, a film that shows the failure of man in his goal of mastering nature and the destruction that results from his actions. Maybe by this choice, Petitprez wants to underline the fact that man is a part of animality.
The other thing that the two chosen fonts have in common is the roundness of the letter shapes. For example, the bowl of R in Daubenton is a real circle, and Faune, especially in its italics, eschews the straight line. Therefore, we could say that the typefaces chosen by Petitprez follow the title and the theme of his mémoire, the shape of the circle follows the idea of the cycle.