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dreams

Light Bath

I saw hundreds of performers, widely separated but somehow acting in unison, performing purely for David Byrne’s pleasure—each in their own ecstatic trance.

I dreamed David Byrne had moved to a small town in Iowa. At first, I wondered why. But then I saw that he’d persuaded all the town folk to participate in a never-ending surreal parade:

Facing backwards, a white man dressed as Uncle Sam, complete with stilt-elongated legs, cheerfully pedaled a strange bicycle. A black woman in flashing platform sneakers walked gracefully on a musically undulating wall.

As I dollied up and back, I saw hundreds of these unpaid amateur performers, widely separated yet somehow acting in unison, performing purely for David Byrne’s pleasure—each in their own ecstatic trance.

Each townsperson had their own strangely perfect costume, invention, and task. The choreography extended for miles in all directions.

“In New York or Hollywood, this would cost millions,” I thought.

Not only had David Byrne charmed an entire town into performing these tightly choreographed rituals that only he understood, but he was also inventing new alphabets and designing typefaces to go with them. Of course.

This work was secret, and he performed it in a tiny darkroom, but somehow I either gained his confidence or sneaked up quietly behind him while his attention was focused on the large sheets on which he was creating his new visual language.

His typefaces were composed of oversized, organically curving black dots, and they were wonderful. I reached out my hand to touch them.

By Jeffrey Zeldman

“King of Web Standards”—Bloomberg Businessweek.

Principal designer/creative director, Automattic, Inc. Publisher, A List Apart and A Book Apart “for people who make websites.” Co-founder, An Event Apart design conference. Faculty, MFA, Interaction Design program, School of Visual Arts, New York. Have written two books, notably Designing With Web Standards 3rd Edition.