Week 9: Asemic Writing

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Mirtha Dermisache’s work inspired my take on this week’s sketch to write a program that generates output suggestive of a writing system but is otherwise meaningless. Looking through her Selected Writings after class last week, I remember the closed shapes of one system and the continuous line of another. My result combines those ideas, but I still can’t decide if it conveys the tendency towards a symbolic language or simply says notecard design at an independent stationery store.

So what strengthens the case for the former? In my opinion, the variability helps. It’s clear, though, that the shapes belong to the same family, which they do because they follow the same rules. Despite the irregularity, all follow a steady horizontal baseline. The starting and ending vertices rest on this, and there’s a limited number of randomly-determined vertices between them. Every other vertex returns to the baseline, as well. But there are no clear pauses to distinguish “words”—no moments to breathe, and this reminds me of something better-situated in the design camp.

The last example here, however, does offer some small breaks and of course the overlapping curved lines makes me think of cursive. As with the other sketches, I find repeated forms but at slightly different scales, similar to what I’d expect from someone’s handwriting.

Additional reference: upon hatching my idea, I immediately remembered the “Custom Shapes” chapter in Rune Madsen’s Programming Design Systems book.

Play with them here:
Version 1 Code (above)
Version 2 Code & Version 3 Code (below)

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