Calligraphic and Typographic

Generative Arabic Letterism works might appear callgiraphic, yet they retain a strong typographic element. This image also retains the JavaScript code that was used to generate the work. (Hint: try viewing the image's jpeg discription.

Generative Arabic Letterism works might appear calligraphic, yet they retain a strong typographic element. This image also retains the JavaScript code that was used to generate the work. (Hint: try viewing the image’s jpeg description).

The original intent of Generative Letterism was to mimic Arabic Letterism that is mostly calligraphic. I started building a database of calligraphic shapes by tracing the calligraphic elements used by the Iraqi calligrapher Khaleel Zahawi in his Letterism works. I then used computer code to arrange these letter elements in artistic compositions. The code I wrote did not generate calligraphic form by itself nor did it modify Zahawi’s calligraphic forms.

Arabic typographic art is still in its infancy.

Arabic typographic art is still in its infancy.

The approach of using unmodified “glyphs” is more akin to typographic usage of letter forms than it is to a calligraphic approach. The resulting works of Generative Letterism so far is quite close to mainstream Letterism works and the calligraphic versus the typographic basis might not matter much thereof.

Typographic art by a Persian artist.

Letterism work by a Persian artist. The effect is very typographic, especially in the ellipses. The means, however, might have been calligraphic.

One of the technical aspects of traditional Arabic calligraphy that was preserved in Letterism is the even distribution of shapes in the visual field. Solid form is usually evenly balanced with void space in calligraphic works. Conventional typography also aims to achieve this balance and hence the notion and practice of kerning is an essential element of typographic layout. The even distribution of letter forms is still a goal I am trying to achieve in Generative Arabic Letterism.

zahawi

Textural effect in Letterism results from the balanced distribution of solid and void

The code controlling the placement of letter forms in Generative Letterism includes variables that help achieve homogenous density of letter clusters in a given area of the art work. The artistic expression is very much the result of tweaking these variables as much as it results from the design of the generating algorithm. This is common in generative art.

Generative Arabic Letterism bunches the Arabic characters using mathematical formulas and a random number generator.

Generative Arabic Letterism bunches the Arabic characters using mathematical formulas and a random number generator.

In Generative Letterism the calligraphic expression is mainly preserved in the individual letter shapes that are used. The code also aims to achieve calligraphic expression by recreating the rhythm and sweep, that is characteristic to Arabic calligraphy, in the distribution of letter shapes on the art board. The difference however is easily seen and the Letterism generated so far is quite distinctive.

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