To celebrate the 2012 NUCA degree show, I’m releasing a free, online program that allows you to create your own words/patterns in ‘Gro2’. Simply type some letters in and see the lines form a pattern. To start again, refresh the page (credit goes to Dave Stevens).
Showing how I started to explore visual language formulas, the problems I come up against, and my thought process while doing so.Starting with the 1st language I made, I began to show the differentiation between each letter and why they are in that order and position (clockwise, left to right etc). Writing out my name as an example of how a word would be pieced together. From this, (as I did in my original work) identifying problems such as how I couldn’t have the ‘words’ next to each other without letter confusion, because the lines were on the outside of the square.
2nd language showed me looking at a simple pattern, and using it as a language, focusing on the simplicity of two adjacent lines in a 4 x 4 square. As I had when originally figuring this out, 26 split in half is 13, and it is hard to make an equal language with an odd number, impossible within an equal shape. From here I began to use maths more to accurately create languages that would be equal, symmetrical, readable, translatable, and logical.
There were many experiments in-between the languages, that explored various problematic concepts with language and visual reading, but my 3rd consistent language was ‘Gro’ where I mathematically figured out a symmetrical pattern that would fit in a 4 x 4 square (a quite direct, obvious improvement on the last language). Here is where first discovered that not every word had a unique spelling (acronyms) and therefore not every word had a unique shape. Pots, post, stop, tops.
The fourth ‘Lineasphere’ language was focused on ordering of lettering, in order to combat the acronym problem of unique symbols. As I did when I first created it, it showed a line going through each unique letter in a particular order, like modern English language letters making words because the letters are in a certain order. This ended up being to visually complicated to follow.
The next continued on the letter reading in a line theme, using the common left to right reading, ‘Travel’. Using a middle horizontal line to sit the language on, it went above and below this line, but having each letter starting and finishing at the same point so each ‘word’ flowed, letter to letter. The logistics seemed incredibly linear, each word being very horizontally long, as well as being similar to how most language is written now.
The next two continued to look at this issue, the first again being too long, visually not equal, but it did make a ‘shape’ when the lines crossed. The second used 26 lines (like the alphabet) equally connecting each four corners to each edge of the square, clockwise. Creating unique shapes from how the lines connected and crossed over each other. Problems were now, the shapes all looked incredibly similar because they shared often shared common letters (Vowels, S, T etc.) Double letters in a word (such as two T’s in the word letter) and the lines did not create a unique shape each time (the S in ‘artist’ did not affect the shape).
I applied these shape findings and problems to the next shape based language, created a simple set of squares in a 4 x 4 square, each square being a letter. While this worked, it was incredibly simple, unsymmetrical and boring. This did provide me with a reasoning to rid of ‘y’ and/or ‘z’ because more numbers go into 24/25, as well as older languages not using these letters as they had no need for them (y = i, z = s).
‘Shapeal’ was born, based upon a 6 x 6 square where 24 shapes equally fitted. Creating unique shapes, but because it was based upon a pattern, was again incredibly rigid and had very similar looking words.
Needed more random shapes, but based on an equal formula. Used variations of circles to create a pattern that mathematically fit 24. This of course made the language very curvy and circular, but it helped me resolve the pots, tops, etc problem. Because useable acronyms rarely occurred in the English language, I decided it easier to assign a specific mark to words that were acronyms, so when it did rarely occur, you could distinguish them.
Now attempting to create a language that had a set, symmetrical and equal language , but wasn’t visually predictable, with comparably different words/symbols. This 12th language used horizontal, vertical, diagonal and circular lines, that were all equal and connecting to each other. This worked beautifully and solved all the problems I had come up against so far, yet the letter ‘n’ cause me a problem: because a diagonal line going from corner to corner is longer than one going from edge to edge, it created a visually dominant line. It didn’t really matter for its parallel visual equivalent ‘q’, but ‘n’ being a common letter, it dominated over half the words.
The final 13th language addressed this by again creating an visually equal language, but using lines corner to corner in various different ways, horizontal, vertical, diagonal and circular, and their symmetrical equivalents and parallels. Here is my last language, visually interesting, not too complicated or too simple, varying word shapes that had unique visual properties for each unique word. Not finished and solved, but content.
Created a giant grid that will have my degree show piece on, showing how to make visual languages from scratch.
Solving problems with language and geometric equations, the work will show how I started creating the simplest of language patterns, highlighting my thought process as they become more complicated, including the human errors, slip ups and mistakes.