Type and Code

Processing for designers

By Yeohyun Ahn and Viviana Cordova.
Book design by John P Corrigan.
Published by MICA, Center for Design Thinking.

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Type + Code, explores the aesthetic of experimental code driven typography, with an emphasis on the programming language Processing which was created by Casey Reas and Ben Fry. This book includes examples using Processing on basic, intermediate and advanced levels.

This independently published book revised Yeohyun Ahn’s graduate thesis project. I collaborated with Yeohyn Ahn and Viviana Cordova to create a new interpretation of Ahn’s work with Processing, intended for designers to provide instructional tools to be able to promote processing as a viable design tool. With limited understanding of the language and usage I was able to direct Ahn to create tutorials and examples that best identify the design possibilities. Previously Ahn had created a number of separate but highly visual and independent letter forms. Using my design and editing skills I was able to articulate Ahn’s intentions and vision encouraging her to create specific letter forms and examples that would expand her content. By working closely with her I was able to recontexualize the richness and depth offered by Processing to generate complex and biomorphic random designs.

Introduction to Processing

My initial exposure to Processing was through Yeohyun Ahn during my first year of graduate school. I was initially both surprised and confused by her masterful usage of Processing. The more I witnessed, the more I began to see the artistic potential of dynamic typography generated solely by the writing of code. Not limited to static letter forms, Processing can create semi-controlled forms by allowing the program to run with set intervals of operations; the in-between frame sets have their own life, shape and composition. Without knowing the full potential of Processing, I initially had a hard time extending it beyond formal typographic experiments. But, having worked with static Processing files, I now see the potential of Processing-driven forms. The Processing aesthetic greatly appeals to my design sensibilities. The geometric richness and unexpected nuances in saved-out frames allows a strict constant with an infinite number of possibilities. The seemingly random line gestures are backed by a strict numeric set of parameters. Through this project, I wish to extend the coded language of Processing, through the richness of its infinite variables. Visually, I react to separate and seemingly conflicting code structures, finding a true graphic beauty in the oppositional line qualities. As a typographer and book designer, I was able to translate Ahn’s static files into a meaningful and organized set of letterforms and typefaces expressed in print media. By taking what is a known active file format, the translation to print media creates dynamic letter forms for a variety of static print applications. Using Processing to drive data sets and convert them to print applications remains in its infancy, and its aesthetic possibilities are just beginning to be explored. The usage of Processing celebrates a multi-disciplinary design approach—combining interests in animation, advanced mathematics, interactivity and computer-generated graphics.

Selected Page Spreads designed by John P Corrigan (self)

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