Why Patterns?

As we have seen in chapter 6 of Writing Systems, writing has several graphic qualities that differentiate it from drawing. This applet is based on two of these design characteristics:

- writing is patterned: basic units are combined to form an infinite number of graphic patterns
- writing has gaps; each word is bound by space, making units appear regularly in black and white spaces in a staccato quality

Drawing from these two principles, the idea in the applet is to play with the notion of pattern and boundaries. When we write, our words create the pattern on the page. Here the process is reversed; the pattern already exists on the page. The words will either break the pattern (white words which “subtract”) or add to it (gray and black words). Either way, the mark-making process of writing takes on a different form because it does not happen on a neutral, white surface anymore; it builds up and modifies the quality of the black and white plane underneath it. Moreover, the graphic arrangements of the words and phrases express their meaning in the passage.