Perception and Creation of Diverse Alphabetic Styles

Gary McGraw and Douglas Hofstadter

The Letter Spirit project explores the creative act of artistic letter-design. The aim is to model how the 26 lowercase letters of the roman alphabet can be rendered in many different but internally coherent styles. Viewed from a distance, the behavior of the program can be seen to result from the interaction of four emergent agents working together to form a coherent style and to design a complete alphabet: the Imaginer (which plays with the concepts behind letterforms), the Drafter (which converts ideas for letterforms into graphical realizations), the Examiner (which combines bottom-up and top-down processing to perceive and categorize letterforms), and the Adjudicator (which perceives and dynamically builds a representation of the evolving style). Creating a gridfont is an iterative process of guesswork and evaluation carried out by the four agents. This process is the "central feedback loop of creativity". Implementation of Letter Spirit is just beginning. This paper outlines our goals and plans for the project.

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