Starting this week, the output from the Layout Generator I built for the e-flux Journal is out in the wild. (You can browse through some articles and click “Download PDF” to see them.) This has been an exciting foray into generative work for me.
The Layout Generator is an automated system to turn blog-like, long-scrolling-column HTML into rich, print-ready PDFs with more a varied visual depth and flow. The actual forms of the layouts—where images appear, how they interact with the running flow of text, etc.—are determined by a combination of some simple heuristics along with markup cues which enable non-designers to create compelling layouts. Here’s a short example article which demonstrates just a few of the typographic and layout possibilities.Read more »
This prototype arose from a desire to spatially visualize web browsing history, i.e. the reader’s personal narrative through a vast and variegated information-space. “Deep browsing” to me refers to the semi-targeted but easily distractible reading habits of most search-and-click web reading/research experiences. Modern browsers try to furnish some kind of ‘breadcrumb trail’ using a combination of windows, tabs, and bookmarks (plus some novel features like Safari’s ‘Snapback’), but you still need to hold a considerable abstract model in your head to retrace your steps.
It seems like browsers could afford a much richer visual experience. I looked to a proven technology from antiquity for a metaphor: the codex book. The book, like the scroll before it, works because you trace a linear path through information, with the past/read information on one side, and the future/unread information on the other.Read more »
Music Loom was designed as a parlor game for musicians but functions just as well as a framework for improvisation. It involves the (synesthetic) interpretation of visual motifs (‘texture cards’) into musical ones, which are then recursively imitated. The instructions provide a practical overview:Read more »