Amy Fang Opens Our Eyes To A Visual Language

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Multimedia designer and coder Amy Fang, has created a dictionary of icons to showcase the beauty of words. She chose to pair harsh sounds with angular shapes and softer sounds with more pure forms. If you close your eyes and make the "P" sound, the visualization of a circle's outline makes perfect sense by some force of nature. The use of this lexicon to translate Li-Young Lee's poem, "Persimmons," is a new way of imagining language.

Recipient of a C2Award and Adobe Design Achievement Award, Persimmons is an interactive book translating a poem into art through linguistic analysis and code. Its inspiration is derived from the beauty of words and the structure of language systems. Words taken from each passage of Li-Young Lee’s poem, “Persimmons," are run through Processing; the reader’s interaction with the book transforms the text’s phonetic structures into generated patterns.

Thinking about how spoken language can be translated visually, I designed a dictionary of icons to correspond with each phoneme from the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) — with harsher sounds paired with angular shapes, softer phonemes paired with organic ones. Using the Java library RiTa.js to analyze the phonetics of certain words, the corresponding icon would be rotated repeatedly in for loops in p5.js upon the appearance of a phoneme. Each word thus produced a mandala-like pattern influenced by its sound. Ultimately, Lee’s poem about love and loss through his use of language (which can be read here) is manifested, by the code I wrote, into visual forms.

Project Credits

Design/Code by: Amy Fang

Poetry by: Li-Young Lee

Mentor: Casey Reas

Photographer/Documentation: Dylan Han