Wednesday 21 April 2010

Many Dimensions of a Book mapped out

I am working on a journal piece on Text and have tried to get my head around the idea of a book being a multidimensional mapping of black ink into a structured 3D space.

As part of this I wanted to try and show that if you break open a book and consider it as a 2D object then there is an extended dynamic range of lengthscales that have to be right for the book to work. It has to have a coherence and structure in the use of black ink in white space over a set of objects: Book - Page - TextBlock - Paragraph - Line - Word - Glyph.

[Robert Bringhurst makes the point in ETS 3.1 - when describing the Digital typeface Requiem by Jonathon Hoefler that, "...Requiem, unlike Bembo, Centaur and Dante, was born in the digital medium, where two dimensions have to do the work of three" p244.

In an interview with Jonathon Hoeffler he returns the compliment and says; "Robert Bringhurst put it best when he said that typography is an art where the microscopic and macroscopic constantly converge."].

I have chosen to measure the area of each of these 'objects' in millimetres squared and plotted these areas as a measure of the length scale of coherence of the text. The example is based on some pages of text from an article I wrote a few years ago about Ancient Geometry, Stereology and Modern Medics.

The typesetting has been done with the memoir class in LaTeX and the free font Utopia that was designed by Robert Slimbach and released for 'free' use by Adobe.


Book [Here represented by an eight page spread - but a 296 page book is this multiplied by 32 times]
Page [Here shown as a grey on white diagram.]
Textblock [Here is the actual textblock, individual words can now be seen and the structure of the paragraphs and headings etc. If you zoom in you can read it.]


Paragraph [Words and their spacing, leading between lines, justification.]
Line [How words interact and word and letter white space, punctuation]
Word [how glyphs and whitespace interacts]
Glyph [the fi glyph looks close up]

In each case I have measured the area of the object (page or line or glyph etc) in squared millimetres and plotted these estimates in the graph lower right on a logarithmic axis.