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Immediate Gestalt: Shapes, Typography and (Quite Irregular) Packing

Shumeet Baluja
Journal of Mathematics and the Arts, vol. to Appear (2020), pp. 1-22


Instantaneously understanding the gestalt of thousands of words is achieved through the programmatic placement of the words and control of their presentation characteristics, such as size, repetition, and font. As early as the fourteenth century, words were used as building blocks for images. Hundreds of years later, this typographic experiment continues with the addition of raw computational power. The ability to place thousands of words in interesting forms gives rise to a quantitatively different form of expression. The resulting procedures are expressive enough to represent shapes, textures, and shading automatically. Though based on approaches for addressing the classic problem of algorithmic two-dimensional bin-packing, aesthetically pleasing results are achieved through the incorporation of a small set of rules to guide the layout.

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