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Subject: Re: propos de l'optimorphe [long]
From: "Hrant H. Papazian" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:TYPO-L Discussion of Type and Typographic Design <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 13 May 1998 13:05:15 -0700
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Rodolfo Capeto wrote:
> if you had got rid of all the typeface design 'trappings' - serifs,
> stroke width variations etc., it would be easier to analyze it as
> an alphabet.

That's a good point.
I guess the reason I used Times is that optimorphism is really
intended for highly legible type, which is [arguably] type
with stroke contrast, serifs, etc.
Also, I wanted to use something very familiar (as opposed to
Plantin, for example), where the viewer has pretty clear images
of what the "traditional" letterforms are.

But once the discussion goes to a conceptually high enough level,
we can and should abandon all "trappings", and work only with
the "skeletons".

> when does a formal transformation of a letter goes to the point of
> making it a new letterform, belonging to a "reformed alphabet", and
> when is it only a design variation?

My view is that optimorphism is very delicate, and requires a pretty
strict definition of the letterform skeletons.

Some of the features of my alphabet are very clear (e.g. the new "v"
has a closed top), and some others are subtle (e.g. the "m"'s middle
stem doesn't reach the baseline).
My point is, however, that all of these are "required", just like
the bar of the "t": an "m" with a middle stem that reaches the
baseline is simply not an "m".

> My first [too simple] tentative idea was be to apply the mathematical
> concepts of 'geometry' and 'topology'.

In the quest for an optimorphic alphabet, the first thing we have to
abandon (as you hint at) is mathematical visual order.

> No formal characteristics, by themselves, are in fact the answer.

I'm not sure I understand, but:

Formalizing the shape of the new "n" to be angular (like the
UC "N") differentiates it from "h", "m", and the "u",
so I see it as a valid solution to an ambiguity problem.

P.S. Interesting, Rodolfo.

hrant h papazian

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