A conceptual publisher that produces reading objects, physical representations of literature which suggest new modes of comprehension. Reading objects can be understood as cognitive artworks and tools for reflection and remembrance of a piece of literature.
Material approaches literature as a stimulus for art. Collaborating with a consortium of readers and writers, Material resynthesizes literary works by analyzing their narrative structures and producing computationally-crafted design object that represent them. By merging the unique literary perspective of a selected reader with a thoughtful computational algorithm and design system, each design object (reading material) offers it's viewer an alternate means of understanding and remembering (reading) a text.
Reading material concept for The Waves - Virginia Woolfe
Reading material comes with an accompanying pamphlet that describes the perspective of the reader and the computational design approach used to produce the object.
Excerpt from accompanying reader for The Waves - Virginia Woolfe
Prototype Sample 01
INCEPTION & PROTOTYPE
I built a proof of concept at the hackathon at Cooper Union in 2015 with collaborator Zak Hap. The software computed metrics on the parts of speech usage in a text over time and produced a three-dimensional object that represented the data. The text analysis and genertive algorithm was implemented in Processing, which piped MEL commands to Autodesk Maya to generate the shape in real-time using Processing's Network library.
We presented our software as finalists and won two awards (totaling $1000): 'Most Technical Hack' and 'Best Use of 3D in a Web Application' awarded by Autodesk.
The success of the prototype served as the impetus for Material as an entity in the space of publishing and design. Acknowledging the complexity of literary narrative, Material takes the approach of closely collaborating with a reader and writer who has developed a perspective on a text and can guide the process of semantic extraction from the text data. I work closely with each reader to establish an analytical strategy and design system that reflects their understanding of the text.
I worked with music technologist and mathemetician Jake Araujo-Simon↗︎ to explore his unique perspective on Virginia Woolfe's novel "The Waves".
Jake Araujo-Simon described his reading of the novel beautifully in both writing and conversation, colored by his own idiosyncratic language. This reading framed the subsequent explorations of the text data and visual system.
We started a conversation on potential visual strategies by sketching possibilities and eliminating concepts that were either not central to the reading or that were too literal.
I extracted metrics from the text that focused on the relevance of each character in particular sections of the novel to further guide the design the process.
Character Relationship Graphs
We developed a method to extract character relationships by analyzing each character's dialogue in a portion of the text and generate weighted edges between all characaters based on their narrative proximity.
We mapped these graphs to Euclidean spacing using Laplacian Eigenmaps to reduce the dimensionality of the graphs/matrices.
The result is a series of 2D coordinates for each character that encodes the closeness or distance between that character and all other characters in a given portion of text.
I brought these coordinates into Rhinoceros and wrote a script that interpolates between their locations for each character. Each ribbon represents a character and the ways they braid over time represents their relationships as the narrative progresses.
The resulting object can be read chronologically, each moment representing the orientation of the characters social relationship in the plot.
Prototype Sample 01
Material will continue to collaborate with readers and writers to produce reading material that enriches our remembrance and understanding literature. By generating physical artifacts that exists alongisde us, it hopes to engage and enmesh the world of fiction with our own reality. Future work will be exhibited and distributed at readingmaterial.art↗︎