Mar 9, 2008

type, copying, and style

and additional thoughts triggered by champion script pro:

champion comes closer to replicating a good calligrapher through brute force (ie many, many glyphs), but this approach to typesetting will probably never work well for extremely particularistic scripts like the japanese and chinese grass styles of calligraphy (草书). interestingly, another approach which might eventually lead to something is to set these complex, hand-written characters computationally, like these people claim to be able to do.

analogous, perhaps, is the chinese continuum of forgery techniques (in order of increasing sophistication: tracing [模], copying [临], imitating [仿], and invention [造]*) or the distinction between translations that capture the exact word-for-word values of the originals and those that capture their spirit. (think of orson welle's voodoo macbeth). in both cases, processes of rendering that capture flow and intent are valued more than those that demonstrate only a mechanistic and exacting ability to replicate an original -- style and intelligence, in other words.

* if you have JSTOR access, a good but dense article about this is wen fong's "the problem of forgeries in chinese paintings," another one of the class of articles that have more text in the footnotes than in body.

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