Bubbletype – an experiment in particle system typography
The result of a few consecutive assignments from Golan Levin's “The Interactive Image” as an exercise in creating a typographic alphabet where every letter and dynamically change into every other letter. My solution, Bubbletype, is based on a physics simulation system which allows the components of each letter to be moved around by virtual forces. This allows for a wide range of dynamic animations.
Each letter or symbol of Bubbletype is comprised of eight dots, tied together in specific configurations. Transforming from one letter to another could be done by changing the configuration, the virtual forces, between these same eight dots. Alternatively, older letters could decompose as new letters came in, creating a growing landscape of typographic dust.
You can try this applet for yourself. Type any letter to see it appear in the screen and press spacebar in order to clear all dots. Drag the mouse to create extra dust.
Creation of Bubbletype
Each character was designed in Adobe Illustrator and exported to an SVG file which my program reads and converts into relationships between the dots in the physics simulation. This video clip shows the entire character set undergoing an round of explosions and wave effects.
Applications of Bubbletype
Bubbletype was later used as a component in a New Years 2008 countdown installation piece.
Using the same physics simulation, the installation created contextual beat-sensitive dance lighting. Visitors danced along the wall and were spotlit with a dynamic colorful burst of light. The light bursts along with the beat of the music using a simple beat-matcher.
Bubbletype was used to countdown the last minute to midnight. This highlights the possibility for complex animation.