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Persimmons is an interactive book translating a poem into art through linguistic analysis and code. Born out of an assignment to create patterns out of code, the project started out as an idea of connecting patterns within different systems such as poetry, linguistics, and code. Using Li Young Lee's poem, "Persimmons", which celebrates heritage and familial love through spoken language, I analyzed and recreated words as visual patterns through code in p5.js.
I began this project with a driving question: how can the beauty of spoken language be translated visually, into pattern? As I was inspired by the systems behind spoken language, I decided to conceptualize my own system as well: by creating a visual dictionary of phonemes, I determined how sounds could be visualized. Each icon in my visual dictionary corresponded with a different phoneme (the smallest unit of linguistic sound) from the International Phonetic Alphabet, with harsher sounds paired with angular shapes, softer phonemes paired with organic ones.
Next, using the Java library RiTa.js within the p5.js web editor, I analyzed phonetic structures of different words from Lee's poem, and called the corresponding icons upon the appearance of any specific phoneme. Each word thus produced a mandala-like pattern influenced by its sound. Finally, with the text and patterns then printed in the final book, the reader’s interactions with the pages transform the text’s phonetic structures into generated art.
Since its conception, Persimmons has won an Adobe Top Talent Design Achievement Award, subsequently been the subject of a talk at an Adobe MAX conference, and featured by Stefan Sagmeister on his personal social media.