Brad Tober /
Experimental Interface Lab

«(de)generative x

The use of algorithmic processes within design practice often focuses on exploiting the generative (or constructive) aspects of those processes. Less often does design reveal the degenerative (or destructive) capabilities of algorithms. (de)generative x, a temporal typographic framework that can be applied to many existing typefaces, represents an exploration of both the generative and degenerative aspects of algorithmic processes.

(de)generative x transforms a typeface into a set of ephemeral typographic characters, with each unique character instance existing for a predetermined amount of time. Half of each character’s lifecycle consists of its creation, with its visual form being generated through the progressive appearance of hundreds of circular elements. The second half of the lifecycle sees the destruction of the character—all of the constituent circular elements condense into a single mass and then disappear one by one. The existence of each character instance begins and ends with nothing.

The (de)generative x algorithmic framework was implemented using Processing.

Framework specimenx = Helvetica Neue Bold
Static two-dimensional framework specimenx = Akkurat Pro Bold. A sequence of rendered frames was superimposed to represent the framework's temporal aspect in two dimensions.


  • "School of Art and Design Faculty Exhibition." Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, Illinois (August 31–September 23, 2012).
  • "COLLISION 18: Present." Boston Cyberarts Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts (November 9–December 14, 2012).
  • "ABCU 2013." Indi Go Artist Co-op, Champaign, Illinois (April 12–14, 2013).
  • "Synthetic Zero." BronxArtSpace, New York, New York (December 12, 2015–January 9, 2016).
  • "Project Passion: Self-Initiated Explorations in Type." Conkling Gallery, Minnesota State University, Mankato, Minnesota (February 1–17, 2016).