"Yeohyun Ahn fast forwards the evolution of typography by turning it over to the ghost in the machine.
Ahn generates mesmerizing fractal font abstractions, inspired by nature and religion. Her work reads like a digital field guide to a 'cybernetic ecology' made up of a new species of letters and words."
Yeohyun Ahn reinterprets The O Antiphons into generative typography using computer
algorithms to be eloquent and revealing as a visual language.
The O Antiphons are used at Vespers on the last seven days of Advent in Western Christian traditions. The Roman Catholic Church has been singing the "O" Antiphons since the eighth century and they are the antiphons that accompany the Magnificat Canticle of Evening Prayer from December 17 - 23 every year
O Antiphons use ancient biblical imagery from the Old Testament's messianic hopes to
proclaim the coming Christ to fulfill Old Testament hopes and present ones.
Their repeated use of the imperative "Come!" embodies the longing, of all, for the
This exhibition was originally initiated in collaboration with The Chapel of Resurrection
at Valparaiso University and remained incomplete in 2017.
This exhibition with the Komechak Art Gallery at Benedictine University represents
the completed version in 2021.
"I learned calligraphy from my grandparents when I grew up in South Korea.
Being a calligrapher was my childhood dream.
But, I had to study Computer Science as an undergraduate in South Korea
because of my parent’s strong recommendation. I later decided to pursue two MFA degrees
in Information Design; first in South Korea and then, l studied Graphic Design in America.
Being attracted to typography, I studied graphic design in America because
typography and calligraphy are of a similar nature; both explore letter arts and design."
Yeohyun Ahn is a designer, educator, and researcher, integrating creative coding, digital fabrication, and physical interaction into spatial typography and graphic design.
Her interdisciplinary typography project, TYPE + CODE Series, has been featured in the Washington Post, PRINT, New York Times Magazine, Letter Arts Review, Creator’s Project, Designboom.com, and more.
It has been published in the books, Graphic Design: the Basics, Type on Screen, and Data-Driven Graphic Design, and she has been invited to work on research papers by Leonardo, EVA London, and IEEE VIS Arts.
Her project has been presented at ISEA, AIGA, SEGD, Alicante Design Education Forum in Spain, TypeCon, and several other national and international forums.
Her new project, Social Homelessness on US Campuses, is a multidisciplinary art and design project to
bring awareness of Asian female faculty in America. Having immigrated as a designer in America brings
her to be aware of social inequity, discrimination, and marginality.
Currently, she is exploring generative self-portrait photographs for social homelessness being isolated and marginalized in professional areas of American society. This project has been presented through SIGGRAPH, ISEA, ARTECH, and IEEE GEM. In 2009, Yeohyun Ahn received a Graduate Fellowship from Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, MD.
She was a freelance graphic artist in the New York Times Magazine. She taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago State University, and Valparaiso University. Now she is an Assistant Professor of Graphic Design and Interaction Design at the University of Wisconsin Madison.
Benedictine University was founded by the Benedictine monks of St. Procopius Abby and the founder of
the Komechak Art Gallery was Fr. Michael E. Komechak, OSB, who was a member of that monastic order.
This exhibition is exhibited in the traditional order of the O Antiphones.
But, Benedictine monks arrange these vesper recitations (or chants) in a different order, with a definite purpose.
If one starts with the last title and takes the first letter of each title:
Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia - the Latin words ero cras are formed, meaning:
Tomorrow, I will come.
Therefore, the Lord Jesus, whose coming we prepare for in Advent and whom we have addressed
in these seven Messianic titles, now speaks to us: Tomorrow, I will come.
The O Antiphons not only bring intensity to the Advent preparation, but bring it to a joyful conclusion.
O Sapientia: O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care. Come and show your people the way to salvation. Isaiah had prophesied, The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord, and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:2-3)
O Adonai: O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free. Isaiah had prophesied, But He shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the lands afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay
"I experiment with traditional and cultural oriented calligraphy to reinterpret into modern and contemporary typography through codes."
O Radix Jesse: O Flower of Jesse's stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid. Isaiah had prophesied, But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. (Isaiah 11:1), and A On that day, the root of Jesse, set up as
O Clavis David: O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of Heaven: Come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom. Isaiah had prophesied, AI will place the Key of the House of David on His shoulder; when he opens, no one will shut, when he shuts, no one will open. (Isaia
"Previously, my typography was somewhat misunderstood in that they were believed to have been spontaneously created without any clear visual purposes, but it is not true.
They were highly intended, planned and implemented from my initial sketches of visualization to the finalization of my ideas through computer codes by way of Processing.
O Oriens: O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death. Isaiah had prophesied, The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shown. (Isaiah 9:1).
O Rex Gentium: O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust. Isaiah had prophesied, For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:5), and He shall judge between the nation
"The previous graphic design projects that I designed using Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign were visually predictable and controllable, the typographic forms that I created by using Processing were visually unexpected because they were generated by using mathematic expressions along with related computer algorithms and libraries, so it was impossible for me to precisely predict graphically how they would be drawn on my computer screen. It was like riding a roller coaster. Processing produces very weird and strange images on the computer screen. It was an adventure and exploration."
O Emmanuel: O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God. Isaiah had prophesied, The Lord himself will give you this sign: the Virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.
(Isaiah 7:14). Remember Emmanuel means God is with us.
"Designers are adopting new technology as their new media, so the future of computer inspired typography might not only be dominated by exploring new forms, typographic identities, visual messages, but also by collaborating with various social platforms such as Tiktok, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook Twitter and Facebook to visualize and interact with massive information and data. I do believe, however, that learning the classic principles of typography such as letter forms, grids, columns, layouts, color, etc, will be always valuable in any media."
For her MFA thesis, Yeohyun Ahn wanted to create her own graphic identity
to reveal who she is as a typographer through computer codes.
Her research explored the aesthetic of experimental and code-driven typography
It shows alternative ways of typographic solutions using computer codes directly,
rather than using hand drawing and Adobe programs.
It is important for graphic designers to explore design and typography
beyond such go-to tools as PhotoShop and Illustrator.
Yeohyun Ahn's book, cowritten with Viviana Cordova,
was developed as a tutorial book for graphic designers
who have limited knowledge in programming coding,
All profits from the sale "Type + Code" go to
Center for Design Thinking at Maryland Institute College of Art
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