L-tree Haiku

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Source geometry of the L-tree Iteration 1 of the L-tree Iteration 2 of the L-tree Iteration 3 of the L-tree Parametric variation of the L-tree Parametric variation of the L-tree

Haikus are a traditional style of Japanese poetry. Classically, they consist of 5 - 7 - 5 syllable units. Modern German haikus usually consist of fewer than 17 syllables. They are characterized by their concreteness, the uniqueness of the situation, and the use of a natural object as an object of contemplation. Core elements of a haiku are contrast and juxtaposition (kireji).

In the chapter „The Breach of Meaning“ in „Empire of Signs,“ Roland Barthes notes that haikus are beyond the attempt of interpretation and penetration in a Western manner. “Deciphering, normalizing, or tautological, the ways of interpretation, intended in the West to pierce meaning, i.e., to get into it by breaking and entering … cannot help failing the haiku; for the work of reading which is attached to it is to suspend language, not to provoke it.” Rather, it is a matter of shattering and canceling one’s mind.38 Through the loss of the significant meaning, the meaningful determination of the language is interrupted. The language is set free for an aesthetic contemplation.39

Fig. 29 Tree Structures Project, Frei Otto, 1960

This work deals with semi-autonomous decoration of fonts using Lindenmayer systems (parametric L-systems). Lindenmayer systems are parallel rewriting systems that iteratively mimic natural growth processes. In the domain of 3d-VFX and game design, they are used for the generation of trees and other flora. Architects use them, for example, in the construction of supporting frameworks and load-bearing structures. The combination of haiku and l-systems in this work is based on the irritating multiplicity of parallels and contrasts: organic growth versus digital computation while simultaneously complying to similar rule sets, temporal uniqueness versus a continuous growth process… etc.

The grammar and manner of functioning of a simple Lindenmayer system can be illustrated by the following tuple:

L = (V, S, R),  
V = Set of replaceable elements (variables)  
S = Initial "axiom"-string from which to begin construction  
R = Set of rules against which variables are to be replaced with constants and variables.  
The rules are used iteratively starting from the axiom string.  

This work’s initial geometry is used as an axiom. Its characteristics – the length of curves, its curvature – are utilized as variables to create additional self-similar geometry. The parametrically alterable set of rules controls the length limit of the added geometry, the min/max randomization of its inherited length, the number of branches and the min/max of the inherited curvature degree.

38 Barthes, R.: Das Reich der Zeichen. Frankfurt a. M. 1981. Page 98. 39 Cf.: Barthes, R.: Kritische Essays III. Der entgegenkommende und der stumpfe Sinn. Frankfurt a. M. 1990. Chapter 1.3.2.