Rotor Script

by Simon Whitechapel

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(Please note that the letters may not display properly as single images in some browsers, but the large collective image at the bottom of the page should do so)

...the signs and ciphers he had written were turned into devils no bigger than large emmets, that writhed foully across the paper as if on a field, performing those rites which are acceptable only to Alila, queen of perdition and goddess of all iniquities.

     Clark Ashton Smith, “The Witchcraft of Ulua”.

Rotor is an experimental script created to realize the concept of letters that literally move on the “page”. It consists of seventeen minimal pairs of graphemes in which the members of each pair are identical except for the way they move: for example, unvoiced consonants turn clockwise and voiced consonants anti-clockwise (the only letter that is unambiguous at rest is i, consisting of two “zoophors” turning clockwise). The letter shapes are based on vegetable and microscopic life.

Here is a sample text:

It is the opening lines of Swinburne’s “The Garden of Proserpine”:
Here, where the world is quiet,
    Here, where all trouble seems
Dead winds’ and spent waves’ riot
    In doubtful dreams of dreams;
I watch the green field growing
For reaping folk and sowing,
For harvest-time and mowing,
    A sleepy world of streams.
Anyone who would like to experiment with the script can download all graphemes in a single zip file here. To create a text in Rotor, unzip them to a directory named rotor and then place the following javascript in a web-page in the same directory:

<script language="javascript">

<!--

text = "jackdaws_love_my_big_sphinx_of_quartz@{;,`^!)";

for(x=0;x<text.length;x++){
  document.write("<img src=",text.charAt(x),".gif>");}

// -->

</script>

When you load the page, it should create a Rotor text of the words assigned to the text variable, which can be altered as you please (note that the space is represented by “_”, the full stop by “@”, the colon by “{”, the left quote by “`”, the apostrophe or right quote by “^”,and the question mark by “)”.).

The following image contains all alphabetic graphemes in a single animated gif (note that e and u do not move precisely as above, because the original gifs have thirteen frames, as opposed to eight for the gifs underlying other graphemes):

© 2004 Simon Whitechapel

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