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Work / Publication

Intramonde by Thomas Le Provost uses algorithmic design to decode quantum physics

Intramonde is a 360-page book that aims to introduce quantum physics to those who are not familiar with it, with a focus on breaking down the intricate subject in a way that’s manageable for anyone. It’s an image-led, visually bold project, structured according to the central principles that underpin the subject and comes in ten editions. Each edition features fore edge printing and a unique sequence of images, layouts and illustrations due to the algorithmic scripting used by French graphic designer, Thomas Le Provost.

The book is compiled of three sections – the first including a text written by Etienne Klein who explains the fundamentals of quantum physics; the second consists of several articles informing how quantum physics applies to everyone; and the third part concentrates on research, particularly focussing on CERN, the world’s biggest particle laboratory.

The inclusion of this specific content is the result of Thomas’ extensive research into the subject. During said research he encountered “complex books and hard-to-crack scientific equations,” but also “very simplistic works with doubtful conclusions”. He therefore synthesised his findings into the most universally, conceptually accessible content – the “cream of the crop”.

Alongside this handpicked information, Thomas wanted to visually express the particularities of quantum physics to make it more comprehensible and attractive to a wider audience. To do this, he created diagrams, took photographs and created other graphic representations as well as including existing scientific archival imagery.

A fundamental principle of quantum physics is that, “the moment in which we set a precise measure, we’re not able to predict the exact result – it’s different every time,” explains Thomas. To translate this principle of randomness into the visual structure of the book, he allowed part of the design to be dictated by artificial intelligence.

With the help of Romain Casier, Thomas coded algorithmic scripts which randomly determine the placement of images given the number of available pages. The pair also included scripts that randomised the position of layers and the colorisation of images. The layout of text is the only thing that remains constant throughout the ten editions, however, the algorithm does randomise the typefaces.

Intramonde is a project that proves how design can be utilised to decode complex topics and make sense of obscure information. However, it’s also an example of how a process can be informed by the content of a project. In this case, the inclusion of the algorithmic scripting means Thomas has created a series of books where each copy is unique or, in other words, “quantal”. This enables the physical books to become an embodiment of their topic, to further aid Thomas in his explanation of quantum physics.

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Thomas Le Provost: Intramonde

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