Laurent Malys uses code to explore how processing can affect letterforms

7 February 2019

When we stumbled upon the experiments of Nantes-based engineer and generative artist Laurent Malys on Instagram, we had to find out more. Executed largely in black and white, his feed is packed full of typographic experiments which use code to explore how processing can affect letterforms. Alphabets morph seamlessly through letters, the product of rules and parameters that Laurent defines and allows to play out, seeing what results he gets in return.

“I am fascinated by the freedom that code brings as an artistic media, as well as its tremendous versatility,” Laurent tells It’s Nice That. While working on several long-term projects that deal with “interaction between sounds and graphics as well as drawing machines in the form of interactive installation or live audiovisual performance”, much of Laurent’s experiments appear on his Instagram account. These represent the small sketches that go alongside his wider practice, and are often born from larger commissions or projects.

By working with letterforms and applying rules to how these transition, Laurent’s work sits in a fascinating space between design and abstraction. “It is mostly an iterative project, going back and forth with different effects and then mixing them together,” he explains of how he produces each visual.


Laurent Malys

In turn, each challenges the past iteration, pushing the work further and further. They are experiments into how code can be used to continually rewrite and break its own rules, while simultaneously producing visually intriguing outcomes. “I like to use or reproduce algorithms or mathematical laws that generate natural forms and then hack them or cheat within the simulated reality,” Laurent says, “I always find that these spaces where things don’t go exactly where they should are kind of poetic, in the pragmatic, effective and objective space where numerical and computer science lives.”

Laurent first started working with type when preparing two workshops with Daniel Sciboz, a graphic designer and teacher at Geneva University of Art and Design (HEAD). The first took place last summer and saw the duo working with graphic designers and local craftsmen on traditional hand painted-lettering on public transportation. The second took place this January and was more specifically geared to teaching generative and interactive typography. Although he currently has no concrete plans in terms of where the project will go, “I want to work more with non-latin characters,” he concludes.

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About the Author

Ruby Boddington

Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor.

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