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These Squiggly Signatures Are Actually Shakespeare’s Sonnets

Stashed in: Art!, Awesome, Shakespeare, Writing, ART, Mathy, Picasso

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Looks like Picasso!

The new project, called Sonnet Signatures, is an extension of Rougeux’ Between The Words posters, which visualized the punctuation in classic literature. “I wanted to find an interesting way to quantify the poetry that could apply to any written text—not just Shakespeare’s sonnets,” Rougeux says. “The sonnets just happened to be a perfect set of bite-sized data that seemed appealing on their own and interesting as a whole.”

How Rougeux came up with the swooping signatures for each of the sonnets required something of a mathematical equation. Using the original 1609 text, he began by assigning each letter a value (a=1, b=2, c=3). Then line by line, he added all of the letter values together then divided them by the number of letters used. That average number was used as the y-axis coordinate, while the total number of letters used in each line determined the x-axis coordinate. Rougeux then connected the dots with a sweeping stroke that follows the order of the sonnet’s lines.

The result is 154 abstract drawings that have a distinct Picasso-circa-light-painting vibe to them. Unlike his punctuation project, which intentionally revealed the stylistic predilections of famous writers, these signatures are simply explorations of form. “The signatures are not meant to assign meaning but to inspire others to think about them differently than before,” Rougeux says. Will you unlock some hidden Shakespearean message encoded in the signature’s forms? Probably not. But they’re still pretty cool to look at.

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