The Behaviours of Fluid Characterforms in Temporal Typography

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


This thesis identifies and characterises a particular kind of temporal typography in which verbal forms exhibit behaviours that have been identified by Eduardo Kac as ‘fluid’ , and fluctuate between the verbal and pictorial or abstract. A typology will be constructed which identifies the various behaviours by which fluidity is exhibited, and provides terminology for their analysis, accompanied by analysis of how these behaviours address the relationship between the commonly distinct paradigms of verbal and pictorial signs.
The work identifies the distinction between fluidity and other forms of kineticism, and explores the various behaviours exhibited in fluid artefacts. When addressing local kineticism, gaps in existing research are filled by employing terms and observations from other fields. For example, Kac offers the term ‘fluid’ in description of his holographic poetry, which exhibits behaviours much like those presented in some examples of screen- based temporal typography. This thesis proposes that Kac’s term, ‘fluid’, may be adopted in order to differentiate significant local change in verbal forms from the various other kinds of kineticism observable in temporal typography. Fluid behaviours are identified in examples including Martin Lambie Nairn and MPC’s Channel 4 idents, the credit sequences of Kyle Cooper, and the typographic animations of practitioners including Komnios Zervos and Dan Waber.
This thesis demonstrates that the existing discourse surrounding temporal typography has been held back by a failure to make distinguish between global kineticism (effecting layout) and local kineticism (effecting individual characters). The distinction between the global and the local is considered vital in studies of perceptual organisation, particularly Gestalt psychology. By providing a coherent typology, and consistent terminology, this study has the potential to positively influence understanding and analysis of fluid characterforms.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Hertfordshire
  • Lees-Maffei, Grace, Supervisor
  • Peacock, Alan, Supervisor, External person
Award date1 Jun 2012
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012


  • Temporal typography
  • Kinetic typography
  • fluid
  • transformation
  • idents
  • motion graphics
  • title sequences
  • credit sequences
  • Eduardo Kac
  • Channel 4


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