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Latent Figures: A Catalog of AI-Generated Shapes & Symbols

Published Dec 12, 2023

For the past couple of years, Jannis Maroscheck, an award-winning German designer, has been dedicated to investigating and testing automated design processes. His latest publication, Latent Figures, is an exceptional visual compendium that delves into the convergence of creativity, design and artificial intelligence.

Latent Figures is not your typical design book. It presents a collection of visuals created by an artificial intelligence that has been exposed solely to graphic shapes and symbols, from ancient glyphs and medieval monograms, to Y2K graphics and clipart illustrations. The visuals complied in the book offer a fascinating glimpse into how AI interprets and reimagines these basic elements of design.

This new publication continues the generative design experiments that started with Jannis’ previous book, Shape Grammars, released three years ago. At its core, Latent Figures is another deep dive into the inner workings of an AI system which was developed by Jannis to generate an unlimited number of unique graphic shapes.

The AI behind Latent Figures has never experienced the world as humans do. It has never seen a sunset or a mountain range, never explored a bustling city or a quiet forest. Its knowledge is limited to graphic shapes and symbols, and yet it can create visual representations that are strikingly complex and intriguing.

The visuals presented in the book are described as “signs from an unknown memory”, offering a riveting exploration of AI’s interpretation of design elements. These forms frequently resemble something familiar or comprehensible, yet their significance remains elusive, hovering between sense and absurdity.

“When I think about it, something like a graphic form, black and white, defined only by its outline, feels quite limited in what it can express, what it can communicate.”

“Then I look at it, like a blob of ink, continuously reshaping itself, in flux, automatic and open in all directions.”

— Jannis Maroscheck

Latent Figures by Jannis Maroscheck offers an intriguing look at the intersection of design, creativity and artificial intelligence. It challenges traditional design norms and invites readers to explore the creative potential of AI. It also prompts audiences to project their imagination into these abstract forms and come up with their own fresh ideas.

If you’re interested in exploring the inner workings of an AI, you can pick up a copy of the book on Slanted’s website.

Published by: Slanted Publishers
Author: Jannis Maroscheck
Design: Jannis Maroscheck
Release: November 2023
Dimensions: 21 x 26.5cm
Volume: 224 pages
Language: English
Workmanship: Offset printing with silver spot color, thread-stiching, Softcover with flaps

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