An ambigram is a calligraphic design that has several interpretations as written.
The word ambigram was coined by Douglas Hofstadter, an American scholar of cognitive science, best known as the Pulitzer Prize winning author of the book Gödel, Escher, Bach.
An ambigram is a visual pun of a special kind: a calligraphic design having two or more (clear) interpretations as written words. One can voluntarily jump back and forth between the rival readings usually by shifting one’s physical point of view (moving the design in some way) but sometimes by simply altering one’s perceptual bias towards a design (clicking an internal mental switch, so to speak). Sometimes the readings will say identical things, sometimes they will say different things.
Hofstadter describes an ambigram as a "calligraphic design that manages to squeeze two different readings into the selfsame set of curves."[ citation needed ]
Different ambigram artists (sometimes called ambigramists) may create distinctive ambigrams from the same words, differing in both style and form.[ citation needed ]
Although the term is recent, the existence of mirror ambigrams has been attested since at least the first millennium. They are generally palindromes stylized to be visually symmetrical.
In ancient Greek, the phrase "νιψον ανομηματα μη μοναν οψιν" (wash the sins, not only the face), is a palindromefound in several locations, including the site of the church Hagia Sophia, in Istanbul, Turkey. It is sometimes turned into a mirror ambigram when written in capital letters with the removal of spaces, and the stylization of the letter N (Ͷ).
The first sator square palindrome was found in the ruins of Pompeii, that means it was created before 79 AD. A sator square using the mirror writing for the representation of the letters S and N was carved in a stone wall in Oppède (France) between the Roman Empire and the Middle Ages
A boustrophedon is a type of bi-directional text, mostly seen in ancient manuscripts and other inscriptions. Every other line of writing is flipped or reversed, with reversed letters. Rather than going left-to-right as in modern European languages, or right-to-left as in Arabic and Hebrew, alternate lines in boustrophedon must be read in opposite directions. Also, the individual characters are reversed, or mirrored. It was a common way of writing in stone in Ancient Greece.
Mirror writing in Islamic calligraphy flourished during the early modern period, but its origins may stretch as far back as pre-Islamic mirror-image rock inscriptions in the Hejaz.
The earliest known non-natural rotational ambigram dates to 1893 by artist Peter Newell. Although better known for his children's books and illustrations for Mark Twain and Lewis Carroll, he published two books of reversible illustrations, in which the picture turns into a different image entirely when flipped upside down. The last page in his book Topsys & Turvys contains the phrase THE END, which, when inverted, reads PUZZLE. In Topsys & Turvys Number 2 (1902), Newell ended with a variation on the ambigram in which THE END changes into PUZZLE 2.
In March 1904 the Dutch-American comic artist Gustave Verbeek used ambigrams in three consecutive strips of The UpsideDowns of old man Muffaroo and little lady Lovekins. 13 March 1904) an indian medicine man says 'Big waters would make her very sound', while when flipped the medicine man turns into an Indian woman who says 'punos dery, eay apew poom, serlem big'. Which is explained as, 'poor deary' several foreign words that meant that she would call the 'Serlem Big'. The next comic called At the House of the Writing Pig (20 March 1904), where two ambigram word balloons are featured.[ clarification needed ] The first features an angry pig trying to make the main protagonist leave by showing a sign that says; 'big boy go away, dis am home of mr h hog', up side down it reads 'Boy yew go away. We sip. Home of hog pig.'. The protagonist asks the pig if it wants a big bun, upon which it replies 'Why big buns? Am mad u!', which flips into 'In pew we sang big hym'. Finally in The Bad Snake and the Good Wizard (1904 Mar 27) there are two more ambigrams. The first turns 'How do you do' into the name of a wizard called 'Opnohop Moy', the second features a squirrel telling the protagonist 'Yes further on' only to inform it that there are 'No serpents here' on his way back. These ambigrams are all relatively simple compared to contemporary designs, but given the constraints that Verbeek had due to the drawing and story they are impressive nevertheless.[ who said this? ] In a 2012 Swedish remake of the book, the artist Marcus Ivarsson redraws The Bad Snake and the Good Wizard in his own style. He removes the squirrel, but keeps the other ambigram. 'How do you do' is replaced by 'Nejnej' (Swedish for no no) and the wizard is now called 'Laulau'.His comics were ambiguous images, made in such a way that one could read the 6 panel comic, flip the book and keep reading. In The Wonderful Cure of the Waterfall (
From June to September 1908, the British monthly The Strand published a series of ambigrams by different people in its "Curiosities" column.Of particular interest is the fact that all four of the people submitting ambigrams believed them to be a rare property of particular words. Mitchell T. Lavin, whose "chump" was published in June, wrote, "I think it is in the only word in the English language which has this peculiarity," while Clarence Williams wrote, about his "Bet" ambigram, "Possibly B is the only letter of the alphabet that will produce such an interesting anomaly."
Rotational faces as optical illusion are very old, since metal coins with reversible figures were produced in 1550, and maybe earlier. In this perspective, a 180° rotational ambigram "¡OHO!" was published in 1946 for the cover of a book gathering reversible drawings by Rex Whistler.
In 1969, Raymond Loewy designed the rotational New Manambigram logo, which is still in use in 2020. The mirror ambigram DeLorean Motor Company logo was first used in 1975.
John Langdon and Scott Kim also each believed that they had invented ambigrams in the 1970s. [ original research? ] John Langdon produced the first mirror image logo[ verification needed ] "Starship" in 1975. [ better source needed ] Robert Petrick, who designed the invertible Angel logo in 1976, was also an early influence on ambigrams.[ according to whom? ]Langdon and Kim are probably the two artists who have been most responsible for the popularization of ambigrams.
The earliest known published reference to the term ambigram was by Hofstadter, who attributed the origin of the word to conversations among a small group of friends during 1983–1984.[ citation needed ] The original 1979 edition of Hofstadter's Gödel, Escher, Bach featured two 3-D ambigrams on the cover.
Ambigrams became more popular as a result of Dan Brown incorporating John Langdon's designs into the plot of his bestseller, Angels & Demons , and the DVD release of the Angels & Demons movie contains a bonus chapter called "This is an Ambigram". Langdon also produced the ambigram that was used for some versions of the book's cover.Brown used the name Robert Langdon for the hero in his novels as an homage to John Langdon.
In music, the Grateful Dead have used ambigrams several times, including on their albums Aoxomoxoa and American Beauty .
In the first series of the British show Trick or Treat , the show's host and creator Derren Brown uses cards with rotational ambigrams. These cards can read either 'Trick' or 'Treat'.
Although the words spelled by most ambigrams are relatively short in length, one DVD cover for The Princess Bride movie creates a rotational ambigram out of two words: "Princess Bride," whether viewed right side up or upside down.
In 2015 iSmart's logo on one of its travel chargers went viral because the brand's name turned out to be a natural ambigram that read "+Jews!" upside down. The company noted that "...we learned a powerful lesson of what not to do when creating a logo.”
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Ambigrams are exercises in graphic design that play with optical illusions, symmetry and visual perception. Some ambigrams feature a relationship between their form and their content. Ambigrams usually fall into one of several categories:
An ambigram whose letters are stacked. May be rotational or mirrored.
There are no universal guidelines for creating ambigrams, and there are different ways of approaching problems. A number of books suggest methods for creation (including WordPlayand Eye Twisters ).
Computerized methods to automatically create ambigrams have been developed. Most of them function on the simplified principle of mapping a single letter to another single letter. Because of this weakness, most of them can only map a word to itself or to another word that is the same length and do not combine letters. Thus, the generated ambigrams are in general of poor quality when compared to hand made ambigrams. More sophisticated techniques employ databases of thousands of curves to create complex ambigrams. Most ambigram generators are free, while some others require payment.[ citation needed ]
Ambigrams have also been called, among other things:
A palindrome is a word, number, phrase, or other sequence of characters which reads the same backward as forward, such as madam or racecar. There are also numeric palindromes, including date/time stamps using short digits 11/11/11 11:11 and long digits 02/02/2020. Sentence-length palindromes ignore capitalization, punctuation, and word boundaries.
Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid, also known as GEB, is a 1979 book by Douglas Hofstadter. By exploring common themes in the lives and works of logician Kurt Gödel, artist M. C. Escher, and composer Johann Sebastian Bach, the book expounds concepts fundamental to mathematics, symmetry, and intelligence. Through illustration and analysis, the book discusses how, through self-reference and formal rules, systems can acquire meaning despite being made of "meaningless" elements. It also discusses what it means to communicate, how knowledge can be represented and stored, the methods and limitations of symbolic representation, and even the fundamental notion of "meaning" itself.
Symmetry in everyday language refers to a sense of harmonious and beautiful proportion and balance. In mathematics, "symmetry" has a more precise definition, and is usually used to refer to an object that is invariant under some transformations; including translation, reflection, rotation or scaling. Although these two meanings of "symmetry" can sometimes be told apart, they are intricately related, and hence are discussed together in this article.
Boustrophedon is a style of writing, mostly seen in ancient manuscripts and other inscriptions, in which alternate lines of writing are flipped, or reversed, with reversed letters — rather than always flowing left-to-right as in modern European languages, or right-to-left as in Arabic and Hebrew. It was a common way of writing in stone in ancient Greece.
A crossword is a word puzzle that usually takes the form of a square or a rectangular grid of white- and black-shaded squares. The game's goal is to fill the white squares with letters, forming words or phrases, by solving clues, which lead to the answers. In languages that are written left-to-right, the answer words and phrases are placed in the grid from left to right ("Across") and from top to bottom ("Down"). The shaded squares are used to separate the words or phrases.
A wallpaper group is a mathematical classification of a two-dimensional repetitive pattern, based on the symmetries in the pattern. Such patterns occur frequently in architecture and decorative art, especially in textiles and tiles as well as wallpaper.
Mirror writing is formed by writing in the direction that is the reverse of the natural way for a given language, such that the result is the mirror image of normal writing: it appears normal when it is reflected in a mirror. It is sometimes used as an extremely primitive form of cipher. A common modern usage of mirror writing can be found on the front of ambulances, where the word "AMBULANCE" is often written in very large mirrored text, so that drivers see the word the right way around in their rear-view mirror.
In physics, a rigid body is a solid body in which deformation is zero or so small it can be neglected. The distance between any two given points on a rigid body remains constant in time regardless of external forces or moments exerted on it. A rigid body is usually considered as a continuous distribution of mass.
Rotational symmetry, also known as radial symmetry in biology, is the property a shape has when it looks the same after some rotation by a partial turn. An object's degree of rotational symmetry is the number of distinct orientations in which it looks exactly the same for each rotation.
Gustave Verbeek was a Dutch-American illustrator and cartoonist, best known for his newspaper cartoons in the early 1900s featuring an inventive use of word play and visual storytelling tricks.
The Sator Square is a two-dimensional word square containing a five-word Latin palindrome. It features in early Christian as well as in magical contexts. The earliest example of the square dates from the ruins of Pompeii, which some scholars attribute to pre-Christian origins, such as Jewish or Mithraic.
Ambiguous images or reversible figures are visual forms which create ambiguity by exploiting graphical similarities and other properties of visual system interpretation between two or more distinct image forms. These are famous for inducing the phenomenon of multistable perception. Multistable perception is the occurrence of an image being able to provide multiple, although stable, perceptions. Classic examples of this are the rabbit-duck and the Rubin vase. Ambiguous images are important to the field of psychology because they are often research tools used in experiments. There is varying evidence on whether ambiguous images can be represented mentally, but a majority of research has theorized that they cannot be properly represented mentally. The rabbit-duck image seems to be one of the earliest of this type; first published in Fliegende Blätter, a German humor magazine ; the My Wife and My Mother-in-Law drawing, which dates from a German postcard of 1888, is another early example.
A strobogrammatic number is a number whose numeral is rotationally symmetric, so that it appears the same when rotated 180 degrees. In other words, the numeral looks the same right-side up and upside down. A strobogrammatic prime is a strobogrammatic number that is also a prime number, i.e., a number that is only divisible by one and itself. It is a type of ambigram, words and numbers that retain their meaning when viewed from a different perspective, such as palindromes.
Calculator spelling is an unintended characteristic of the seven-segments display traditionally used by calculators, in which, when read upside-down, the digits resemble letters of the Latin alphabet. Each digit may be mapped to one or more letters, creating a limited but functional subset of the alphabet, sometimes referred to as beghilos.
A dihedral prime or dihedral calculator prime is a prime number that still reads like itself or another prime number when read in a seven-segment display, regardless of orientation, and surface. The first few decimal dihedral primes are
John Langdon is an American graphic designer, ambigram artist, painter, and writer.
Constrained comics is a form of comics that places some fundamental constraint on form beyond those inherent to the medium. By adding a constraint, the artist is attempting to produce original art within tightly defined boundaries.
The nucleic acid notation currently in use was first formalized by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) in 1970. This universally accepted notation uses the Roman characters G, C, A, and T, to represent the four nucleotides commonly found in deoxyribonucleic acids (DNA). Given the rapidly expanding role for genetic sequencing, synthesis, and analysis in biology, researchers have been compelled to develop alternate notations to further support the analysis and manipulation of genetic data. These notations generally exploit size, shape, and symmetry to accomplish these objectives.
Transformations of text are strategies to perform geometric transformations on text, particularly in systems that do not natively support transformation, such as HTML, seven-segment displays and plain text.