The idea for this piece began when I came across River (typography) by Min Guhong Mfg. Typographical “rivers”, or gaps that run vertically through words in a paragraph, are a phenomenon that typographers usually try to minimise or eliminate as it can be distracting to the eye. However, this page takes a concept usually so undesired and plays with it, gradually increasing and decreasing the spaces between words to give the text an entirely new feeling, as if we were watching, over millennia, how land masses might break up into tiny islands and knit back together again.
I wanted to try another spin on this idea, allowing the river to be formed by the user/reader/designer. I used a text sample from Aidan Chambers that illustrates the life and spirit of a river – perpetually running.
In this piece, the reader is represented by an asterisk (*) that falls from the top of the page to land on the text. The reader can move the asterisk left and right to help it fall through the gaps between words, leaving each gap bigger and bigger than it was before. When the asterisk reaches the bottom of the text, it falls through the whitespace and fades out of view. In the end, the reader is left with a piece of text that has a visible river carved out through it. What was once an undesirable phenomenon to be made invisible is subverted into something intentional, placed at the center of the attention.
The project went through multiple iterations and contexts, including a period of prototyping with Steffi Che and dra_ft_, during which it was incorporated into Storehouse-A.info.