Swipe on paper


This project explores the aesthetic and expressive similarities between the gestures performed on swipe keyboards and Asian glyphs, as well as their differences: the former created to communicate faster with computers, the later created to communicate with people over time.

A series of paintings aim to capture the transient nature of the swipe keyboard glyphs, and display them as traditional calligraphy.


While typing on a desktop or laptop’s keyboard is fast and comfortable, doing so on a mobile phone’s keyboard is far from being a good experience. It’s the price we pay to use an input method that was designed to fit the ergonomics of our hands, on a device that is designed to fit in our pockets.

In the past years predictive text, pre-canned answers and emojis have made text input on phones a bit better. I’ve been a fan of gesture keyboards, which allow you to enter words by gliding your fingers over the word's characters.

Initially it can feel slower than typing since one is trying to hit all the characters with precision. After a while your fingers loosen a bit and gestures start becoming more fluid. Eventually you find yourself making squiggles that barely resemble any word, but the system still recognizes what you’re trying to say.

The expressiveness of the gesture, together with the aesthetics of the trace reminded me of Asian glyphs. This inspired me to capture the ephemeral nature of the digital trace with means of traditional calligraphy: ink on paper.

These glyphs, once ephemeral and transactional, seem to start forming a language when they’re set on paper and are regarded by people.

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