• M. Javad KhajaviEmail author


Since 2005, we have seen increasing interest in experimenting with Islamic calligraphy (i.e. calligraphy written in Arabic script) and the Arabic alphabet (which is used for writing many languages such as Arabic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish, Kurdi, Urdu) in visual time-based media such as animation. At the same time, there has been a growing demand for creating temporal typography written in Arabic script for TV, cinema, and the web. In spite of the fact that both animated Arabic typography and time-based calligraphic artworks are on the rise, so far there has been no independent study on these topics that considers the morphology and specific qualities of Arabic script. Drawing upon some qualities of Arabic script and Islamic calligraphy that can be described as “proto-animated,” this book devises and theorizes five broad categories of temporal events for the Arabic system of writing and studies the influence of those temporal events on the process of meaning-making. This introductory chapter provides a brief background to this discussion, introduces the main goal of the book, and reflects on the significance of a theory of temporal behaviors for Arabic script in time-based media.


Animated typography Arabic script Islamic calligraphy Proto-animated Time-based media 


  1. Ali, W. (1993). A survey of modern painting in the Islamic world and the development of the contemporary calligraphic school. Doctoral dissertation, University of London, Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global (Order No. 10083651).Google Scholar
  2. Ali, W. (1997). Modern Islamic art: Development and continuity. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida.Google Scholar
  3. Balius, A. (2013). Arabic type from a multicultural perspective: Multi-script Latin-Arabic type design. Doctoral dissertation, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK. Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global (Order No. U636423).Google Scholar
  4. Bartelt, D. (2006). Script doctors: Religious mandates from the government, military threats from the United States – It’s all in a day’s work for Iran’s increasingly visible designers, calligraphers, and typographers. Print, 60(1), 78–83.Google Scholar
  5. Bellantoni, J., & Woolman, M. (2000). Type in motion: Innovations in digital graphics. London: Thames & Hudson.Google Scholar
  6. Blair, S. S. (2006). Islamic calligraphy. Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Blankenship, S. (2003). Cultural considerations: Arabic calligraphy and Latin typography. Design Issues, 19(2), 60–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Boutros, M. (2017). Arabic for designers: An inspirational guide to Arabic culture and creativity. London: Thames & Hudson.Google Scholar
  9. Brownie, B. (2012a). The behaviours of fluid characterforms in temporal typography. Doctoral dissertation, University of Hertfordshire. Retrieved from British Library EThOS database.
  10. Brownie, B. (2012b). Fluid typography: Construction, metamorphosis and revelation. In G. Lees-Maffei (Ed.), Writing design: Words and objects (English ed., pp. 175–186). Oxford, UK: Berg.Google Scholar
  11. Brownie, B. (2015). Transforming type: New directions in kinetic typography. London: Bloomsbury.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Carboni, S. (2007). Qur’an printed in Arabic. In S. Carboni (Ed.), Venice and the Islamic world, 828–1797. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art.Google Scholar
  13. Daghir, S. (1990). Al-Hurufiyah al-Arabiyah: Fan wa hawiyah [Arab letterism: Art and identity]. Beirut, Lebanon: Sharikat al-Matbu’at Lil Tawzi’ wa al-Nashir.Google Scholar
  14. Dickinson, P. (2014). Textual matters: Making narrative and kinesthetic sense of Crystal Pite’s dance-theater. Dance Research Journal, 46(1), 61–83. Scholar
  15. Dodd, E. C., & Khairallah, S. (1981). The image of the word: A study of Quranic verses in Islamic architecture. Beirut, Lebanon: American University of Beirut.Google Scholar
  16. Ehrenberg, S. (2015). A kinesthetic mode of attention in contemporary dance practice. Dance Research Journal, 47(2), 43–61. Scholar
  17. Eigner, S. (2015). Art of the Middle East: Modern and contemporary art of the Arab world and Iran. London: Merrell.Google Scholar
  18. Eisenstein, S. (1986). Eisenstein on Disney (A. Upchuch, Trans.). Calcutta, India: Seagull Books.Google Scholar
  19. Fraser, M., & Kwiatkowski, W. (2006). Ink and gold: Islamic calligraphy. London: Paul Holberton.Google Scholar
  20. Friedberg, A. (2006). The virtual window: From Alberti to Microsoft. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  21. George, A. (2010). The rise of Islamic calligraphy. London: Saqi.Google Scholar
  22. Gerdes, E. V. P. (2010). Shen Wei dance arts: Chinese philosophy in body calligraphy. Dance Chronicle, 33(2), 231–250. Scholar
  23. Grabar, O. (1992). The mediation of ornament. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Hillner, M. (2005). Text in (e)motion. Visual Communication, 4(2), 165–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hillner, M. (2006). Virtual typography: Time perception in relation to digital communication. Leonardo Electronic Almanac, 14(5–6), 1–6.Google Scholar
  26. Hillner, M. (2009). Virtual typography. Lausanne, Switzerland: AVA Publishing.Google Scholar
  27. Jafari, B. (2012). Investigation on typography techniques and color processing in Iranian contemporary inscription and calligraphy-painting. Master’s thesis, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran.Google Scholar
  28. Kac, E. (1995). Holopoetry: Essays, manifestos, critical and theoretical writings. Lexington, KY: New Media Editions.Google Scholar
  29. Kenna, H. (2012). A practice-led study of design principles for screen typography: With reference to the teachings of Emil Ruder. Doctoral dissertation, University of the Arts London, London. Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global (Order No. 10046686).Google Scholar
  30. Kermaninejad, F. (2013). Hunar-i Khushnivīsī dar Iran [The art of calligraphy in Iran]. Tehran, Iran: Aban.Google Scholar
  31. Keshmershekan, A. (2004). Contemporary Iranian painting: Neo-traditionalism during the 1960s to 1990s. Doctoral dissertation, University of London, School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS), London. Available from EThOS ( Scholar
  32. Keshmirshekan, H. (2009). Modern and contemporary Iranian art: Developments and challenges. In H. Amirsadeghi (Ed.), Different sames: New perspectives in contemporary Iranian art (pp. 10–37). London: Thames & Hudson Ltd.Google Scholar
  33. Keshmirshekan, H. (2013). Contemporary Iranian art: New perspectives. London: Saqi.Google Scholar
  34. Khajavi, M. J. (2017). Re-animating the script: An exploration of new directions in calligraphic animation with reference to the kinesthetic, plasmatic and transformative qualities of Islamic calligraphy. Doctoral dissertation, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Singapore. Retrieved from
  35. Khatibi, A., & Sijelmassi, M. (1995). The splendour of Islamic calligraphy. London: Thames & Hudson.Google Scholar
  36. Ledesma, E. (2012). The historic avant-garde, the neo-avant-garde and the digital age: Experimental visual-textual forms in the Luso-Hispanic world. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University. Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global (Order No. 3514445).Google Scholar
  37. Manovich, L. (2001). The language of new media. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  38. Marks, L. U. (2010a). Enfoldment and infinity: An Islamic genealogy of new media art. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  39. Marks, L. U. (2010b). Words dream of being flowers, birds dream of language. In S. Zielinski & E. Fürlus (Eds.), Variantology 4: On deep time relations of arts, sciences, and technologies in the Arabic-Islamic world and beyond (pp. 267–288). Köln, Germany: Walther König.Google Scholar
  40. Marks, L. U. (2011). Calligraphic animation: Documenting the invisible. Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 6(3), 307–323. Scholar
  41. Mehrnegar, M. (2014). hurūf ṣidāy-i tasvīr [The letters: Sound of image]. Tehran, Iran: Rīra.Google Scholar
  42. Nemeth, T. (2017). Arabic type-making in the machine age: The influence of technology on the form of Arabic type, 1908–1993. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Osborn, J. R. (2008). The type of calligraphy: Writing, print, and technologies of the Arabic alphabet. Doctoral dissertation, University of California San Diego, San Diego, CA. Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global (Order No. 3304007).Google Scholar
  44. Osborn, J. R. (2017). Letters of light: Arabic script in calligraphy, print, and digital design. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Porter, V., & Caussé, I. (2006). Word into art: Artists of the modern Middle East. London: British Museum Press.Google Scholar
  46. Roxburgh, D. J. (2007). Writing the word of God: Calligraphy and the Qur’an. Houston, TX: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.Google Scholar
  47. Safwat, N. F., Fehèrvàri, G., & Zakariya, M. (1997). The harmony of letters: Islamic calligraphy from the Tareq Rajab Museum. Singapore, Singapore: The National Heritage Board.Google Scholar
  48. Schimmel, A. (1990). Calligraphy and Islamic culture. London: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd.Google Scholar
  49. Schimmel, A., & Rivolta, B. (1992). Islamic calligraphy. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, 50(1), 1–56. Scholar
  50. Serikoff, N. (Ed.). (2007). Islamic calligraphy from the Wellcome Library. Chicago: Serindia Publications.Google Scholar
  51. Shabout, N. M. (2007). Modern Arab art: Formation of Arab aesthetics. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida.Google Scholar
  52. Shay, A. (1998). In search of traces: Linkages of dance and visual and performative expression in the Iranian world. Visual Anthropology, 10(2–4), 334–360. Scholar
  53. Shay, A. (1999). Choreophobia: Solo improvised dance in the Iranian world. Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda Publications.Google Scholar
  54. Smitshuijzen AbiFares, H. (2001). Arabic typography: A comprehensive sourcebook. London: Saqi Books.Google Scholar
  55. Su, Z. M. (2010). Recovering the movement of calligraphy in animation. Doctoral dissertation, Griffith University. Retrieved from
  56. Tanner, S. C. (2009). Contemporary art in the Middle East. Art Book, 16(4), 15–16. Scholar
  57. Tohline, A. M. (2015). Towards a history and aesthetics of reverse motion. Doctoral dissertation, Ohio University. Retrieved from Order No. 3731383.Google Scholar
  58. van Leeuwen, T., & Djonov, E. (2015). Notes towards a semiotics of kinetic typography. Social Semiotics, 25(2), 244–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Zettl, H. (2011). Sight sound motion: Applied media aesthetics (6th ed.). Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Volda University CollegeVoldaNorway

Personalised recommendations