Warning: Do not click on this link if you are subject to motion sickness; it’s an unsettling experience anyway. Simon Whitechapel has created a font in which each letter is constantly moving:

Rotor is an experimental script created to realize the concept of letters that literally move on the “page”. It consists of seventeen minimal pairs of graphemes in which the members of each pair are identical except for the way they move: unvoiced consonants and the first member of the pairs m n, w y, l r, h j, q x, a o, “. :”, “, ;”, “ ‘ ’ ”, and “! ?” turn clockwise, voiced consonants and the second member of the pairs turn anti-clockwise (c rocks first clockwise, then anti-clockwise). Of the remaining graphemes, e turns a vertical figure-of-eight and u a horizontal one, and i alone, consisting of two “zoophors” turning clockwise, is unambiguous when at rest.

While I admire the ingenuity, I cannot bring myself to regard this as a Good Thing. (Via No-sword.)

Update (June 2021). I’ve replaced the dead link with an archived one; you can also see the script at Omniglot.


  1. When I get home from work it goes into my logo.

  2. Thanks LH…now I’ll have the “ants on my monitor” dream again tonight.

  3. That’s quite spectacularly perverse; from an antiergonomic point of view, I think it surpasses even the QWERTY keyboard. Don’t learners of the Latin alphabet have enough trouble distinguishing b and d, or remembering to write N rather than И, without having to worry about letters that won’t sit still?

  4. Cryptic Ned says

    Why is it a bunch of random shapes? Why isn’t it the actual letters rotating?
    That would be cool to see.

  5. Ned–you have to make sure that you have “gif animation” enabled on your browser–then you’ll get the motion. Then you might wish you hadn’t!

  6. Imagine what this font would look like in German!

  7. I’ve got two comments—pick one and enjoy:
    1) It’s like Murphy’s Law expressed in font design.
    2) It’s like the reductio ad absurdum of font design.

  8. In a comment to that post on my blog, Tim May pointed out an even less useful font by the same author: Rebuqqan.

  9. Pete: I think Ned sees the rotation, he simply thinks it would make more sense to have the actual letters of our alphabet rotating. But making sense is clearly not an issue here.
    Matt: Yikes!

  10. Aliens attack!

  11. Damn, I can’t get it to work on my site.

  12. The logical and perhaps more practical extension of this idea would be a font of sign language words, say, the top 150 most-common, that show animated hands doing the sign in miniature. Might not work for some that require full-body movement (such as a touch to the head or the downward patting motion at the waist).

  13. Michael Farris says

    The hands and body in sign language aren’t worth much without the face (in terms of sentences, at any rate).
    A fingerspelling font (where a single hand changes to spell out a world – or two hands for the British finger alphabet) might be kind of a cool.

  14. I’ve first seen Rotor Script in Omniglot. I liked it but I still find Lovecraftian more creative 😉

  15. How would you handwrite this?

  16. Going Dotty in Kansas says

    Perverse is the word! My lord, what if you’re dyslexic? –I don’t think there’s any .wav or sound files associated with this weirdo font (or site; Rotor isn’t the only bizarre font that Simon has created), but I have been intrigued by the notion of vibrations associated with each of the phonemes represented by Rotor. Maybe this font would make more sense if you could “hear” the phonemes as opposed to just seeing them (and seeing them makes me cross-eyed)…Maybe Rotor could find a practical application as a standard form of telepathic communication…(Maybe none of these ramblings make sense — well, it’s because I’ve just toured Simon’s site, and I’m still dazed, not to mention confused.)

  17. Presumably you handwrite it by making a flickbook..

  18. Celestial Beauty! Stunningly Beautiful! Ravishing! And deadly too, for me it is deadly. I am born with a certain brain condition called migraine accompagnée, a variant of the Holy Sickness, which means I do not need drugs to be drugged. Or go blind by the peculiar effects of this affliction. I must not look at this Divine Rotor again. If I want to stay sane.

  19. So, I bet if people learnt it, they’d get fast enough at reading it very quickly and they’d ignore the direction of the rotation and deal with the massive underdeterminism of the characters.

  20. Assuming that nobody will ever set their mind on learning to read this font, this idea seems more adapted to the notion of translating text into unique (and essentially abstract) animated graphic expressions. There’s no good reason to limit the translation to a set of similar characters, or to arrange them on left-to-right lines. Instead, one could write (for instance) a code that translates letters into a wider variety of shapes, and the lets the succeeding letter dictate that shapes color, and the one after that dictate it’s motion (not just rotations but movement around the screen). In theory it would be possible to “read” or decode the result, but the main point would be to create art dictated by a specific program and input code. Maybe somebody’s done it already — I’ve seen some things using at least parts of this idea.

  21. paulmiki says

    I’ve already begun to create a whole set of rotating proofreader’s marks to accompany the font.

  22. Came across this via the random feature – I get a connection error for that site.

  23. Thanks for alerting me; I’ve freshened up the post.

  24. John Cowan says

    How would you handwrite this?

    How would you handwrite Klingon? It’s obvious to me that early Klingons cut their letters into half potatoes (or the QonoS equivalent) and dipped them in ink, then pressing them on the writing surface.

    (I actually did this as a kid. It’s fun.)

  25. @LH: Thanks! I had a look. I can’t decipher the sample text even though it’s written in a normal font below. Nice gimmick, but no wonder it hasn’t caught on. 🙂

  26. January First-of-May says

    I wonder if the motion was supposed to render slower in contemporary browsers. I see it happen so fast that I can’t even tell which direction the rotation is supposed to be in – it just looks like a bunch of rapidly blinking images.

  27. I liked e.

    In my browser (Mozilla, Windows 7) it is rotating, just too fast.

  28. I wonder if the motion was supposed to render slower in contemporary browsers. I see it happen so fast that I can’t even tell which direction the rotation is supposed to be in – it just looks like a bunch of rapidly blinking images.

    As best I can recall, it was pretty much the same in 2005 — now, as then, I see it as fast but not too fast to follow. (Firefox, Windows 10.)

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