I am reading a book on vispo coincidentally with the annual ELO conference – Electronic Literature Organization. I really dont know what vispo is/was but I did a deep dive into concrete poetry recently (visual poetry) and vispo appears to be a continuation or derivation of that. It also seems to coincide nicely with my current explorations into creative coding via letter generation.
As a young child I was captured by the magic of letters, symbols and alphabets far before I could read. And for me they did, and continue to have, a meaning beyond information (reading). A letter, for me, is imbued with meaning beyond being a letter of the alphabet. I have no idea why this is the case – but I know I am not alone in this since so many people have associated letters with numbers and symbols, archetypes and so forth.
On the first page of the Vispo book I am reading, Nico Vassilakis writes “letters lose their chemical word attraction, their ability to bond to one another; to cohere into words.” This is where I am right now in my creative code exploration of letters. What are letters as atoms – apart from words. Back at my apartment I have a book that looks at letters as if they were letters or chemical compounds.
This is an example of Systems Poetry – overlapping the grapheme with the chemical.
There is a question about reality. What is real about the letter? We can get into all sorts of thorny issues here, and category mistakes and what not. This is a metaphysical question. But when I play with letters in creative code, this is the core. What is real about the letter?
This reminds me of the imaginal realm. Is the imaginal realm real. Can it be shared with another consciousness or is it purely subjective. There are interactions between letters, addressed by kerning or spacing with artists like Aram Saroyan. And Crag Hill’s second essay in this Vispo collection touches on this. Then we move from the word to words – to the relationship between words, to the empty space, or the page. Mallarme used white space as silence – another quote from page 69 of the vispo collection in Mittenthal’s essay.
There is also the breath, and the constraints provided by a typewriter – as explored by Charles Olsen. We can imagine the new constraints of css, or of pixels, of curves and points of OpenGL, of computer protocols, APIs, and forms. This is the breath of the computer, or of the cyborg (the human+computer).
In looking at lettering I am inspired by
Jesse Ferguson and letters of different sizes and rotations, of The Lions and letters integrated with illustrations, of Anatol Knotek which reminds me of my experiments from last week, of Petra Backogja which reminds me of concrete poetry, of the absolutely beautiful and magical Oded Ezer’s the message a movement of hebrew letters from 2D space to 3D space and into movement and animation (4D), of Bill DiMichele and Cecil Touchon and Jim Leftwich and experiments with tiles and matrices that I also am experimenting with, of Troy Lloyd who appears to reference Braille, Fernando Aguiar who brings text off the page and into life with translucent prints and natural environments, of James Yeary who makes me think of Sigils and James Joyce, and Derek Beaulieu – because I see how I can make something in this structure, of Gareth Jenkins and the creation of new letters and accents.
These are my inspirations this morning.