// kjupere.reprocess.process. an interactive audio-visual application.//

Melanie Merges - Dimitriou
MA in Visual Communication and Interactive Media, 2005




View the application
(for screen resolution 1024 x 768 and higher, flash)

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// 01. Project Brief__________________________________
// 02. Jukka-Pekka Kervinen _______________________
02.1 Short Bio
02.2 JPK’s Poems (presentation)
02.3 JPK “Creation Process”
02.4 Email conversation with JPK (Interview)
// 03.RESEARCH_______________________________________________
03.A. Background research in the field of concrete/visual and experimental poetry
03.A.1 On modern Poetry (general)
03.A.2 Concrete Poetry/Visual Poetry
03.A.3 Contemporary Poetry[Experimental /Digital/Electronic/New Media/Computer Generated]
03.B. Theory Research – Philosophy, Literary Theories & Critism
03.B.1 Introduction
03.B.2 Reader – Response Approach
03.B.3 Structuralism
03.B.4 Semiology/Semiotics
03.B.5 Wittgenstein
03.C. Aesthetic research – Fine Arts, Other Arts, (Web)Designers and (Online) applications
03.C.1 Fine Arts
03.C.2 Other Arts (Music , Architecture)
03.C.3 (Web)Designers / (online) applications
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// 04. Application _____________________________________________
04.A.1 Selection of Poems – Criteria and process
04.C. Concept & Application
04.C.1 Concept Description , Interface & Structure / Sections of App.
04.C.2 Working Tools
04.C.A Individual Sections (Details)
04.C.A.0 Main
04.C.A.1 LRPDM
04.C.A.2.2 Concept & Interface
04.C.A.2.3 Examination-Working modules /procedures
04.C.A.2.4 Single poems
// 06. Sources : Online References, Bibliography___________________
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// 01. Introduction ____________________________________________
Project Brief
Melanie Merges
Project Brief
MA in Visual Communication and Interactive Media
The basis of this project is the e-book [#1-#46] of Jukka-Pekka Kervinen, an experimental poet from
Finland, whose interest is program generated visual poetry, as well as computer processing and
manipulation of text and language. As far as his poems concerns, the latter means that during the
creation process he uses small software programs written by him to manipulate/process textual input in
order to create his poems. Some particular theoretical approaches/methods (e.g. structuralism and
semiotics) play a significant role too in the work of the poet.
Generally speaking, the collection [#1-#46] of Jukka-Pekka Kervinen belongs to the style of
concrete/visual poetry, since their visible (typographic) form, the spatial arrangement of the text on the
page, and the overall visual impression they create, are important factors for the conveyance of their
Reason of choice
Working as a freelance graphic and web designer I often cooperate with artistic oriented clients, such as
music companies, artists, individual musicians and bands, designing websites, album covers,
posters/invitations and catalogues. The design task in these cases is to visually express abstract ideas,
visualize music, and find typographic solutions and visual forms that successfully convey the meaning of
lyrics or poems. Therefore, I am especially interested in the relation between the visual form and the
mental /semantic substance of words/texts, as well as in artistic ways of expression that deal with the
materiality of text/language (e.g. experimental typography and concrete/visual poetry).
Digital artistic expressions like Jukka-Pekka Kervinen’s poems in [#1-#46], and their underlying
processes, structures and ideas, are interesting to be examined not only in relation to theoretical
approaches and methods, but also in their relation to digital graphic design, and more specifically to its
capability to translate them into graphic language, and interpret them in an interactive enviroment.
Within the scope of this project, I will firstly attempt to analyze and interpret the poems of Kervinen,
based on a research I will carry out in various relevant areas of theory, poetry, art and design. An
important and integral part of my research is the communication and discussion with the poet himself,
who kindly agreed to cooperate with me. The outcome of this analysis and interpretation will decisively
contribute to the apprehension of the inner logic and structure of the poems, and will help me to
represent/reconstruct them in another language: that of an interactive application.
The final purpose of this research-oriented experimental project is to design an interactive media
application incorporating the outcomes of the analysis/interpretation of the poems in an aesthetic and
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functional way. The basic aim of this application is to express and visualize both the ideas and the
interpretation process, as well as to make them traceable.
The general outcome of my project will be an interactive audio-visual experience of the interpretation of
processes and ideas contained in the poems of Jukka-Pekka Kervinen’s e-book [#1-#46].
++ Background research in the field of concrete/visual and experimental poetry
++ Theory Research – Philosophy, Literary Theories & Critism
(i.e. Structuralism, Semiotics, Poststructualism, Deconstruction, Stochastic)
++ Aesthetic research – Fine Arts, Other Arts, (Web) Designers and (Online) applications
Target Group
Persons interested in modern, visual/concrete and computer generated poetry, experimental digital
typography and art. Researchers and students interested in interactive web applications, especially in the
fields of visual communication and artistic expression, as well as the interrelation of theoretical methods
such as structuralism and semiotics with computer programming, communication and interactivity.
+ interactive [online] application (on CDROM and/or online -url)
+ printed research book
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k = new Array ();
for (pn=0; pn<researchp; pn++) {
k[pn] = ["page"+pn].contents
// 02. Jukka-Pekka Kervinen __________________________________
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02.1 Short Bio
02.2 JPK’s Poems (presentation/introduction)
02.3 JPK “Creation Process”
02.4 Email conversation with JPK
02.1 Short Bio
Jukka-Pekka Kervinen lives and writes in Espoo, Finland. He is mainlyinterested of computer processing
and manipulation of text and language. He has been published in XTANT, Poethia, Moria, SHAMPOO,
Aught,Word for Word, can we have our ball back, 5_Trope, Generator, Score, m.a.g, sleeping fish,
BathHouse Magazine, Jack, Big Bridge, Blackbox and
Textbase among others.
He has published several books: ’(no subject)’ (blue lion books, 2005), ’lump sum’ (avantacular press,
forthcoming), ’lard plaza (xPress(ed), 2005), ’cornucopia’ (xPress(ed), 2004), ’obeyed dilemma’
(xPress(ed) 2004) and ’[#1-#46]’ (BlazeVox, 2003) (also available in hardcopy version), e-chaps
’[div]versions’ (Poetic Inhalation, 2004) and ’Permutations’ (Faux Press, 2004). He has written several
collaborative books with Jim Leftwich like ’amenable noun’, ’emptier signify’ (both cPress, 2005) and
’telephone poles’ (xPress(ed) 2005). Other collaborations include ’Astral Soup’ with John Crouse
(xPress(ed), 2005) and ’poles apart’ (xPress(ed), 2004) and ’The Oracular Sonnets’ (Meritage Press,
2004), both with Mark Young.
He is an editor of xStream (http://xstream.xpressed.org), xPress(ed) (http://www.xpressed.org) and
’minimum daily requirements’ (http://www.20six.co.uk/mdr).He is also a co-editor of ’blue lion books’
(http://bluelionbooks.info) together with Peter Ganick. Jukka works also as composer and mail artist.
He has several weblogs like ’nonlinear poetry’ (http://nonlinearpoetry.blogspot.com), ’textual conjectures’
(http://textualconjectures.xpressed.org), ’mailXart’(http://mailxart.blospot.com) and ’copyXart’
(http://www.phlog.net/user/copyxart),and a grouf of collaborative blogs with Jim Leftwich
02.2 JPK’s Poems (presentation)
This work is important because it skews all preconceptions of what poetry is thought to be. It uniquely
shows us the indoctrinated perceptions that we, consciously or unconsciously carry within us. It opens
up to us a world with the potential of difference, and that by knowing this difference we can hopefully
perceive a knowledge and beauty in forms and contents we heretofore did not think existed. So it is with
open eyes and mind one must approach this work, leaving behind any constricted views of form or
content, and more importantly interring the dusty corpse of an ancient poetic epistemology. ~Ric
Carfagna (from the introduction text of [#1-#46]).
Note: Images of poems
02.3 JPK “Creation Process”
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Due to the incorporation of computer into the field of Contemporary Art, important changes have taken
place, affecting not only the process of generating/creating artistic work, but also the role of the artist
and the audience. Depending on the role that the computer plays in the creative process, one can
distinguish between the use of the computer as a medium or as a tool to produce art, and its use as an
original source(originator) of art / art forms. In the later case, a new dimension of the artist is the “artist
as a programmer:” an artist using a new creative strategy, namely that of writing computer programs
that generate digital art.
In JPK’s case, the poems in [#1-#46] are either computer manipulated /processed words, sentences
whereas the source material are JPK’s own texts, or entirely computer generated without any textual
input source. In order to manipulate, process or generate the text(or non textual) source material, JPK is
writing short software programs in programming languages such as C, Python and others. Although JPK
creates his poems with the use of computer programs, for him the role of the computer in his writing
process is “just a pen or modern typewriter”. The latter means for JPK that he first creates/develops his
programs as an idea -a thought process- and then uses the computer in order to make his
idea(process/programm) perceivable for others.Further, many processes used to generate the poems are
very complicated- (e.g. nonlinear processes), it would be – almost – impossible to formulate and run
them without the use of a computer.
For the creation of [#1-#46] JPK developed 46 different programs which use among others stochastic
processes(such as, for example, Markovian processes or Markovian chains) and algorithms to either
manipulate ,process or generate texts from textual or non-textual input source material. Each of the 46
programs uses different rules, processes/algorithms . A certain restriction set by JPK during the creation
of these short software programs was that the maximum lines in a program should never exceed 40
lines, as well as that he should create original processes for each poem without any reference to
previous ones.
For some more details see next chapter Conversation “02.4 Email Conversation with JPK”
A further, more detailed analysis and explanation of JPK’s processes/algorithms would exceed the
framework of this particular project, thus I will just refer in short to some of the underlying processes.
Definition of Stochastic Process
Stochastic = Random / Chance
Stochastic – adj. pertaining to chance or conjecture (math.) random
Stochastikos ,stochazesthai, (Greek) to aim at a target, to guess.
Stochastic Process – (math.) in probability theory a system involving time parameters used to define a
process utilizing random variables.
A stochastic process is a process whose “behavior” is non-deterministic, i.e. every next state of the
environment is not fully determined by the previous one. In the mathematics of probability, a stochastic
process can be thought of as a random function. In practical applications, the domain over which the
function is defined is a time interval (a stochastic process of this kind is called “a time series” in
applications) or a region of space (a stochastic process being called “a random field”). Familiar examples
of time series include stock market and exchange rate fluctuations, signals such as speech, audio and
video; medical data such as a patient’s EKG, EEG, blood pressure or temperature; and random
movement such as Brownian motion or random walks. Examples of random fields include static images,
random topographic representations (landscapes), or composition variations of an inhomogeneous
Definition of Markov property/process
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In probability theory, a stochastic process has the Markov property if the conditional probability
distribution of future states of the process, given the present state, depends only upon the current state,
i.e. it is conditionally independent of the past states (the path of the process) given the present state.
Markov processes have the following property: given that its current state is known, the probability of
any future event of the process is not altered by additional knowledge concerning its past behavior.
Expressing this in a more formal way, the probability distribution for xt + 1 depends only of xt, and not
additionally on what occurred before time t (it doesn’t depend on xs, where s < t).
This means that all the past information is considered in the current value, so that a futures value of the
process depends only on its current value and not on past ones. The future values are not affected by
the past value history. In finance, this is consistent with the efficient market hypothesis (that the current
prices reflect all relevant information).
To sum up the above, stochastic process is a time-related process whereas stochastic (probability)
distributions are totally time-independent and randomness is a characteristic of these processes. The
general Marcovian idea is that the next state is dependent only on the current state and (conditionally)
on its immediate past , meaning that the process has no memory or (usually) a very short one.
In conclusion of the above, and according to JPK, ” works in [#1-#46] are abstract processes, they can be
seen as / can describe many natural life phenomenon, life itself (current state with usually/hopefully long
memory), society (current state with short memory, seems that we don’t learn from past!) or economy
(current state with very short or very long memory).”
More general speaking, one can conclude from what was said so far that these poems contain (and/or
describe) abstract terms such as time, memory and randomness.
Implemented in the software programs is also the generation of the layout, namely the visual form of the
poems. Without any manual editing/altering/changing, the poem is send immediately to a listserv after its
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02.4 Email conversation with JPK
Which authors/poets do you like / inspire you?
Mostly contemporary experimental writer’s like G. Stein, John Cage, Jackson MacLow, Jim Leftwich,
Michael Basinski, John M. Bennett, Tina Darragh, P. Inman, Joan Retallack
Which visual artists (designers, painters ect.) do you like? Is there any visual artist who inspired
you with his/her work to write a poem?
Again mostly experimental/modern artist like Piet Mondrian,Kurt Schwitters, Mark Rothko, Ellsworth
Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein, Kasimir Malevich, Sol LeWitt. Yes, there are, I am interested of structures,and
these guys works are full of them. If I must mention one who has inspiredme most that would be
I am interested of minimalism in art, poetry and music (not minimal music like Reich and Glass,though).I
am interested of minimalist use of material i.e. I restrict myself with materials, sources, techniques (like
in [#1-#46] )the restriction that each program must be less than 40 lines…) and structures. However it
isn’t always so apparent in ’output’ or result, rather in my relationship in using of materials and
techniques in composing.
When did you start writing? Where you interested from the start in experimental and/or
computer generated /manipulated/ processed poetry or was this a development over time?
I started as a composer, although I had been interested of poetry I started to write just a few years ago. I
had used computer in musical composition and had written a lot of software for my own compositional
purposes and in my first textual works I just translated those procedures for writing.
As I said I’m interested of structures and (complex) systems ([#1-#46 is full of them !) it wasn’t a big leap
to generate/manipulate words or textual elements instead of notes/phrases/musical motives. After
working some time
with ’borrowed’ (from myself) computer programs I started to write much more specific software for
only textual works and image manipulations.
You are speaking of ’structures and (complex) systems’, could you explain what
exactly you mean by that (/what they mean for you) and why these have a special interest for you.
I am interested of abstract systems, which relate abstract layers and elements to each other various
ways. Mostly they are stochastic, more specifically nonlinear systems (not necessarily chaotic...) And
abstract machines.
By structures, I mean all structures in constructing works like character combinations, ’word structures’,
visual components ’external’ characters, their relationships etc. Here is a simple example: for me all in
[#1-#46] are expressed numbers that always have relations between them.
An example: simple series ’3145’, where we can see that it has mirror structure in it (descending from 3
to 1, ascending from 4 to 5), also sum of first two numbers is 4 (=third member of series) and sum of
second and third (=5, last member). Next phase in construction could be taking mirror modulo 5 from
original which results series ’3521’. These two can be combined, we have again a new series, they can
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repeated, combined, extracted etc. whatever I am trying to achieve with them. Now you can see that
everything is made from first series (’3145’), this is minimalist approach, also numbers in this case
express structures and [#1-#46] is full of these.
” it wasn’t a big leap to generate/manipulate words or textual elements instead
of notes/phrases/musical motives”. Does your poetry relate also in other ways with your
No, there is only abstract structural relationship (well, somebody other probably disagree with me at this
point…) .
You mentioned that you use your own computer programs, which programming languages do
you use to write these programs?
First I use Linux; it is my own Linux distribution which is available from Internet. I have used several
programming languages including C, C++, AWK, Perl, Lua, IO, Forth and Lisp. I have written over
thousand programs and utilities in last three years for textual manipulation and image generation. Mostly
they are short, like in [#1-#46].In that book (its title comes from 46 consecutive days I wrote a program
and generated a poem/text and sent it to one listserv) one constrain was that maximum lines in a
program should never exceed 40.
Does each of your books/ e-books have another ”main theme”? Which are the subjects you are
writing about? Or is there no “subject” in the traditional sense and you are more interested in the
process itself of computer processing and manipulation of text and language?
There is ’main theme’, which is usually structure(s) I should and will use in that work. Usually my books
are extensions of my poems, I try to use book as its own form, not just a collection of poems from last N
years. The process itself, it is the subject; it is also the main theme and the content of the work.
Depending on the role that the computer plays in the creative process, one can distinguish
between the use of the computer as a medium or as a tool to produce art/poetry, and the use of the
computer as an originator of art/poetry. In the latter case one can portrait the process of programming
itself as the creative process of the artist.
Regarding your e-book [#1-#46] in this context, which was your role in the creative process? (Subquestion:
did you use text written by you as input for manipulation, or were the poems totally generated
by the program which you have written?)
For me computer is just a pen, or modern typewriter. Nothing else. I don’t use computer because it is
fast or because it makes choices for me. Part of my writing process is to convert my ideas to explicit
format and that’s the role of programming. In addition, most of my ideas and processes are not possible
to do without it, for instance nonlinear processes may be so complicated that it would be (almost)
impossible to formulate and ’run’ them manually or otherwise.
All poems/texts in [#1-#46] which use words/sentences etc. as source material are based on my own
source texts. There are also many texts/constructs without any textual source; they are totally generated
by computer.
The first part of your above answer “For me computer is just a pen, or modern typewriter.”
seams to be controversial with the rest of your answer.
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Yes, my answer IS controversial, I even noticed that when I sent it to you ! But I try to clarify this a bit.
By saying that computer is just a pen for me I tried to emphasize its role in process of creating my
works. I see the whole process as two-phase event:
P 1. The invention and development of an idea, no auxiliary “equipment”, I do all in my head, I don’t write
notes, calculations etc. When this first phase is over I have a finished formula, algorithm, recipe etc. in
my head. For me the work is ready in here, I don’t need to do anything else. But if I want other people to
see the same process as a work I need to continue phase 2.
P 2. Implementation phase: now I need computer, as a pen, for just to implement the idea for to some
form (text, image, composition). I don’t need to “create” anything, maybe adjust some minor things but
everything has been ready for this at the end of phase one.
And more, programming is a part of phase ONE ie. I don’t use computer, I make program ready in my
head, as a thought process. I am able to do these without using computer at all but
it would be (very) inconvenient.
In Bathhouse Magazine you say ” All three poems(#555 #556 #557) are based on Markov
chains, or some semi- Markovian process. Works are “pure” computer outputs, nothing has changed
after generation”. Does this also apply to the poems in your e-book [#1-#46] or did you use another
process? Could you describe this/these process in short/simple.
Yes, part of these works are generated by Markovian processes or are based on Markovian general idea
(i.e. the next state is dependent only current state and (conditionally) of its immediate history, meaning
that process has no memory or (usually) very short memory). However [#1-#46] have many different
processes and algorithms, that was one idea behind it, not only to generate a poem in a day (consecutive
days) but also to create a new process/algorithm for each day, original process without (if possible)
reference to already existed works (still there are references). I take two examples: #20 is based on
poem (textual work) which is fed to Postscript machine (ie. a program that generates Postscript code)
and #20 is part of its output. #35 is a mirror; you can read it backwards as well. It is generated same
program as #33, but the output is piped (fed again) to another program which added a mirror to it. These
are simple examples, another processes are bit more complicated using many pipes and feedback
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// 03.RESEARCH_______________________________________________
03.A. Background research in the field of concrete/visual and experimental poetry
03.A.1 A very brief history of poetry (general)
03.A.2 On modern Poetry (general)
03.A.3 Concrete Poetry/Visual Poetry
03.A.4 Contemporary Poetry[Experimental /Digital/Electronic/New Media/Computer Generated]
03.A. Background research in the field of concrete/visual and experimental poetry
This part of the research provides a short overview of poetic art, the history of modern poetry and some
definitions and examples of the poetic styles that are relevant to the subject of this project.
Poetry (ancient Greek: ðïéåù (poieo) = I create) is an art form in which human language is used for its
aesthetic qualities in addition to, or instead of, its notional and semantic content. It consists largely of
oral or written works in which language is used in a manner that is felt by its user and audience to differ
from ordinary prose. It may use condensed or compressed forms to convey emotions or ideas to the
reader’s or listener’s mind; it may also use devices such as assonance and repetition to achieve musical
or incantatory effects. Poems frequently rely for their effect on imagery, word association, and the
musical qualities of the language it self . Because of its nature of emphasizing linguistic form rather than
using language purely for its content, poetry is notoriously difficult to translate from one language into
another. Nuances and allusions acquiring their meaning within the context of a certain language can be
hardly interpreted in another language, while different readers may read/interpret a particular piece of
poetry in a different way. Despite the fact that there are indeed reasonable interpretations of a poem,
there can never be a definite, “correct” interpretation.
03.A.1 On modern Poetry (general)
The following is intended to be only a short overview of the historical development of poetry(mainly in
Europe), focusing on literary movements more or less relevant to JPK’s poetry, in order to build a
historical framework for the chapters to follow.
Poetry as an art form predates literacy. In pre-literate societies, poetry was frequently employed as a
means of recording oral history, storytelling (epic poetry), genealogy, law and other forms of expression
or knowledge that modern societies might expect to be handled in prose. Poetry is also often closely
identified with religious liturgy in these societies, as the formal nature of poetry makes it easier to
remember incantations, prophecies etc..
Some writers believe that poetry has its origins in song. Most of the characteristics that distinguish it
from other forms of spoken language – rhythm, rhyme, compression, intensity of feeling, the use of
refrains – appear to have come about from efforts to fit words to musical forms. However, in the
European tradition the earliest surviving poems, the Homeric and Hesiodic epics, identify themselves as
poems to be recited or chanted to a musical accompaniment rather than as pure songs. Another
interpretation is that rhythm, refrains, and kennings are essentially paratactic devices that enable the
reciter to reconstruct the poem from memory.
In preliterate societies, all these forms of poetry were composed for, and sometimes during,
performances. As such, there was a certain degree of fluidity to the exact wording of poems, given that
this could change from one performance or performer to another. The introduction of writing tended to
fix the content of a poem to the version that happened to be written down and survive. Written
composition also meant that poets began to compose not for an audience that was sitting in front of
them but for an absent reader. Later, the invention of printing tended to accelerate these trends. Poets
were now writing more for the eye than for the ear.
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The development of literacy gave rise to more personal, shorter poems intended to be sung. These are
called lyrics, which derives from the Greek lura or lyre (which was the instrument used to accompany
the performance of Greek lyrics from about the seventh century B.C. onward). The Greek’s practice of
singing hymns in large choruses gave rise, in the sixth century B.C., to dramatic verse, and to the
writing of poetic plays aimed to be performed in theatres.
During Medieval times, poetry usually came in the form of epics and ballads, telling of the deeds of hero
kings, knights in shining armour and damsels in distress. These were tales of bravery and chivalry, and
became very important means of story telling in an age when still most commoners could not read or
write. While epics were extremely long tales of heroism and daring, ballads tended to be much shorter
narrations of particular people’s stories or events. By the 1300s however, romantic epics were the chief
form of poetry in England and France. During the second half of the 1400’s new developments were
taking place in France and Italy producing two new forms of poetry: madrigals and pastorals. These
poetic forms were very different from the epics and ballads which had previously dominated literature.
Madrigals were love poems, and could usually be set to music, and Pastorals imitates and celebrates the
virtues of rural life, typically that of shepherds. In England during this period new poetry styles were
introduced: the alexandrine, the Italian sonnet and the terza rima.
Whilst the above is concerning European poetry, many Asian countries such as Japan were producing
their own acclaimed poetry. In Japan, the haiku was particularly successful. First documented in the 15th
century, it continues to be popular through to modern times. Haiku is a minimalist form of poetry. Its
three lines are composed of five, seven and five syllables respectively. A haiku describes a brief
moment, records an event; it paints a picture in words.
During the 1600s in Europe, two more forms of poetry had emerged. Metaphysical poets
were a loose group of British lyric poets of the 17th century, who shared an interest in metaphysical
concerns and a common way of investigating them. Their rigorous, energetic verse appeals to the
reader’s intellect rather than emotions, discarding intuition and mysticism in favor of rational discussion.
Their inventive, elaborate style was characterized by learned imagery and subtle argumentation, and the
“metaphysical conceit”, a figure of speech that employs unusual and paradoxical images. The Cavalier
poets meanwhile were marked out by their lifestyle and religion from the Puritans on the Parliamentarian
side; much of their poetry is light in style, and generally secular in subject.
In the late 18th and early 19th centuries in Europe the romantic period of poetry arises. Romanticism
was an artistic and intellectual movement in the history of ideas that stressed strong emotion—which
now might include trepidation, awe and horror as aesthetic experiences—the individual imagination as a
critical authority, which permitted freedom within or even from classical notions of form in art, and
overturning of previous social conventions, particularly the position of the aristocracy. There was a strong
element of historical and natural inevitability in its ideas, stressing the importance of “nature” in art and
In France Realism, a movement in visual arts and literature, started in the mid 19th century. In response
to the growing positivism after the French Revolution and the greater optimism with which humans
could understand the world through science, philosophy and the arts, the realists sought to render
everyday characters, situations, dilemmas, and events in an “accurate” (or realistic) manner. This is in
contrast with the earlier romanticism, in which subjects were treated idealistically. Realists tended to
discard theatrical drama and classical forms of art to depict commonplace or ’realistic’ themes.
Naturalism is an outgrowth of Realism, a prominent literary movement in late 19th century France and
elsewhere. Naturalistic writers were influenced by the evolution theory of Charles Darwin. They believed
that one’s heredity and surroundings decide one’s character. Whereas realism sought only to describe
subjects as they really are, naturalism also attempted to determine “scientifically” the underlying forces
(i.e. the environment or heredity) influencing these subjects’ actions. They are both opposed to
romanticism (in which subjects may receive a highly symbolic, idealistic, or even supernatural treatment).
Naturalistic works often include uncouth or sordid subject matter.
In the closing decades of the 19th century and the opening years of the 20th century the Symbolist
Movement flourished. It was a complex literary movement that deliberately extended the evocative
power of words to express feelings, sensations and states of mind that lie beyond everyday awareness.
– 15 -
The symbols created by Charles Baudelaire (1821-67) brought the invisible into being through the visible,
and linked the invisible through other sensory perceptions, notably smell and sound. Stéphane Mallarmé
(1842-98) theorized that symbols were of two types : one created by the projection of inner feelings
onto the world outside the other existing as nascent words that which slowly permeated the
consciousness and expressed a state of mind initially unknown to their originator. None of this came
about without cultivation, and indeed dedication. Poets focused on the inner life, writing in allusive,
enigmatic, musical and ambiguous styles. This principally French movement of the fin de siècle based on
the structure of thought rather than poetic form or image. Rare words were introduced, as well as
syntactical intricacies and private associations. Metonymy replaced metaphor as symbol, and was in turn
replaced by single words which opened imagination to multiple levels of signification. Rhythm, rhyme
and stanza patterning were loosened or rejected and syntax was rearranged.
Expressionism is a phase of twentieth-century writing that rejects naturalism and romanticism to express
important “inner truths”. The style is generally declamatory or even apocalyptic, endeavoring perhaps to
awaken the fears and aspirations that belong to all men, and which European civilization has rendered
effete or inauthentic. The movement drew on Rimbaud and Nietzsche, and is best represented by
German poetry of the 1910-20.Many German poets were antagonistic to contemporary society,
particularly distrustful of commercial and capitalist attitudes, though others again saw technology as the
escape from a perceived “crisis in the old order”. Expressionism was very heterogeneous, conferring with
Imagism, Vorticism, Futurism, Dada and early Surrealism, many of which crop up in English, French,
Russian and Italian poetry of the period. Political attitudes tended to the revolutionary, and technique was
overtly experimental.
Futurism was initially a literary movement started by the Italian poet and former symbolist Filippo
Marinetti in 1909 with the manifesto “Le Futurisme” , published in the French paper Le Figaro.
The name Futurism, coined by Marinetti, reflected his emphasis on discarding what he conceived to be
the static and irrelevant art of the past and celebrating change, originality, and innovation in culture and
society. Futurism emphasized the dynamism, speed, energy, and power of the machine and the vitality,
change, and restlessness of modern life in general.
Marinetti’s manifesto glorified the new technology of the automobile and the beauty of its speed, power,
and movement. He exalted violence and conflict and called for the sweeping repudiation of traditional
cultural, social, and political values and the destruction of such cultural institutions as museums and
Futurism’s intenton was emphasize the expressiveness (expressive use) of language.The ’mots in
liberta’ poetry of Italian Futurism contained no adjectives, adverbs, finite verbs, punctuation — anything
that could inhibit language’s fluidity, slowing its inherent motion. It was mostly a collage of nouns, and
this form of poetry was intended to be an uninterrupted sequence of new images. Their ’parole in
liberta’ poetry functioned on a level below ’mots in liberta’, at what the Futurists believed to be the basis
of all language: onomatopoeia. This they defined in their technical manifestos of consisting of four basic
types: realistic, analogical, abstract (the ’sound of a state of mind’), and psychic harmony (the fusion of
two or three of the abstract representations).
Though strictly speaking, ’parole in liberta’ is not sound poetry, this type of onomatopoeia approached
the kind of phonetic poetry that the later Dadaists would develop.
Dada was an international movement in literature and art, born of the widespread disillusionment
engendered by World War I. It was initiated by a group of young artists and writers, such as Tristan
Tzara, Jacob van Hoddis, Richard Huelsenbeck, Hans Arp, and Hugo Ball, at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich
in 1916, and afterwards spread throughout Europe and the United States.
The Dadaists believed that the devastation of the First World War was the result of the stale, corrupt,
nationalistic cultural values of European civilization and its political, philosophical, and artistic traditions.
According to the Dadaists, after the destruction of all valid values and civil norms by the War, and the
cultural emptiness resulting from it, there could no longer be any valid ideology, and particularly not in
art. So Dada’s point of departure was “a disgust with all forms of modern civilization” (Tzara) precipitated
– 16 -
by the war; its aims were the relativization of all values (“There exists nothing but simultaneity, even in
values.” [Heulsenbeck]) ; a complete break with tradition (“We don’t want to be reminded that anybody
existed before us.” [Tzara]) and the systematic destruction of culture and civilization (“We must smash
the Germans’ cultural ideology for them.” [Huelsenbeck]). Dada attacked conventional standards of
aesthetics and behavior and stressed absurdity and the role of the unpredictable in artistic creation.
Dada poems tend to share a primary concern with chance operations and with the destruction of
conventional syntax and semantics. Hugo Ball sought to write purely phonetic poems, Tzara suggested
the cutting up of newspapers as the basis for a chance-dictated poetry, while at the Cabaret Voltaire
members of the group – acknowledging their debt to Futurism – would read two or more poems
simultaneously in different languages. Key to all of these literary activities was the central idea of
performance or of gesture, and an opposition to classical ideas of the permanent art object.
Dada’s nihilistic critique of society and its unrestrained attacks on all formal artistic conventions found no
immediate inheritors, but its preoccupation with the bizarre, the irrational, and the fantastic bore fruit in
the Surrealist movement. The Surrealists and Abstract Expressionists later employed Dada artists’
techniques of creation involving accident and chance. Nevertheless, Dada had far-reaching effects on
the art of the 20th century and it was to become increasingly influential in art and literature from the
1950s onwards.
Modernism is variously argued to be a period, style, genre, or a combination of the above, and its
evolution and decline of influence is gradual and hard to pin down to specific dates so that Modernism
has no very precise boundaries. Nevertheless, Modernism began to get under way in the closing years
of the 19th century, coalesced immediately following World War I, and was influential after World War II
into approximately the late 1960s, when postmodernism began to take hold, and there are various
movements closely associated with this term. It arose from a backlash against Victorian ideals, which in
the widespread turmoil and suffering of the early 20th century seemed questionable and affected
painting, architecture, fiction, drama, music and poetry.
Generally speaking , Modernism in its various strains and manifestations was an attempt to overcome
certain restrictions in traditional poetry. Poets wrote to explore their own lives and preoccupations and
had a different public, and certainly no longer an aristocratic patronage, while these differing
circumstances led to changes in views, themes and diction. Poets, moreover, drew their inspiration not
from pastoral nature but from the experience of metropolis, and the great social and scientific
cataclysms that swept the century. The themes of Modernism began well back in the nineteenth
century, and many did not reach fruition until the latter half of the twentieth century, so that Modernism
is perhaps better regarded as part of a broad plexus of concerns which are variably represented in a
hundred and twenty years of European writing — experimentation, anti-realism, individualism, and
Aspects of Modernist writing are radical aesthetics, technical experimentation, spatial or rhythmic rather
than chronological narrative form. One result of the attention to the modernist experimentation on form
was an unprecedented rise in literary criticism and magazines.
In the modernist view, poems should not represent, not “exist as a vessel of form conveying or holding a
separate meaning”[1], but exist in themselves. They are self-referential structures of meaning, while their
“existence as a work must be poetical”[2].
At the edge between modernism and post-modernism (deconstruction) we can find the notion that
poems, once created, have an existence independent of the author’s intentions, of the historical context
or any social purpose. The dislocation of the authorial presence is achieved through the application of
such techniques as collage, found poetry, visual poetry, the juxtaposition of apparently unconnected
materials, etc, which are further marginal points between modernism and post-modernism.
In Modernism poems are seen as fictions and not representations of reality, though they may give
significance, value and order to our perceptions.Poems have the ability to hold something in the mind
with uncommon sensitivity, with uncommon exactness, and to hold it there by attention to the language
in which they’re formulated. Modernist poets were concerned with breaking away from established
rules, traditions and conventions, and finding a distinctly contemporary mode of expression, through
many experiments in form and style. The chief concern was language and how to use it, and with writing
– 17 -
03.A.2 Concrete Poetry/Visual Poetry
The fusion of the visual and the literary is as early as antiquity. Thus, beginning with the origins of
writing, the picture alphabets, we have examples of the mixing of image and text from the Greek
magical papyri to the early figure poems of the Greek bucolic poets, Porfiry’s Latin grid poems, the
variants of the successors to the Carolingean Renaissance, the Baroque text figures, the scrolls of the
sixteenth century and their predecessors up to the free text-pictures of the turn of the century
somewhat as in Mallarmé and Apollinaire, the experiments of the futurists and dadaists followed,
continued, and expanded, to entirely unique forms brought through by the artists of concrete and visual
poetry of the second half of the twentieth century.
Mallarmé (un coup de dés – 1897) “subdivisions prismatiques de l’idée”; space (“blancs”) and typographical
devices as substantive elements of composition. Joyce (finnegans wake): word-ideogram; organic
interpenetration of time and space. Pound (cantos, ideogram), cummings: atomization of words,
physiognomical typography; expressionistic emphasis on space.And on a secondary plane, apollinaire
(calligrammes) and the experimental attempts of the futurists-dadaists are at the root of the new poetic
procedure which tends to impose itself on a conventional organization whose formal unity is the verse
(even free-) .[4]
The term concrete poetry emerged in 1953 in a manifesto by the Swedish artist Övind Fahlström. In
1954 Eugen Gomringer defines and describes concrete poetry in his manifesto “Vom Vers zur
Konstellationen” (From Verse to Constellation), without using the term. This he first uses in 1956, after
which he met with representatives of the Brazilian25Noigandres group at the Ulm Hochschule (Ulm
College). There Gomringer was secretary to the Swiss constructivist Max Bill; this line of connection
shows the closeness of concrete art and concrete poetry. Gomringer prefers to refer to a much earlier
essay of Ernest Francisco Fenollosa (1853-1908), “The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for
Poetry,” published by Ezra Pound in The Little Review in 1919, in which “concrete poetry” had already
been mentioned. Concrete Poetry is a multi-faceted International movement, a poetic practice intially
formulated in Brazil and Switzerland. Concrete poetry deals with the relation between the visible form
and the intellectual substance of words. It is visual not because it uses images but because it
incorporates the “optical forms ” of the words to its semantic meaning – as completion, expansion, or
negation. The intermedial character of Concrete Poetry lies in the interplay between the semiotic
system of reading (typical of literature) and the semiotic system of viewing (typical of art).
The first poets of Concrete Poetry – Swiss-Bolivian Eugen Gomringer and the São Paulo poets (Augusto
de Campos, Haroldo de Campos, and Décio Pignatari) – shared concerns with radical renovation of
poetry and its visual dimension. While Augusto had already published fragmented and polychromatic
texts, 1956 marks the official launching of concrete poetry in Brazil.
The First National Show of Concrete Art included posters and non-linear poems of extreme
minimalization (geometrically-shaped word designs). In 1958, the Noigrandes journal featured the “Pilot
Plan for Concrete Poetry” (in Portuguese and English), a manifesto and statement of new creative
principles: “recognition of graphic space as a structural agent;” “spatial and visual syntax” “ideogram: an
appeal to non-verbal communications;” “concrete poetry: tension of word-things in space-time.”
From Pilot Plan for Concrete Poetry (1958)
Augusto de Campos, Decio Pignatari, Haroldo de Campos: Brazil
– the concrete poet does not turn away from words, he does not glance at them obliquely: he goes directly to their
center, in order to live and vivify their facticity.
– the concrete poet sees the word in itself — a magnetic field of possibilities — like a dynamic object, a live cell, a
complete organism, with psycho-physico-chemical proprieties, touch antennae circulation heart: live.
– 18 -
– far from attempting to evade reality or to deceive it, concrete poetry is against self-debilitating introspection and
simpleton simplistic realism. It intends to place itself before things, open, in a position of absolute realism.
– against perspectivistic syntactic organization where words sit like “corpses at a banquet,” concrete poetry offers a
new sense of structure, capable of capturing without loss or regression the contemporaneous essence of
poeticizable experience.
– the poetic nucleus is no longer placed in evidence by the successive and linear chaining of verses, but by a system
of relationships and equilibriums between all parts of the poem.
– graphic-phonetic functions-relations (“factors of proximity and likeness”) and the substantive use of space as an
element of composition maintain a simultaneous dialectic of eye and voice, which, allied with the ideogrammic
synthesis of meaning, creates a sentient “verbivocovisual” totality. In this way words and experience are juxtaposed
in a tight phenomenological unit impossible before.
During the late fifties Germany began to emerge as an important center of concrete poetry activity. From
1957 through 1959 the “Darmstadt Circle” published the magazine MATERIAL, and brought out the first
international anthology of concrete poetry in 1957.In 1959, poets held the first international show of
concrete poetry in Stuttgart, Germany. In the early 1960s, exhibitions occurred in various European
nations, Japan, and the United States. Around 1964 Augusto de Campos conceived “popcretos”
(collages/montages,) while Pignatari and others drafted semaphoric “semiotic poems” with lexical keys.
From this point on verbal and graphic art came into increasing proximity.
Although there is a confusion in terminology, there are some requirements that the various kinds of
concrete/visual poetry fulfill.
+abolition of verse;
+”verbivocovisual” texts, which means the organization of a poem according to graphic criteria in order to
bring out the material aspect of the word, its plasticity and sound – poetry to be seen and to be heard (for
eye and ear);
+ partial or total elimination of ties with speech, for a direct connection between words and phrases;
+ integration between verbal and non-verbal, word and image.
+ Emotions and ideas are not the physical materials of poetry
+ new language reference systems, whereby language no longer means only alphabetic language
+ the concrete poet is concerned with making an object to be perceived rather than read.
+ reduced language… In some cases non-linguistic material is used instead of language
+ concerned with establishing the linguistic materials in a new relationship to space (the page or its
equivalent) and/or time
The various definitions of concrete poetry could be reduced to the same formula: form = content/content
= form. Individual poets tend to say this in less general terms to suit their own solutions of the formcontent
problem. Gomringer retains the term “constellations” when speaking of his own poems. The
Noigandres group agreed to define their concept of the concrete poem in terms of the “ideogram,” which
they defined as:
appeal to nonverbal communication. Concrete poem communicates its own structure: structure-content.
Concrete poem is an object in and by itself not an interpreter of exterior objects and/or more or less
subjective feelings. Its material: word sound, visual form, semantical charge. its problem: a problem of
functions-relations of this material.
– 19 -
The concrete poem deals with a communication of forms, of a structure-content, not with the usual
message communication, moving away from syntax and grammar to relations of single words or signs.
The reader is intended engage in the process of the poems structure making his own interpretation of it.
The publication of Theory of Concrete Poetry (1965) marks the “official” end of the Brazilian movement,
but visual/material elements are constant and essential features of non-traditional post-concrete poetry.
During the 1970s and 1980s, the Noigrandes group has collaborated in “intersemiotic creation,” a trend
highlighting utilization and interplay of different media. The concrete poets have had many works reinterpreted
by diverse graphic artists, designers, and musical composers.
“Works of the 80s and 90s are, on the one hand, freer in relation to the orthodoxy of the first years and,
on the other, more intensely participatory in the challenge of new technologies, which have produced
digitalized poems, graphic and sound animation, and multimedia and intermedia processes. In this way,
the ’wishful thinking’ of the 50s came about with computers, an ideal space for “verbivocovisual”
VISUAL AND CONCRETE POETRY SINCE THE 1960’S (April 5-7, 1995) (Questions formulated by
K.David Jackson, Eric Vos & Johanna Drucker. Translated by K.David Jackson) ].
The opening out and diffusion of concrete poetry into a variety of different programs – dependent to a
large extent on individual artist personalities – is accompanied by the volatile development in the field of
technical media.
– 20 -
03.A.3 Contemporary [Experimental/Computer/Digital/Electronic/New
Media/Computer Generated Poetry]
The genesis of computer-based literature lies within the sphere of experimental and concrete poetry in
the late 1950s and early 1960s, when progressive, experimental art started to show an interest in the
options opening up in the young and still relatively in accessible field of computer technology.
First ’stochastic’ or ’artificial’ texts were produced in 1959 by Theo Lutz within the Stuttgart group
surrounding Max Bense, with the help of a program run on the large computer Zuse Z 22. Parallelly,
experiments and first exhibitions with digitally created pictures took place. Jean Baudot (1964 in
Montreal) and Gerhard Stickel (1966 in Darmstadt) produced ’automatic texts’.
The results of these experiments and the actual processes in the machine were actually less significant
than the question how to interpret automatic text generation with respect to its aesthetic functions, e.g.
in relation to the creativity of a human author. This question continues to play an important role today
within the context of text generators and electronically produced information processes.
These early approaches were accompanied in particular by subtly differentiated poetology that received
its impulses from cybernetics, the information theory and semiotics. As early as 1950, the year of Allan
Turing’s pioneering essay “Can a machine think?”, the synthesis of man and machine was explained with
an ontological bent by Max Bense in “Literaturmetaphysik”. The essays of Oswald Wieners, a member
and mentor of the Viennese group, are particularly relevant from a poetic point of view. In them the
“Turing Machine” is propagated for as a model of understanding and of aesthetic processes. In the book
“die verbesserung von mitteleuropa, roman” 1969 (The improvement of Central Europe – novel) his “bioadapter”
concept ironically anticipated the move into cyberspace. In the USA Aaron Marcus has been
exploring virtual and interactive text space in his “Cybernetic Landscapes” since the end of the sixties,
and has developed a poetics program of interactivity, simulation and movement. In France, too, the
poetic analysis of computers has been continuous since the early seventies. Backgrounds for this were
the statements of the “workshop for potential literature” (OULIPO) whose members Paul Fournel, Italo
Calvino and Jacques Roubaud were concerned with different procedures of “computer-aided creation
processes”. A basic principle of OULIPO is writing poetry under more ore less complicated, restrictive
rules (contraintes).Note: ( Oulipo n+7 zb)These constraints encompass many areas; among other things,
it led to the idea of writing poems in programming languages such as Algol. The conference on writers
and computers held in 1977 in the Centre George Pompidou was a prime motivation force encouraging
Oulipo members such as Paul Fournel, Jaques Roubaud, and Italo Calvino to use computers for their
texts. Fournel and Roubaud were also founding members of ALAMO(Atelier de Litterature Assiste par la
Mathematique es les Ordinatuers) in 1989, a group that concentrated exclusively on the connection
between literature and computers, especially as pertaining to the aspect of artificial, algorithmic text
generation. In 1988, a new group named L.A.I.R.E. formed and, unlike ALAMAO, this group is today still
dedicated primarialy to issues of time structures between production and reception of multimedial and
animated digital texts.
As a form of language art within media art, digital poetry caused changes in language and the linguistic
base of the digital medium. As a form of language art within literature, digital poetry expands and renews
the program of experimental writing.
There are many types of digital/experimental poetry, such as hypertext, kinetic poetry, code poetry, as
well as other kinds of poetry that take advantage of the computer in order to create works that are
interactive, or involve sound poetry, or take advantage of things like listservs, blogs, and other forms of
network communication to create communities of collaborative writing and publication (as in poetical
wikis). Digital computers allow the creation of art that spans different media: text, images, sounds, and
interactivity via programming. Contemporary kinds of poetry have therefore taken advantage of this
toward the creation of works that synthesize both arts and media. Whether a work is poetry or visual art
or music or programming is sometimes not clear, but one expects an intense engagement with language
in poetical works.
Concerning a definition of digital poetry, Friedrich W. Block writes in his article “Digital poetics or On the
evolution of experimental media poetry”:
– 21 -
“Within the discourse digital poetry is ascribed an identity so long as it specifically deals with the
conditions which computer, Internet (computer networks), and certain software programs and
programming languages have to offer. This means that digital poetry is defined by the fact that it may be
produced, spread, saved, and received only under these conditions, and not in any other way. In the
main the following possibilities have been derived from this or are named repeatedly as criteria:
+ the mechanical, algorithmic generation of texts (supporting or complete)
+ electronic linkage (in the computer, on Intranet or Internet) of fragments and files of the same or also
different media types, derived from this the
+ multi- or non-linearity of both text structure and individual reading matter and if required
+ multimediality and animation of texts in the broadest sense
+ interactivity as a ’dialog’ between machine (hard and software) and user as a – dependent on the
programming — reversible or irreversible intervention into the display or data base text, as a telematic
communication between different protagonists on the computer network; derived from this
+ the shift or even de-differentiation of traditional action roles such as author, reader, editor.
These criteria are specific enough to delimit digital literature from other literature. They have but one
flaw: they say nothing about the aesthetic or artistic state of digital texts. Online shops, route planners,
library catalogs, multimedia encyclopedia, scientific mailing lists or newsforums, erotic chats, search
machines or even any random homepage might just as well be included here.”In order to sharpen an
aesthetic perspective there are two interrelated ways. One option is to direct awareness on digital
medium itself and how it is staged poetically, based on the changes in language due to the digital
medium’s specific structure in contrast to other media. This approach concentrates on the structure of
computers and the Internet, and deals – from a poetical point of view – primarily with the question of
how text and language are changed by the medium. What is perceived on the screen is based on various
symbolic structures, such as ASCII characters or software programs. That means that other text forms
generate the perceivable written or spoken language (as well as pictures, sounds, films, ect) in the first
place and thus significantly change the structure of texts.
The other option is based on isolated “poetological” trends that could be observed since the nineteenth
century and were then formulated explicitly as programmatic approaches of experimental poetry. Since
the mid-twentieth century, an increased reflection on media conditions for art could be observed, so in
this context language art could be characterized as “media poetry”. At the core of such media poetry, is
the relationship of language of writing, picture and sounds to the technological medium ( books,
typewriters, photography, film, electronic sound, letters, fax, radio, television, video, holography,
computers). The history of digital poetry itself shows that it is a good idea to be understood not as an
avant-garde, radical innovation, but as an expansion within media-oriented or experimental language art.
Certain key terms of media poetry can also be found in reference to digital poetry in a specifically
changed or expanded form: Networking, hypermediality, interactivity, processuality and medial selfreference.
Generally these concepts are overlapping in artistic projects and can only be separated by
“poetological” or analytical perspective.
Networking characterizes, for one thing, document linkage that is made possible through the networking
of computers, as illustrated by the www; it also denotes interaction among people via computer
networks, independently of space and time. Art of the twentieth century continually discussed the
network aspect of language, like for example ’within text’ in the poem collages of Dada and other
experiments in intertextuality such as the cut-up technique, or (poetic)happenings, mailart and artistic
cooperatives such as in Fluxus, which conceptualized the networking ’nodes’ of personal, informative
and medial art. Digital poetry reflects and illustrates how networks can be momentously technologized
as social and communicative connections and as document links in computers and networks such as the
“Hypermediality”, in discourse on digital texts, are considered an expansion of hypertext, except that not
only text files, but also audio, pictures and video files are linked and presented as an “integrated data
work” (Ascott 1999).The idea is not merely to link different media formats into a multimedia show, but to
observe the technological and cultural qualities of media. “Hypermediality” not only refers to a visual,
acoustic integrated data work, but also to the programming level, which enables the transformation and
interaction of the code, needed to generate the work.
– 22 -
Interactivity is related to the interest in processes in which not only the activity of the producer is
conceptualized but also that of the audience. Starting in 1950, the expansion of the concept of art toward
more open structures and processes generally brought an aesthetic consideration of symbolic, cognitive,
and communicative processes and, specifically, the direct involvement of the audience or recipient. This
applied to intermedia and action or happening art, Fluxus and conceptual art, as well as experimental
poetry, which developed in close contact with these approaches.The recipient is active, understands and
completes the creative process, and he/she is an ideal reference point not only for open and selfreflective
perception and interpretation processes, but also for creative intervention in the art process.
The actions of the user are programmed in many ways. One example of these actions is exemplification,
perhaps as a switch or form or enter function, another is that the user acts within the framework of set
rules or appear physically in the game with the machine(or even as a part of it) as in interactive
installations. In any case, interactivity thrives from the dialog between user and computers, which are
conceived as similar, but in fact very different poles of communication process.
“Processuality” refers to media poetry’s interest in processes of the open work; the “work in movement”.
This has not to do only with the completion of the work through some action by the recipient (which was
Umberto Eco’s emphasis), but also with the dynamic nature of linguistic or semiotic processes in the
broader sense. For digital poetry incompleteness and dynamics play an important role, such as the
relationship between the perceivable (movement as animation, as a material movement of the text) and
the processes that creates/produces what is perceived. Artistic interest is directed towards, for example,
the change of aesthetic experience of time in the electronic language and symbol space, or the focus
might be on symbolic transformation processes
Medial self-reference is usually implied along with each of the other concepts mentioned previously. It
refers to poetic interest in the concrete (as defined, for instance, by concrete poetry) material of the
language itself. That means language in its use in perception and communication, or its acoustic or textgraphic/
visual expressive side, as well as in its inventory of elements and rules, grammar and semantics.
Thus, digital poetry is concerned especially with the observation of specific digital or hypermedia
structures and processes by and with language. This has to include procedures that implement source
code, programming and interfaces “self-referentially”, that is, using them as a medium in order to refer to
them as form.
From the above, regarding the aesthetics of digital poetry, one can summarize that this artistic sphere
depicts, like none other, the function of language art in technological age with a definitely critical “look
into the internal dynamics of technological ways of thinking and patterns of action”(Segeberger,
1994).This also implies continual ideological critism of technology, a clear expression of which has yet to
be formulated. Digital poetry intensifies and sheds light on the function that the experimental program of
media poetry has, since the 1950s, generally satisfied to the extent that the technology question is
treated not only thematically but indeed primarily” technologically”.
Thus, there is not another literary field like digital poetry in which the concern has been so intensively
with new media technologies and with things technical – not simply thematically, regarding content, but
primarily in the formal structures themselves.
– 23 -
03.B. Theory Research – Philosophy, Literary Theories & Critism
03.B.1 Introduction
03.B.2 Reader – Response
03.B.3 Structuralism
03.B.4 Semiology/Semiotics
03.B.5 Wittgenstein
03.B.1 Introduction
The above map shows loosely where the different critical approaches fall. The work itself is placed in the center because all
approaches must deal, to some extent or another, with the text itself.Generally speaking on can say that there are three major
categories of interpretational approaches:
sociological-historical approach
For example Feminist, Minority, Marxist theories, which also may fit in:
(1) Historical: if the author’s attitudes are being examined in relation to his times (i.e. was Shakespeare a feminist for his times,
though he might not be considered so today?)
(2) Mimetic: when asking how well characters accord with the real world. Does a black character act like a black person would, or
is he a stereotype? Are women being portrayed accurately? Does the work show a realistic economic picture of the world?
psychological approach
Can be applied in different ways:
(1) in Historical / Biographical: to analyze the author’s personality in relation to his/her work
(2) in Mimetic: to consider if characters are acting by “real world” standards and with recognizable psychological motivations
(3) in Archetypal: when the idea of the Jungian collective unconscious is included
(4) in the Reader-Response Approach: when the psychology of the reader–why he sees what he sees in the text–is examined.
textual approach
For example Formalism, Structuralism and Deconstruction.
These approaches deal primarily with the text itself and not with any of the external conditions or factors such as the real world
(Feminist, Minority, Marxist ect. approaches), the audience (Reader-Response Theory), or even the author him/herself
(historical/biographical approach) in their analysis.
– 24 -
Stephen Farrell, graphic designer, in Émigré No 37(interview, “Joint ventures” collaboration between writer
(poet) and designer):”Design functions as a grammar linguistically. You know, look at what has fueled much
of design for designers – literary theory! […]“
03.B.2 Reader – Response Approach
As JPK himself states that the most important process is, beside his creative process itself and the
machine processes through which the poems are generated, the response of the reader (re)processing
his work, I think that some of the ideas of the Reader-Oriented Theory and Critism do apply here.
In the Reader –Response Theory, which became recognized as a distinct critical approach in the 1970s
(when it found a particularly congenial political climate in the growing anti-authoritarianism within the
academy), is concerned with how the work is viewed by the perceiver (reader, spectator, etc.).
According to this approach, it is the reader that creates meaning, and not the author or the work. And
with this redefinition of the work as something that is meaningfully only in the mind of the reader,
comes the redefinition of the reader. The reader is no longer the passive recipient of certain fixed ideas
that an author has “planted” into a text, but has an active role. These approach seem to apply to some
of JPK’s views as, he himself states that is “not interested to say things, to confess, to say that
something is right or wrong.” He leaves that to the reader, as he trusts “that he/she is ’competent’ using
his/her own mind, their thinking process which I just try to ’activate’ or ’start’.
Stephen Farrell, graphic designer, in Émigré No 37(interview, “Joint ventures” collaboration between
writer (poet) and designer) argues:
“Designers need to internalize the text before they begin designing. If you allow yourself to be a reader,
the voice emanates from the work. When I am reading the words, I begin to hear the kind of voice that I
would like to put with the words. I put “resonance” after the word “voice” because I equate a lot of design
with sound. When the words are set in text, it is my job as the person who’s giving it form to be that
throat, that body, to create the sounds, to create a resonance, to create a background, to create the
stage [….].
Designers have to be really good readers and listeners.”
When talking about “the reader”, different Reader-Response theorists mean different things. Since a
detailed analysis of the different types of readers would exceed the purpose of this project , I will just
mention some of the approaches. For some critics, readers are abstract or hypothetical entities and even
these are of various sorts. There is a distinction between narrates(specified by the narrator), implied
readers(for example” reader created by the work”, Wayne Booth; “embodies all those predispositions
necessary for a literary work to exercise its effect”, Iser), intended(virtual?, “reader consciously or
unconsciously envisioned by the author when the text was produced”) readers, ideal readers(“who
possesses the competence to understand all parts of the text with absolute clarity”) and postulated
readers. In contrast to those who write about hypothetical readers are those critics who focus on the
activities of real(existing) readers. Again, here different critics have different approaches to the
perspective from which they treat the reader (cultural context of the reader, psychological context of the
reader, gender or historical context).
So Reader-response criticism is less a unified critical school than a group of approaches to understand
literature, approaches that share an emphasis on the reader’s role in the creation of the meaning of a
(literary or oher) work.
As the poems in [#1-#46] do not consist of any natural language, but are written (computer generated) in
invented language(s), it is difficult to memorize them, which means that the poems themselves are
indeterminate and they might change from reading to reading. Due to the nature of these poems I
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conclude that it is necessary to have a closer look at the text itself, its structure, rather than only to
attempt an interpretation from the point of view of a real reader as mentioned above.
Theories that deal primarily with the text itself and not with any of the external conditions/factors are,
among others, structuralism and deconstruction.
The truth is that depending on one’s presuppositions one could argue that either approach would be the
most approximate. At a first sight it appears that the ideas of deconstruction are implemented in JPK’s
poems in [#1-#46].Nevertheless, after a closer look at the texts, and having in mind that the poems
consist of invented language(s) and not of any natural or machine language, one might say that JPK is
more interested in constructing new (language) systems and structures, rather then deconstructing
existing ones (by showing how its basic units of structure-binary pairs and the rules for their
combination-contradict their own logic), which leads me to examine the poems in relation with some of
the Structuralists ideas. JPK himself states that beside the process of creating the poems, another main
subject of his works are structures. Furthermore, he argues that ” by structures I mean all structures in
constructing works. Like character combinations, ’word structures’, visual components, ’external
characters’, their relationship ect.”.
Before having a closer look at some of the Structualists ideas in relation ôï JPK’s poems, it is interesting
to mention that there have been theorists such as Jonathan Culler who combined some Reader-
Response methods with Structuralism. Even though Structuralism reads everything in a synchronic way,
looking at the text all-at-once as a finished structure, and Reader-Response approach works
diachronically, following the reader’s halting progress from beginning to end of the work, these two
ways of interpretive reading complement each other – according to Culler – if used carefully. Here it is
interesting to point out the dimension of time mentioned in conjunction with the reading process, and to
remember that time also plays a significant role, as mentioned in chapter “creation process”, in the whole
process with which JPK creates/generates these poems.
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03.B.3 Structuralism
Structuralism is an approach (theory) that grew to become one of the most widely used methods of
analyzing language, culture, philosophy of mathematics, and society in the second half of the 20th
century, using culturally interconnected signs to reconstruct systems of relationships rather than
studying isolated, material things in themselves. Structuralism, however, does not refer to a clearly
defined ’school’ of authors, although the work of Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure is generally is
generally considered a starting point. Anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss used structuralism to study the
kinship systems of different societies. According to Structuralism, no single element within a system
has meaning, except as an integral part of a set of “structural” connections. These interconnections are
said to of a binary nature, and are viewed as the permanent, organizational categories of experience
itself. Structuralism has been influential in literary criticism and history, as with the work of Michel
Foucault and Roland Barthes, who later pass on to poststructualism approaching deconstruction.
The term “Structuralism”, however, does not refer to a clearly defined ’school’ of authors, although the
work of Ferdinand de Saussure is generally considered as a starting point. Structuralism is best seen as a
general approach with many different variations.
Here I will focus on some ideas of Saussure, which I believe, after research and a discussion with JPK,
relate to some of JPK’s ideas in his poems [#1-#46] and are important for an examination of the latter.
Structuralists are interested in the interrelationship between small units, also called “surface
phenomena,” and rules, which are the ways that units can be put together.
Saussure sees language as a system of signs in which words (signifiers) have only some arbitrary
relation to what they signify (the actual “meaning” of the word). The sign is the smallest unit within
language capable of signification, and these small units are combined by certain rules in order to form a
system. This idea also applies to JPK’s poems in [#1-#46].His poems can be seen as a collection of units
(letters, signs) which are combined through certain rules into a system. The rules with which he
combines the small units are implemented (defined) in the software programs he writes for generating
his poems. As it is already mentioned, he has written 46 different small programs, one for each poem,
thus the rules with which the units are combined vary from poem to poem purposefully. Consequently,
one can say that, each poem is a unique system of signs combined by a rule that generate for each
poem a unique invented (non-existing) language (system).
“A sign is the basic unit of langue (a given language at a given time). Every langue is a complete system
of signs. Parole (the speech of an individual) is an external manifestation of langue.”
Another notion that JPK shares, in his poems of [#1-#46], with the ideas of Saussure is that of the binary
system Signifier/Signified. According to Saussure [6] the linguistic sign is a “double entity”, uniting not a
thing and a name, but a concept and its material agent (e.g. a sound, an image, etc.).The sign has a
binary nature: it is composed of two distinct but inseparable parts, the Signifier and the Signified. The
Signifier (sound, image, etc.) is the material aspect of the sign — the written or spoken word, for
example “dog” or “chair” – whereas the Signified is the concept itself that results in the mind – for
example the idea of a dog or a chair. Therefore, the relationship between the Signifier and the Signified
is, according to Saussure, completely arbitrary, a matter of convention. This means that words (signifiers)
have only arbitrary relations to what they actually mean , there is nothing intrinsing in either the thing or
the word that necessitates their connection .
In the context of natural language, Saussure stressed that there is no inherent, essential, self-evident or
’natural’ connection between the signifier and the signified – between the sound or visual form of a word
and the concept to which this refers. For instance, languages differ, of course, in how they refer to the
same referent. No specific signifier is ’naturally’ more suited to a signified than any other signifier; in
principle any signifier could represent any signified. An example of this is the fact that there are different
words, in different languages, for the same thing. Dog is “dog” in English, “perro” in Spanish, “chien” in
French, “Hund” in German. Another example is that one could easily call the thing we call “dog” a “cat”;
the sign “dog” is understandable only because we have agreed that the word “dog” will refer to a fourlegged
barking animal. We might have chosen any other combination of letters, “cat” for instance as
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The arbitrariness principle can be applied not only to the sign, but to the whole sign-system. The
fundamental arbitrariness of language is apparent from the observation that each language involves
different distinctions between one signifier and another (e.g. ’tree’ and ’free’) and between one signified
and another (e.g. ’tree’ and ’bush’). The signified is clearly arbitrary if reality is perceived as a seamless
continuum. JPK is interested in this arbitrariness of the relationship of Signifier and Signified and reorganizes
constantly this relationship from poem to poem, as it was “from one language to another”. So
he does not only change the rules(“grammar”) with which the small units(signs) are combined into a
(language) system, but also he rearranges the relationship between Signifier and Signified: he constructs
invented signifiers (for example ” uL&DSouth&g”) and one could assign to this a signified that either
exists in another system ( having a different signifier).Reality is divided into arbitrary categories by every
language, and the conceptual “world” with which each of us is familiar could have been divided up very
differently. Fact is that no two languages categorize reality in the same way. According to Structuralism,
linguistic categories are not at all a consequence of some predefined structure in the world and there are
no natural concepts or categories which are simply reflected in language. The emphasis on internal
structures within a sign system can be seen as supporting the idea that language does not reflect reality
but rather constructs it. For that, one could say that each of JPK’s poems in [#1-#46] not only is a unique
system, a unique language of its own, but could describe/contain a unique – for each one of the poems –
“reality” or “world”. Beside of describing / creating realities, the poems can also be seen as critical views
upon society; a subject already mentioned in relation with JPK’s creation process and memory.
Thus, although signs are arbitrary and conventional, they are always already there, that is so to say not an
absolute arbitrariness, but a “relative arbitrariness” of the sign according to Saussure. The sign “dog” was
arbitrarily chosen before any of us was born, and the agreement that it should represent a four-legged
barking animal was made before our arrival. Following, this means that the arbitrariness principle does
not mean that an individual can arbitrarily choose any signifier for a given signified. The relation between
a signifier and its signified is not a matter of individual choice; if it were then communication would
become impossible. “The individual has no power to alter a sign in any respect once it has become
established in the linguistic community”.So beside that society is a” current state with short memory”,
JPK might suggest in his poems is questions about the power of the individual or what Lewis Carroll
expresses so strinking with the following dialogue
Humpty Dumpty:
“When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less”
Alice: “The question is wether you can make words mean different things.”
Humpty Dumpty:”The question is which to be master-that’s all.”
Saussure himself is probably not so interested in how communities agree on fixing or changing the
relationship between Signifiers and Signifieds. He focuses on Synchronic analysis of language as a
system or structure, meaning that he examines it only in the present moment, without regard to what its
history is, or what its future might be.
Although Saussure is not interested in time regarding the history of changes within a structure, the
notion of time does exist in his approach as a characteristic of the sign. For him the signifier exists in
(linear) time, because one cannot say two words at one time but has to say one word and then the next,
in a linear way. The same could be said for writing (with the exception of simultaneous writing). It is
intresting to note that although JPK takes time into consideration too, he deals with it in a different way.
Contrary to Saussurean time that is linear, JPK tries to reorganize the relationship of the sign with/within
time in a nonlinear mode. This is most obvious in the “mirror” poems where each sign (word, letter)
reflects its counterpart in time, while the same occurs always twice as retrograde version.
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03.B.4 Semiology/Semiotics
Fernade de Saussure postulated the existence of a general science of signs or Semiology, of which
linguistics would form only a subdivision , in his Course in General Linguistics, first published in
1916.Beside Saussure, other key figures in the development of Semiology/Semiotics are – to name
some – the American philosopher, logician and mathematician Charles Sanders Peirce and the French
theorist Roland Barthes. Despite the fact that the two terms are often used interchangeably and their
differences are blurred, there is indeed a clear distinction between them: Semiology is based primarily
on Ferdinand de Saussure and found popularity during the 1950s and 1960s chiefly in the continental
European tradition and in language and literature departments in the United States, while Peirce’s
Semiotics is a more recent theory that belongs to the broader area of analytic philosophy and gives
more emphasis to mathematic logic.
There are many various subfields of Semiotics, such for example computational semiotics, semiotics of
music and literary semiotics, to name only some. Semiotics studies signs and sign-systems in order to
describe, analyze, and interpret the full range of communication and culture experienced as discourse
codes events, messages, practices, and texts expressed and perceived as cultural, social, and natural
subjects and objects of meaning. Signs here are also not perceived with the typical meaning of the word,
but in a much broader context that includes anything capable of standing for or representing a separate
Peirce’s basic classification of the sign (first outlined in 1867) have been referred to in his subsequent
semiotic studies (Peirce 1931-58, 1.564). He regarded this classification as ’the most fundamental’
division of signs. It is less useful as a classification of distinct ’types of signs’ than of differing ’modes of
relationship’ between sign vehicles and their referents (Hawkes 1977, 129).The three modes, with some
brief definitions by D. Chandler, are:
Symbol/symbolic: a mode in which the signifier does not resemble the signified but which is
fundamentally arbitrary or purely conventional – so that the relationship must be learnt: e.g. language in
general (plus specific languages, alphabetical letters, punctuation marks, words, phrases and sentences),
numbers, morse code, traffic lights, national flags;
Icon/iconic: a mode in which the signifier is perceived as resembling or imitating the signified
(recognizably looking, sounding, feeling, tasting or smelling like it) – being similar in possessing some of
its qualities: e.g. a portrait, a cartoon, a scale-model, onomatopoeia, metaphors, ’realistic’ sounds in
’programme music’, sound effects in radio drama, a dubbed film soundtrack, imitative gestures;
Index/indexical: a mode in which the signifier is not arbitrary but is directly connected in some way
(physically or causally) to the signified – this link can be observed or inferred. For example ’natural signs’
(smoke, thunder, footprints, echoes, non-synthetic odours and flavours), medical symptoms (pain, a rash,
pulse-rate), measuring instruments (weathercock, thermometer, clock), ’signals’ (a knock on a door, a
phone ringing), pointers (a pointing ’index’ finger, a directional signpost), recordings (a photograph, a film,
video or television shot, an audio-recorded voice), personal ’trademarks’ (handwriting, catchphrase) and
indexical words (’that’, ’this’, ’here’, ’there’).
According to the above classification , one could argue that the words, alphabetic letters, punctuation
marks etc., in JPK’s poem are of symbolic nature.
A spoken language sign is composed of one or more phonemes (material sounds that the voice
constructs out of the flow of air across the vocal chords and through the mouth.) The sign may also be
represented by graphemes, written representations of letters Phonemes or graphemes may be
combined to construct morphemes (syllables or words) and these in turn may be combined to form
lexemes (unit of content meaning.) The act of joining morphemes to create units of meaning is called
semiosis. As it has been already mentioned in the previous chapter, Saussure offered a dyadic or twopart
model of the sign, defining a sign as being composed of the signifier (sound-image . etc., that is the
material aspect of the sign) and the signified(the concept that results in the mind, the concept that the
sign represents).Furthermore, the relation/ connection between the signifier and the signified is arbitrary.
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The arbitrariness of the sign proposes the autonomy of language in relation to reality, therefore
Saussurean model, with its emphasis on internal structures within a sign system, can be seen as
supporting the notion that language does not ’reflect’ reality but rather constructs it.
In contrast to Saussure’s model of the sign in the form of a ’self-contained dyad’, Peirce offered a triadic
model: The Representamen: the form which the sign takes (not necessarily material);An Interpretant: not
an interpreter but rather the sense made of the sign; An Object: to which the sign refers. There are many
variations/versions of Peirce’s triad in some of which what is changed is only the terms ( for example:
Sign vehicle: the form of the sign; Sense: the sense made of the sign; Referent: what the sign ’stands
for’, or symbol, thought of reference, referent). These variants all do have in common the notion of the
importance of meaning-making which requires an interpreter. This notion had a particular appeal to
communication and media theorists who stress the importance of the active process of interpretation
and thus reject the equation of content and meaning. This highlights Peirce’s emphasis on signification
as a process, which is in distinct contrast to Saussure’s synchronic emphasis on structure. In JPK’s
poems in [#1-#46] and the underlying ideas it seams that both, the emphasis on signification and the
synchronic emphasis on structure, coexist. On the one hand there is the signification as a process, first
as a production process (generation/manipulation) using programming language and second as
(re)processing of the reader’s interpretation. On the other hand there is the emphasis on structure, as a
main theme and as a “fascinating semantic maze”(Ric Carfagna) occurring as a self-contained object on
the page which though do change through each individual perception / interpretation.
From the semiotic point of view, the interpretation of signs by their users can be seen as having three
levels which are defined by Morris as: syntactic: recognition of the sign (in relation to other
signs);semantic: comprehension of the intended meaning of the sign; pragmatic: interpretation of the
sign in terms of relevance, agreement etc. The study of syntagmatic relations reveals the conventions or
rules of combination underlying the production and interpretation of texts (such as the grammar of a
language). Individual signs can be collected together to form more complex signs, i.e. such as words
form a sentence. The constructed signs are called syntagms. Syntagmatic forms are based on
sequential, thus temporal, relationships as for example in speech and music, but there are also
syntagmatic forms based on spatial relationship as for example montage in posters and photographs.
Saussure himself (who emphasized ’auditory signifiers’ which ’are presented one after another’ and
’form a chain’ as mentioned in the previous chapter) noted that visual signifiers exploit more than one
dimension simultaneously. Many semiotic systems – such as drama, cinema, television and the world
wide web – include both spatial and temporal syntagms.
Regarding the poems in [#1-#46] the spatial arrangement of the linguistic material on the page, and the
overall visual impression they create, the relations are first of all spatial. Spatial syntagmatic relations
include: above/below, in front/behind, close/distant, north/south/east/west, inside/outside (or
centre/periphery) and left/right (which can also have sequential significance). While left to right reading
has a sequential significance, this “default”(for European cultures) reading will not work for these poems
as there are no typical sentences and therefore not a given sequence/order in their reading. Instead,
complex nonlinear temporal /sequential relations exist together with the above mentioned spatial
Whilst, as we have already seen, Saussure focused on the arbitrary nature of the linguistic sign, a more
obvious example of an arbitrary semiotic system, which is also of interest in the context of this project, is
mathematics. A semiotic system is a system of signs in terms of its grammar, the collection of its words
(i.e. vocabulary) , how the words are related to each other, and the conventions governing the use of the
grammar in creating texts. It is widely accepted that mathematics is a semiotic system. Mathematics as
a semiotic system does not need to refer to an external world at all: its signifieds are undoubtedly
concepts, and mathematics is above all a system of relations (Langer 1951). It is interesting to note the
relationship of mathematics with JPK’s poems, as on the one hand mathematic functions and processes
are used in his programs with which he manipulates text /generates his poems, and on the other hand
because in [#1-#46] he creates his poems from usually non-repeated series of number sequences which
have been translated into letters .(see “Email conversation). Furthermore, beside letters and punctuation,
JPK does use mathematical notations (for example “+”,”=”) in his poems, which at first sight might seam
to be only substitutions , as for example, the sign (=) for the word (equals).In fact though, a different
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relation is actually being created by the sign then would have been created by the word. The use of
mathematical notation destroys “the visual habit of syntactic representation, the linearity in which certain
structural relations, like (+) or (=), are buried within the semantic value of the words ’and’ or ’equals’ or
’is’ “(Drucker, p. 120). The substitution is not simply that of a mathematical sign (visual mark) for a word
with which it equals, but it is the substitution of a semiotic system; a system which adds prosodic
features to the “seemingly difficult syntactical constructs”(Ric Carfagna) which one encounters on the
pages of [#1-#46].The poems of JPK can be seen as works produced rather with language material than
with the use of language.
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03.B.5 Wittgenstein
Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) is widely regarded as one of the most influential, though controversial,
philosophers of the 20th century. He is particularly known for his works Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
and Philosophical Investigations. The latter in particular is much concerned with language and meaning,
while his emphasis on the use of language, on language as a tool, has determined the direction of a
great part of the research into semantics. He was particularly influential in the ’linguistic turn’ of
philosophy during the 20th century, and has been seen as a particularly important figure in philosophy,
logics, and a certain part of the language studies and literary criticism .
Wittgenstein considered all philosophy to be a critique and logical investigation of language. His logical
investigation of language as well as his relativistic theory of cognition (Erkenntnistheorie) – for which he
laid the base in his picture theory (Bildtheorie) in the Tractus logico-philosophicus, and through which he
merged the philosophical with the aesthetic thinking (Denken) – are the main reasons why I believe that
some of his thoughts are relevant with this project. Of particular interest to the subject of this project
are Wittgenstein’s concepts of sign, picture and structure as well as his “language-game-thought”
(Sprachspieldenken). The following is a very brief summary of the concepts mentioned above, taking
into account the writings in Tractus logico-philosophicus(T) , Philosophical Investigations(PI) and other
texts such as Philosophical Remarks(PR) ,Philosophical Grammar(PG) and Zettel (Z) . Obviously, this
summary does not claim to be a complete presentation of Wittgenstein’s ideas.
For Wittgenstein there is at first no isolated sign which could have a meaning on its own:” Every sign by
itself seems dead. What gives it life?- In use it is alive. Is life breathed into it there? – Or is the use its
life(breath)? (PI 432).For the later Wittgenstein there is no “primary sign”(PG 88 f,90), no ” real
(eigentliches) sign (sign per se)” and therefore there is no ” nature (Wesen) of the real sign (sign per se)”
(PI, 105). An answer to the question how the dead sign gets an understandable and repeatable meaning
is that ” the sign lives within/in a system”(Z 146), and only when being dynamic something can be a
sign(PG 55). So the sign is not to be understood as an object (Gegenstand) as it only gets its meaning
from(within the context of ) the system to which it belongs This implies that to understand a sign one
has to be able to operate with a system of elements. Regarding the arbitrariness of the sign (so much
underlined by Saussure), Wittgenstein argues that the sign (system) has an ambiguous nature, being
related both with arbitrariness and non-arbitrariness. “Does this System have something arbitrary? Yes
and no. It is related to arbitrariness, and with non-arbitrariness.” (Z 385).
Whereas Wittgenstein, throughout his different works, has given different descriptions/definitions of
what a system is, (for example” A system is so to say a world” [Philosophical Remarks, 178] ),the very
late Wittgenstein says that he does not have a definition for what a system is ( Werkausgabe in 8
Bänden ,Band 7:391). His concept of the sign is not of a mental nature, which means that language is
not a “world” in-between between thoughts and reality. Therefore, aside from art, signs are
circumscribable, translatable and paraphrasable. Nevertheless, I would like to underline and examine
here this very exception, i.e. signs in art, with regard to JPK’s poems.
“Form is the possibility of structure”(T 2.033), possibility cannot be put down to reality, but possibility is
logical, structural possibility. In the Tractus Wittgenstein supports a ’Structuralism’ in which the primal
(original) meaning of structure as “construction method” is preserved, and thus he finds an image for
abstract logical relations. Structure is” the determinate way in which objects are connected”(T 2.032). So
the “state of affairs” is a structure and the “structure of a fact consists of the structures of states of
affairs”(T 2.034). Therefore “world” ( both “the World” and “my world”) is a structure consisting of
structures, a determinate (specific), but changing way of how the simple objects build (form, establish) a
configurational arrangement. Wittgenstein’s concept of structure does imply spatiality, and some
theorists and philosophers argue that this might have led to the development of the “logical space”.
Although the picture of the logical space is already introduced in T 1.13, without though explaining it,
later on it becomes apparent that it is a pure “image of thought” (Denkbild) and not reification. By
incorporating the world into a logical space the simple interpretation of logical coherences as coherences
of structures (Strukturzusammenhang) within the logical space becomes possible (K.Wuchtler, p
25f).Thus the logical space is an imaginary (i.e. thought) space, which helps to clarify logical relations ; it
is a “Model”:” The facts in logical space are the world”(T 1.13). The world as reality-configuration is the”
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changing and unstable” (T 2.0271), while space and time are only “forms” which the objects can take (T
Wittgenstein’s picture theory , which aims to explain all forms of human intellectual and practical
“processing” of the world, suggests a philosophical assumption that here can only be hinted at : he
posits a pure formal “Substance” of the world that exists in its concreteness/objectivity. This implies the
idea that structure, and consequently “world-structure” (Weltstruktur) as well, can only exist when there
is simple, material concreteness/objectivity, from which the structure can be build/constructed. The
concept of the “object” is neither idealistic nor materialistic, it is strictly logical. The substance of the
world can only determine a form, and not any material properties. “For it is only by means of propositions
that material properties are represented-only by the configuration of objects that they are produced” (T
2.0231). Substance therefore is the (pre)condition that the world is not something object-like given (” The
world is the totality of facts, not of things” (T 1.1)), but that it is an endless configuration, a process.
In the same sense , according to Wittgenstein, pictures of any kind are not pure objects, but facts. The
picture theory is the theory of logical representation , a universal theory of “depiction”, as it includes all
possible/thinkable mental or physical forms of pictures ; be it photography, diagrams, paintings,
sculptures, scores, language itself, thoughts or theories, just to mention some. No picture is an objective
depiction/representation of the world, since an endless number of pictures can be produced by every
reality. Without being arbitrary, pictures can only represent “what is the case” each situation. The
pictures have meanings, which , however, are not identical with their truth-value (Wahrheitswert), that
is the question whether each picture is right or wrong, true or false. For Wittgenstein the production of
pictures but humans is nothing else but the establishment of a structural correspondence between
reality and the picture’s elements which are themselves a part of reality. Thus when producing
whatever kind of picture one uses parts of the world in order to depict/represent the world.
Every picture has a structure in which the picture’s elements, representing objects of reality (T 2.131),
relate to one another in a determined way (T 2.14).The not at all arbitrary arrangement of the elements of
the picture implies that the structure of the picture corresponds to the structure of the things it
represents. A simple example is a map, where the representation of the structural (spatial) relations of
cities in scale correspond to their real distances. When producing a picture from elements, one
establishes at the same time the picture’s connection with reality. That is because, although a picture is
a fact, it only becomes a picture due to the way it is used. Thus, there is no real picture, no picture per
se. The later could become clearer if we look at the imaginative use of objects as toys by children.
Wittgenstein himself wrote :”( the fact) that this inkpot is on the table could express that I am sitting on
the chair”( Werkausgabe in 8 Bänden, Band 1, 193). Another characteristic of the picture shows the
condition under which something can start to become a picture: the form of representation. The later
concerns what the picture and the depicted need to have in common.” What a picture must have in
common with reality, in order to be able to depict it-correctly or incorrectly-in the way that it does, is its
pictorial form” (T 2.17).A picture therefore can only depict the reality whose form it has:” A spatial picture
can depict anything spatial, a colored one anything colored, etc.”(T 2.171).
As the picture cannot directly depict the world, the question is what does the particular form of
projection tells us. Wittgenstein answers: ” What the picture tells me is itself. That is, its telling me
something consists in its own structure, in its own lines and colors. (What would it mean to say “What
this musical theme tells me is itself”?)( PI 523). This is once more an indication of Wittgenstein’s
approximating of art and philosophizing. He himself said that his attitude towards philosophy could be
summed up as :”philosophy should be actually only written as poetry [Philosophie dürfte man eigentlich
nur dichten ](Vermischte Bemerkungen, 483). Wittgenstein also makes frequent use of musical
examples and metaphors in his philosophical writings and once he also calls himself a “painter”(
Vermischte Bemerkungen, 567 )of philosophical descriptive pictures.
The terms, thoughts and conditions mentioned above do also apply with regard to propositions,
therefore I only touch on that particular subject.
“A proposition is a picture of reality. A proposition is a model of reality as we imagine it” (T 4.01).
Like the picture the proposition is a human product; the proposition is a concept, an attempt to depict
something, it is not true a priori, it is a fact, it constitutes meaning as a possibility of existence, and it has
– 33 -
a structure. The structure of the proposition consists in that “its elements (the words) stand in a
determinate relation to one another”(T 3.14). In the same manner like the picture elements as structure
represent the objects of the world in the picture(T 2.131), so is the possibility of the propositionpicture(
propositional picture; Satz-Bild) based on the” principle that objects have signs as their
representatives”(T 4.0312). The picture cannot represent what it is about itself that makes it a picture -
the representation of a possible fact. A spatial picture for instance cannot picture its own form (the fact
that it is a spatial picture); it can only “show it forth”(T 2.172).This display can be seen as external pointing
at, or appearance of, logic (Logizitaet). Regarding the meaningful proposition this means, that
propositions ” can represent the whole reality, but they cannot represent what they must have in
common with reality in order to be able to represent it – the logical form.” (T4.12). To be able to do this,
one would need to be able to transgress (exceed) the logic that establishes the borders of our world.
Wittgenstein’s conclusion is the following:” Propositions cannot represent logical form: it is mirrored in
them. What finds its reflection in language, language cannot represent. What expresses itself in
language, we cannot express by means of language. Propositions show the logical form of reality. They
display it. “( 4.121).
Concerning the language game(s) I will mention here only the idea of rules, and that rules are seen as
something dynamic, changeable and relative.” And is there not also the case where we play and-make up
the rules as we go along? And there is even one where we alter them-as we go along”(PI, 83). It is not a
requirement of games that they are everywhere bounded by rules. Looking at the general direction of
argumentation in the later work of Wittgenstein, one can say that this “as we go along” describes a
historically signification of re-production as well as the change of rules of every kind of cultural language
games. In practice the “as we go along” is exercised in particular forms of language games, like in a
spontaneous situation, and most of all as a basic principle in art.
With regard to the fact that JPK’s poems are computer generated and/or manipulated texts, I shall now
get back to the aforementioned term of “truth-value”. Wittgenstein’s idea was that the propositional
logical constants (the collection of signs) can be represented as truth-functions.Wittgenstein states his
thesis of truth-functionality in Tractatus 5-5.01:”The sentence is a truth-function of the elementary
sentences. (The elementary sentence is a truth-function of itself.) The elementary sentences are the
truth-arguments of sentences.”The negation can be represented as a unary truth-function (a function with
one argument) that takes the truth-value T to F, and the truth-value F to T. And disjunction can be
represented as a binary truth-function that takes the ordered pairs (T, T), (T, F) and (F, T) to T, and the
ordered pair (F, F) to F. This means that the negation of p is true when p is false and false when p is true,
and the disjunction of p and q is true when one of them is true but false if both p and q are false. There
are 2 unary truth-functions and 16 binary ones.
Although Wittgenstein did not invent the “truth tables”, it can be said that he contributed to their efficient
application in, for example, the development of programming languages such as Algol. Wittgenstein’s
declarations “what can be said at all can be said clearly”(T 4.116) and “whereof we cannot speak,
thereover must we pass in silence” (T 7), seem to apply (metaphorically) in computer programming as
well. A computer can give an output only if all the parameters are clearly defined; in other case it will
“pass in silence” or produce an error.
– 34 -
03.C. Aesthetic research – Fine Arts, Other Arts, (Web)Designers and (Online)
03.C.1 Fine Arts (for example movements: Dada, Constructivism, De Stijl , Bauhaus ; for example artists:
Schwitters, van Doesburg , Mondrian , Malewitch, Rothko )
03.C.2 Other Arts (Music – for example Xenakis, Architecture – fir example Le Corbousier)
03.C.3 (Web)Designers / (online) applications
– 35 -
for (pn=lrep; pn< app.part.pages; pn++) {
– 36 -
//04. Application_________________________________________
04.A.1 Selection of Poems
Due to the limited timeframe for this project, I will concentrate on a selection of some poems of [#1-#46]
and not to take into account all 46 for the visual translation/interpretation.
There are several possibilities on how to select some of these poems. One possibility is the arbitrary
choice, which also would be consistent with some of JPK’s ideas. The other possibility would be to
choose one poem from each of the visual categories mentioned, what would be a logical choice in the
framework of a project in Visual Communication & Interactive Media. Last, the choice could be based on
whether or not the generation of a poem had a textual input source.
Poems without textual input source are: #6, #15, #21, #23, #25, #30
Although I find it very interesting to deal with/examine a literary work completely generated by a
computer with no textual input source, for this particular project I prefer to focus on the poems
generated with textual input source. It is challenging and interesting for me to examine the process with
which existing data, in this case JPK’s own texts, are manipulated/processed and generate an artistic
What is interesting here is to examine how/if one can implement and creatively use this kind of creation
process in a (graphic) design process; a process to visually interpret and translate the poems in [#1-#46].
Because the number of the poems after this selection is still too high, (40 poems are created with a
textual input source), the next step in the selection will be based on the poems’ visual form.
Visual form means here the establishment of the linguistic material in a new relationship to space (the
page or its equivalent) and/or time are concerns of JPK, more precise the relation of the text to
rectangular and rectangular microforms. One can observe that all poems (texts) are arranged in relation
to a rectangular form. This arrangement is more obvious in some poems and less in others, and some
poems have an inner arrangement of text groups shaping smaller rectangular forms.
Although each poem is a system on its own (-created with individual rules for combining the small units)
they can, based on the arrangement of the linguistic material in relation to space – their visual form -,be
divided into different visual groups/categories.
After categorizing the 40 remaining poems based on their visual form, I decide to base the next step of
the selection process on arbitrariness, which, as already mentioned, plays an important role in JPK’s
creation process and ideas. In order to be able to choose a poem from each visual category arbitrarily,
the titles of the poems are collected in an array and from there one of them is chosen randomly.
Flash (example)
thepoems = new Array(“#3″, “#4″, “#5″,”#6″,”#7″, “#9″, “#11″,”#14″,”#17″,”23″,#27″,#”29″)
The outcome of this process is:
Note(images of poems chosen )
- 37 -
04.C. Concept & Application
04.C.1 Concept Description , Interface & Structure / Sections of App.
04.C.2 Working Tools
04.C.1 Concept Description , Interface & Structure / Sections of App.
In the context of digital media, the concept of interactivity signifies mutual communication between
sender and recipient - the "author" can become the "user" and the "user" can become the "author". Digital
computer technology represents a vehicle for media communication. The key feature of interactive
systems is not the product, but rather the act of production as a process.
JPK: "The process itself, it is the subject; it is also a main theme and content of my work"
The idea of a general overall process was a crucial factor from the start for the decision to divide the
application into sections that are somehow successive, build up on each other in a way, at the same
time having each of them an individual purpose, and constitute a complete entity on their own.
The interface design process was determined by the individual elements of the content created for the
separate sections, which incorporate the notion of processes, structures, space and time.
The final interface consists of 4 planes. The floral-like pattern* plane , represents the patterns- patterns
as usually non-repeated series of number sequences which have been translated into letters- in the
poems and the notion of language being seen as a life-form. The white lined plane represents
motion/progress .These two planes form at first sight an entity of one plane being received as
background-level x plane. So one could say that there are only 3 planes. Level x plane, fusion of pattern
and striped plane, though has a depth to -x level planes, as the main color black is included in this fusion
plane corresponding with level x+ plane (black plane).The black level x+ plane creates the field for the
single section interfaces to be loaded in. Next level plane is the menu. With white selections and white
lines it corresponds with the level x fusion plane and therefore is not located visually in one plane but
does, depending on the viewers focus, belong to background (plane x or below) or create a single entity
above level x+ plane (the black plane).
The number 46 in the title of JPK’s ebook can be interpreted as:
46 = 4+6= 10 = 1, 0= 1| 0 = true or false, leading to a reference to the "truth-value" mentioned in the
chapter Wittgenstein and to the binary code system used by virtually all modern computers.
The binary or base-two numeral system is a system for representing numbers in which a radix of two is
used; that is, each digit in a binary numeral may have either of two different values. Typically, the
symbols 0 and 1 are used to represent binary numbers.A binary number can be represented by any
sequence of bits (binary digits), which in turn may be represented by any mechanism capable of being in
two mutually exclusive states. The following sequences of symbols could all be interpreted as different
binary numeric values:
on off off on off on
- | - | | - | - - | - |
o x o o x o o x
true false false true true false
The numeric value represented in each case is dependent upon the value assigned to each symbol. A
"positive", "yes", or "on" state is not necessarily equivalent to the numerical value of one; it depends on
the architecture in use.
- 38 -
The binary code system and Wittgenstein’s binary truth-function are represented in the interface by the
binary structure of black-and-white. At the same time the black-and-white design is a reference to the
black on white letters which become autonomous pictorial elements in JPK’s poems.
In addition to the above, I developed a new structure of the application, summing up ideas of earlier
different sections into one. The new structure divides the application, always based on the general idea
of process as mentioned, into two main sections and a third that provides information about the project.
In part one (section one) the process starts with the analysis of the individual poems and their translation
into graphic language and then passes on to part two (section two) where I apply my findings from the
research as well as those from the analysis/translation in part one. Explanation and analysis of the single
sections and their interface will follow in chapter "Individual Sections (Details)".
Based on the idea of text manipulation and generation I decided to create the title of this application as
well as the names of the main sections and subsections by using a small "text inventor" program (patch),
made in Max/MSP environment, created by my friend Dimitris Santziliotis. This patch is a program
designed to create new words from given ones (input text [word]). It takes advantage of the Cycling 74’s
Max/MSP software abilities and the ASCII protocol. Its function is simple, every input word is analyzed
regarding its original length (number of letters), then transformed/translated into a series of numbers
based on the ASCII. This information is utilized by the program to generate new, randomly selected
series of numbers with pre-determined length. In the final stage, the patch re-translates numbers into
letters and outputs/generates the new word.
In the following chapters I will refer to this patch as T.I.b.DS, input source=” input word”, output= “output
The final title “Kjupere” is the output of the input source (word) “reprocess”. The latter was chosen based
on the idea of (first) myself (as reader/designer) and then the user reprocessing the poems of JPK.
(JPK:”[...] the most important process is, beside the creative process itself and the machine processes
through which the poems are generated, the process of the reader (re)processing the work […])
04. C.2 Working Tools
Macromedia Flash
Macromedia Freehand
Adobe Photoshop + Adobe Image Ready
Adobe Illustrator
Corel Draw + Corel Trace
Adobe Acrobat
Adobe Audition
FreePDF XP (Author Stefan Heinz)
TextInventor patch by Dimitris Santziliotis (T.I.b.DS)
TextToMusic patch by Dimitris Santziliotis (T.T.M.b.DS)
Meek Typographic Synthesizer v.04 by Meek Systems
Scriptographer (scripting plugin for Adobe Illustrator) by Juerg Lehni
– 39 -
04. C.A Individual Sections (Details)
04. C.A.0 Main
04. C.A.1 LRPDM
04. C.A.2.2 Concept & Interface
04. C.A.2.3 Examination-Working modules /methods – rules, constrains, arbitrariness
04. C.A.2.4 Single poems > Individual books with Examination Methods /modules +
graphic translation of single units
04.C.A Individual Sections (Details)
04.C.A.0 Main
The main section (page) of the application “Kjupere” provides a small introductory text and a short textual
overview of the contents of the other sections.
04.C.A.1 LRPDM
T.I.b.DS: input source= “about”, output= “LRPDM”
This section provides information about the project (project description, summary/extracts of research
text and resources) as well as about Jukka-Pekka Kervinen (Biography, Interview, and Creation Process)
in the form of downloadable pdfs and there is a downloadable pdf with my biography. Subsection Name
> T.I.b.DS: input source= “data”, output= “UKOR”
In the subsection “LOYQA”(T.I.b.DS: input source= “books”, output= “LOYQA”) non-downloadable
images/extracts of pages of the different books created for the individual poems or sections are
– 40 -
T.I.b.DS: input source= “analysis”, output= “UHKJELTR”
04. C.A.2.2 Concept & Interface
The overall concept for this section is that the user has the possibility to make his/her own analysis of
the single poems and create an individual visual translation of them. As the notion of the reader creating
the meaning is present in JPK’s conception (JPK:” I am not interested to say things, to confess, to say
that something is right or wrong. I leave that to the reader and trust that he/she is ’competent’ using
his/her own mind, their thinking process which I just try to ’activate’ or ’start’”) it was clear that there
should not be one predefined visual translation but that the user takes the role of the creator/author of a
visual translation individual to him/her. The outcome of this personal translation, the construction of a
new structure as visual / graphic translation, is dependent on which individual elements (letter, symbol,
form) the user focuses his/her attention on and on the individual choices he/she makes.
The interface of UHKJELTR is divided into two areas: the bigger “outcome – display” area on the left of
the overall interface area and the smaller “operation console” area on the right. It was found that for this
particular application having the “operating console” on the right rather than on the left side of the screen
makes the user task of “operating-inputting” and simultaneously observing the output on the left side
“display” easier. Having these two areas clearly divided on the screen also helps to focus on each area
individually. The “operating console” is the tool with which the user can analyze the poem and at the
same time construct his/her visual/graphic translation. In the “display area”, the outcome of the versatile
processes made with the operating console is shown. As in the original e-book [#1-#46] all poems are
located in the same position relatively to the overall space of the page (starting in the left upper corner), I
assume that not the general placement of the poems but rather the placement of the individual linguistic
material in relation to the rectangular or micro-rectangular forms of the poems themselves are important
to be investigated. Therefore, I decided that it is legitimate to take the poems out of the context of their
original placement on the original page in order to focus on the poems themselves for analysis and
translation. Hence, a frame on the one hand delineates the Display area in order to create a space with
clear boundaries resembling a space such as a page (paper) the poems originally resided. On the other
hand the poems are placed in a new position relatively to this space, though always keeping their original
overall visual form.
Based on the concept of language being a system constructed by a set of small units (the alphabet
symbols and punctuation) which are combined by certain rules, letters and punctuation are translated
here into sets of graphic forms/symbols. These new sets of units are provided to the user for his/her
analysis and visual translation. The general explanation and analysis of these new small units sets will
follow in chapter 04.C.A.2.4 Examination-Working modules and the individual explanation/analysis of the
single sets for each poem is provided in the individual books (RS.L “UHKJELTR no 5″, RS.L “UHKJELTR
no 16″, RS.L” UHKJELTR no 31″, RS.L ” UHKJELTR no 40″).
When loading the individual poem, by default a background layer and the poem/text layer are visible in
the display area and are represented in the operating console by the “tabs” [00] and [text]. The default
color for the background layer [00] is white and for the text layer gray. The text layer is by default the
active one as it is the basis for the analysis/translation. New layers can be added and different sets of
units for each letter or punctuation symbol can be loaded into these new layers using the operating
console (note: picture of console> add empty layer>choose layer contents). The number of layers that
can be added, beside the first two visible ones (background and text), is 6. This number was chosen
based on the fact that the number 7 plays a role in the spatial arrangement of the linguistic material in
JPK’s poems. The text layer is seen as the basis for the analysis, whereas the background layer + the
other 6 layers (=7) are seen as the actual “vehicles” for the examination and translation.
The decision of using individual layers first emanates from the fact that each letter or punctuation sign
within the poem should be accessible individually in order to be examined regarding various aspects.
These aspects will be explained in detail in chapter 04.C.A.2.4 Examination-Working modules.
– 41 -
Second, by having more than one layer the possibility of creating a complex visual translation, a new
visual structure consisting of more than one element (unit) becomes possible while at the same time
being able to manipulate each unit in this structure individually.
Third and most important, the idea of using layers of which the depth of appearance in relation to the
other layers can also be manipulated (note: picture of console “move up”+ “move down”), suggests the
spatiality of the poem itself on the z-axis.(note: image of x ,y, z and t-axis + sketch).
The notion of spatiality within the poems themselves arises from the impression that the poems are
contained in a “virtual cube” [Fernande Saint Martin page 173] (box). By saying this, I mean that the
overall rectangular forms, in relation to which the linguistic material is arranged, seem to have beside the
x and y axis also a third dimension, the z-axis, and consequentially, the poems do contain the notion of a
third dimension too, and can therefore be interpreted as sculptures rather than two-dimensional
systems. The impression of depth, and following the one of the poem residing in a virtual 3-dimensional
rectangular form, is easily traceable when reading the poems. Although at first sight the poems seem to
be static and two-dimensional, one quickly recognizes that each poem is hiding a certain kind of motion;
a motion within the boundaries of each poem’s visual form and not relatively to the surrounding space, a
motion that reveals different depth levels (perspectives). These different levels of depth are here
translated into the idea of spatial arrangement of the text (poem) on the z-axis of the virtual rectangular
form (virtual cube).
As each poem represents one system, certain units combined based on individual rules for each poem, I
suggest (others might disagree with this) that the particular placement of each individual element on the
x- and y-axis of the virtual cube cannot be changed without destroying the particular system/structure. A
different placement on the z-axis though, as I believe, would leave the system (structure) intact and only
change its relation to the space of the virtual cube. This change is not seen as altering the
systems/structure/poem but interpreted as a change of point of view of the reader/user, revealing new
perspectives, which heretofore have been hidden.
For this particular application, I am not interested in constructing a virtual 3-dimensional environment in
order to convey what was said above. Quite the reverse, I am interested in using 2-dimensional graphic
elements and their qualities, such as transparency and size to communicate based on visual perception
the above ideas. So beside the use of the “movable” layers for conveying the notion of what was said
above in two dimensions, transparency as well as scaling are used for the task to communicate the
notion of different depths (perspectives) and sculpture. In the operating console, first there is the
possibility to assign different values of transparency to each individual layer in order for the user to
examine and get the feeling of the “inner” spatiality of the poem. (note: image of console transparency
slider). Second, some layer contents (sets of small units that can be loaded into each layer) have the
possibility to examine/manipulate the transparency as well as the size of individual elements. (note:
image of console Units transparency + Scaling).The explanation of which unit sets provide this possibility
will follow in chapter 04.C.A.2.4 Examination-Working modules.
Except of the possibilities mentioned above of altering the layer contents/single elements (transparency,
scaling), the possibility of changing the color of each layer is given (default load color of each layer is
black). The color chosen for each layer (as well as its transparency in relation to black) is represented in
the upper left corner of each “tab”. (note: image of console tabs with colors). In this first section I believe
that the possibility of choosing different colors for each layer (and not having only grayscale choices)
helps the user to find his/her way through the different layers. Secondly, the possibility of having colors
to chose from provides a wider range of choices (to a person who is not a designer) for an individual
visual translation and third subliminally helps to convey the notion of spatiality on another level(read for
example:*1) in this first section.
The Art of Color: The Subjective Experience and Objective Rationale of Color, Johannes Itten
The Elements of Color, Johannes Itten
Theory and Practice of Color: A Color Theory Based on Laws of Perception, Frans Gerritsen
Contemporary Color: Theory & Use, Steven Bleicher
Visual Thinking, Rudolf Arnheim
– 42 -
04.C.A.2.4 Examination-Working modules /procedures
For the analysis and translation of the poems, I used different examination methods each of them having
a particular purpose. The graphic units created for these examinations constitute the visual elements
provided to the user for his/her analysis and visual translation.
Following the notion of JPK to apply constraints in his creation process, like for example, a program
should not exceed 40 lines of code, one constrain in this section is the fact that only up to 7 layers can
be used by the user for the creation of the visual structure as translation. Another is that each graphic
element has to appear in the same position as the unit (letter) it represents. Same position, when
regarding scale for example, means analog to the center registration point created through the
representation of the alphabetic character with a rectangular form as in M2.1.
Although the user operates within the constrains mentioned above, it his/her individual decision based
on which rules the different graphic elements should be combined in order to form the visual structure
representing the visual translation of the poem. This suggests the idea of the user (re)processing JPK’s
poems and his/her creative intervention in the “art” process.
The combination of the units as well as the visual qualities such as color and transparency of the layers
are based on the decisions that the user makes whereas the values of the scale and transparency
properties of each individual element are generated through a random function by the computer.
Module 1: Spatial Text distribution / general visual form of text
Inspired by some of Weingart’s investigations/experiments this module investigates the spatial
arrangement of the text material.
M1a. overall form of text
M1b. single columns, rectangles ect of text (where applicable) or/
M1c. point out single groups of text elements
M1d. spaces between lines of text (in conjunction with overall form of text)
M1e. spaces between columns/rectangle forms of text
M1f. spaces between units and/or groups of small units
Altering Possibilities provided to the user for M1a :
Arbitrary scale of units
Arbitrary transparency of units
Transparency of units analogous with scale of units
No transparency
No Scale
Module 2: Position and frequency of alphabetic characters in each poem (system)
This module is divided into two sub modules.
M2.1=Letter Position
Here the position of each single alphabetic character within the poem is found and pointed out by
replacing it with a black rectangular (box).
Altering Possibilities:
– 43 -
Arbitrary scale of units
Arbitrary transparency of units
Transparency of units analogous with scale of units
No transparency
No Scale
M2.2.a = Freq.1
Investigates the frequency with which each alphabetic character appears within the poem.
The frequency is represented by incrementally scaled rectangular forms/lines (dependening on the visual
character of each poem) from the most frequently to the less frequently used.
Altering Possibilities:
Arbitrary transparency of units
M2.2.b= Freq.2
Investigates the frequency with which each alphabetic character is appears within the poem, pointing
out capital and small letters used.
Small letters are represented by incrementally scaled outline rectangular forms/lines (dependening on
the visual character of each poem) from the most frequently to the less frequently used.
Module 3: Replacement of units with graphic symbols
M3a. Create font resembling “sound quality” of small unit = SYM_G 1
Program used: Meek Typographic Synthesizer v.04 by Meek Systems
Created fonts are kept either as is, are altered or in cases 2 fonts are combined.
Altering Possibilities:
Arbitrary scale of units
Arbitrary transparency of units
Transparency of units analogous with scale of units
No transparency
No Scale
M3b. Create font or “symbol” resembling interpreted “micro structure” of character= SYM_G 2, SYM_G
3, SYM_G 4
Base for constructing: Meek Typographic Synthesizer v.04 by Meek Systems
Created fonts or “symbols” are kept either as is, are altered or in cases 2 fonts/symbols are combined.
Altering Possibilities:
Arbitrary scale of units
Arbitrary transparency of units
Transparency of units analogous with scale of units
No transparency
– 44 -
Module 4: Punctuations and other marks
M4.a find & point out = Position
M4.b replacement with graphic elements depending on their visual qualities/nature and their
implementation in each poem. = SYM_S 1 , SYM_S 2, SYM_S 3, SYM_S 4, SYM_S 5
Altering Possibilities:
Arbitrary scale of units
Arbitrary transparency of units
Transparency of units analogous with scale of units
No transparency
No Scale
Module 5: R_LINES
Lines resembling possible “eye movement” when reading in connection with single letters.
– 45 -
602 chars
With poss.
With poss.
Diff B.&S.
Diff B.&S.
Diff B.&S
No F
Diff B.&S.
Diff B.&S.
No F
Diff B.&S.
c_units=Y c_units=Y2 c_units=Y2 c_units=Y c_units=Y c_units=Y c_units=Y c_units=Y c_units=Y
e : 39 x x x x x x x x x
s : 27 x x x x x x x x x
n : 21 x x x x x x x x x
a : 20 x x x x x x x x x
r : 18 x x x x x x x x x
d : 15 x x x x x x x x x
i : 15 x x x x x x x x x
t : 15 x x x x x x x x x
l : 15 x x x x x x x x x
o : 14 x x x x x x x x x
h : 10 x x x x x x x x x
c : 10 x x x x x x x x x
u : 6 x x x x x x x x x
f : 6 x x x x x x x x x
p : 5 x x x x x x x x x
m : 5 x x x x x x x x x
b : 5 x x x x x x x x x
g : 4 x x x x x x x x x
k : 3 x – - x x – - x -
w : 2 x – - x x – - x -
x : 2 x – - x x – - x -
z : 1 x – - x x – - x -
j : 1 x – - x x – - x -
y : 1 x – - x x – - x -
Place SYM_S 1
c_units=N c_units=Y c_units=Y c_units=Y c_units=Y
) : 76 x x – x x x
_ : 75 x x – x x x
& :73 x – - – - x
$ : 37 x – - – - x
+ : 35 x x – x x x
Norm. Sympag. Op.w.Ken. Perigr. Norm
c_units=Y c_units=Y c_units=Y c_units=Y c_units=Y
B_Form x x x x x
S_Form – - – - -
Spaces x – - – -
x – x – -
Lines x x x x x
– 46 -
442 chars
With poss.
With poss.
With poss.
Diff B.&S.
Diff B.&S.
No F
Diff B.&S.
Diff B.&S
Diff B.&S.
c_units=Y c_units=Y2 c_units=Y2 c_units=Y c_units=Y c_units=Y c_units=Y
e : 40 x x x x x x x x
r : 29 x x x x x x x x
s : 25 x x x x x x x x
a : 25 x x x x x x x x
t : 24 x x x x x x x x
n : 20 x x x x x x x x
d : 14 x x x x x x x x
o : 14 x x x x x x x x
p : 13 x x x x x x x x
u : 13 x x x x x x x x
l : 12 x x x x x x x x
y : 9 x x x x x x x x
i : 8 x x x x x x x x
b : 7 x x x x x x x x
g : 7 x x x x x x x x
c : 7 x x x x x x x x
m : 6 x x x x x x x x
h : 6 x x x x x x x x
k : 6 x x x x x x x x
w : 5 x x x x x x x x
f : 4 x x x x x x x x
x : 2 x – - x x x x -
Place SYM_S 1
c_units=N c_units=Y c_units=Y c_units=Y c_units=Y c_units=Y
+: 37 x x x x x -
:: 35 x – - – - -
): 32 x x x x – -
|: 20 x x x x – -
#: 17 x x x x x -
&: 5 x – - – - x
Norm. Sympag. Op.w.Ken. Perigrama Norm
With poss
c_units=N c_units=Y c_units=N c_units=Y c_units=Y
B_Form x – - – -
S_Form – x – x x
Spaces x – - – -
Space Lines x – - – -
Lines x – - – -
– 47 -
1225 chars
With poss.
With poss.
Diff B.&S.
Diff B.&S.
No F
Diff B.&S.
Diff B.&S.
c_units=Y c_units=Y2 c_units=Y2 c_units=Y c_units=Y c_units=Y c_units=Y
o : 58 x x x x x x x
e : 51 x x x x x x x
m : 47 x x x x x x x
t : 46 x x x x x x x
n : 42 x x x x x x x
r : 32 x x x x x x x
b : 20 x x x x x x x
l : 16 x x x x x x x
s : 16 x x x x x x x
y : 15 x x x x x x x
z : 15 x x x x x x x
i : 15 x x x x x x x
p : 15 x x x x x x x
a : 11 x x x x x x x
Place SYM_S 1
c_units=N c_units=Y c_units=Y c_units=Y3 c_units=Y3 c_units=Y3 c_units=Y3
/: 146 x x x x – - -
+: 145 x x x x x x x
=: 112 x x x x x – -
_:106 x x x x – - -
\: 87 x x x x – - -
:: 81 x – - – - – -
?: 75 x – - – - – -
|: 74 x x x x x -
Norm. Sympag. Op.w.Ken. Perigrama Norm
With poss
c_units=N c_units=N c_units=N c_units=N c_units=Y
B_Form – - – - x
S_Form – x x x x
Spaces x – - – -
x -
Lines x -
– 48 -
04.C.A.2.5 Single poems (see unbounded sheets)
While the examination modules are the same for all of the poems, the sets of graphic elements created
are different for each, depending on the individual character of the poem/system and are in shown in the
individual books. The reason for having a “book” for each poem is to underline the idea of each poem
being an individual system. The unbounded separate sheets suggest the notion that the rules with which
the units are combined in order to form a system are seen as something dynamic, changeable and
relative (see chapter Wittgenstein, “Language games”; PI, 83), like already mentioned in relation with
section “UHKJELTR”(04.C.A.2.4 Examination-Working modules/procedures)
The ability to combine the individual sheets in many different ways alludes to the idea of nonlinearity and
arbitrariness, corresponding to the possibility in section “UHKJELTR” to create a new system based on
individual combination rules invented by each individual “user”, the possibility to create a new “game”.
– 49 -
Sum([kj]upere(k)) = KGYRTORWL !
– 50 -
T.I.b.DS : input source= “structures”, output= ” KGYRTORWL “
One visual characteristic of these poems is the font face used. It is a monospace font face, the Courier
New font. In a monospace (non-proportional or fixed-width) font, every letter is exactly the same width,
as though typed out with an old-fashioned typewriter. One reason for JPK to choose a monospace font
for his layouts is obviously that the characters of these non-proportional fonts line up in nice, neat
columns (*2). In fact, one gets the impression that the single units do reside on an invisible grid on which
the whole layout of the poem is based.
This fact let to the creation of a grid on which 46 basic “forms” are drawn in reference to the “basic
forms” encounter in JPK’s poems. Through the input of the user, in the form of mouse-movement, on
each move a function generates an arbitrary number combination based on which a structure is assigned
to a form. At the same time this function generates a value based on which is decided wether the overall
form-structure-composition will be either “black” or “white. This again is a reference to the “truth-value”
and binary code system as mentioned in connection with the general interface design. In this section the
idea of the binary black-and-white structure is obviously further developed and apparent to the user. The
fact that the user can choose either a black or a white composition to proceed suggests the idea
In this section, the idea of the black-and-white binary structure, which was already mentioned in
connection with the design of the general interface, is picked up and further developed.
“..my language is black -and-white.
Far from depriving us of colour-the black and the white demancrate the extreme poles in space,
where it is held and sheltered.
And yet, the colours aren’t simply there.
Only as we engage with the space and become active do we uncover the colour in it:the space is generous.
But the colour begs to be conquered.
Colour isn’t outside of us:it is intrinsic.
Coulour – that is us.”
AG Fronzoni
In this section, the idea of the black-and-white binary structure, which was already mentioned in
connection with the design of the general interface, is picked up and further developed.
Black-and-white as an concentration, a reductive approach that is taken to the point of “extinction”: less
and more. Contributions to the construction of a space, essentially a mental one, an inner structure
The sets of graphic units which are loaded into the application in order to form a new visual structure
consist of the altered and non altered graphic elements from the sets created for section ” UHKJELTR”,
as well as some new graphic elements are added. There are three basic sets and various other sets that
are arbitrary generated combinations among these three. Each individual visual unit of a set is combined
with a note (sound).As each graphic unit represents a letter the same should apply to the notes for each
element. Therefore, each letter was translated into a number, based on ASCII character representation
computer code that specifies a correspondence between digital bit patterns and the symbols/glyphs of a
written language (each letter correspondences to a number). Parallel to this according to the Midi
protocol each musical note can be represented/translated with a number from 0-127. Based on these
facts a small program (” TextToMusic” patch – T.T.M.b.DS), created in Max/MSP environment again by
my friend Dimitris Santziliotis, was used to compress the numbers produced for each letter into Midi
scale of the five octaves of a physical piano.
Each audiovisual element has its own individual characteristics/properties such as position (x,y), color,
transparency, sound volume and pan, as well as an individual internal time. The values for the above
properties are produced at the moment when each unit is loaded in to the application whereas values for
the sound volume and sound pan are produced in correspondence with the transparency value of the
– 51 -
visual element and its position on the grid. The arbitrary values for position and transparency as well as
for the color property are created through random functions contained in each element.
Further, each element contains its own “time function”, which means that each individual unit produces
its very own value for time independent of the other units. This arbitrary value defines the occurrence of
the individual note (sound) and after each individual sound event a new arbitrary time value is produced
within each audiovisual element. The new value produced in this process is not determined by the
previous one and is independent of its past state. The result of the above are abstract schemata, pitches
and structures that reinvent themselves internally, giving birth to unending sequences and interplays,
which characterize the “musical compositions” created. These sound structures suggest the notion of
non-linear time and processes and create space on a subliminal level. Both, the visual and acoustic
structures created, are not seen as a random emission bellowing from a generator, but as the precise
and inspired product of an internal process: audiovisual structures self-creating their own “universe”.
– 52 -
f.Sum&concl. = [kj]upere k & KGYRTORWL(>>>>>>>>)
– 53 -
– 54 -
// 06. Sources : Online References, Bibliography___________________
[1]Johanna Drucker , The visible Word, p.72
[2]Johanna Drucker , The visible Word, p.72
[3] Johanna Drucker , The visible Word, p.226
[4] CONRETE POETRY: TENSION OF THING-WORDS IN SPACE-TIME (originally published in the review , ad – arquitectura e decoração, n. 20,
november/december 1956, são paulo, brazil)From : Pilot Plan for Concrete Poetry (1958)
Augusto de Campos, Decio Pignatari, Haroldo de Campos: Brazil, translation: john tolman
[6] Fernand de Saussure.(1959) Course in General Linguistics
+++ Poetry: Magazines, Press, Journals
+++ Collaborations / Projects / Design / Fine Arts & Other Arts
– 55 -
+++ Essays/ Articles/ Texts
Concrete/ Visual/ NewMedia/ Computer Generated Poetry
– 56 -
+++ Artists Books/Typography / New Media , Digital Art ,NetArt
+++ Philosophy, Literary Theories & Critism
+poetry magic handbook
– 57 -
+++ Books(in Alphabetical Order)
Abstract Art (Anna Moszynska, Thames & Hudson , 1995)
Bauhaus 1919-1933 (Bauhaus-Archive Magdalena Droste, Taschen, 1998)
Bild und Auge, Neue Studien zur Psychologie der bildlichen Darstellung (Ernst H. Gombrich, Klett-Cotta, 1984)
Creative Code (John Maeda , Thames & Hudson, 2004)
DADA( Anabas-Verlag 1993)
Das A und O des Bauhauses( herausgegeben fuer das Bauhaus-Archive von Ute Bruening,1995)
Das xx. jahrhundert – ein jahrhundert kunst in Deutschland (NationalGalerie Berlin)
Die Wirklichkeit des Bildes – Bildrezeption als Bildproduction-Rothko,Newman,Rembrandt,Raphael (Michael Bockmuehl, Urachhaus,1985)
Digital Poetics, The making of E-Poetries (Loss Penqueno Glazier, The University of Alabama Press-2002)
Edward Fella: Letters on America –photographs and lettering , essays by Lewis Blackwell and Loraine Wild(Princeton Architectural Press, 2000)
Gas Book 05-Tomato (Masanori, 2002)
Kunst des 20.Jahrhunderts (Ruhrberg – Schneckenburger – Friecke – Honnef, Benedikt Taschen Verlag, 1998)
Lost and Found – critical voices in new British design (1999)
P0es1s.The Aesthetics of Digital Poetry” – editors :Friedrich W. Block, Christiane Heibach, Karin Wenz ; 2004, Hatje Cantz Verlag
Process;A Tomato Project (Thames and Hudson, 1996)
Punkt, Linie, Flaeche – druckgraphik am Bauhaus (herausgegeben fuer das Bauhaus-Archive von Klaus Weber , G-und-H-Verl. 1999)
Reading Images, The Grammar of Visual Design(Gunther Kress and Theo van Loewen, Routledged 2005)
Semiotics of Visual Language (Fernande Saint-Martin , Indiana University Press, 1990)
Semiotik zur Einfuehrung, Gerhard Schoenrich (1.Auflage – Hamburg: Junius, 1999)
The visible Word, Experimental Typography and Modern Art 1909-1923 (Johanna Drucker, The University of Chicago Press, 1996)
Type-One, disciplines and progress in typography (Die Gestalten Verlag, Berlin ,2004)
Typography 25 : The Annual of the Type Directors Club (2004)
Typography: Macro+ Micro Aesthetics (Willi Kunz, Verlag Niggli AG, 2000)
Saussure, Grundfragen der allgemeinen Sprachwissenschaft (Gruyter, 2001)
Saussure, Linguistik und Semiologie (Suhrkamp, 2003)
Visual Research (Ian Nobel & Russell Bestley ; ava publishingsa, 2005)
Visual Thinking (Rudolf Arnheim, University of California Press, 1969,1997)
Weingart: My Way to Typography(Lars Mueller Publishers)
Wittgenstein zur Einfuehrung , Chris Bezzel (4.Auflage -Hamburg: Junius, 2000)
Wittgenstein, Ausgewaehlt und vorgestellt von Thomas H. Macho – Herausgegeben von Peter Sloterdijk (dtv,2001)
Wittgenstein, Ludwig Philosophische Untersuchungen (Suhrkamp Verlag, 2003)
Wittgenstein, Ludwig Tractus logico-philosophicus /Logisch – philosophische Abhandlung (edition suhrkamp, 2003)
Wittgenstein, Werkausgabe in 8 Bänden,( suhrkamp, 1989)
Zwischen Wort und Bild (Marianne Vogel, scaneg Verlag, 1992)
ÐÁÏÕË ÊËÅÅ ,Ç åéêáóôéêÞ óêÝøç – Ôá ìáèÞìáôá óôçí Ó÷ïëÞ Ìðáïõ÷Üïõæ (Åêäïôéêüò ’Ïéêïò “ÌÝëéóóá”)