Singular Vispo :: First Encounters Part 9

Was there an experience, a specific interaction with visual poetry that infected your brain, made you see language differently or drew you toward exploring vispo further? Is there a vispoem that captured your imagination. What piece first awakened in you the possibility of a visual alphabet/language alternative? That was the general question posed and here are the results. Though this query is overly reductive, the poets were kind enough to choose, for the most part, a singular vispoem as example of this phenomenon. The over forty posts will be rolled out in groups of five each. Enjoy!


bill bissett / bill bissett

bill bissettfirst viz sound pome writing

my mothr died i cudint go on
in th dog show world without her
i gave up my dog i gave up a
lot uv things n feelings i was
losing heart 2 n sum yeers latr at
16 i wrote my first viz sound pome
deth  deth n  mor deth  spred all
across th page using space n not
paragraphs it was a vizual incantay
syun pomes abt deth n cumming n
strange charaktr studies n parts uv
words instances not content n thn
whn i found gertrude stein stanzas
in meditaysyun n e.e. cummings i was
sew happee ther wer othrs like me
n i as they usd 2 say nevr lookd back
n i was regaining heart writing almost
all th time refinding th life i had chosn
whn i was in th oxygen tent aftr 12
operaysyuns was told if i livd i wudint
b a dansr or a figur skatr th abdominal
wall was 2 cut up i decidid  2 write n
paint thn i cud still feel th line moov
ing thru space wch is what i wantid
n parts uv lines n sylabuls n parts uv
sylabuls living inside th words n images
thn aftr leeving  home at almost 17 i
was abul 2 write full full time almost n
thn even shulee reelee
i was elevn in th oxygen tent


Tulio Restrepo / Tulio Restrepo


Digital Ready Made: Visual poem on the work “Fountain – 1917” Marcel Duchamp by Tulio Restrepo

Manuel Sesma in his text, Tipografismo, instructs us on how to build the sense of a visual poem, which means to link the text and image to form an indivisible unit, so both signs suggest new readings to contribute in an experimentally way, extension and interpretation of the grammar of images emphasizing the pure act of visual perception.

Another way to approach the meaning of a visual poem is taking the definition of the philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce, about the sign, understood it as something we use to represent and identify the essence of things, tangible or intangible, and build step sign systems to say, lie or construct fictions.

Peirce, in turn, classifies generally signs in sign, icon and symbol; this may lead to understanding the subtle connection that exists in a communication process or experience meaning in which the use of the signs is always involved.

The dimension of the signs on the visual poem is given by the simultaneous reading the text and the image to be interpreted as a unit and also as a visual and plastic plurality discursive, with multiple meanings, manifested from the use of signs, icons and symbols.

In the work Liquid Poem (Poema Líquido) a ready made digital, it creates a transposition sense and a transfer of manipulating signs (points) enrolled in the defunctionalized object, to propose a word that interrogate the object with an explicit purpose to create new iconic and semantic appropriations and meanings about the work and the conceptual legacy of Marcel Duchamp.


Manuel Sesma en su texto, Tipografismo, nos instruye sobre como construir el sentido en un poema visual, lo cual significa poner en relación, el texto y la imagen para formar una unidad indivisible, por lo cual, ambos signos proponen nuevas lecturas para contribuir de manera experimental, extensión e interpretación de la gramática de las imágenes enfatizando el acto puro de la percepción visual.

Otra manera de aproximarnos al significado de un poema visual es tomando la definición del filósofo Charles Sanders Peirce, sobre el signo, entendido como algo que utilizamos para representar e identificar la esencia de las cosas, materiales o inmateriales, y construir de paso sistemas de signos para afirmar, mentir o construir ficciones.

Peirce, a su vez, clasifica los signos de manera general en indicio, icono y símbolo; lo cual puede dar lugar a la comprensión de la sutil conexión que existe en un proceso comunicativo o experiencia de significado en la cual está siempre implicada la utilización de los signos.

La dimensión de los signos en el poema visual esta dada por la lectura simultánea en la que el texto y la imagen deben ser interpretados como una unidad y a la vez una pluralidad plástico discursiva con múltiples significados, manifestada a partir de la utilización de indicios, iconos y símbolos.

En la obra Poema Líquido, se crea un ready made digital, una transposición y transferencia de sentido manipulando los signos (puntos) inscritos en el objeto desfuncionalizado, para proponer una palabra que interrogue al objeto, con un fin explícito, crear nuevas apropiaciones y significaciones icónicas y semánticas sobre la obra y el legado conceptual de Marcel Duchamp.


Michael Winkler / A MATTER OF CONTEXT

michael winkler

I really like the idea of this project. Unfortunately, I can’t reference a work which inspired me to become involved in visual poetry because my involvement didn’t begin that way. My creative practice originated in the context of process-based visual/conceptual art (35 years ago). I’ve always worked primarily within that context. But from the very beginning, I produced artist’s books which visual poets like Karl Kempton, Crag Hill, and Karl Jirgens supported by republishing excerpts in their magazines (KALDRON, SCORE, and RAMPIKE). At the time, the visual art community was only interested in my work from the perspective of conceptual process. But visual poets were interested in discussing the possibility of a meaningful structure being intuitively encoded in the signs for words (an idea treated as taboo in the visual arts). I liked a lot of the visual poetry I saw after becoming involved, but I can’t say any of it influenced my work because my methodology was already well established. And although the signs of language are the focus of my work, I don’t really use language as the creative means of expression, rather it’s the subject matter–the work evolves from the visual/conceptual process which maps the structure of the signs. However, I do choose words from which to develop particular works, and I believe my choice of words has been significantly impacted by my contact with an experimental literary community which was initially accessed through the open arms of visual poets.

I like this project because I see it as a first step to getting visual poets to think about their history and key influences. And that could be a first step to positioning visual poetry in the critical context of the central discussion of interdisciplinary creative practice. As a visual artist, I can position my work in a critical context: I can say that my process is an extension of process-based conceptual art originating with Sol LeWitt and Francois Morellet; I can describe my painting technique as being rooted in the hard-edge painting tradition as exemplified by Al Held; and I can talk about my concerns with the alphabetic patterning created collectively by the intuitive consciousness of our linguistic ancestors as being related to the concerns of the abstract expressionists. In short, I can make a case for how my work is relevant to the cultural dialogue of art history. Visual poets have refused to develop a critical context which relates either to the history of their own practice, the history of literature, or the history of the visual arts. Consequently, a creative practice which is genuinely interdisciplinary, and is highly relevant to the discussion of the use of language in contemporary visual art; is not brought into the central discussion–and as a result, not properly supported by our cultural institutions. No artist; whether literary, visual, or interdisciplinary; likes to be defined and categorized, but without definitions and categories there can be no discussion, and no discussion means there is no mention, no support, and limited potential for having an impact. I admit the deck is already stacked, but I’d like to see visual poetry in the game–it would benefit everyone who explores language in a creative context. Perhaps at some point, there could be a conference or symposium presenting various viewpoints on categorization, definition, and historical relationships of the practice of visual poetry. The idea of examining key figures and influences could be extended and positioned in the context of the larger discussion. Some key figures that come to mind are Dick Higgins, B.P. Nichol, and Emmett Williams.


Edward Kulemin / Edward Kulemin


“Word and Body” by Edward Kulemin

The word and the body are the main visual elements of art, by which the artist produces an interaction between thought and form. Facial expressions, gestures, hearing, smell, touch underlie all communication. Early symbolic systems for communication of information (pictograms, hieroglyphs, alphabets) used symbols, often interpretive gestures. At all times the body was a metaphysical tool of communication such as dance, ritual, theatre, film, photography, sculpture and other plastic arts.

Signs, letters and symbols carry not only meaning but also shaped information. Today the artist has the difficult task of expressing what lies between word and image. There arise indescribable (but intuitively felt) vibration and sense.

Bodily structures fill a number of fine brutal and sensual symbolisms. In this impersonal body, sculptures refer to the experiments in the field of bioengineering and to the direction in contemporary art, which is associated with the concept of “postbiological”. New computer technologies allow us to manufacture plastic surgery text. Verbal and body composition-characters constitute a single semantic structure, similar in aesthetics to visual poetry and post-concept


Clemente Padin / Clemente Padin

Clemente Padin - Guantánamo