Archive for October 2011


Visual Language (Encyclopedia Pictura)

October 26th, 2011 — 05:18 pm

In my thesis, I state:

“I think visual language evolution is on a trajectory toward becoming a real-world object. The shape of these letterform objects might correspond to embodied structures: visual analogs of mathematics that arise from the acoustic resonance inside our bodies. It can be argued that much of proportional aesthetics (theories of golden mean symettry etc.) arises from embodiment, evolutionary activity over millennia etching patterns in physiognomy.

What I am suggesting is that innate shapes (geometry or topology in Thom’s terms) already exist for letterforms. They implicitly underlie our oral audible language, they are subconscious sculptures intuited from the shape of diaphragm, larynx, mouth, lips and tongue. They have been etched there by speaking. Some shapes are personal, some shapes are cross-cultural. Yet it is these shapes and vibrational presences that are being given birth and dimensional form within 3D animation, ads, and digital poetry.”

Computation provides us with unprecedented tools to implement such a vision. Perhaps the most fundamental agreement with my viewpoint comes from an unusual source: Encyclopedia Pictura are a trio of motion-graphic artists who have made extraordinary music videos for artists such as Bjork and clients like Spore.

Near the bottom of their website menu is a discrete link to a page devoted to visual language: a set of drawings and eventually doodles which outline their vision for an augmented reality application which utilizes morphological text that is relationally appropriate to the sound of the voice of the speakers.

In other words they propose precisely what I have advocated in my thesis and worked towards with works like Human–Mind–Machine. Except they have actually gone farther, providing one-to-one relationships between sounds and candidate shapes. Continue reading »

Comments Off | 3D, animism, augmented, conceptual, kinetic, multimedia

Genetic Initiatives

October 26th, 2011 — 11:58 am

As far as I know, there have been 4 primary interventions that involve directly writing poetry into genes.

The first was renegade bio-artist Joe Davis’ Microvenus project. He wrote an an ancient fertility glyph into an e coli in 1996 and exhibited it at Ars Electronica 2000. For this he invented his own coding structure.

The second was Eduardo Kac’s insertion of a biblical verse (“Let man have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”) into a strand of DNA for his 1998 Genesis exhibit. In this exhibit networked viewers control a UV light which effects the rate of bacterial propogation (in other words, alters its publishing).

The third was Craig Venter who on May 20th 2010 announced that his team had created and watermarked the first self-replicating artificial organism with a codified puzzle, the names of the organism’s authors, and 3 citations, including one from James Joyce: “TO LIVE, TO ERR, TO FALL, TO TRUIMPH, TO RECREATE LIFE OUT OF LIFE”. Ominous? Perhaps. Trivial? Not at all. This shifts the definition of self-publishing.

The fourth poetic-genetic intervention, Christian Bök’s Xenotext Experiment, was proposed in 2007 and implemented in 2011; it apparently releases poetic responses (proteins encrypted in readable ways).

Each of these processes is far from creating a living language that will persist without complicated life support or function as viable technology for reading that will challenge the book or screen. Though Venter’s organism replicates; and Bök intends to splice his next verse into a very durable critter and potentially outlive humanity, there is the problem of user interface developments: how exactly do we read these texts except as interventions which challenge our conception of memory substrates?

Each project is more akin to a microbe making a tattoo on an elephant than a sustained treatise on molecular poetry. Yet these tiny revolutionary incremental splices interject imagination onto molecular substrates, intertwine the context of text with molecular biology, and anticipate a radical shift in the materiality of reading.

How does this connect to digital poetry? Rapid sequencing and subsequent manipulation of the genome emerge in parallel with computation. The genome for the first self-replicating synthetic cell was “designed in the computer”. Binary encoding processes convey the word into flesh.

Comments Off | animism, conceptual, genetic