This blog charts the progress of the studio component of an independent study course completed by David Jhave Johnston (glia.ca) with the guidance and input of Jason Lewis of OBX Labs at Concordia University, Fall 2008.

What’s going on?

Basically, I am constructing an online real-time beat-synchronized poem animator. Sound drives the rhythm of the words: their speed and style of display can be controlled. Sets of experiments will be displayed.

The work is inspired and informed by Gary Hill. In the 1980s, Hill was making video pieces where the voice was the compelling force that controlled the rate of change of video cuts. His cuts were made manually. But a similar principle is at work in the Sound-Seeker (i am looking for a better name) prototypes where a user-controllable volume threshold allows the animation or editing speed to be controlled by the sound. By setting the threshold high, the device becomes insensitive to sound. Low settings cause rapid flurries of cuts to video or changes in the rate of reading and animation.

Flexibility and ease-of-use for myself in being able to instinctively test out ideas is key to this process. Currently the prototype (as of November 2008) allows choice of sound source, text source, cutting place in the text (period or space delimiters), setting of volume threshold, choice of randomized or static font based on the fonts on user’s machine.

It promises to efficiently provide a feasible platform. The mind responds well to rhythmic alignment.

Official Course Description: Digital poetry is an emergent discipline in the field of literature. By synthesizing text, video, sound and interactivity, a hybrid art-form is created. This course will examine the theoretical context and contemporary practitioners of this digital art-form. Building on and moving beyond the chronology established in media discourse, it will attempt to reintegrate diverse modes of kinetic typography under a unified theoretical framework that bridges materiality and virtuality.