Alphanumeric Surfaces

“A sense of fascination and adventure told me that the letters and the signs standing still on the page could gain actual movement of their own. The words and the letters could at last be free, creating their own space.”

E. M. de Melo e Castro, in Media Poetry: An International Anthology (2007), Eduardo Kac.

This strand is comprised of works that suggest “graphic and kinetic possibilities”. Here, letters and numbers are defamiliarized and display a “verbicovisual energy”. The manipulation of their graphical properties often results in a “remediatization of concrete poetry”. Letters and numbers become “enigmatic shapes”, or sounds vocalized by a robotic voice whose “traces” you need to follow. These works shapeshift between the ideogrammatic and the alphanumeric, presenting words and numbers as encrypted,  and persistently exploring the transition from  absence to emergence of meaning.

The Silent Numbers

– The Silent Numbers (2013), Matthew Kirkpatrick – Matthew Kirkpatrick’s The Silent Numbers is a collage of audio and text. Much of the audio consists of different voices speaking numbers and letters, and interruptions of static and noise that create a cacophony even as numbers as phrases appear on the screen: texts pulled from messages … Continue reading The Silent Numbers

The Sweet Old Etcetera

– The Sweet Old Etcetera (2006), Allison Clifford – In the manner of a composer and librettist setting a classic text for an opera, Clifford deftly adapts the poetry of e.e. cummings – notorious for its visual and textual punning – to the Flash environment. The elegance of the visuals along with the evocative audio … Continue reading The Sweet Old Etcetera


– Scriptpoemas (2008-), Antero de Alda – These short and (apparently) ready-to-consume poems were created using Flash, Javascript and ActionScript and they often enact the activity or attribute described in their title. Each poem seems to convey the literal meaning of the words used to describe them: the poem in prison is presented behind bars, the … Continue reading Scriptpoemas


– Soundpoems (2002-2008), Jörg Piringer – – THIS WORK IS CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE DUE TO ADOBE FLASH’S DISCONTINUATION – This suite of three minimalist poems take the electronic letter to its most basic components: symbol, sound, and behavior. (…) The letters in Piringer’s playful pieces all follow programmed and randomized behaviors reacting in diverse ways when … Continue reading Soundpoems

Concrete p.

– Concrete p. (2010),   David Jhave Johnston – – THIS WORK IS CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE DUE TO ADOBE FLASH’S DISCONTINUATION – Concrete P. est une collection d’une vintaine de générateurs de texte et d’oeuvres de poésie concrète de l’artiste David Jhave Johnston. Toutes les oeuvres, disposées en deux colonnes, adoptent une esthétique minimaliste noir sur blanc. … Continue reading Concrete p.

Tipoemas y Anipoemas

– Tipoemas y Anipoemas (1997-2003), Ana Maria Uribe – The late Argentinian poet Ana María Uribe (1944-2004) wrote visual poetry from the 1960s with a keen typographical eye that imbued letters with character. Her Typoemas are very much in the Concrete poetry tradition imbuing the typed word on the page with “verbivocovisual” energy. Her Anipoemas … Continue reading Tipoemas y Anipoemas


– Signagens (1985-1989), E. M. de Melo e Castro –  In Signagens, letters and icons often become indistinguishable. The text does not introduce a collage of different languages, but a new language which the reader must learn how to use. According to Melo e Castro, new technologies introduce a “new grammar of visual transformation” which … Continue reading Signagens


– Prosthesis (2011), Ian Hatcher – Just as the iconic intonations of Apple’s SIRI by Susan Bennett or the sarcastic singsong of Valve’s GLaDDOS by Ellen McLain cannot be separated from their technical scaffolding, Ian Hatcher’s voice cannot be separated from his procedural, programmatic, and personal writing. Hatcher’s practiced monotones, staccato stutters, and seemingly processed … Continue reading Prosthesis


– Tunnel To Another World (2014-2016), John F. Barber – Tunnel to another World is a narrative about parallel worlds, accessed via a tunnel. Or is it? I recorded the train sounds and overpass rumbling using my iPhone. Inspiration for this piece comes from the radiolab statement that the ear is a portal to another … Continue reading TUNNEL TO ANOTHER WORLD