Thoughts on Typography from ‘Undergrad Lola’

Monday, March 17th, 2014 by lola192

I’ve been awfully pressed for time over the last week – one of those weeks where everything that could possibly be assigned is all due on the same day – so for my post, I would like to share two extracts from my undergrad paper on typography in digital poetry. I realise this is cheating somewhat, but I found it relevant and it remains true to my thoughts on poetry as a digital medium. i have also included the links to the three kinetic typographies mentioned in the conclusion. Be warned, they aren’t necessarily PG-rated as some are peppered with rather colourful language! Below are the introduction and conclusion from my paper titled, Typography: Digital Poems and Interpretative Closure.

“Even for a more sophisticated reader, the very label ‘poem’ may arouse many expectations that the text will not fulfill”

– Claus Culver

“Early Modernists, such as the French Symbolist poet Mallarme and Italian Futurist Marinetti, played founding roles in directing poetry away from its purely literary traditions by using new and innovative methods of typography to change the face of conventional poetry. By relying on similar typographical techniques and applying them to new mediums, today’s digital poets have further altered – and are continually altering – the way in which poetry is presented. However, in doing so, are they ultimately alienating poetry from the traditional reader? Furthermore, are contemporary techniques serving to push digital poetry so far away from a definition that it is becoming unrecognisable as something literary? Traditional poetry relies heavily on one’s ability to perform a close reading of a work in order to reach a comprehensive understanding of what the text is trying to communicate. However, as Dana Gioia asserts in Disappearing Ink: Poetry at the End of Print Culture, due to the rising popularity of electronic mediums as a platform for poetry, “the orthodox views of contemporary poetry no longer are either useful or accurate in portraying the rapidly changing shape of the art”. Taking Gioia’s notion of orthodox views of contemporary poetry into consideration, one could posit that existing uses of typography in digital poetry function, albeit sometimes involuntarily, to make it somewaht resistant to, what Bernstein calls, “interpretive closure” as a genre. Consequently, the method of analysis that is integral to how traditional poetry functions is made especially difficult to attain. Such resistance further proves problematic for digital poetry insofar as it appears to cross boundaries that dictate what is to be accepted as ‘poetry’ versus what is not.

As poetry and poets alike become immersed in the advantages the Digital Movement has to offer the art form, the way in which digital poetic works are interpreted shall undoubtedly have to change in order for them to be sufficiently critiqued and appreciated. In order to garner interpretive comprehension of digital poems, such as the kinetic typographies of Fight Club, Pulp Fiction, and V for Vendetta, a reader who is accustomed to analyzing and interpreting conventional poetry needs to adjust their expectations and analytic methodology. Readers must disregard previous ‘training’ and any attachments to specific poetic genres that they may possess, as well as attempt to overcome any desire they may hold to somewhat maintain the academy or poetry as it exists within the paradigm of academia. With an inability to readily and concretely define what poetry is becoming within the digital age, there comes a fear that poets will begin to favour non-verbal means of communication, rendering language simply sound void of meaning. As poetry progresses within a digital framework, what remains to be seen is whether or not such a fear is a legitimate one.”

Fight Club:

V for Vendetta: (Beautiful part of the film for we English nerds)

Pulp Fiction:


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