Microsoft Word, Concrete Poetry, & Quotation

Monday, April 21st, 2014 by contromal

                In my final project, I am creating a collection of concrete poetry. In Microsoft Word, I construct two dimensional images from (mostly) pre-existing quotes or descriptions. For example, to construct a portrait of Steve Jobs, I use several of his most famous quotes. To illustrate Apple Lisa, I intend on using excerpts from its manual to construct the shape of the technology. Additionally, I will use language from advertisements and the start-up processes of the machines in the MAL. I intend on reconstructing different technologies in the Media Archaeology Lab, different brand logos, and different personas associated with past and present media technologies. In doing this, I hope to draw attention to the different ways that the consumer encounters the product, through words and sight, and suggest that the two are inextricably linked. By weaving language with image, I draw attention to language as the “building blocks” of a machine or person’s greater aura. Through this process, I hope to question how the product is presented, give a historically context to the object, and present an alternate way of interacting with words about machines. Furthermore, I strive to make language strange. I want it to be questioned in relation to these pieces. These poems are admittedly difficult to read. This is a function, in part, of the simple challenges of composition. Like John Riddell, I could simply have used no words to portray the message and construct images from letters, but I must emphasize that I designed it as a mirror of what most of us do when we encounter media. For a while, we struggle to decipher the code and concepts, but eventually we only interact with the graphical user interface that has been prescribed for us. This process of elective de-familiarization is, I think, essential to understanding how man has been taught to interact with machines. By questioning our current understanding of how we should interact with media, we redefine what it means to be a consumer of those products and what it means to unquestioningly accept user-friendly, seamless, magic media.


Draft of “Steve Jobs”




3 comments on “Microsoft Word, Concrete Poetry, & Quotation

  1. angelarovak says:

    All I have to say is that I am so impressed! Your portrait is great, and as I have made some attempts to do similar things, I know it is not an easy process. I particularly like the quotes and you commentary on the difficulty of communication, and the interaction of words and symbols. Looking forward to seeing more!

  2. dparker90 says:

    This is such a cool project, Renee! I’d be interesting in learning how you came up with the idea and what kind of criteria you used to select brand logos.

  3. Lori Emerson says:

    Renee, I too echo what Deven and Angela have said: your project is so intriguing and even beautiful looking! My only suggestion is that I’d like to hear more about the critical apparatus of your project – partly because it actually sounds like you’re making an argument opposite of media archaeology (sounds like you’re arguing that language determines our experience of media, rather than the other way around) which is of course fine and fascinating but might require further explanation. Also I’d like some more clarification on the relationship of the user-friendly to what you’re doing here – as user friendly is something like an abstract concept that is perpetuated partly through language but is also something more abstract than that…so there seem to be a number of moving parts to your project that I’m looking forward to hearing more about in the finished product.

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