Sunday, July 2, 2023

Nico Vassilakis : Collected Staring: an essay on letters




To conjugate a gaze
The pronouns of stare
Nosotros are seeing this
The environment is something you bump into

How to proceed...these explorations and explanations are ancillary and redundant to a singular encounter with visual poetry. A definition that undulates in water fluctuates in its own
meaning. Our optical landmarks continue to form and disintegrate. It's easy to understand how someone might be simultaneously lost and found. These accounts attest to failure that never concludes.

There's a word for just about everything, but there ain't a word for this.

How letters release from words and what they find themselves doing before and after forming into words.
Letters are free to arrange themselves any way they want.
For a moment they're autonomous and independent with no restrictions, so they navigate or are drawn toward one another in order to form new and unrealized results.
My vispo tends to mimic this reflex, it strives to capture and promote this moment.

Hello letters! - you will leave your words, will be unattached, able to drift into all new visible features of experience.

A sequence of energy constants:
a) The discharge of a word is finally equal to the energy found in its letters
b) Now make those same letters askew, reposition them on a page, have the letters touch other letters in unaccustomed ways - the energy is the same
c) Then cut the letters in half and use their visual elements as the available material to construct or compose the new vispoem - the energy remains

Letters seek liberty from word supremacy. Will detach from word and roam the page. Will find new designs to thwart their word captor. Will unhinge entirely and emerge alongside natural formations.

Only then.
Will the letters offer to return, to reconvene. Will reassemble. Will re enter the word template. Will be poured into WORD meaning, the slots of which letters attend.

There is no pleasure if if. Capital A and capitol Ism. The moment a reader dislocates their eyes to see language, its material, happening. An untwisted poetics that both captures and documents the letter in its pre and post word condition. It's a snake that reconvenes or a strategy to not get entirely subsumed by the image. The visual machinations transgress or reads seeing or writes vispo or some such hubristic yammer. I've got scarring.
The uncanny nature of the eye to misjudge then right itself. That instant an eye cannot locate information. A revisiting of early development and the brain in a frenzy to categorize its external environment. The eye becomes complacent and sensory transduction freaks out when the unprecedented comes in contact with our body. That one wonky second when the brain doesn't know how to process incoming information. It's that that I love, it's what drew me from writing to seeing writing to reading seeing. I seek that occurrence.
Children develop in a particular way. They draw letters then they comply to writing letters. Hand drawing vs handwriting alphabet. The keyboard is now eliminating this difference.
That time between, to draw and to write a letter.
Drawing is a primitive expression of marking space with time. Writing, or alphabet, is a forced societal construct.
Which letter or portion of that letter will quell this desire of yours.
I've arranged these letters. Put them together - next to one another. Yes, I have.
There is no one word to satisfy what it is you want of me. No collection of words. No sentence affirming or destructive enough to keep you fully engaged.

Dear Poetry, the thing about you seeming important is that you think you're everywhere. The pleats are naturally hammered back into place. The rock is shaped by water. A sentence, a weft, passes over and below its warp. Hands running under blankets. A magnification of parts of letters, the parts that no longer resemble and cannot be traced back to the original and so have determined to make a go of it on their own. It will be interesting to see where all the threads arrive. Ready for that something new, pressured by what's new. An image lingers.

Vispo is writing that exploded and reconvened into another form of seeing. Reading this result is openness, writing this new seeing is one way to transmogrify language. Language is development, is as Piaget or Chomsky say - at odds, fighting to know how it first bloomed.
I see no reason to destroy word, I simply want to undo word so the letters become revealed. Letters gather in a pre word formation, free to move about and explore before they are forced to line up and take their place in a word sequence.
I see the letters as ingredients without which words would not exist. Words are a form of convenience. They take the place of an object in language. Letters are the math that allows this equation to result in words. We wipe our memory clean of letters and allow words to fill the air. The information letters house has become lost to us.

A visual poem is successful when it makes alternative use of writing and devalues the sequence of alphabet, that which is typically reserved for word communication, and offers a visual logic to how letters can be presented. I am particularly interested in letters, but more so, I am involved in the pieces of letters that just barely hang on to recognizable form before being jettisoned into new terrain. This terrain is part of the development of language or pre/post language. How children are first asked to draw and then to write letters. It moves from free expression in drawing to rigid grid-like writing that makes everything the same. Children are forced to comply to group communication before they are ever encouraged to create their own alphabet.
Coincidence occurs within the making of a piece only after I have a generalized idea of what the outcome will be. Beginning a piece may be a product of happenstance, but it proceeds with a clarity of design and composition. I work in layers and over time to ensure that multiple viewings of the poem can reflect several angles of entry. For the viewer, their experience might be wildly different. My work could look like a document or field recording of my unconscious, but more than anything, I think it is a capture shot of letters before or after they formulate into word. Letters have a life unto themselves. "...letters have a destination other than words." Isidore Isou
My overall concept about this is that we are on the planet to find a way to leave the planet. We are exhausting the planet's resources and so technology or the language of technology must take its necessary path, must reach a conclusion. Human beings, in their current condition, will consume the very means that sustains them. We will have no choice but to explore off-planet solutions.
Technology is a problem we live with, a problem we absorb and adjust to as we go along. Nature is the great equalizer. Nature is an alphabet we have forgotten, because convenience has made us soft and helpless. Also, the idea of generating constant profit has degraded our integrity. Being a poet, a real poet, is become near impossible in this world. Too many other concerns have made us into hybrid poets, living as poets in tangential situations. How are we able to maintain focus in this accelerated environment. Fewer and fewer real poets exist anymore.

Sutured, sewn, becomes the one with qualities of two. As a child succumbs to its parental information only to emerge a singular new byproduct. To force an image onto text or text onto image is a weakness. The composition should arise from the shared balance and sensibility of the two. A blend of data and vision. Not simply seeing, but knowing - a haiku of sight. The drawn is a reproduction of it, the written is a recreation of it, the said is a facsimile of thought. They are the filters to activity behind the eyes.
My fascination with how letters sit beside each other and patiently wait to be freed of their word logic scrum hasn’t subsided. So, I capture that alphabetic dalliance as document of some future language event. Vispo is a byproduct of ones experience with literature, with writing, reading and seeing. It’s about how you look and read your way passed words and re familiarize yourself with the intentional drawing of letters.

We called those involved The Starists

The first tendency of Letters, when newly released from their word bondage, is to become decorative. This is usually followed by design logic and visual pun, as well as other compositional templates. Next, Letters either proceed into new visual poetics or return to the word. We are taught to return, but are seldom given an option. Yes, they said, let us go, free us.
Vispo is a response to reading and writing language. There is a connection between seeing writing and writing reading and reading seeing. Vispoets transmogrify, they undo the word, they reveal the potential locked in the word by visually deconstructing it. They replace language with other visual language.

The Word Eater is a verbal-visual totem. The Word Eater enunciates staring inside monkey bars where oxygen attracts twice the hydrogen. To look upon minus alliteration. Staring as a buffer - staring into nothing. Then leap. The invisible reunion of electricity. Greek totems lead to a phalanx. A nugatory battle between what you are see and what you are say. Asemic to the foreign totem. This in the end is what makes the person.

Minor sources of sugar. Button-shaped trees. Air pricked with negative light. Invisible chairs crossing the sea. Literature derived from art manifestoes. “Logically, the universe is absurd”
Thought Veranda busy in motion.

W is encircled but not dead yet. B addresses one vacant intersection. it is considered a surrounded text. W eludes capture. W is elsewhere. the two are separate. B chooses not to expend energy. to waste time. B moves internally. forever. the table’s comprised of many texts. W connects the points. in a moment. the moment W both removes and occupies the seat. the enclosed structure creates a new design. the eyes. the text by which all is captured. B forbids suicide. B allows himself to be logically unoccupied. the fashion of the prisoner. W replies. endlessly the life and death of larger texts and their disputed intersections. W’s repetition of the original. B dares not ignore. B implies the threat of being elsewhere. W responds. the out of context sequence shows weakness. a small text is used for convenience to illustrate the method. the southern half of the table acquires four prisoners. B and W encompass each other. it’s unsure if they own anything. W has two eyes and surveys his territory. W lives in an enclave. B deduces that he too must have at least two eyes. B must kill and expose W’s false eye. the primary enclosure is in place. an influence upon southern threats. the edges of the text are natural borders. B will diminish the area himself. the essential walls no longer encroach. W leaves the center for later. a meal. B’s futility goes unobserved. the invasion is defined by advantage. a subtle decrease in vacancy. W invests in more material. W favors the difference in convenient patterns. in permitted groupings. the table is governed by strategy and accuracy. the seats are additional territories. B resigns himself to local occurrences. B is foolish in this example. on the other hand. the text is outside and rife with discrepancies. a rare consolation. the text filled with errors. it begins dull and ends scattered. B arbitrarily cuts himself off from more funding. B requires three rocks. inconsolable.

A SYMPOSIUM ON LOVELINESS invisible notations. the nearest distance. a prediction. intends the practical drift of color, verging on something gigantic. inside the small. a frantic dampening stick. one hundred bells, one hundred bricks, one hundred remembers whatever will surface. little alphabet parts. the genius of the thumb. delightful electric shaft. the mayhem turns on you. as change finds you. frolic is sewn into a hat. you wonder where gravity is. the forms of communicating. a foray. a foyer. aforementioned.

Open. Opent. Oh, pent up. Immersed in language, pearls loosened from the branches. Captured in a sphere. One eye accepts light for the other more demur pupil. A three-sided funnel that spells a tongue, that sees an image of hovering on the heels of dolphins cavorting. Tonight in the company of cellular division. Tonight in the company of cellular division. Roots grow out from the soil of two worlds. Between two shoulders is a head in the middle.

The specialist comes and dreams a way through your problem. I’ve never met them before. A postcard. A modernist quintet in the rain. Index cards full with scribble. That kind of writing makes my eyes blur. Pointing to the top most shelves in the display cabinet. The shortness of breath. Overhearing instructions on how to fix the problem with your portable device. Printing billboards, tagging billboards. You will know him by the looped affectation of his letter ‘f’. Thinking a scenario before it happens.
The scarf was strewn on the floor in the shape of the letter S.

a full of b
abc full of d abcd full of e abcdef full of g abcdefg full of h & i & you

“My work constitutes an attempt to immortalize fleeting moments... I must seize the very instant in which the living experience seeps on to the symbol, which in this case is the letter.” Mira Schendel, 1975
As if it’s a graphic poet out of reasons situated in an inability to convey a sustained truth (written) there’s magic to alphabet gazing -

You take lines and shapes and given possibilities and make alphabet. You use it to make sounds and you map out trajectories of thought. You make names and call your children by them. This is done everywhere. And it’s been done for thousands of years until you became bored with this method — until you have surrounded and suffocated yourself with these products of your creation.
You go through ubiquitous, unrelenting text — you are altered by text, by its message. You’ve had to alter how you see. You are forced to alter text itself. You stare your way through words and into middles of words. You resolve the noise of your eyes. The information you see, you seek, to find another nature therein.
It’s you viewing textual oddities askance. . It’s the words, their origins, words within words, the seeds of language. It’s the symbols, signs, and icons seared into your brain. It’s you being attracted by perfect letter structures. It’s the revisiting of early alphabet education. It’s the timeframe between learning how to draw letters and how to write them. It’s you seeking to express the phenomenon of seeing language. It’s you transforming and appreciating the design and construction of alphabet.
“Upon it draws a handwritten gnarl if thoughts untie let loose to move that twice subsumed both time and space through ink refined these letters hold and release the tiny marks remain.”

* SeeingSeeing
Detached. Dissociative. I don’t know. How to explain this condition. I let my brain do the thinking. I watch it think for me. There’s an enjoyment I get seeing where it goes. From one visual idea to another it makes the associations. I follow them as an observer. I look on it as an observer of my own brain’s momentum. I’m not in charge of this activity. I’m not willfully in charge. I’m not directing the seeing. My brain looks up, acquires information, and it sees for me. It goes from one enticement; lets say a capital B, then to another peripheral small case k. It makes the connection and I am simply viewing. When this happens I am aware of feeling detached. As a spectator I sense another consciousness at work. The brain itself is receiving stimuli and translating that information into patterns that I would normally seek. The exception here is that I’m not knowingly seeking them out. I witness my brain working. This is another consciousness. I thought of what to compare this to and it came back to staring. When you stare at one fixed point you are incorporating surrounding information and having an experience that includes that fixed point plus everything else around it. Though you might feel locked in one position your brain is doing some amazing things. So I thought, maybe my brain thinks I’m staring and is piecing the puzzle together for me. I am not actively looking. I am not engaged in staring either. My brain connects the dots before I even see what I am seeing. It is like a form of entertainment, I see my brain seeing and it expresses itself by my following its lead. I watch where it leads me. What I watch is mostly bits of language: half-words, part phrases, single letters, shapes within a given letter, fonts, size, etc. And these, of course, are everywhere. Anywhere the printed word is displayed.
And so I wonder, what is this moment, this moment I recognize my brain is creating associations for me. What is happening to me that I feel detached from my own brain’s activity? That I feel separated from my very machine, the one that works solely for me. When bringing it up, I think about deterioration and disease of the brain. I was startled at first by this minutia of time separation between seeing and seeing my brain see.
So barring any medical trouble, I am basically responding to my brain seeing. It is a reality that I’ve been attending to increasingly. Noticing where and when I am in authority and where I am subservient to my brain’s dominion. The subtleties of control are vague, of course, but during the act of staring hierarchy of who’s seeing what is even foggier. The who is my brain, the who is me. This brings a mental, body, and now, a third awareness, a separate me axis into play. Three aspects of info retrieval interact with the world. Separations of power separated and facing each other.

from starEduction
Drawing a blank – seeing a blank undone
Staring at letters reminds you that their visual substance is there to encompass entire human histories
Each letter contains a history that is both personal and communal
If you dissect a letter and stare at it further you come upon nature’s world – the bits, the parts, the shapes are a product of nature
Talking is an acceleration of letters
A letter has no beginning and no end
You stare for combinations that are pleasing.
Letters are atoms and words molecules, but the letter is the essence of your staring
The keyboard is a house of letters
Stare your way into a word till the meaning of the word is gone then allow each letter to achieve its visual potential
Burn the cohesive bonds between letters Words make a prison for letters
VisPo exists because it encapsulates the area of thought based on the alphabet that requires attention – the letter
VisPo is a byproduct of staring. Staring penetrates natural design

A moment to be blank, to be in synch, to be entranced, to be attentive, to be in tune with planetary and atomic realities simultaneously
A sleepers stare awakens eyelids open for half a minute, half the hour what moves in through the eyes and out from the mind are the same, half of a day of peripheral viewing honed into half a week of serious focal points
Deconstructs alphabet and so alters the message
Concrete is ancient vispo
It’s not that unusual to find someone in the midst of doing absolutely nothing

Words are patterns imbued with designated meaning. Alphabets are the periodic table of talk. To discorporate further, letters are visual entities that hold memory and experience in place. Whatever pattern we devise, letters are rotationally ours.

“I’m looking through you, you're not the same.”
The initial act of reading is staring. When you add saccades you initiate movement. Text itself is an amalgam of units of meaning. Words, right. As you stare at text you notice the visual aspects of letters. As you stare further meaning loses its hierarchy and words discorporate and the alphabet itself begins to surface. Shapes, space relations, visual associations emerge as you delve further. Alphabetic bits or parts or snippets of letters can create an added visual vocabulary amidst the very text you’re reading. Atomic incursions. Noodling among the utterances. Like scuba diving in( )between letters to liberate the bonds that keep them in place. Pre meaning is the moment before the letters arrange. More than anything im stuck on parts of letters floating. The pre meaning or their meaning askance-coalescing etc.
Writing as field recording device. Stenographer’s translation. How uncomfortable is it to say, I document what thinking arranges for me. It’s a situation I observe. Where my thinking goes. Watching my thinking think. Documenting my staring. Evidence against the collapsing scaffold of convenience. Getting ready to write for writing. For documenting.
You wait for time and it reveals. Composition comes in view. Again staring, the procedure is to get. Then get lost. Then stare your way back into focus.
Saccades for cadence. The fixed point renders a viewer’s seeing immobile for several seconds or more. A momentary paralysis imbued with hyper focus. Not in charge of what to think. Immersed in the designs and possibilities of visual momentum honed to Euclidian ends. Time slips or stops or the ability to control time ceases. Free for unattended thought to seep in. Then translating this process by capturing it. As how the psychology of seeing, of reading might alter the writer. And now that we stare into any number of screens a day we, ourselves, are caught.
In order to say the word language you are forced to use language. The impossible nature of getting there. Finding your aleatoric self among the pencils. Here. An alerted poise of tumult. When staring bores an opening it defines the border where breathable atmosphere and relentless space meet. The curve of the earth. Accumulation of lived experiencing. Filling the satchel. With thought, with movement, with decisions over both. Mostly it is documenting. The relation between chemical interface and its effect on thinking. Where mind clarifies chaos. Hones in on the attention it requires. Hallucinating the possibilities that generate a reason to speak/write outside of self. And the catalyst.

Staring formulates a holding pattern writing prepares for.
A kind of Staring Poetics.
Staring at textpo creates the potential for vispo.

There are things happening we don’t talk about. A dictionary haphazardly opened is a trick for letters to flee. Rising off the page into your eyes or into your nostrils or into your ears. These letters don’t sustain meaning. They are in flux and are better considered particulates of the larger WORD world. In this place though we are specifically concerned with these singular units that comprise what we know as alphabet. In this world letters are vulnerable and cant always stand on their own. Letters alone are typically unwanted things. They are in danger of being individual, of lacking community, of not forming into a word. Isolated. And the bits that flake off, that are shaved off, that simply give way - these letters collapse, they morph, they concoct a new purpose. The visual potential of each letter. Here is that poetry. You can leave these images if you want, but know that the letters remain afloat even after you’ve gone. Nothing for a change or everything changes. The quantum of alphabet. Its elements seeking adhesion, making their way to some certain molecule. Poised for destination. The pre word. The periodic table of letters. Held in their miasmic solution, their amniotic fluid. Before birthing into word. They are here waiting, suspended, considering their possibilities. Poetry is comprised of charged units of language. Before sound, before meaning, before even the impulse to write – the letters are preparing to congeal. To see it at this level is to see the visual aspect of poetry forming. The pre cohesion of language. The poetry of infinite turns. And so the material changes, time changes, seeing changes. Staring your way through to another approach we seldom heed. A mushroomed mentality constant and without obstacle. Again, letters float, like the dust spots in your eye, before they land and become words. Over and over again this continues.

as verb
To vispo; the process of applying letters to the world in a way that alters or creates meaning specific to the use of alphabet as visual material and not hinged to semantic, syntactic word logic. Though words can be used to draw the reader toward the action of vispo, as a descriptive, words are not part, the basis, of a result of vispoing. The letters, and every permutation therein, are the principle ingredients to a vispo creation.
To vispo; the act of looking at alphabet and seeing only its visual material.
To vispo; the imagined or real interaction with letters and their visual presence. While vispoing, the poet can create a field of renewed understanding with their over saturated
word surroundings.
To vispo; a form of looking. The process by which one deconstructs a word through the release of adhered letters. The breaking of letter bonds that capture and keep letters inside words.
To vispo; a way of liberating the letter, to read past the word toward the design elements of its component parts.
He vispoed his way through a landscape of billboards.
Her vispoing transformed advertising in the subway.
As evening went on, the book he was reading was visited by a vispoing specter and the letters began to float off the page.
The architect was thinking of how to use her vispoed text as a blueprint for new building ideas.
To vispo; to discorporate text. The vispoed word, being a unit of letters, discorporates by discharging its letters and relieving word of its meaning.
To vispo; involves being witness to the trajectory of the making and breaking of words. The pre accumulation of letters, the wrangling for position, to acquire word definition and meaning. This applies to the departure or post word exhaustion, the renewed liberation of letters just before they're asked to reassemble into word again.
To vispo; the act of staring at language. The uncovering of design material used to fashion alphabet.
At night, the lower angled support scaffold of the letter K would vibrate.
While watching the newly christened name of the boat reflect in the water, its letter E kept extending and disappearing.
My compass was the sharp angled pointing A and beneath it cool safe shelter.
Once, you pressed the lower, larger bulbed support of capital B and the upper part grew in size. Over and over again, you pressed.

My Vispo

I think of vispo as preparation for a future language event. We are inundated by our word-text surroundings, it suffocates our thoughts. Vispo may be a repurposing, a pared down version of our verbal-visual offering to show reverence for our interconnectedness with the planet we're on. I doubt people look at vispo that way though. So, what is it that vispo's doing?
Vispo takes from the blurred periphery of language, and language material, and brings it front and center. This helps people refocus their attention toward what's missed, what's missing, what needs further investigation. It's the same as a “poem” only the interaction can be more fleeting.
You can read anything as language is everything. Someone asked me if i could read a shag rug, so i got down and began articulating the width, length, direction, color, etc of each tuft/thread in sound units.
The thing you don't want to do is explain everything. You don't want to verbally replicate what is obviously visual. Some reviewers of vispo do this and suck the life force out of a piece. Many vispoets accompany their work by deciphering it with sound. A slideshowing disconnect, a visualized lecture as well.
I think vispo is a kinetic mirror. It shows origins, where written language came from and it shows potential, where it might be going. Words are a limited system that convey only some aspects of our experience. To visually enhance written language by getting in there among the letters and exposing the ingredients of words is useful. It keeps our communication exchange agile and fresh, it enables you to (re)explore new terrain. What makes language language?
Graffiti expands visual alphabet too. It constantly tries new combinations, designs, to convey the idea of I AM HERE. Vispo seeks to unlock or continue our experience with alphabet.
There are 2 schools of thinking here. One is that visual poetry is the pinnacle, the top of the categorization pyramid, with everything below it (concrete, lettrism, hieroglyphics, pattern, etc) and two, that vispo is the come lately sub-genre of concrete poetry.
Calling art abstract is subjective. Abstract to who(m)? Vispo is, i think, more determined to convey a reaction to language, a response that furthers the conversation. Further to who)m(? So, I do not say vispo is art.
One current trend is to try and understand what vispo is? What it is to engage alphabet and language from this vantage? How are the tools that create the charged language of a “poem” not equally present in a vispoem? There is lots to read about but few writers to capture it.
I think asemic writing/poetry is the ratcheted up magnification of parts of letters, the parts that no longer resemble and cannot be traced back to the original and so have determined to make a go of it on their own. It will be interesting to see where all the threads arrive.
If language ingredients can be fashioned to make a charged utterance, what is the difference in using those same ingredients for vispoems?

I'm very interested in drawn letters. I'm not so interested in written letters. There was a time when the brain danced while drawing letters, moving passed the perforated lines, going off the page, drawing on walls, etc, then came the time you were forced to write, to write within the designated lines, to be accurate, exacting, precise, to use right angles. That time frame between drawing letters and writing letters is more fetching to me.
I point directly to my childhood memories about the difference. Hand drawing vs handwriting alphabet was a dramatic segue for me. The letter O, for instance, was first drawn by me as a surrealistic potato encapsulating space wherever it moved. Very soon after that the letter O became uniform, compliant and precise. It was forced to fit obediently between the perforated lines. The line itself became rigid and no longer stole time with unwatched abandon. Perhaps something in my life never quite recovered from that.

FOLD #1 – The skin undergoes underground. A turnstile. A machine exudes content. How smart can I write so it makes a lick of difference. Depends on the new. Ahoy, an entrance to death.
FOLD #2 – The trouble with rubbing is it’s a ghost. The plunge. A placemat. Reconnoiters. Door handles. Double handles. A dream helmet. A landscape of construction paper and scissors.
FOLD #3 – I am more confused than ever. No hat I know fits what’s happening in my head. Before 6 yrs old, before 5 yrs old. Tricked by the photos. Something very important being neglected. The kitchen table. The drapes.
FOLD #4 – A broken shuttle to the future. The Luddite future. Please hold this close. Closer. A wall map pulled down to protect the shade. Even closer. The fence, an anathema.
FOLD #5 – Bubbles aloft in the swamp. Two fingers pinch the corner of a page. Light shoots through it. I’m not ready for another problem. This tiny bastard wont leave me alone.
FOLD #6 – Smog makes the day irrevocable. A voluptuous chaos runs through the chest. How to plumb. A car loaded down with pain staking details. The shaky handwritten confession.
FOLD #7 – The swivel of being awake in a cactus. The demur of follicles. Her soft part is notation. Sweet, sweetly, a conifer grows upright in a pluck. One generates echo into the next. As it mystifies. As it protrudes. Conducts conversation in written form.
FOLD #8 – Music to maneuver in. The screen compels me. Lining up the ingredients. Business done at the edge. Nothing seems good enough. I’m at work figuring out incentives. The intensions of a measuring cup. Mostly alone. Tiny little bastard. A spot to write on.
FOLD #9 – No one wants to be lonely. Makes noise to stop the silence. The magnet. He feeds on eyes. It’s horrible. A palsied runt. A smidgen of disbelief. That locale you know will bring relief.

You wait for time and it reveals. Composition comes in view. Again staring, the procedure is to get. Then get lost. Then stare your way back into focus. And click. You catch the shit in a jpeg cage.

To fuss and cause a fracas in the eye.

An elongated gaze. Consonants against the screen. Vowels in the kitchen.

A building of letters. The letters themselves, drawn, or otherwise printed, are illustrating or reproducing our thought.
Staring your way into and through the letter as object.
Is a letter real? Does it qualify as a real world, real time object? Is a letter a totally hypothetical entity?
Things, letters, come together for a short while.
For the letters that choose not to return it is a kind of suffocation.
The letters defy word. They detach and leave word unstable. The letters, tired of adjusting to word, are free to roam and construe.
These alphabet parts seek a vision to upend everything that came before.
Seeing is believing that alphabets are in motion and in a moment come together to form a word. Otherwise, letters are everywhere at once, hovering in consideration. Visual poetry documents this occurrence, the individual letters that precede the making of a word.


It's always been a catch-as-catch-can operation of work. There are crossover possibilities in hybrid poetries. Visual poetry portals have been useful. I'm not sure how to answer this. I think engaged fun is the overriding theme to collaborating, also it acts as a buffer to working alone. There are a few that include sound, but yes, for the most part, I think sound does interfere with focus and in this day and age of everything happening at once silence becomes a point of respite. I think it's the pulse that animates and gives the illusion of movement. What I intended by that was that the word, after being stared at, will lose its meaning by having the Letters become loosened from their position. The Letters acquire a new sense of visual logic and associative meaning, thus knocking the word off its throne. This was achieved through a sequence of filters that enabled that multi-colored pulse to come through and attract the eye. Of course, the mind's eye is much more agile than any machine or program.

Any lack of sophistication is deliberate. I should say, approach video recording as blank white pages with all the decisions and chaos you encounter during that exchange. Preparation is about collecting and selecting the materials. It is about envisioning what text could do.
You can't look at anything without it having an emotional aspect.
Where do Letters go. After watching them discorporate. Liberated from confinements of the word. Simple accumulations that become decorative elements in visual poetry. Fascinations with representative sound units. After attempts at altering. After value's been reassigned and ciphers adjusted. What next for the emancipated Letter. Digitize and spiff up, done. Letter as fingerprint. More Letters, Letters that exceed, asemic Letters, done. For the Letters that choose not to return to the word. It is a kind of suffocation.

My interest is in watching Letters discorporate from the words that contain or confine them.
The first tendency of Letters, when newly released from their word bondage, is to become decorative. This is usually followed by design logic and visual pun, as well as other compositional templates. Next, Letters either proceed into new visual poetics or return to the word. We are taught to return, but are seldom given an option. Yes, they said, let us go, free us.

Seattle, 2012

NOTES for Crag Hill
Portmanteau of alphabeta
Is askance and peripheral adventure When language doesn't do
what it's accustomed to Where eye meets page and alters both
History minimizes word to bare essentials Liberates letter to its multiple applications Alphabet’s visual meat leaves word behind It's not an image placed alongside writing,
but where the two merge
We are one of many imagetext waves to come Leaves a mark that Infects and widens
How to know what is and what is good How to know bad and what it’s not

Why does it take so long, he meandered, to handle the hybrid nature
The mixed ingredients,
both fruitful and handicap
futures of our technology This is where everything


NOTES for Martín Gubbins
Pleasure in viewing is a pleasure to think freely, visually, without destroying it with
interior chatter.
If words convey the image of a thought and letters are part of words, then parts of letters are...what's the most suitable response here.
In the past forty years, we have gone further into the nucleus finding more and more material. We're looking for that last unit of information to associate it to all other living material. Without the tiniest bit of the letter how can we have the word. A molecule is not possible without a sequence of atoms. The blind vispoets move about in the dark of their homes making and breaking code according to instinct. Science is the perfect unresolved pest.

To fold paper enough. To make it sing at the crease. The pulse of the place derived by how the ink and fibers commingle. There's disturbance there too. How birds write their way through sky. The poets make us sick. They continue to make askew what asks to be left alone.
Where letters are conterminous Where a letter neighbors another Where letters detach from the word they're caught in Where letters only huddle and flank each other Where letters verge into themselves Where letters are visually contiguous Where parts of their bodies touch Where letters are flush against the other Where letters fringe and skirt other letters Where letters abut nearby letters Where a letter attracts its fellow letter and makes actual contact. This is where my eyes move toward This is what they seek Where a letter is its own magnet Not only to other letters


but to my eyes' attention You find this in the streets Walking among our communal visual texts Out of the corner of our eyes.
When you say a word the same time you hear it on the radio.
When you read a word the same time you hear it spoken.
When you turn your head the same time someone looks at you.
The chilean national military orchestra played jaws, brazil, adele, and sousa in the gazebo at the Plaza de Armas.


The black damp.
Plaza de Armas in Santiago - I walked into a protest during and about an economic summit between South America, Europe and the Caribbean. Speeches, music, pro Chavez, communists, socialists, queer, Mapuche, colorful dancers, marching bands, giant flags, the black block, Che t-shirts, and of course the cops. They battled over one street, back and forth, big trucks spraying water into the crowd. The crowd throwing rocks, sticks, bottles. Several thousand people, young and old, smiling, sweating, angry, soaked, giddy, and just there to stand alongside other people with slogans on sticks.


Spicer's LANGUAGE (foreshortened)
No/One listens to poetry.
The poet is a/counterpunching radio. Buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz; buzz, buzzz. Dancers shrieking one by one. Prayer/is exactly that
Death is not final.
Death/is a tooth among/Strangers. The in-/Visible world.
Almost too big to get used to
The baseball season finished. Shit/Enters into it only as an image It is not for the ears.
Blind guesses.
I gave you my imaginary hand.

the celestial movement of spheres in a long,/ boring procession
We found a champion. The poem Who carries his dreams on his back
We is an intimate/pronoun Those swans and/I Everything out of place We/Hated them.
It is not that the name of the town changes Troy was a baby
having no recorded/language/Never knew
what hit them
Across from the house that Jack built. This is the end of it,


Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth How/Motherfucker can I sing
If it were spelled "mune" it would not
cause madness an image of syllables
They would only listen. Nor could Alice


Over that land
Is more of it.
Empty fragments.
Found but not put together. The/unstable/Universe telesexual route to the brain Your voice
Would not have been possible
Believe me. Linguistics is divided
two phonemes/that never paired before Vowels somehow get between
to produce/children.
A ground-/rules double. You recognize them
by pattern. Try


I can hear the little sound of it The sun-dial makes a grapheme I
cannot understand.
The hour-glass is a computer.
Doesn't last long.
You flicker.
The space between it
We made tapes. They were probably erased like
we were.
both script i and cursive i
between/The spaces on a paper the letters grow within I within i
time leaves us


after ISOU (lifted from David Seaman's
Concrete Poetry in France)
First "amplified" then "chiseled"
ISOU came to the conclusion that words had to be broken down into what he considered to be their components - letters - in order to reconstruct the world of poetry.
Tzara's efforts at the destruction of language are praised by ISOU, but he feels they stopped just short of the final step, reduction of word
to letter.
"Mission of the new poetry: reduce everyone's outpourings and impulses to letters; rebuild the perceptions in themselves in a meaningful and sensitive matrix of letters."


"Poetry will be Lettrist, or it will cease to be. But poetry will be Lettrist!"
After the emotive power of letters in painting is recognized, the purely visual element becomes of prime importance. ISOU soon ended his period of Latin notation, and began to introduce other embellishments, alphabets, and signs of
all origins.
This new form of Lettrism was at first called metagraphics.
Hypergraphics (formerly metagraphics): Ensemble of signs capable of transmitting the reality seized by the consciousness more exactly than all the former fragmentary and
partial practices.


Maurice Lemaître says, for the first time with poetic Lettrism and hypergraphic Lettrism, PAINTER AND POET are one and the same (because the genre has become the same).
The question is really how far one can go in reducing and limiting the elements of a genre and still be considered part of that genre.
"The author said to himself one day, that by drawing the word "sun" instead of writing it, he blows up the sentence where there is the idea of sun depicting the "sun" itself: instead of recalling the sun by the series of letters in which it had been seen written a thousand times, he would for the first time brilliantly break into the sentence. A new, immediate, captivating representation would enter contemporary writing."


My dear thumbnail,
Hello my friend, how are you? How are clouds where you are? It has been some time since we have spoken to one another. I wanted to update you on what's been happening. As you know, the letters, our annual records from The Cloud Appreciation Society of 2008, were seized and frozen several months after publication. Legal action was threatened, because another Cloud Appreciation Society exists that owns the rights to the name. Also, the two young members of our Seattle chapter unknowingly used cloud material from their public archive to create those stickers The unfortunate result is that our annual cloud exchange is stuck in limbo, which is a mother cloud of a problem. We don't see clouds as being able to be copy-written. To resolve this issue I propose we republish our letters in a second edition using a different title, The Cloud


Letters. This will avoid legal action and thusly make available what would otherwise not be. I look forward to your response. Keep the strength, my friend, and may the sky reward you daily.
As ever,
Mr. Behoover Vice President


"Writing, in its physical, graphic form, is an inseparable suturing of the visual and the verbal, the "imagetext" incarnate." - WJT Mitchell
Sutured, sewn, becomes the one with qualities of two. As a child succumbs to its parental information only to emerge a singular new byproduct. To force an image onto text or text onto image is a weakness. The composition should arise from the shared balance and sensibility of the two. A blend of data and vision. Not simply seeing, but knowing - a haiku of sight. The drawn is a reproduction of it, the written is a recreation of it, the said is a facsimile of thought. They are the filters to activity behind the eyes.
The research is mixed. A bag of saddened murk. A dullard bumps into a word not seeing letters.


Tears her pearls off, she can't be honest about signage. Maybe three electric eyeballs in a cart full of academic padding. No brilliant volume to go to, to see seeing, to write seeing. The time period, usually kindergarten, between learning to draw a letter and learning to write a letter.
Would it be a better approach? Is it better?
How we group our letters into syllabic word sounds.
To write out in full or enumerate the letters of which a word is composed.
The inconvenience of spelling out the letters in words during normal speech exchange would be enormous.


A verbal formula considered as having magical force.
Spell out your words, put a spell on your words. Make the letters stand individually, not only as the ingredients of a word, but as sounded signage. Each letter given its due, both verbal and visual.
To write or name in correct order the letters that comprise the conventionally accepted form of (a word or part of a word).
Spell a word and everything starts to slow down.
The surface where text, visible language, joins image, the representation of visual meaning, to create the byproduct - visual poetry (vispo).


The predilection for fidgeters of text to have letters be unmoored from their word source, so as to consider even the singular letter or portions of that letter as material for composition.
Alphabetic is used loosely to connote a series of visual markings with or without
semantic purpose.
Which letter or portion of that letter will quell this desire of yours.
I've arranged these letters. Put them together - next to one another. Yes, I have.
There is no one word to satisfy what it is you want of me. No collection of words. No sentence affirming or destructive enough to keep you
fully engaged.


Paragraphs, as you know, are too loud, so those we relinquish.
The one sentence painting.
ssS So So O So o S s au Ss o os Os so Ssss


from Klaus Peter Dencker:
"If concrete poetry has been made to serve against the wearing out of language and for the discovery of a new literalness, a new material and language awareness, then the chief service of visual poetry lies in the discovery of a new context awareness and new language reference systems, whereby language no longer means only alphabetic language."
Mallermé once evoked "the book, total expansion of the letter," the letter, then, would seem to be the germ of the book.


from Ilse & Pierre Garnier:
"Letters, here they are galaxies. Appearance of currents, whirlwind, gusts. Jazz for the eyes...This poetry is not aimed at the mind but at the senses. Because each letter is both a line and a sound on the page. Visual and acoustic vibration: we hear these letters...through our eyes - and the music is heard in the subconscious. With the result that the page sings."
The term Garnier prefers is the German Schreibaktionen ("action writing"), which he defines as "unique and total union ofconception, production, and process. Instantaneous. Spontaneous."
"Drawn out, deformed by the other words nearby, the word sometimes gets quite noticeably out of adjustment with itself"


"the word or its components taken as objects and centers of visual energy."
"The new reader" / "The new poet-reader" (Gomringer/Solt)
The letter "h" may be the easiest of all the Spanish letters to pronounce: It is always silent.
So, what is Linguistic Sensual Concrete Poetry? So, what is Linguistically Sensual Concrete?
So, what is Linguistic Sensuality?
So, what is Lingual?


from Claus Clüver:
"The minimal material of some Concrete ideograms or constellations, to use the terms employed by the Brazilians and Gomringer, respectively, lend these texts the quality of "signs" in the sense of traffic signs - which was indeed a part of Gomringer's program: instant recognizability. Does that diminish the poem's worth? Marjorie Perloff wonders "whether the conflation of Concrete poetry and advertising isn't a kind of dead end for the former" and she further asks whether a text like Gomringer's "silencio" can continue to hold our attention."
"The tendency of equating Concrete with visual poetry, pernicious when it occurs in widely used literary glossaries and dictionaries, needs to be redirected..."


from Lars Elleström:
"Printed poetry has a solid, two-dimensional material interface, or a sequential combination of such interfaces (if realized in the technical medium of a book). It is perceived by the eyes, but also when read silently it becomes apparent that it also has latent auditory qualities in the conventional system of signification called language. Most poetry gains its meaning through these conventional signs, but there may also be substantial portions of iconicity in both the visual form of the text and the silent, inner sound experiences produced by the mind. In terms of spatiotemporality, printed poetry is essentially spatial. Very rarely, virtual space is perceived as a result of illusive depth in the two-dimensional visual appearance of the poem, whereas virtual space in the sense of illusionary worlds is often created. Printed poems that are dominated by


readable words, rather than, for instance, clusters of letters, are indirectly (partly) sequential since the conventional signs (partly) determine the temporal realization of the written language."
Populated islands in the back throat.
from Philadelpho Menezes:
"In my practice as a poet, I have been trying to investigate especially the new forms that technological media suggest for organizing visual and sound signs in space and time. But I try to escape from the specific problems of form to head for a semantic field where the complex


relation between reality and thought for aesthetic signs is imposed. In 1985 in Sao Paulo I organized a polemical exhibition, called "Intersign Poetry," in which I proposed that after decades of experiments with sound and image effects, experimental poetry must address itself also to the new meanings that new forms can produce. Such poetry must begin with the opened possibilities of organization of the form in new syntaxes required by technology, if one works with technical media, or suggested by technology, if one works on paper or with traditional means.
Linguistic and semiotic theories agree with the idea that our thought is conditioned by the form and the organization of the signs in a discourse. And these theories argue that language is fascist, as Roland Barthes said, because it imposes a procedure of thinking and guides us to a certain


concept of reality which reinforces the system of language. We can escape from this vicious circle only if we are able to perceive the fragility of the links between signs and thought, language and reality. Poetry is the chief guide for this practice because it exposes the sign as a touchable event that makes signs as real as the material world, in spite of the fact that signs are a creation of thought."
This bird has particularly good posture


My Dear Behoover,
How nice to hear from you after so long a break! Clouds have gotten darker in Budapest (or it is my weakening eyesight), but we're still in business. My young colleague has gotten fed up with clouds and moved to the Mediterranean where he can concentrate on his "old passion", the sky. (I was not surprised.) The Cloud Letters would be a perfect title and if we get in trouble again for any reason, please bear in mind that our Budapest Office is now specializing in cloud insurance. (I've attached a pair ofstamps for your convenience.)
Hope you're doing well, and I wish you all best,
m. R. koppp'
Vice- & V.-President
The Cloud Appreciation Society Budapest


Exploding seed pods Lunar hemorrhage
La escritura, en su forma física, gráfica, es una sutura inseparable de lo visual y lo verbal, la encarnación del "ImageText".
So, what's the most suitable response.
...bit, fraction, piece, scrap, cantle, shred, tatter; end, leftover, oddment, remainder, remnant, stub; portion, section, segment; chip, flake, shard, shatter, shiver, sliver, splinter; clipping, paring, shaving; atom, crumb, dribble, fleck, flyspeck, grain, granule, molecule, morsel, mote, nubbin, nugget, particle, patch, scruple, snip, snippet, speck, tittle of a letter.

Vitacura, Chile 2013

Vispo is clearly a response to language. It tends to enhance the quantum aspects of language by focusing on the elemental design parts of language material. What’s that mean? People like fidgeting with alphabet.
Vispo is a response to reading and writing language. There is a connection between seeing writing and writing reading and reading seeing. Vispoets transmogrify, they undo the word, they reveal the potential locked in the word by visually deconstructing it. They replace language with other visual language. Vispo is Poetry’s bastard child, a figment of language’s imagination.
My fascination with how letters sit beside each other and patiently wait to be freed of their word logic scrum hasn’t subsided. So, I capture that alphabetic dalliance as document of some future language event. Vispo is a byproduct of ones experience with literature, with writing, reading and seeing. It’s about how you look and read your way passed words and refamiliarize yourself with the intentional drawing of letters.

New York, 2014

Text sources:
Interview with Nick Piombino, Fait Accompli 2005
Askew, bbc press 2006
TEXT LOSES TIME, ManyPenny Press 2007
Interview with Tom Beckett, Otoliths 2008
StarEduction, Book Thug 2008
Disparate Magnets, BlazeVOX 2009 Protracted Type, Blue Lion Books 2009
Staring@Poetics, Xexoxial Editions 2011
Last Vispo Anthology, Fantagraphics 2012
Alphabet Noir, c_L Books 2016
In the Breast Pocket of a Fine Overcast Day, Subrosa 2017
Voir Dire, Dusie Books 2020





Nico Vassilakis is one name, a poet, a visual poet, using letters or fragments of letters to propose another possible environment for literature to thrive in. This hybrid future will be engulfed by a more primitive planetary silence. You either evolve or stay there n wait in line. That’s how pompous became pom poms became ping pong in pitch black. His recent books include VOIR DIRE (Dusie Press 2020) and LETTERS of INTENT (CyberWit 2022) along with other pamphlets and booklets. Nico is a contributing editor for UTSANGA and has had his work exhibited globally. He lives in the middle of nowhere in Illinois with his wife and animals.

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