I made it… phew. I’m actually writing this blog during the easter break but feeling incredibly grateful that there was enough breathing space to fall behind slightly with work and then catch back up in my own time Over the weekend I dived into the course materials which were presented by Regular Practice. It’s a typography week and we began by learning about the Guthenburg press. I was intrigued by the narrative that when the press was invented it did essentially take away scribes jobs, deeming them pretty useless, however, its invention has progressed humanity immensely and I wonder if that fear could be comparable with a fear of AI today? People being scared of what it can achieve over how it can help us to evolve? Anyway… That’s one train of thought I can come back to another time, but for now back to the lecture.

Concrete Poetry

Concrete poetry was not something I had heard of as a term before this lecture. It is kind of a progression of Dadaism which I absolutely love so I thought I would deep dive into it a little further. I must admit I thought it was all going to be a bit cheesy which is when stumbling across the words of Joseph Kosuth (b.1945) while reading an essay was actually fairly annoying. Joseph had famously described Concrete poetry as a ‘a simplistic and pseudo-avant-garde gimmick’ … Once again someone else’s narrative has tarnished my understanding of a movement that I actually know very little about. I was happy to read that this narrative has become less mainstream with major museums putting on exhibitions of concrete poetry in recent years.

While researching this movement I came across the work of Eugen Gomringer. It helped me to actually really SEE what concrete poetry was, I think I had perhaps been brainwashed by the thought that it was a gimmick, yet seeing Gromringer’s work showed me how the considered, minimalist and playful typesetting is vital to each piece of poetry… they do not make sense on their own

The piece above was described beautifully by Gabriel Rosenstock (1), “The concrete poem asks the same thing of the reader as does the haiku – to complete it. Fill in the silence. With our own silence.”

Vagn Steen, born 1923, was said to be a huge influence of Eugen Gomringer. I really enjoy the playfulness of the poem on the right, and I think often in my own work I enjoy making something interactive to the viewer in this manor by playing with the space and making playful suggestions. What is interesting about concrete poetry is that it very much has to be written and typeset at the same time, which is opposite to what we are being asked to do in this weeks challenge as we need to typeset a piece of work that was not intended to be visually communicative as well.

Dadaism

In contrast to concrete poetry it seems that the whole point of the Dada movement was that there was little point. It is super experimental and free from the constraints of the traditional printing press. While reading more about Dadaism I came across a quote from German writer Hugo Ball, written in 1916: “The image of the human form is gradually disappearing from the painting of these times and all objects appear only in fragments….The next step is for poetry to decide to do away with language.” That’s exactly what happened. Dadaism was a radicle way of exploring, making fun of society and pushing the boundaries of what art and culture were.

ADD DADAISM IMAGE HERE

Raoul Hausmann, Poster for the Soirée du Coeur à Barbe at the Théâtre Michel, 1923 <<< This poster makes you really dance your eyes all over it, it’s kind of impossible to read normally and yet it isn’t just randomly thrown together. It is experimental, but considered and the use of different weighted lettering really anchors it on the page.

So how do I link all of this to typesetting a poem of my choice?

From looking at the work of the concrete poets and dadaists I have a strong sense of how I could use type to communicate something extra. I want to make sure that in my own work this week I don’t add illustrative elements and multiple colours. It would be quite cool if I could also keep it so that it could be printed on a print press. That handmade element, although necessary back in the early 1900’s gives such a strong aesthetic that I would also like to emulate. So to start I picked a poem…

Still I Rise

BY MAYA ANGELOU

You may write me down in history With your bitter, twisted lies, You may trod me in the very dirt But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you? Why are you beset with gloom? ’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns, With the certainty of tides, Just like hopes springing high, Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken? Bowed head and lowered eyes? Shoulders falling down like teardrops, Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you? Don’t you take it awful hard ’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you? Does it come as a surprise That I dance like I’ve got diamonds At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame I rise Up from a past that’s rooted in pain I rise

I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide, Welling and swelling I bear in the tide. Leaving behind nights of terror and fear I rise

Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear I rise Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise I rise I rise.

Development Of Idea

ADD DEVELOPMENT IMAGES HERE

As I progressed further I really wasn’t enjoying how the title was looking. I thought it looked a bit like an early 2000’s science book so after these two variations I decided to change things up a bit.

Colour change

In these initial pieces I was trying to work out what words I could play with… Still I rise seems the most obvious and powerful, I want to make sure I give it the power it deserves with this typesetting

As I progressed further I really wasn’t enjoying how the title was looking. I thought it looked a bit like an early 2000’s science book so after these two variations I decided to change things up a bit.

Colour change

So, orange… again. I didn’t realise at first but I’ve ended up using the colour orange in most of my work this term. The reason I used it here is I thought it was a colour that best represented bravery and courage. I still wasn’t happy with the title but I was starting to play around a little more with the placement of the text and that felt like the right direction to be going in.

Final Piece

This version below kind of sprang out of nowhere… I wasn’t that happy with how the poem looked and I decided to just scratch the method I had been working on and let each column of text rise on the page. I’m really much happier with how this looks. I could perhaps of developed further and got rid of any of the extra typesetting I had put into the body of the text. It’s potentially too simplistic, visually showing what the word already says? But… for now I am happy with where I have got too with this task.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *