Blends & Bridges
A Continuum of Visio-Textual Art
What I've done in this section is simply arrange 33 representative visio-textual artworks along a continuum that starts with what I call "Pure Visual Poetry," runs through what I call "Collagic Visual Poetry," and ends in what I call "Linguiconceptual Poetry." Each of these has subdivisions (which have further subdivisions), but I'll be merciful to you, and leave them all out of the discussion.
I introduce the continuum with a work of my own that I threw together using Paint Shop, a computer graphics program, for the exhibit's postcard—but it proved too difficult to print so a different work was used. I think it educationally useful, though. It's a collage of details from works by Irving Weiss (the legible words, from his "Reverberations"), K. S. Ernst (the colored part, from her "Creep Dancer"), and Reed Altemus (the big block letters, from his "Homage to Bob Cobbing #2"). The first represents pure visual poetry because it consists of nothing but—to which visual techniques have been applied. The second is a combination of non-representational painting overlaid with a poem (not visible in my work). I claim it as a collagic visual poem because it contains significant pieces of more than one artwork The third is linguiconceptual poetry—because it conains text but no words. It is thus a conceptual piece about language. In short, it unifies the three main locuses on my visio-textual art continuum in a single piece (itself a collagic visual poem). Each of the three works I stole for it, by the way, is in the continuum I present.
Now for a few brief notes on the individual pieces I've gathered for this section. The first two (after my "Vizpo Collage No. 1") are, in my view, too unvisual to be visual poetry. I consider them visually enhanced. Whatever we call them, they are about as predominantly verbal as any pieces in the collection. The next four, starting with the Weiss discussed, consist of nothing but words, but the graphic component of each is essential—in the Weiss to metaphor a dream state, in the Kempton to do op art (using the letters spelling "box," which may be hard in some cases to make out in this reproduction), in the Biloid and Endwar to make visio-verbal puns.
The next three are pretty much all words, too—but with graphic extras (slightly) added—the fence in the Padin, the thing the l is on in the Waber/Grey, and the colors in the Dencker. They and the previous four seem to me to be as purely visual poetry as an artwork can be.
The collagic visual poetry begins with the Rosenthal—which is barely more than an illustrated text, or captioned illustration. My long division is in this category because it contains a completely graphic element. I included it because it (like the Dencker—and the Maslanka and Marihatt to come) goes somewhat off the continuum vertically by having a significant mathematical component. The Rosenberg is distinctive for being a sequence of collagic visual poetry. After that come five pieces I call "overlappetry," a subdivision of collagic poetry I couldn't resist inserting because it's such a great name for visual poems consisting, as here, of overlapping planes.
The Smith is a more traditional collage—except that it is a sculpture. After that we have Basinski's remarkable collage on glass (which may not technically be a collage, for it may not literally use cut-outs or the equivalent, but it is in effect a collage) and the Beining, which is ore what most people would immediately recognize as a collage.
When we get to the Marihatt, we leave the verbal part of the continuum. Her piece has mathematical symbols which act as words but they make little sense. The artist's painting about mathematics not doing mathematics, or rendering a poem. (As far as I can tell!) The rest of the pieces are textually-loaded vivid works of visual art but vanishingly verbal. The Hill piece (which I wanted to put in my favorites file but decided should be here) has no text, at all, in it—though portions of it suggest fragments of something cursive, so it ends the continuum. Except for another piece I got a kick out of, the Bee; it, in my view, is a labeled graphic, so really as pure a graphic as the Hill in a different way. And the picture of the box and the not-pipe, both of which I loved!