Sunday, September 07, 2008

Word Pictures

Poet Beth Vieira directed me towards Wordle.net, which is an online Java applet that uses texts to create images. This is about the interface between word and image, poetry and art.

The Wordle documentation says this: Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends.

I took some of my recent poems, and a Robinson Jeffers poem, and ran them through Wordle. The results that are generated by the applet are randomized, but one can then adjust several of the settings, including layout, style, font, and other algorithmic functions.

The results remind me of nothing so much as the chance-operation derived typography John Cage in works such as 62 Mesostics Re Merce Cunningham. The possibilities for audio performance, reading or music or both, or a Wordle-derived image/text also seem related to Cage's piece (for example as performed by Jack Bruce). There are several possibilities for cross-media artmaking and performance.

I encourage you to experiment with your own poems as converted to imagery, as I have done below. And thank the creator, Jonathan Feinberg, while you're at it.


from my haibun Basin & Range


from my poem Kenosis


from my poem Katabasis


from my poem the dreams of roads (This is my favorite Wordle so far of one of my own poems.)


from Hurt Hawks, by Robinson Jeffers

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2 Comments:

Blogger Jim Murdoch said...

Yeah, I ran across it a while back too and it is a fun way to waste an hour. What I did do was take one this fellow had posted on his site and turned it back into a story and sent it back to him. That was another hour gone. But good fun.

6:36 AM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

Well, I thought it might have been very relevant for your series of posts on Poetry And Art. Particularly in its implications about the interface between the media. Some of the examples you posted were reminiscent of this.

Of course, this is an algorithmic generator, not a poet with conscious intent. But then again, the problem and process of indeterminacy is very much relevant to interdisciplinary poetry and art, and the many visual artists who also used indeterminacy in their poetry generation, such as Jackson MacLow.

10:53 PM  

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