theory, typography

Mal_E_Form

typographic composition of "malform" and "male form"

Typographic manipulation and visual poetry are closely related creatures — so close, in fact, that the distinction is not always clear. How do we determine that a given work is a visual poem or  a typographic composition? Is the distinction salient other than to establish a kind of class hierarchy that simply recapitulates the classic artist/artisan, and the more contemporary artist vs. graphic artist/designer/creative professional binaries? Is a typographical composition intended to perform a more workmanlike task, complementing the graphic qualities of a given text, or can it be considered a text in and of itself? For it is this latter quality that contributes, it seems, to the definition of something as a visual poem: It is intended to be self-sufficient. Then, of course, is the expectation that the poem must be more than a mere instance of language in use: It has to be an active, allusive, polysemous diffusion of language, something that is not merely language, but becomes language that stretches its own capacities. So, what is this creature?

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