বুধবার, ২১ নভেম্বর, ২০১৮

Afterword by karl kempton. An explanation (for our erratic behaviour)

This visual-text-art-blog-anthology contains visual poetry, minimalist poetry, book art, mail art, word painting, contemporary calligraphy, word sculpture, visual-text-centered collage, visual-text-centered photography, mathematical poetry and other kindred expressions with a deep history back to rock art. The blog is a kind of "second volume" of illustrations for my book a history of visual text art (Apple Pie Editions 2018). A download of this book is publicly available from here.

Doris Cross. Living / Lock

Work in this selection can be traced through various pathways back into the deepest history. The oldest surviving visual art communications from the past are found in rock petroglyph and pictograph art. I suspect older visual communication art existed on materials unable to survive destructive environmental conditions. Human ancestors’ aesthetic moments found in tool making in many instances predate by hundreds of thousands of years the earliest known rock art forms uncovered in Southern Africa dating 72,000 years ago. Globally, rock art forms traveled onto portable objects such as wood, hide and leaf before gracing pottery and other objects and later velum and paper. Some evolved into ideograms, hieroglyphs and others eventually script. This part of their journey has only begun to be recorded and discussed by researchers uncovering symbols transcribed, pecked or painted 15,000 and more years ago on cave walls miles distant from one another. There are distinct Neanderthal symbol possibilities as well further lengthening symbolic art’s age.

Some cultures take for granted, as seen in their cosmologies, the material world born from a word. In such understandings, layers from the most subtle resonance descend into grosser layers of distinct sound densities until they form the world we daily experience. This may be summed as “from phoneme to phenomena.” Some hold each individual a letter in a book already written by the primary scribe of the speaker of the creative word. Others experience that the scribe writing the book causes movement and thus time. These and others developed sacred — esoteric — teachings about the letters or glyph forms of the language associated with the undefinable being. Latin and Cyrillic alphabet lores have no such understandings. That their lore did not harbor the Mother tongue of its holy deity formed a structural weakness allowing the near fatal assault by the printing press on their calligraphy. Eastward, Semitic and Asian calligraphies survived and continue to flourish in new cross fertilizations of old traditions mixing with new materials and ideas. The exception may be China having been conquered by Western materialism that (one might argue) led indirectly to the extremism of the Red Guard’s activities. Out of this cultural destruction, the blend of the surviving old into the emerging new, remains a work in progress.

Untitled. Bin Qulander

Among developments influencing visual text art at this moment is the Islamic Science of Letters informing its Sufi influenced word and seer painters. The Islamic Science of Letters has deep roots from the past spreading across vast regions from India, north along the Silk Road from China, pre-Islamic Persia, Byzantium, Egypt, Greece and across North Africa to Spain. The influence of Sufi influenced word painters remains ignored by most writers discussing European, North and South American, Japanese and Australian visual poetics and other visual text arts. "Visual Poetry", coined in 1965, evolved from several pathways. One such pathway runs from the French Lettrist development of hypergraphics, a hybrid of French, Arabic and Persian word painters. Another group of word painters, the Art Informel, wider in its international membership, included one of the Lettrist Persian word painters. This group welcomed the Tunisian, Nja Mahdaoui, who has become a major figure in visual text art (he is in fact the first artist featured in the timeline of my Co-Editor Philip Davenport's DARK WOULD anthology, virtual volume, 2013). Among Nja Mahdaoui's many genres, his series of Calligrammes (and graphemes )lifted a type begun by Apollinaire into unexpected and unparalleled achievement (http://www.nja-mahdaoui.com/artwork-category/parchment/) His is one example of many significant Islamic word painters ignored by concrete and visual poets in need of eye opening. Other pathways were cleared by disgruntled and disillusioned concrete poets and post-concrete individuals world-wide breaking the imposed barriers who fused poetic text and gestures with other arts.

While concrete poetry has its story of its own roots — Mallarmé, the concept of a pictorial not phonetic Chinese ideogram, the Italian Futurists, the Russian avant-guard, Apollinaire and his calligrammes — they either overlooked, ignored or consciously tried to erase individuals, groups, word painting and other types of visual text art. Many are those I call missing-in-action. Henri-Martin Barzun influenced Apollinaire and the Italian Futurists. From the New York Stieglitz Circle came America’s first painted words, visual poetry and painted and drawn iconographic text art before WW1 and before Apollinaire’s calligrammes. Individuals continued providing important works until the death of Georgia O’Keefe. Many word painters created significant works between the world wars that still outshine many concrete or visual poetry works. There is much more.

Socrates: Some god or divine man, who in the Egyptian legend is said to have been Theuth, observing that the human voice was infinite, first distinguished in this infinity a certain number of vowels, and then other letters which had sound, but were not pure vowels (i.e., the semivowels); these too exist in a definite number; and lastly, he distinguished a third class of letters which we now call mutes, without voice and without sound, and divided these, and likewise the two other classes of vowels and semivowels, into the individual sounds, told the number of them, and gave to each and all of them the name of letters; and observing that none of us could learn any one of them and not learn them all, and in consideration of this common bond which in a manner united them, he assigned to them all a single art, and this he called the art of grammar or letters.
Philebus (18), Plato

Similarly, as it seems to me, the wise of Egypt - whether in precise knowledge or by a prompting of nature - indicated the truth where, in their effort towards philosophical statement, they left aside the writing-forms that take in the detail of words and sentences - those characters that represent sounds and convey the propositions of reasoning - and drew pictures instead, engraving in the temple- inscriptions a separate image for every separate item: thus they exhibited the mode in which the Supreme goes forth.
The Six Enneads, Plotinus (V.8.6)

Worldwide, indigenous and colonized artists picked up western art materials and forms and merging their own historical pathways of creative visual text or visual iconographics, created groups paralleling the Islamic word painters. Instead of text, however, iconographic forms rooted in their deep past moved onto canvas. One such evolution began in the early 1900s in New Mexico out of which developed a distinctive First Peoples’ iconographic art later to evolve into Abstract Symbolism and other defined types. American First Peoples’ iconographic art quickly spread throughout America and Canada forming many styles geographically rooted into local traditional visual symbol vocabularies.

An ignored example of back and forth influence between First People iconographic artists was with visiting and relocated individuals from the Stieglitz Circle and members of the Transcendental Group. The Transcendental Group was founded in 1938 in Santa Fe and disbanded in1942 because of the war. At times some of them painted within the visual text art frame. Before this moment, several First People artists from different nations had added to their pallets what learned from their New Mexico area counterparts; this laid the foundation of the above-mentioned approaches.

Raymond Jonson of the Transcendental Group became a faculty member of the University of New Mexico. Jonson had been a student of an exiled Russian Futurist while living in Chicago before moving to Santa Fe. (https://eye-of-the-artist.tumblr.com/post/48277336080/raymond-jonson-variation-on-rhythm-e-33x29, http://www.michaelrosenfeldart.com/artists/raymond-jonson-1891-1982/selected-works/1 )

During his tenure after the WW2 he taught classes attended by See Ru (Joe H. Herrera), a iconographic painter, who coined the term abstract symbolism. To expand his visual lexicon he traveled extensively throughout New Mexico and Arizona studying ancient rock art panels, pottery and other art. This is one of many examples of far flung pathways of visual text art mixing with indigenous iconographic traditions, forming something new. But. This new in the States is so bright, to this day it remains unseen by both the mainstream and avant-garde. Gilbert Atencio’s works are presented on the web more so than Herrera’s whose works are available in books. Since I have no direct contact with any contemporary icongraphic painters, my appreciation and studies have been through available web and book publications. Thus, a few links for Gilbert Atencio and Helen Hardin suggest the available wealth for the interested.

Gilbert Atencio
“Corn Dancers and Clown” and “Dog Dance” https://www.mutualart.com/Artwork/Dog-Dance/C29C52E119FDED09
 “Eagle Dancers” and “Eagle Dancer” http://www.arcadja.com/auctions/en/atencio_gilbert/artist/358489/
A large collection containing many iconographic works: https://www.firstpeople.us/FP-Html-Pictures/Pictures-Myths-page1.html 

Polar opposites frequent Islamic calligraphy, deep in its Science of Letters, pregnant with hidden meanings in which the many iconographic levels are known only by initiates. Sufi-influenced calligraphy manipulates and counterpoints these polarities, enhancing tensions in order to fine-tune the multilayered beauty of the final expression that a hidden energy of an essence or energies of veiled essences may be uncovered or suggested. Some polarities specific to calligraphy, text arts, and the transformative and symbolic meanings of letters, their particles, and words mainly imprinted by Ibn ‘Arabī are straight and curved, thick and thin, descending and ascending, horizontal and vertical, sayable and unsayable (except through symbolic allusion), contraction and expansion, extinction and permanence, union and separation, outwardness and inwardness, proximity and distance, absolute and conditional, projection and reception, speech as writing in air and the penned word, subtle and corse, drunkenness and sobriety (spiritual states), physical and metaphysical, obscure and luminous, micro and macro, manifested and unmanifested, attribute and no attribute, and veiled and unveiled. Speech is considered writing in air. Writing with ink signifies letters entering into manifestation (about which volumes have been written). The calligraphers and visual text artists of the past and present diligently practiced to master these and other components. 

(Extract from “The Science of Letters,” A History of Visual Text Art by karl kempton)

Among the divisive coinages left over from European hegemony is the term "oriental' for nations east of it. An irony may be found here. “Occidental” alphabets have been reduced to dead material that their visual text artists have to manipulate to resuscitate. Those "oriented" such that their alphabet letters remain alive within their traditions simply maintain this life form, rooted in beauty’s way. This can be said too of indigenous iconographic painters rendering their unique beauty. To give one example, who stands for many here: the word painter Chaled Res intends to create a universal language experience. Through artistic philosophical thinking, through the culture of the eye, through sources of meditations reflected from private moments, and through the play of colors, shapes, and letters, he expresses his sense of the full impact of the technical and sacred to realize, to actualize, art that comes from within the privacy of self. He, from an individual specific moment, expresses the universal. 

With these words, we see. 

karl kempton
Written in a burning California 
Nov 2018

মঙ্গলবার, ৬ নভেম্বর, ২০১৮

Lynn Zinyaw

EGO cage, carry, catch, drive

Lynn Zinyaw

published his first solo poetry collection ‘Machine Gun’ in 2014. He recently started his project ‘Burmese Alphabet Concrete Visual Art’, in which he created Typography and Visual Art/Poetry by using Burmese alphabets. He is a co-founder of Burmese Vispo Website www.burmesevispo.com 

মঙ্গলবার, ৩০ অক্টোবর, ২০১৮

Paul Zelevansky

Six vimeo links to animations by Paul Zelevansky. 







Paul Zelevansky 

is an artist and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. His work includes animation, video, artists books, theoretical writing, performance, graphic design and teaching. He has an EdD in art education from Columbia University Teachers’ College, and has published widely on the use of text and image, the internet, popular culture and educational and aesthetic theory. His website, GREAT BLANKNESS (www.greatblankness.com), advances a form of visual metaphysics, as fragments of words, images, video, and sampled sound and music interact and combine to form new narratives. He has published several visual novels (artists books) including THE BOOK OF TAKES, THE CASE FOR THE BURIAL OF ANCESTORS trilogy, THE SHADOW ARCHITECTURE AT THE CROSSROADS ANNUAL, and MONKEY & MAN. His visual primer 24 IDEAS ABOUT PICTURES, develops a phenomenological approach to visual thinking that integrates theory and practice. Finally his video project, MISTER ROGERS FOR ADULTS--based on the work of Fred Rogers--explores the power of ethical thinking in a media context. All of this work is ultimately in the service of epistemological and philosophical ends: How do we know what we know, and why do we believe what we believe?

"While I have some detailed descriptions about particular animations, no one has written in general terms about the animations and videos. But I have written quite a bit about the working of language and image, so here’s a short section from a book of visual/verbal essays I’m putting together called SOMETHING IS ALSO SOMETHING ELSE. In any event, my conceptual approach and thinking is the same whether on the page or the screen:

'I’d like to help you out. Which way did you come in?'
(Henny Youngman)

"...My project has been to start with a basic epistemological problem--how do we know what we know?--and to use pictures, symbols, texts, and commonplace things as both evidence and the raw material for the research. Since much of my work as an artist and writer has involved the interpretation and manipulation of symbols and pictures, it embraces art, semiotics, visual culture, and design. Most importantly, this involves using images to dramatically enact ideas on the page, and in turn asking the reader or viewer to self-consciously reflect on how this unfolds. Like a text, a picture is the product of a communicative language, incorporating accepted meanings and prescribed uses, as well as unorthodox associations and interpretations. Made up of lines, shapes, colors, tones, and iconography, pictures can be read in terms of the formal compositional choices made by those who produce them, but also understood in their relationship to other pictures. Therefore images are not solely representative examples of their type and function, but appeals to active visual thinking: graphic calls in anticipation of a response.

"When a picture is presented as an example of, or commentary on, reality, it takes its stand in a particular medium or form. It is a portrait, a sketch, a diagram, a cartoon, a photograph, and so on. This list does not begin to describe the type and style of portrait or sketch, no less the circumstances in which it is framed and justified. Where I often begin is to take apart the graphic style and form and then pass it through questions like: Why would someone make this? How does its history, context, and use affect its reach into everyday life? How does it express its concerns and expectations? How do we respond? Finally, why should anyone invest in the exchange?"

Karl Young

Karl Young 

died in September, 2017, after years of ill health, several major operations and many bed-ridden months. He remained high spirited and productive despite harsh challenges. He volunteered to take the poetry magazine Kaldron digital in 1996 in order to extend its reach and continue its policy of trying to publish quality works. It went on-line Bastille Day, 1997, signifying independence from all schools and isms. 

His skillful writing and critical eye added many critical writings on visual poetry in the Kaldron pages. http://www.thing.net/~grist/l&d/kaldron.htm

Karl helped edit the book that has inspired this blogsite -- a history of text art and visual poetry, by karl kempton. An essay by Karl Young is also to be found elsewhere on the blog.

Detail: Tian-Wen Single Bird

Works exhibited here reflect a very small sample of his visually eloquent Chinese translations. He constantly returned to the Chinese over the decades adding to this domain of many domains of exploration, treasure-find and visual rendering. Make some investment time to peruse his web site and home-page to discover visual text art and lexical poetry works based on the Middle East, Mesoamerica, Japanese, more Chinese, and Anglo-Saxon. The below quote from our friend, Harry Polkinhorn, provides a suggestion of Karl’s range of interests and works.

Young's work as a poet, book artist, critic, and publisher (Membrane Press) have kept him long in the forefront of developments in the vast small-press network. Production experiments in typography, layout, support, and overall book design have enabled him to explore graphic/physical potentialities of the book medium. These have varied, for example, from his paper screenfold, calligraphy-like renderings of Wang Wei and Tu Fu, entitled Clouds Over Fortjade, to his performance book for The Four Horsemen, with pages made of unfinished two-by-fours. As I have indicated above, such experiments cannot easily be dismissed, since as Benjamin has said, ". . . it as magical experiments with words, not as artistic babbling, that we must understand the passionate phonetic and graphical transformational games that have run through the whole literature of the avant-garde. . ." and ". . . nowhere do these two metaphor and image collide so drastically and so irreconcilably as in politics."  Adorno concurs: ". . . creative artists are compelled by force of circumstance to experiment," and "art today is virtually impossible unless it is engaged in experimentation." It is precisely in the nexus comprised of extreme graphic and oral disjunction that the avant-garde's critical challenge of politics resides. http://www.thing.net/~grist/l&d/hpsp12.htm

In Karl’s own words: Some Volumes of Poetry: 

A Retrospective of Publication Work by Karl Young http://www.bigbridge.org/young/ky-intro.htm


On Karl Young by Jerome Rothenberg

https://jacket2.org/commentary/karl-young-toward-ideal-anthology-part-one https://jacket2.org/commentary/karl-young-toward-ideal-anthology-reflections-light-and-dust-web-anthology-part-two

Karl Kempton

বৃহস্পতিবার, ৪ অক্টোবর, ২০১৮

Helen White

Note on Helen White

“[Helen White's] obsession is of the text as human object. Her pieces often include human bodies and interactions with texts, some evidence of the physical human presence. She understands the power of text as a human creation but also how the text is so completely human that it takes on human characteristics, that it has significance only in human contexts.”

(Geof Huth: 'Obsession and the visual poet' in Last Vispo, Fantagraphics, 2012)

Dawn Waldrope

Above: 2 x Alchemical Equations
Charting changes in reality
Below: To the Earth

Dawn Nelson Wardrope

is a concrete poet, collage artist and mail artist. Dawn is the author of Remnants of the Red Ribbon sec and Fisherwoman. Work published in magazines such as Angry old men, Experiment-0, Sonic Boom (cover artist) Utsanga, Otoliths, Renegade and Timeglasset 6. Her work is widely seen on Facebook. Redfoxpress recently published Fisherwoman. Her
newest chapbook, The penman, a serious writer, has just been published by Simulacrum.

A sequence of Dawn's works illustrate the book that has inspired this blogsite -- a history of text art and visual poetry, by karl kempton.


"I am very much an intuitive. I feel the colours and images very deeply. I feel and know where everything must go, every dot, every letter, every line. When I work I sense the childhood feelings that were unknowingly abandoned but now have been wonderfully reclaimed. The work I do is for my pure pleasure and hopefully other people will enjoy it also. I believe in beauty and in moving hearts, my own included, into mystery..."

Dante Velloni

Dante Velloni

Hello, Karl Kempton.

By invitation from our friend Hugo Pontes of Brasil I send my works that articulate with the written word that I develop during my career of Artist.

Some works are part of the multi-media universe, others are graffiti inspired paintings made by ordinary people on Brazilian money notes.

Some others have a profane and erotic content.

I hope they are up to your expectation.

I will be at your disposal.


Dante Velloni

Graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts of São Paulo - Brazil
Master of Architecture and Urbanism - USP - São Paulo
Professor at the University of Ribeirão Preto – Brazil

Artistic Experience

Parallel to his work in painting, engraving and sculpture, started from his youth, he developed works in Analogue and Digital Visual Poetry - Multimeios (xérox-art, photography, video-art, art-post, stamp, K7 tape).

Main individual and collective exhibitions

Marcantonio Gallery Vilaça / House of Brazil of Brussels
Casa do Brasil Gallery of Madrid
Gallery Museum of Brazilian Art-FAAP-RP - Ribeirão Preto
Museum of Contemporary Art - Ribeirão Preto - Brazil
University Museum of Contemporary Art - Uberlândia
Galleria d'Arte Cardano - Pavia - Italy
Centro Cultural Infraero - São Paulo International Airport
Galleria degli Eventi dell`IBRIT - Milan - Italy
Brasilia Cultural Space - National Congress - Brasilia
Art Gallery of the Embassy of Brazil - Rome - Italy
L'Oeil de la Photographie Magazine - France
Marcelo Guarnieri Gallery - Ribeirão Preto - Brazil
Photobition - Photography Exhibition Online
São Paulo Cultural Center - SP
Pinacoteca do Estado - São Paulo
5th Brazil / Japan Exhibition - Moriti Okada Foundation - Tokyo

Nico Vassilakis

Nico Vassilakis

wrestles letters to free them of their word scrum then captures them in mid emancipated dalliance before they return to formulate into the next word. Many of his results can be found online and on his website Staring Poetics 

Nico's visual work has been exhibited in vispo shows around the world. His latest book, Alphabet Noir (c_L books), is a collection of texts regarding visual poetry. A book, In The Breast Pocket Of A Fine Overcast Day, is forthcoming from Deadly Chaps Press. Nico was vispo editor for COLDFRONT magazine. Nico, along with Crag Hill, also co-edited The Last Vispo Anthology (Fantagraphics 2012). He lives in New York City with his wife and children.

Kathup Tsering

Above: Yak Elegy, Search
Below: Rhythm of Hearts, Walk

Kathup Tsering

Tibetan Kings used symbolic language to rule the kingdom -- a symbolic language that is also visual art.  Archaeologists discovered many such symbolic rock carvings in Tibet.

The oldest Tibetan inscriptions date from 7th to 8th century CE in what is called the dbu can (which translates into "with a head") script,which also appeared on manuscripts from around 11th CE and remained until the modern day in the form of printed Tibetan text.

Tibetan visual poetry is not clearly recorded in Tibetan traditional literature and has an uncertain role in modern Tibetan poetry. But Tibetan calligraphy is reappearing in Tibetan classic literature. Especially in traditional religious texts.

In Tibetan traditional Thangka painting, we can use the words of a mantra to create images. I also try to create images with linguistic materials. 

I try to create a visual image in letters, with colors and without colors. Also I use marks, the beginning of text: it is called getter-ma or rediscovered text. Therefore I rediscover visual poetry.

I use three languages (Tibetan,English and Chinese) to make a common visuality of feeling -- beyond linguistic borders. Visual poetry globalises the expression and communication of poetry.

Being a Tibetan, of course, Buddhist philosophy is involved in my work -"Visual hand". I try to connect body and mind. The Tibetan syllable "ah" in the center of hand means I visualize and mediate on "ah" in the center my body as well in center of my visual poetry .

Beyond visuality, I search for my words. I used Tibetan word "aTsol" or search self,  searching word, searching for an image beyond colors. This is the best way to read self: within selfishness and selflessness. In my visual poetry, searching self is like using a microscope to search the world for poetry.

The Tibetan tragedy is my own tragedy. When I write "walk" in Tibetan, in that moment the image of foot appears in my mind. In my vision, many Tibetans escaped from Tibetan to India across the Himalaya mountains.