This conceptual generative poem draws lines randomly from a set of 2500 images of book spines, all in the areas of art, theory, and architecture. The result is a stack of 14 books with titles that can be read as lines in a sonnet. The image above is from the Web version, which contains much more information than simply what appears in the titles: color, width, varied typography, author, press, logos, and other pictorial information. The image below is from the iOS version, which only presents the titles in plain, left justified, sans serif white text on a black background.
The image-based web version draws attention to the materiality of the book, its heft, width, length, suggesting that poetry that can be found in a stack of books. The iOS version focuses our attention on the language itself and how the titles read as lines of poetry. The title of a book can be as carefully chosen as a line in a poem, and exhibit similar compression. The typography and design of a book is also artistic and tactical in its choices and to see all that information stripped from the text in the iOS version may sadden those of us raised to love books and print culture.
Seen together, are these two versions of the poem a comment on the future of the book in digital media? And since this work evokes the sonnet tradition, is the more recent iOS app a counterpoint to the Web version?
Book culture and sonnets are both centuries-old traditions. Are both stripped of their value and tradition in this conceptual poem?