This authoring software was created by Simon Biggs as part of the Page Space Project, a collaborative experiment in which e-lit writers would create a page structure for another to write in and produce a work of electronic literature. Biggs created this structure to encode the characters typed by into “a number of different languages, including English, Greek symbols, the decimal ASCII codes that map keyboard keys to typography, the binary codes that equate to these, Morse Code and Braille.” This odd word processor also resizes the characters as you type to fit the entire text on the screen space, doing so until it reaches illegibility.
The first version of the Know app was named after, designed for, and published a single poem: Lewis’ “Buzz Aldrin Doesn’t Know Any Better.” For version 2.0, he commissioned five poets to produce new poems with the authoring system. Here are some noteworthy observations on how they mapped out the app’s parameters.
- David Jhave Johnston went to two minimalist extremes: using single word lines to produce a legible sentence while limiting the effect of the touch interface to two words in “4 Pound” (depicted above), and by using touch to make words move on such wide orbits that they effectively disappear.
- J.R. Carpenter uses the structure to create a kind of semantic word cloud full of binary opposites in “Twinned Notions,” and in “up from the deep” conceptually maps the interface as a sea of words which the reader can pull maritime themed verse out into readability with touch and drag gestures.
- Jason Camlot’s “Debaucher’s Chivalric Villanelle” draws connections between the repetitive structure of the villanelle and the repetitions of lines that occur because of the challenges of having overlaid language that can be activated by touch.
- Jerome Fletcher’s “K Now” (depicted above) uses larger orbits for the words to move, creating space for legibility without needing to touch the screen, though touching any word brings out entire lines to the foreground for readers to better appreciate their sonorous approximations.
- Loss Pequeño Glazier’s colorful polyglot “What Dragonfly Doesn’t Savoir Faire” uses multiple colors to signal slightly different behavior from the orbiting words— the red ones remain in the foreground, but the blue ones rotate with the white ones, occasionally becoming obscured. He also provides different instructions for the drag function, subverting the expected response from the interface. (Note also that either the app or iOS are unable to recognize or reproduce the character for accented letters.)
The structure of a word cloud from which one can pull lines through touch is a remarkably versatile structure and it would benefit from a version that allows readers to explore it with their own texts and controls, as they did with the Speak app.
Featured in ELO 2013: Chercher le Texte Virtual Gallery
This performance is about circularity: counterclockwise rotation of letters and words around a central axis on screen, dancers enacting different kinds of spins and gyrating movements focused around a globe. Each concentric line rotates at different speeds, aligning the letters from different lines to generate intriguing combinations. As the performance progresses, the word rotation gradually speeds up until the words become a rapid stream, suggesting an acceleration of time. The dancer’s movements speed up as well, as their playful interactions with the globe become increasingly frantic yet gentle, much like the music by The Kronos Quartet.
“Rhythmus 21” by Hans Richter, et. al.
This nonverbal piece juxtaposes a single dancer with Hans Richter’s 1921 Dada film. In this film white, black, and grey rectangles move in and out of the screen, shrinking, growing, and changing shapes. The dancer’s movement cast shadows upon this surface as she spins, poses, reaches out with her arms and legs in ways that make me wonder whether she is interpreting letters upon this stage and screen. Is she writing on these spaces? If so, her letters are not the static things we’re used to inscribing on a page or word processor. These are letters that feel at home on a time-based medium, such as the stage and this film by Richter. And in good Dada tradition, they are freed from meaning.
Choreography: Shelley Hain
Film: Hans Richter (1921)
Music: Sue Harshe
Dancer: Danielle Delong
“Expansive Mayhem” by Loss P. Glazier, et. al.
Io Sono At Swoons is a poem/program that refreshes every forty seconds with a new iteration of text on the screen. It is virtually impossible that the reader will ever see the same poem twice. Drawing from the experience of a concussion, Io Sono presents collages of lexical fragments from various languages, including medical terminology related to the brain, which come together in compound formations rich with multilingual inflection.
“Language to Cover a Wall: Introduction” by Loss P. Glazier, et. al.
The opening performance in “Language to Cover a Wall” is about the word made flesh: Glazier reads his poem “Etymon / Encarnación” while a young woman dances to the rhythms of his voice. The words juxtaposed in the title both gesture towards primeval origins of language: etymon refers to the origins of words, while encarnación is about the immaterial gaining a body. And we can’t help but notice the bodies on stage: Glazier sitting in a chair, reading his poem engrossed in the words on the page, gently swaying like José Feliciano. The contrast of a young female dancer in a white dress, interpreting lines of sounded breath with her body, bending her articulations with an agility matched only by the poet’s vocal articulation of the poem.
This introduction sets the tone for the whole show. This is language that will cover a wall, resound through a vocal tract, and move two bodies so they will dance together, each in their own way.
Poetry: Loss Pequeño Glazier (“Etymon / Encarnación”)*
Dancer: Sarah Burns