Week 8: Breaking on the Grid

Our class discussion, and especially bpNichol’s First Screening: Computer Poems, inspired me to think about the meaning of a word as a sum of multiple factors in addition to its definition(s). If we consider text as image, then we can pull from a trove of visual literacy cues. How you understand a word also derives from reading its position on the page (or screen), font, format, color, and relation to surrounding space or other text. A computational composition space allows us to push concrete poetry further and consider how animation (movement and repetition over time) also contributes to this kind of reading.

This sketch uses the xtermjs and ansi-escape-sequences libraries along with P5.js to play with a group of words in just that way. I initially brainstormed compound words because they neatly split into meaningful parts. Okay, not all of my examples are compound words, but they each gave me opportunity to experiment with different techniques to visual meaning.

Notes for developing this sketch:

  • Character location coordinates are hard-coded, refactor to position in relation to edges of screen

  • Animate “break apart”

  • Consider looping animations. Does that make sense for nouns, though?

  • Play with cursor visibility and blinking letters

  • In addition to animation, what about sound, color, and mouse or sensor interaction?

  • Consider whether each example belongs on its own canvas (then I can take advantage of ansi.erase.display and .inLine which gets tricky with multiple items sharing the same display)

  • Here’s a related reading, which I read a week after completing this sketch