A novel poetry project without typography or the "graphic"
I enjoyed “reading” Dennis Cooper’s Zac’s Haunted House. It’s a novel made entirely of animated .gifs. It’s not possible to put this to print, as the pictures are animated. And even if it was a collection of still pictures, would it sill be a language, communicating beauty and announcing its own aesthetics, or just a picture book of art?
There is definitely a division here. The Chinese language could be interpreted as picture-only communication, especially in it’s own poetry. When we do it with English, we get the minimalism of William Carlos Williams trying to emulate a haiku about a wheelbarrow in the rain. Without any understanding of the English language, it’s spaces and word count are aesthetically pleasing. Hence poetry of this kind is not about any complex communication of thought (as that is for intellects and academics), but whatever it is, subjectively speaking, pretty to look at.
I tried to “write” something similar with my Mole Mania poetry. That is, if you consider taking or “stealing” pictures and posting it as your own language. I could express the Mole Mania aesthetics in the English language. But with picture poetry, I can show you a picture, nothing else, and the picture communicates the thoughts for me.
This is why platforms like Instagram is not about complex thoughts, but shallow and sexually arousing imagery for “likes.” As Vilém Flusser has stated, we are entering a universe of technical imagery. What we think could express our feelings through a single picture, is a giant misconception that we rely too much on the primal beauty we hope that could save us. Writers are just like the artists, but instead focusing on aesthetics through drawling and emulation, the writer requires a reader that can understand complicated and sophisticated thoughts expressed in single words than of surreal, cartoony pictures. We can understand the image of Batman through a cartoon, but the writer can understand the cartoon of Batman in many angles that the artist cannot expressed through their one-dimension medium of choice. Writing contains many mediums and dimensions. It’s relies on a highly intelligent reader.
Picture Poetry is a conundrum, as it requires literate readers viewing art of one-dimensional production. A prerequire of reading the language is required. This is why the “graphic novel” really isn’t a novel, as it’s a marketing term for American comics. The only appearance of English is through text bubbles, and without the cartoons, the so-called “novel” in question is the poetry of William Carlos Williams. A true “graphic novel” in a sense would be Jim Woodring’s Frank, which has no English in the cartoons, and could be “read” by any human in the world. What’s left is it’s aesthetics and the ideology behind it. Woodring already communicates a certain bias through his black and white cartoons, that not everyone enjoys surrealism or an appreciation for 1970’s “comix” subculture, as it could be interpreted as a form of ugliness. Cartoonist who draw pictures without any use of English all suffer from the ideology of their own aesthetics, and thus none of their work could have the many dimensions of the writer and the interpretations that follow.
Yes, what I am saying is that the writer is indeed more powerful, supremely greater, than the cartoonist. However, the drawback is that not everyone is intelligent or smart to understand language. Thus the most popular form of the one-dimensional picture is pornography, and the masses are aroused over these simple forms of penetration. The write can create complex pornography, but the cartoonist has the advantage of clarity and getting to the point. Sometimes, we need an artist like Kurt Halsey Frederiksen to express a certain zeitgeist, time period, and 2000s-era emo whiteboy aesthetic that the writer wouldn’t want to waste time expanding upon. Cartoons fill the void of simplistic expression, as writers only complicate.
The artist expresses greatest when he can be complicated like the writer. The writer is the artist, and vice versa. The picture poem cannot be mediocre. It must envision digital objects as found art. The writer is not drawling pictures, but using them at his expense. These pictures cannot be found in any other human language, but as a Rebus puzzle or hieroglyphics. The puzzle in symbols in question, however, have no concrete answers, but up to interpretation. Put these pictures in a downward sequence, like tracker data, and let the reader witness the experience.
I thought about constructing some form of picture poetry in the future, like Zac’s Haunted House. I already have experience with video art on YTMND. It’s a matter of sequencing the pictures together to create an outside meaning, a feeling, and greater intimate message I want to share with my reader. I really want to create picture poetry around interracial romance, transgressive topics, innocents, and show that pictures, not words, can be as powerful as a 10,000 word novella.
Next time you find a meme on Twitter, Instagram, Google, or on any forum, be sure to save it on your smartphone. Post all said pictures in any order you desire. You will find self-meaning through collage art you never seen before.
I know for a fact we can uncover our hidden desires under the text.