Visual Essay Part V

To me, letters can be a mix of abstract or physical, active or static. Some defy gravity while others mimic a state referred to by a word. This basically constitutes an iconographic usage of a phonetic language, which creates still frames of forms through letter and word shapes, and more so through the patterns, similarities, and associative nuances they present.

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The above effigy, which I posted earlier in this seemingly ramble of an essay, is a physical, static image. There is no falling leaf like in E.E. Cummings’ “A leaf falls, loneliness.” It is no Susan Howe abstract language collage. The word describes a statue of a person and is as static as one.

Here, we have a person and an effigy of a person produced by both the meaning of the word and the repeated f, which places that meaning into a physical scene. One of the focal letters is raised above the other in a place where it can be observed and perhaps produce a sense of solace.

How the effigy, a symbol of a person, and an actual person can be represented by the same symbol gets an eh from me in terms of effect in the physical sense (bad up, Dan, it should be a hovering f and a cowering t or something), but I like that this phrase creates meaning in a temporal sense of personhood, memory, and shared presence.

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The above “lost in oblivion” is an abstract phrase. There is no concrete physical thing to hold onto. Oblivion? Describe it. Lost? That’s a state of confusion. The o‘s and an i move vertically in expression of that confusion, being neither here nor there, none of them following the same horizontal line but all flustered about. While there is physical tension created by the up and down of the altered letters, that physicality is acting in much the same way an abstract noun does: it is a definite conception of an indefinite phenomenon. The physical thing, then, does next to nothing once the meaning of the phrase has been determined. Abstraction takes over and the physical language gets buried in the meaning.

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