Artists, Poets, and Engineers: Bridging Disciplines with Kinetic Typography.

Jonathan Aitken,
George Swede,
Kevin Anthony Worthington
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Visual poets have long used typography to support or extend meaning in their work. From George Herbert to Apollinaire, poems were shaped into images to reinforce or extend meaning. The genre evolved in the 1950s to include concrete poetry, when poets began to use words as a painter might use form, creating often intricate images with a deeper message behind the words. Today, many poets have embraced new technologies, allowing them to explore movement and interaction in their work with kinetic, or moving, typography. Some, such as Jim Andrews, use java applets in unusual ways, so their poetry unfolds in a pop-up menu, or letters cascade across a screen using Dynamic HTML. Others, like William Poundstone or Bill Marsh use Flash to create short animations using letters and words as well as shape and sound. Current multimedia artists and graphic designers work with poets, playwrights, and, increasingly, computer engineers and software developers, creating sophisticated interactive environments where sound, image and typography interact and are interdependent.

In this paper, current work combining visual poetry and kinetic typography will be placed in a historical context, exploring its roots and future implications. Using the author’s work as an example, questions that arise from animating poetry with kinetic typography will be also be considered. When poets, artists and programmers collaborate, whose “vision” is rendered? Does technology extend or limit the creative content of the poem? What roles do the collaborators play?

Keywords: kinetic typography, poetry, visual poetry, concrete poetry
Stream: Analysing Artforms
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: Artists, Poets and Engineers

Jonathan Aitken

Assistant Professor, School of Fashion, Ryerson University

Jonathan Aitken's background is graphic design. He studied as an undergraduate student at York University, in Toronto, where he was granted a BFA. He then subsequently studied industrial design at the University of Alberta and attained an MVA. He owned and operated a graphic design studio, Pages Design Ltd, in Toronto for 15 years, where he was involved in designing and producing everything from corporate annual reports, web sites, identity programs and books to exhibit displays and signage. He is currently teaching graphic and web design at Ryerson University. His research/creative interests encompass the application of kinetic typography to various projects.

George Swede

Ryerson University

Kevin Anthony Worthington

Department of Information Technology Management, Ryerson University

Ref: A06P0251