Finding Poetry: Print Series

Gravity: [like] your [palm around a stone]

The digital prints in this collection are intensely mediated representations of poems by astrophysicist Rebecca Elson. Using the process described below, I search for each poem one word at a time on the Internet, and data about this search generates the intricate patterns that appear to smear across the surface as they draw out information about each line of poetry.

In generating the images, I consider a given text and interpret it through the lens of a contemporary experience. In keeping with the underlying structure of my chosen media, my interpretation is highly procedural. These pieces are labored over as spreadsheets, text files, and thousands of lines of computer code. They require far more keystrokes than brushstrokes, and they start as flowcharts, not sketches. Shape, tonal variation, and illusions of depth within the surfaces are built exclusively from fine, dark, straight lines. However, from this highly ordered starting point, my intention is to produce works that are physical, tactile, and more nuanced than conventional screen-based graphics.

The results are at once completely accurate and wholly abstracted embodiments of Elson’s poetry. The images are conceived and generated using a completely logical, mathematical set of rules, and their drawing is fully automated.  Data is represented using a consistent set of parameters throughout, and the entire data set for a given piece of text is included within each image. In this way the prints are completely rational, methodical data visualizations, even as the starting points and structure of the project resist utility.

Rebecca Elson tied her scholarly knowledge of science to a subtle, substantive understanding of the human condition. Her poetry is both the functional starting point for this project and a significant source of inspiration for my art making broadly.