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  • Pixel Symphony

Crafting Silence: Marcelo's Exploration of Visual Narratives Without Words

Updated: Apr 5


In this conversation, Pixel Symphony delves into the nuanced world of the craft of Marcelo Terça-Nada (a.k.a marcelonada), whose work in visual poetry spans decades. Through his exploration of diverse mediums and innovative approaches, Marcelo pushes the envelope of traditional poetry. The interview sheds light on Marcelo's latest project, which merges the algorithmic with the artistic, exploring the endless possibilities of typography and visual narrative without words. The artist also touches on the influences that have shaped his artistic journey, the role of technology in crafting his art, and how elements like color, form, and perceived motion play into the creation of visual poetry.

It sounds like you've been intertwined with visual poetry for quite some time now. Can you walk us through your journey and how you've melded with visual arts in various mediums?

I started my foray into visual poetry back in 1996, immersing myself in the fusion of writing and the visual arts. This journey has taken me through an exploration of several mediums, such as photography, engraving, video, and urban interventions, as I've sought to understand and expand the possibilities within this field. Along the way, I've had the opportunity to participate in various physical exhibitions, with my inaugural display of visual poetry occurring in 1998.

Fascinating journey! Diving into your current project, it seems like you're venturing into generative art within visual poetry. Could you expand on the foundational concepts behind this exploration, particularly your approach to creating poems?

In my latest project, I am excited to delve into the realm of generative art as it intersects with visual poetry. This exploration is centered around leveraging the algorithm's capacity for creating a multitude of variations, enabling me to experiment with the work's features and metadata in innovative ways.

The starting point of this project is an investigation of typography. The construction of a poem without words. Where letters and other signs evoke movement, sound, echo, rhythm and depth. The code plays with processes of construction/deconstruction of characters, with the visibility or subtlety of typographic elements. There is also an experiment with the formation of colors through code: manipulation of RGBa channels, creation of overlays, transparencies, etc.

Throughout, the influences of visual and concrete poetry guide this journey, setting a rich conceptual foundation for the work.

Your approach seems to challenge traditional boundaries and expectations of poetry. What drives you to explore these unconventional interpretations, and what new dimensions do you hope your generative art will unveil?

The tradition of experimental poetry stretches back more than a century, suggesting that the pursuit of novelty for its own sake is less pressing than before. My interest lies more in exploring the reasons and methodologies behind artistic exploration, valuing the journey of creation as much, if not more, than the destination itself. It's crucial for the creative process to align with personal values and inquiries.

In this particular project, I revisit previous explorations of the interplay between letters and images, assessing how generative art might enhance the creation of wordless poems through the manipulation of typographic elements, colors, textures, and forms that stem from letters and characters.

This project also experiments by generating a 'meta-poem' from each piece's metadata, offering another layer of engagement through the browser console.

With such innovative work, there must be a few pioneers or contemporaries in visual poetry that inspire you. Who are some of these influential figures, and what aspects of their work resonate with you the most?

My engagement with visual poetry is profoundly shaped by a spectrum of artists and poets, each contributing uniquely to the fusion of textual and visual expression. Initially, pioneers like Álvaro de Sá and Ana Hatherly broke conventional boundaries, weaving text into visual landscapes. Their work opened new avenues for me, showing how poetry can transcend words to become a visual experience.

Following in their footsteps, Arnaldo Antunes and Arthur Bispo do Rosário further expanded the realm of possibilities. Their innovative use of space and typography has been a significant source of inspiration, challenging me to explore beyond traditional formats.

The contributions of Augusto de Campos, Clemente Padin, and Décio Pignatari cannot be overlooked. They pushed the envelope of visual poetry, blending the visual and the verbal in ways that continue to influence contemporary practices.

Then, there's a group who played with the abstract and the concrete—Giovanna Sandri, Haroldo de Campos, and Hugo Ball. Their experimentation with form and content has been pivotal in shaping my understanding of what visual poetry can be.

Artists like Joan Brossa and Kurt Schwitters introduced me to the power of minimalism and the avant-garde. Their work, emphasizing the economy of form and the impact of simplicity, has been instrumental in refining my aesthetic approach.

Furthermore, the likes of Lenora de Barros, Mira Schendel, and Mirella Bentivoglio demonstrated the profound impact of integrating visual arts with poetic elements, inspiring me to explore the multidimensional aspects of visual poetry.

The narrative capabilities of visual poetry were further revealed to me by Mirtha Dermisache, Moacy Cirne, and Neide Sá. Their works, rich in texture and depth, showed me how poetry could convey stories through visuals alone.

Lastly, the creative genius of Pagu, Paulo Brusky, Paulo Leminsky, Pierre Garnier, Raoul Hausmann, Ronaldo Azeredo, Stéphane Mallarmé, Walter Silveira, and Wlademir Dias-Pino, each in their unique way, have enriched the landscape of visual poetry, offering endless inspiration and insight into the fusion of visuality and text.

To honor these monumental figures, the 14 palettes in my project bear the names of some of these artists and poets. The identity of those selected remains a surprise, a tribute to their lasting impact on the art of visual poetry, to be unveiled as the project progresses to completion.

How does technology play a role in the creation of your generative artwork? Can you discuss the role of randomness or controlled chaos in it?

Among the concepts that made me fall in love with generative art are Randomness and Emergence.

It is possible to think about the role of these concepts at two distinct moments in the work: while it is being developed and, later, when the code is published on the platform and can be minted.

During the development of a generative art project, I do a lot of experimenting and testing to see what the code I'm making can generate. And as if it were my dialogue with chance, I explore the code's possibilities and limitations to see what it gives me back. In this way, I spend a lot of time playing with randomness, testing what happens when I make radical changes to some parameters on the code. As intriguing scenarios emerge, they spark insights that steer the ongoing development of the project. This leads to a fine-tuning of the code to match my conceptual intentions. This iterative process continues, with each cycle of feedback and adjustment bringing the work closer to its mature form.

And when the code goes live on the generative art platform, a fresh cycle starts, marking what I consider the true beginning of the work. Amid an infinite array of possible variations, only a finite number of editions emerge through minting. At this juncture, the interplay of randomness and emergence is at its most intense, leading to final iterations of the project that invariably surprise us.

Considering the unpredictable nature of generative art, how does the interplay of randomness and emergence influence your visual poetry specifically? How do you harness these elements to craft your poetic expressions?

The relationship between randomness, emergence, and poetry already appears in the experimental writing proposals of the Dadaists and Surrealists, or in the cut-ups proposed by William Burroughs.

For my project, which seeks to create visual poems through generative art, exploring the capacity to establish rules via code for random selections that ultimately construct the poem is particularly fascinating. The poem thus materializes as these programmed draws are executed.

In creating a sense of atmosphere or narrative within your visual poetry, how do you leverage the combination of colors, shapes, and the illusion of movement?

Although this is not an animated project, movement is evoked in several of the outputs through transparencies, repetitions, and subtle differences between elements.

Lastly, in what ways has language, whether through its structure, rhythm, or sound, influenced the design and organization of your visual poetry? How do you envision these elements interacting in performances or readings of your work?

Experimental poetry and avant-garde art movements created the possibility for a visual poem to be read as a score for performances. The repetition of letters, the use of white space, the arrangement of letters on the page. All these elements can be vocalized in a rhythmic game between sounds and silences.

At various moments during the development of my work, I have thought about the scores of sound poems. That's why one of the features of the project deals with the concept of echo. It will be wonderful if people try to read aloud some of the outputs generated by the project.

This was a conversation between Marcelo Terça-Nada (a.k.a marcelonada) and Pixel Symphony.


Release information:

'Poema' on FXHash | Marcelo x Atelier

April, 2024


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