Pixies is an alternative rock band from Boston, Massachusetts, originally formed in 1986. The band started releasing music videos after their second studio album Doolittle in 1989, but ‘’Debaser,” the first track of this album, wasn’t released as a single until 1997. This is the only one of their videos, to date, to feature kinetic typography.
Shelley Jackson’s My Body – A Wunderkammer is a 1997 hypertext that allows the reader to explore a fragmented recounting of the narrator’s relation to their own body, and to the memoirs and accounts produced by the nature of this embodiment, whether textual, linguistic, social or physical. The text opens onto the image of a female body that is subdivided into sections of the body and the reader simply has to click on the relevant section that interests them to read an anecdote involving that section of the narrator’s body, which then includes further links to other anecdotes or body parts which are often only tangentially related to earlier sections.
This is the first poem I read by Jim Andrews and it is still a favorite because of its elegance, economy, and naughtiness. It is also Andrews’ first DHTML poem, written in the early days of the Web (1997), and marking a shift in his practice from visual poetry to a poetry in which he yields some of his control over the text to his readers. This poem, along with “Enigma n” and the “Stir Fry Texts” punctuate a vibrant period in his development as a Web artist in which he started to imbue his texts with behavior: responsiveness to carefully defined user input, motion triggered and controlled by interactivity, controlled randomness, and looped or open ended scheduling of the experience.
The late Argentinian poet Ana María Uribe (1944-2004) wrote visual poetry from the 1960s with a keen typographical eye that imbued letters with character. Her “Typoemas” are very much in the Concrete poetry tradition imbuing the typed word on the page with “verbivocovisual” energy. Her “Anipoemas” lean more towards a Lettriste tradition, imbuing statuesque letters with personification through motion. Her tools were very basic: sequencing typographic images into animated GIFs to create simple animations that breathed life into letters.
These are among David Knoebel’s earliest e-poems, going back to 1997, but they’re important because their conceptual compression and technical simplicity set the tone for Knoebel’s subsequent poetry. Inspired by the haiku, they consist of three words or short phrases: a first line (which serves as a title) linking to the second line (which loads as an HTML page) and a third line which plays as an audio recording as soon as the sound file loads— which is almost simultaneously.
These crisp little poems are built out of layering in virtual and computational space and time. As you read them, notice how just as your brain is making the conceptual connection between the first two lines it gets hit by the third, transforming your thought process. Between the three, Knoebel maps out little experiences that resonate with humor, wit, curiosity, and delight. The relationship between the lines vary as well: completing phrases, commenting on the previous pair of lines, or making a connection to nature (in good haiku tradition).