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Open “Letters Demand Things” by Michael Madsen
This suite of two responsive visual poems are inspired by typography and phonetics, and the poetics of Concretism and Lettrism. “Vowel Submission” seeks to discover letters physically discoverable by breaking off portions of vowels. The interface leads readers to probe the space of the poem searching for triggers that will break the rotating vowels into the consonants that lie within. “Typespeak” is the more interesting piece because it vocalizes the sounds of each letter without combining them into words. In other words, one can type a word, but it will play as a simultaneous set of individual sounds. He turns the computer’s keyboard into an instrument that plays verbal notes from Madsen’s vocal apparatus. The random placement of brief letter animations on the screen also resists any attempts at writing words, a very Lettrist move because it subverts attempts at creating meaning.