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"pianographique" is a "multimedia instrument" created in 1993 on CD-ROM and made available on the Web in 1996 by a French webarts collective. "pianographique" is a work of "programmatical literal art," a term coined by John Cayley. Letters are "literal" here: they tumble and morph automatically, and they can also be manipulated on occasion by the reader-interactor and/or generated by the program. The user of this work is presented with a keyboard on the screen that corresponds to the keyboard beneath her fingertips. Each letter of the user's keyboard, when pressed, produces a distinct sound score and an animation that can be displaced by the hand of the user working a mouse. Playing the "piano" of graphics and sound bites, the user can create an infinite number of verbal visual-aural collages, while hitting the space bar effaces all that has come before. The user can choose from a set of three sections to „write“ a story: "Sound System," Continuum," and "Pianoparole." Lamarque has programmed "pianographique" in such a way that the same constricted motions required to form a letter (curves and lines) are responsible, when digitally processed, for the letter's disfigurations. The swirling motions of the user's hand are mirrored on the screen only. These gestures render the letter illegible; its constituent marks are returned to protowriting, to the status of meaningless shapes and lines. Visually, "pianographique" becomes a work of post-concrete poetry accompanied by music. While the work is dadaistic and surrealistic, it also recalls dance and gestural movements or paintings by Cy Twombly and Robert Morris.

 (Source: "Digital Gestures" by Carrie Noland published in New Media Poetics.)

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Scott Rettberg