Digital Letterisms

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Letter in Letterism Research Collection is regarded in Lacanian sense as “a material medium each concrete discourse borrows from the language”(Lacan, 1997), thus letterism is viewed on as an attempt to define a minimal unit of a text-based piece of digital or contemporary art. Roland Barthes defined minimal unit of reading, as lexia “a series of brief, contiguous fragments, which we shall call lexias, since they are units of reading . . . . The lexia will include sometimes a few words, sometimes several sentences; it will be a matter of convenience: it will suffice that the lexia be the best possible space in which we can observe meanings . . . .” (Barthes, 1974). Following Velimir Khlebnikov, who states in Nasha osnova (1920), that it is possible to find a common meaning of a sound, if one collects all the words containing it “all the remaining sounds will multiply each other, and the common meaning these words have, will be the meaining of Ч”(Хлебников, 1999) Jerald Janecek singles out phonetic zaum as a minimal combinatorial block of a poetic work. According to N. Katherine Hayles, a single digit of computer code would be a formal unit of digital art “the computer, our new compound tool, uses the hierarchical ordering of discrete reproducible units to create new kinds of temporal and spatial experiences”. So one of the ultimate research question is to find a minimal semantic unit of multimodal and multilayered piece of text-based digital art.

The focus of the research is going to be on the letter as a graphic, visual, audial, mechanical, combinatorial unit of an art work. Lettter is also regarded in its sculptural (Jaume Plensa Nomad (2007) and Silent Rain (2003), bodily (Anastasia Mastrakouli Naked Silhouette (2013), Romy Achituv and Camille Utterberg Text Rain and kinetic (Jim Andrew Arteroids, Brian Kim Stefans Dreamlife of Letters, Jorg Piringer Unicode, abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz) aspects. A separate attention is given to the letter level constraints (such as anagram), oulipian permutations of letters, “letter sieve” – erasure techniques (Tom Phillips Humament, Ronald Johnson Radi os, Jasper Juul, Amaranth Borsuk, Nick Montfort The Deletionist (2013).

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Natalia Fedorova