Shy Boy, Sound Poems, Kinetic, and Interactive Poetry

            When I was reading about sound poems, I didn’t know what to think about them like someone really tried to pass off random sounds as a poem? But after listening to it as well as reading Jörg Piringers reasoning it is both intriguing and cool. It is also interesting to see how different sound poem is from shy boy. Shy boy has a soft melody in the background but has a larger focus on the visuals the text moves and falls at the pace you read it as well as to shows the sadness and loneliness of the boy. I personally really enjoyed Shy Boy and liked how its interaction with the reader I tried to read rain on the sea, but it was to jarring and I wasn’t able to follow it. The time spent in making(author) and reading/interacting(reader) with Shy Boy is also a part that I hadn’t thought about and enjoy.  

Kinetic and Interactive Poetry

Although all of the works of kinetic and interactive poetry presented to us for this week’s discussion are interesting and engaging in their own right, the two works that stand out the most to me are Rain on the Sea and Sound Poems.

Jörg Piringer’s Sound Poems are a selection of six different poems that allow the reader to actively engage with his webpage by allowing the reader to click and/or drag letters and boxes that in turn create various sounds. As mentioned by Rettburg, sound poetry has roots in both Futurist and Dadaist movements. While engaging in Piringer’s work, the influence from these movements, especially Dada, are quite apparent. From an outside perspective, this work holds almost no similarities to the traditional poetry that most people are used to. Jörg Piringer’s Sound Poems have a quality of defiance to traditional poetry due to the work’s avante garde nature.

Rain on the Sea by Y0UNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES on the other hand deals with the genre of film poetry, as it is comprised of a poem that progresses with fast cuts from one line to the next accompanied by a cinematic backing track reminiscent of music found in early 20th century silent films. The first works of film poetry actually emerged in the early 20th century, with works such as Marcel Duchamp’s Anemic Cinema (1926) and Len Lye’s Trade Tattoo (1937), where analog techniques were used to create kinetic poetry similar to what we are seeing today (Rettburg 130). I myself am quite comfortable with the medium that is film so therefore, despite the fact that the text on the screen came and went rather quickly, enjoyed how the poem was presented to me in Rain on the Sea.


Sounds Poems and Shy Boy

In Sound Poems, all is handed over to the user. It contains 6 poems to interact with and none of them contain any sort of symbolism. While these poems focus on sounds themselves, I am reminded that sound is very important in traditional written poetry especially when it comes to rhythm and reading them out loud. This set of poems embraces that aspect. These poems are very visual too as the user may drag the letters all around the screen. There isn’t terribly much the user may create using these poems, so I think of these poems as a demo for what could potentially be done with interactive poetry that have more description and symbolism. The poem Shy Boy has the more symbolic poetry that readers have become to expect but can especially be read as a concrete poem or Vispo. The ways that some of the words and phrases are presented emphasize their meaning. The word “melt” falls down below. The word “vanish” slowly disappears. The phrase “not to be there” pops out very quickly. “Pencil smudge” is smudged under a layer of gray. The words that begin and restart the poem, “Enter” and “re-read” are red. This symbolizes the hardships the boy goes through.

“Interactive digital poetry further considers the relationship between reader and text as a recursive feedback loop.”

Kinetic and Interactive Poetry

This week, I chose to focus on Rain on The Sea by YoUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES and SOFTIEs by David Jhave Johnson. I found that with SOFTIEs, although film poetry is more often considered to be films with subjects performing spoken word poetry while different imagery passes by, SOFTIEs works almost as its own form of film poetry. There is still imagery passing by, but the teext is incorporated into different parts of the “scenes” that Jhave has created. I think the imagery he chooses to show in the film portion of his works (water dripping, etc.) serves as a sort of symbolism that connects to his poetry. For example, in “” it shows dripping water on a dark surface and reads “the cold lines, blind meanings, reap is war” “the cold lines” could refer to the water dripping, which could be symbolic for something much darker (blood, etc.). When I looked at Rain on The Sea, I found that is blatantly portrayed futurism, with its stark white background and plain black text flashing intermittently. I really enjoyed this piece and found that it was very successful in provoking emotion. I think this was partially due to the text flashing by so quickly it almost didn’t give my brain any chance to process it other than the immediate meaning of the word that was flashed. The work has a very dark undertone, accusing the user of murder, etc. and the fact that these accusations were flashing by so quickly helped cause a sense of urgency and desire to know what the user supposedly did in this work.

Kinetic and Interactive Poetry

“The Dream Life of Letters” is a flash animation example of Visual Poetry. The piece begins with a short introduction and then begins to makes it’s way down the alphabet with different words starting with each new letter. The letters on screen also begin to begin to form visual representation of the words themselves. For example the viewer watches the the letters “bo”, with a “/” on either side, become the word “border”, once the full word is formed the “/” are pushed away as if a border has been broken.

“Cruising” was the most straightforward experience of all the poems I read. During the piece, the poem is being read to you and all you have control over is the speed at which the accompanying text and pictures scroll. The poem actually tends to want to scroll pretty fast, or in the wrong direction depending on which way you are pointing your mouse, so I found myself having to re listen to the poem because I had become so focused on the scrolling speed of the text. According to the description, “Cruising” is a flash poem with interactive elements.

“Sound Poems” are a type of poem I had never encountered before. Sound poetry focuses on the sounds in human speech rather than the meaning of words or phrases. In my interaction with this piece, the phonetic combinations I came up with sound more like music than poetry. This is probably due to the looping nature of each box containing the syllables within this piece.

Shy Boy and a Apple

Shy Boy by Tom Swiss is a visual poem. This style of poetry is language in motion. This motion style of poetry fits with the theme of the poem. The words moved in and faded away like the central character (the boy) in the poem who wished to go unnoticed. We can see this style of motion language in many films during the credit sequence. On my first read , I did not catch all of the text; I had to read the poem again to understand it. As mention earlier, the motion of the language did fit the theme of the poem; I like this style of poetry.

A is for Apple by David Clark is an interesting poem. I really do not know what to classify this style of poetry, so I’ll classify it as concrete poetry. There were text and images on the page. From what I can make out of it, it seemed to be the definition of the word apple. Of course, the visuals did help the spoken word, which is interesting. The shape of the words strengthened the poetry; it added more weight to the main idea of the poem (if that makes any sense). I know poems are open to interpretations, after listening to the poem, I read the poem as being about the genetic engineering of food. We tend to want food to be big and juicy. We interpret the food size and color to mean delicious; this causes the food industry to modify food to look delightful.

“Softies” and “The Ballad of Sand and Harry Soot”

Image result for the ballad of sand and harry soot

SOFTIES by David Jhave Johnson is a web-based work, comprised of a series of videos and short poems. Each video contains a phrase related to one of the poems, which are manipulated in a program known as Mr. Softie (hence the title of the work.) However, Jhave’s mesmerizing animations were what caught my attention. By utilizing the Mr. Softie program, Johnson was able to manipulate the phrases through squashing, stretching, twisting, shrinking and expanding the text in ways that communicated the ideas of the corresponding poem. In his poem “Stand under” for instance, the word “under” is placed far above a stack of the repeated word “standing”, which strains and pulls at “under” in an attempt to rise above it. Fittingly, the corresponding poem to this video was one about humility, which would explain the struggle of the words lower down vs. the superiority of the word near the top. In addition to animating the text, Johnson also supplemented his work with music to set the mood of each video. Taking the above factors into account, it could be argued that SOFTIES is a work of concrete poetry—it treats words as tangible, manipulable objects and makes a clear connection to the program it was made with. It is also a multimedial work, as it combines text, sound, and on occasion imagery (in certain poems such as “Unity”, the background layer of the animation is another video.)  

The Ballad of Sand and Harry Soot is a web-based hypertext that is composed of web pages rather than traditional “nodes”. A ballad is a song or poem telling a story in short stanzas, which is exactly what this work is mimicking.  A love story about a man named Soot who longs for a woman called Sand, Strickland describes her work as the symbolic relationship between technology and man. She saw the sand as silicon, which can be found in sand as well as in microchips, “and by extension the entire online world.” (Word Circuits Stephanie Strickland). As for Soot, Strickland described him as 

“a man made of carbon, biochemical man, a man of flesh and mood, a person.” (Word Circuits Stephanie Strickland).  

This work seems to follow a more traditional presentation of poetry than SOFTIES by placing text in stanzas, using colorful wording, and presenting ideas as riddles. One of the less traditional aspects of the work was the use of hidden hyperlinks within the stanzas to other parts of the story, adding a new layer of meaning, interactivity, and mystery to the piece. One might argue that The Ballad of Sand and Soot is a visual form of poetry because it is accompanied by images, but these are separated from the text and do little to aid the reader’s understanding of the poem (most of the images are nonspecific pictures of sand.) Thus, simply calling this a multimedial work might seem more appropriate, as it is merging multiple forms of media (images and text) into one.  


Word Circuits Stephanie Strickland 


Kinetic and Interactive Poetry – February 22, 2019

Much like the previously explored hypertext fiction and interactive fiction, kinetic and interactive poetry explore the fusion of writing and technology to augment the way a person is able to explore and interact with a story. In Scott Rettberg’s words, “kinetic and interactive poetry explore the specific multimedia capacities of the contemporary computer as a poetic environment for both composition and reception” (Rettberg, 118). What kinetic and interactive poetry seek out to do is use the resources available from a computer to create a new breed of modernized poetry.

Two examples of kinetic and interactive poetry are Y0UNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES’ “Rain on the Sea” and David Jhave Johnson’s “SOFTIEs”. “Rain on the Sea” and “SOFTIEs” both make use of audio and music to add extra meaning and feeling to the poetry. Among other techniques, the two pieces set out to bring the anti-art movements of the early 1900s to the screen.

In the case of “Rain on the Sea”, the opening countdown, old-timey music, and layout of the poem gives it the feeling of a silent film. However, the stylistic choice of moving the words so quickly that upon the first time viewing the reader is only able to catch part of the story gives it a true feeling of avant-garde electronic literature. “Rain on the Sea” is an important example of film poetry, one of the many styles of kinetic and interactive poetry that exist.

Johnson’s “SOFTIEs” is even stranger than “Rain on the Sea”. Although part of it consists of short, traditional pieces of poetry, the rest of it consists of poetic proses being distorted, twisted, and stretched on a plane with ominous music in the background. “SOFTIEs” sets out to give words a second meaning, not just in what they mean but also in how they are presented. It is a good example of visual poetry, or “vispo”.

Although there are many more examples and subgenres of kinetic and interactive poetry that can be explored, these two are solid examples of what the movement has sought out to express with the addition of technology to writing.

Dylan Niehaus – Kinetic and Interactive Poetry

The first poem or poems to catch my attention were the sound poems by Jorg Piringer. I enjoyed messing around with the different interactive sound poems, trying to create my own unique and interesting sound bites. Although fun and interesting to interact with, I failed to notice any deeper meaning within the poems. This may be because I have a difficult time finding meaning within things in general, but with these sound poems, I just fail to see how they could allude to anything of deeper meaning.

“Concrete poetry is based on an awareness of and interest in the material nature of language, its shapes and forms, and the aesthetic and semantic effects made possible by manipulating language as a material.” – Scott Rettberg

The sound poems by Jorg Piringer follow the definition set out by Scott Rettberg in that they allow the reader to manipulate sounds created by language in unusual ways. Many of the sound poems contain letters that can be manipulated freely by the user. As the letters are manipulated, a sound is made based around that letter. The only deeper meaning I can pull from these poems is that at its roots, the English language can be incredibly nonsensical and off-putting. But, this poem appears to be a form of Lettrism, so being devoid of meaning may be its intention. Lettrism focuses on deconstructing poetry to be devoid of semantic content. The sound poems created by Jorg Piringer succeed at this by focusing only on letters, their movements, and the sounds they make.

The second poem that caught my attention was Cruising by Ingrid Ankerson and Megan Sapnar. This is a poem that utilizes sound, images, text, and animations to tell a short story. This is similar to the sound poems by Jorg Piringer only in that Cruising utilizes sound, but in Cruising, the sound is used to tell a story through a voiceover. This kinetic poem is much more traditional in that it has a clear story and meaning. The poem is also interactive, the user can move their mouse and make the images and text on the screen scroll at different speeds. The description of the poem states that this was done in order to create an experience in which the user needs to learn to control and “drive” the poem.

Blog 6: Kinetic and Interactive Poetry

Tom Swiss’s Shy Boy is short yet conveys quite a bit to the readers. The poem is a representation and a voice about a boy who left in the shadows and wants to disappear. The movement of the text and rectangles convey ideas such as melting and vanishing. These movements enforce the idea that the boy is at the end of his rope. through this imagery, we can feel that he can’t bare his life anymore because he has lost his strength and will. In the end, the boy dies and is left as a ghost to reminiscent on the times he was alive. The music in the background acts as a sort of limbo. You feel as if you are floating and observing the boy before you. In Ingrid Ankerson’s Cruising poem, however, takes a very different approach. For starters, Ingrid narrates her poem as she shows us black and white photos of a car on the road unlike Swiss’s which has no photos. Some catchy guitar music plays in the background, giving the atmosphere a feeling of freedom and fun compared to the more classical and solemn music in Swiss’s. If you hover your mouse in either direction the photos will zoom past music. This interaction gives you a sense of control, similar to how you would control the speed of your own vehicle. Although her poem moves her text, unlike Swiss’s, does not. The text above the photos remains stationary until you hover over the screen; then the text starts to blur like the lights from a row of cars passing by. As the reader, I don’t feel like the floating onlooker like I did in Swiss’s poem. I feel as if I am in the car cruising with her, enjoying life and not giving a care in the world.

Blog 6 – 2/22/19


After looking through all of the works for this week, I chose two that stood out to me. The first piece I picked was “The Dreamlife of Letters” by Brian Kim Stefans. The digital poem was created from words written to him from a coworker during a roundtable conference. He alphabetized her words and produced a series of short digital poems. The poem’s text moves in different ways on your screen.  The text is responsive to other words and letters, but sometimes the text seems to only have the first letter in common, rather than the first few letters, or patterns of letters inside the word. At certain points of the poem, the movements of the letters match a word.

          E.g. , “the word height expands and grows taller at first,       then shrinks away, while the word “drip” appears as the letter D falls down the screen.” 

I felt excited as I made my way through Brian Kim Stefans work but nothing prepared me for A is for Apple. I watched this a couple of times, and I felt like I needed more. I went to David Clark’s page and started looking through more of his work, and I am thrilled to have discovered this man. All of his work is just beautiful, and I can’t wait to explore all of his stuff. For now, I will discuss A is for Apple. This piece is a Flash-based project that uses the hypertext to investigate the science behind an apple. The piece uses a sequence of links, looking for hidden meanings that come from the apple. 

        “The image of the apple leads to references and ideas borrowing from western metaphysics, popular culture, the history of cryptography, ideas of language, and psychoanalysis.”

A is for Apple was created using the model of a collage. Initially, paper collages were made. Those became the basis of a flash website where David and his associates made the page interactive and animated. One of the best Pieces of art I have ever scene.

Kinetic and Interactive Poetry: Shyboy and Rain on the Sea

“Shyboy”, unlike the works we have read thus far, is linear. In addition to being displayed in a linear format, it is very much visual poetry in that the lines and text itself will appear, disappear, and shift based on what is being said in the poem at any given point. All in all, it is a short piece. The way it was designed visually is simplistic and effective, in no way detracting from the poem itself and instead adding to it. One of the best examples of this, in my opinion, is right at the beginning when the text appears line by line going down the page and then when it gets to the bottom, it says,

he can’t help it. And he can’t help that

he’s easy to read, even from this end of the hall.


You know what he wants to do?



Then that word ‘vanish’ actually does, it slowly fades away.

“Rain on the Sea” is also a very visual piece but compared to “Shyboy” with its ease, fading and guiding the lines and text, “Rain on the Sea” is very flashy and in your face. Additionally, rather than being that of a flash work, “Rain on the Sea” is in fact a video which creates a linear path so that there is only one way to read through the work. Granted that is dependent on whether you can keep up with it. Sometimes the words flash by too quickly that I found myself clicking back or pausing the video just to read it.

It is interesting to note how there are multiple parts to the work. Additionally, the premise of the poem itself is rather unfortunate for you as the individual becoming the person in the piece. Within the first minute alone you are tossed into a situation where you are dying on the bathroom floor and yet suddenly ‘given another chance,’ in a sense, by an almighty power:

Too late for that, you said–your last mistake, for it turns out there is indeed a God, quite powerful, quite knowing, not amused. He pardoned the last stages of your tortured marriage. He granted you it was perversely entertaining, mere child’s play in your world of murderers.

The words themselves are quite intense when given a chance to read them, though the format they are displayed in with the quick flashes as they fly by on the screen do also provide that sense of severity.

The video itself feels almost as if one is trying to download the data off of the screen, processing it as it goes. It is stiff and mechanical and the only way to really read it is to pause and slow down and take the time to go through each and every word within the different parts.

“Shyboy” by Tom Swiss