When Words are Pictures
March 7, 2011 10:33 AM   Subscribe

In 1918 Guillaume Apollinaire published his Calligrammes introducing a type of wordplay still used in France, and occasionally animated (albeit slowly).
However today's nerd totally outdoes them with Typography Portraits.
posted by adamvasco (11 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Photo mosaic only using words instead of photos.
posted by DU at 10:37 AM on March 7, 2011

Very nice, adamvasco. Muchas gracias
posted by infini at 10:47 AM on March 7, 2011

Photo mosaics are typically evenly-sized images tiled to make a larger picture. This is more akin to drawing with letters or phrases. For example, this looks very much like a face, but says nothing, whereas this utilizes specific fonts and phrases for the message, but uses text size and colors to add more.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:58 AM on March 7, 2011

This is awesome practice for my increasingly rusty French, Thank you!
posted by Blasdelb at 11:25 AM on March 7, 2011

Apollinaire's calligrammes are poems. I don't see anything here that "totally outdoes them" on that level.
posted by Wolof at 1:39 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Right - I don't think the Typography Portraits have that much to do with what Apollinaire was doing. Those interested in visual poetry could do worse than wandering through the Sackner Archive - there's a very nice documentary about the Sackners and their collection available for viewing at Ubuweb. I think that's turned up here before? Ah, here.
posted by with hidden noise at 1:55 PM on March 7, 2011

Islamic calligraphers were playing with calligrams from the 17th century onwards. I was always curious if Apollinaire was influenced by any of them.

Additionally, it's a lot easier to do the sort of type portraiture that appears in the last link in the FPP with Illustrator than to do it by hand or with a letterpress. Typesetting with a letterpress is not easy.
posted by girih knot at 2:02 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

"Come to the edge."
"We can't. We're afraid."
"Come to the edge."
"We can't. We will fall!"
"Come to the edge."
And they came.
And he pushed them.
And they flew.

~ Guillaume Apollinaire

posted by perilous at 2:44 PM on March 7, 2011

Francis Picabia was my fave experimental typographer.
posted by ovvl at 4:31 PM on March 7, 2011

Seconding the Apollinaire love! He blew my tiny mind in high school, from the lyricism of Le Pont Mirabeau to the crazed psychedelia of Zone. He's the reason I can never see a sunset without thinking "Soleil cou coupé" or autumn crocuses without thinking about cows slowly poisoning themselves. He was ten thousandfold the man.
posted by Pallas Athena at 3:09 AM on March 8, 2011

Here is some more Textbased art and here are some Dada compositions. (thanks ovvi).
However in 1922 May Dada staged its own funeral.
According to Hans Richter, the main part of this took place in Weimar, where the Dadaists attended a festival of the Bauhaus art school, during which Tristan Tzara proclaimed the elusive nature of his art:
Dada is useless, like everything else in life. ... Dada is a virgin microbe which penetrates with the insistence of air into all those spaces that reason has failed to fill with words and conventions.
Here are some more Typography portraits from Atulperx. The Dalai Lama portrait uses his own words. One of the Obama portraits is made up of multiple uses of the words "hope" and "change". So yes I do see a correlation between Apollinaire's calligrammes and some of today's textart.
posted by adamvasco at 3:44 AM on March 8, 2011

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