December 7, 2012

Literary Processing


Processing can create interactive visual sketches with letters and words.

Processing is an open source programming language that was developed in 2001 by Casey Reas and Benjamin Fry when they were students at the MIT Media Lab. Created to be an electronic sketchbook allowing computer programming to have a visual context, the language is often used today for infographics and interactive digital design. Processing was even used in a Radiohead music video.

I’ve noticed that some Processing sketches make use of letters and words, and I wonder if there might be more experimentation done with Processing to create visual literature. The closest I can find is the examples in the NextText library for Processing. The applications seem especially useful for poetry, perhaps in the tradition of Apollinaire’s Calligrammes or the Futuristsexpressive typography.

Here are some textual examples from the Open Processing community page.

I made my experiences into video clips (click on the hyperlinked title to interact with the sketch itself):

Follow My Words: This one is simple: you can drag the sentence around and the letters will multiply.

Phonetic Connection: Kyle McDonald created this sketch that allows you to type English words and see the sound connections between them. Colors visualize the phonemic structure of each word, and arcs connect equivalent phonemes. If you click the screen, it will clear.

Reality—Jean Baudrillard : A quote by Jean Baudrillard drops to the bottom of the screen.




Claire Kelley is the Director of Library and Academic Marketing at Melville House.