I think of vispo as preparation for a future language event. We are inundated by our word-text surroundings, it suffocates our thoughts. Vispo may be a repurposing, a pared down version of our verbal-visual offering to show reverence for our interconnectedness with the planet we're on. I doubt people look at vispo that way though. So, what is it that vispo's doing?
Vispo takes from the blurred periphery of language, and language material, and brings it front and center. This helps people refocus their attention toward what's missed, what's missing, what needs further investigation. It's the same as a “poem,” only the interaction with it may seem more fleeting.
You can read anything as language is everything. Someone asked me if I could read a shag rug, so I got down and began articulating the width, length, direction, color, etc of each tuft/thread in sound units.
The thing you don't want to do is explain everything. You don't want to verbally replicate what is obviously visual. Some reviewers of vispo do this and suck the life force out of a piece. Many vispoets accompany their work by deciphering it with sound. A slideshowing disconnect, a visual lectured as well.
I think vispo is a kinetic mirror. It shows origins, where written language came from, and it shows potential, where it might be going. Words are a limited system that convey only some aspects of our experience. To visually enhance written language by getting in there among the letters and exposing the ingredients of words is useful. It keeps our communication exchange agile and fresh, it enables us to (re)explore new terrain and readies us for future language. What makes language language?
Graffiti expands visual alphabet too. It constantly tries new combinations, designs, to convey the idea of I AM HERE. Vispo seeks to unlock or continue our experience with alphabet.
There are 2 schools of thinking here. One is that visual poetry is the pinnacle, the top of the categorization pyramid, with everything below it (concrete, lettrism, hieroglyphics, pattern, etc) and two, that vispo is the come lately sub-genre of concrete poetry.
Calling art abstract is subjective. Abstract to who(m)? Vispo is, I think, more determined to transmit and document alphabet information that has been visually altered and to convey a reaction to language, a response that furthers the conversation. Further to who)m(? So, I do not say vispo is art.
One current trend is to try and understand what vispo is? What it is to engage alphabet and language from this vantage? How are the tools that create the charged language of a “poem” not equally present in a vispoem? There is lots to read about but few writers to capture it.
I think asemic writing/poetry is the ratcheted up magnification of parts of letters, the parts that no longer resemble and cannot be traced back to the original and so have determined to make a go of it on their own. It will be interesting to see where all the threads arrive.
If language ingredients can be fashioned to make a charged utterance, what is the difference in using those same ingredients for vispoems?
I'm very interested in drawn letters. I'm not so interested in written letters. There was a time when the brain danced while drawing letters, moving passed the perforated lines, going off the page, drawing on walls, etc, then came the time you were forced to write, to write within the designated lines, to be accurate, exacting, precise, to use right angles. That time frame between drawing letters and writing letters is more fetching to me.
I point directly to my childhood memories about the difference. Hand drawing vs handwriting alphabet was a dramatic segue for me. The letter O, for instance, was first drawn by me as a surrealistic potato encapsulating space wherever it moved. Very soon after that the letter O became uniform, compliant and precise. It was forced to fit obediently between the perforated lines. The line itself became rigid and no longer stole time with unwatched abandon. Perhaps something in my life never quite recovered from that.