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The word as visual art: Is Wordle the last word?

June 15, 2011

It’s true: words really can be art.  We know they should sound good to the inner ear, but how about making them pleasing to the eye?  Words, after all, are symbols, representations of meaning – and they can be represented in many ways.  The visual representation can influence the meaning.

A friend of mine recently indulged in NaNoWriMo and was introduced to Wordle as a reward.  (I say ‘indulged’ because I’m envious; he wrote a 50,000 word novel in a month.)  Wordle is a quick easy way to turn your words, and anyone else’s, into a word cloud picture.  You can:

frame it…

stencil it…

cover a book with it…

paper the walls with it…

create a Powerpoint presentation of it…

write a poem about a loved one, Wordle it and send it to them as a card…

make an ad with it…

turn your 50,000 word novel into it???  I wonder…

Here are some Wordle examples to inspire you:

The Sermon on the Mount, Wordle by Purple Slog

Wordle used in a Powerpoint presentation, by London Looks

Wordle ad, photo by Ged Carroll

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But you’re doubtful, aren’t you?  You’re thinking Wordle is too quick and easy.  Where’s the evidence of skill, of mastery, of sweat, of commitment, damn it?  In a Wordle, the meaning just might translate as I-couldn’t-be-bothered.  Fine, then.  Go ahead and learn calligraphy, buy your parchments and your gold leaf.

If you want to know what real commitment to words looks like, check out this example below:

Photo by Dave Keeshan

This photo was taken on Australia Day, also known as Survival Day, 26th January 2008, the day the Australian Prime Minster said sorry on behalf of the nation to the ‘stolen generations’ of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.  Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s Sorry Speech was, in itself, an important piece of word art.  It was heartfelt and healing, and it took ‘sorry’ to a whole new level of meaning as a nation-definer.  I still can’t read it without crying.

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And what do you think of word tatts?  Every day, your body is talking to you and everyone else who sees you.  It says the same thing, over and over again…

Photo by Molly Germaine

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In the context of the tattoo above, Kurt Vonnegut’s words become a philosophy of life.

Photo by Leah Jones

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The tattoo above is Hebrew scripture.  David, before he became king, asks that his enemies will fall by the sword and become no better than foxes.  The meaning here is ambiguous.  Why would you wear this biblical line as a tatt?  Perhaps to show political allegiance, but it might also signify devotion to a spiritual path, even more so than a Hijab or a Christian cross both of which can be taken off.

Photo by Leo Lambertini

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Don’t panic – we’re in this together.  I think this tatt is my favourite, especially as it has a greater impact in a group.

I realise now that this post could also have been titled: What to do with your work if you can’t get a publisher and are still resisting the bottom drawer/delete button/shredder.

 

Photographers’ flickr pages:

Purple Slog, London Looks, Ged Carroll, Dave Keeshan, Molly Germaine, Leah Jones, Leo Lambertini

 

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 24, 2013 6:41 am

    Nice answer back in return of this matter with solid arguments and describing everything regarding that.

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  1. Challenge12.Org - Wordle – Create your own word clouds

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