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Poetry on the Road

Poetry on the Road is an international literature festival which is held every year in Bremen, Germany. Since 2002 I am commisioned to design a visual theme for the festival. While the theme itself is changing, the underlying idea for the visuals is always the same: All graphics are generated by a computer program that turns texts into images. So every image is the direct representation of a specific text. The design and the development process are a collaboration with the design agency jung und pfeffer. (Now one/one)

Poetry 2007

Medium: Print
Year: 2007
Client: Poetry on the Road
Team: Andrea Schaffors, Boris Müller, Florian Pfeffer

In 2007, the key visual of Poetry on the Road is based on photos. As a resource, I have used the well known photo community On flick, all photos are organised by tags. Each tag is a keyword that describes the entire apperance of a certain aspect of the specified photo.

This structure provides an obvious and simple mechanism for transforming text into an image. VisualPoetry07 treats every word in a poem as a tag. Using the Flickr API, the application sends every word to Flickr and simply takes the first image from the returning list. So if the word »sun« appears in a poem, VisualPoetry07 checks flickr for the most popular image tagged with »sun«. Very unusual words that are not used as tags on Flickr (like »Bahnhofsgeister«) are marked with a white bar.

{Detail from the key-visual. Note that the rhythm of the lines of each poem is still visible.}

Each word in the poem is repaced by a photo. However, not the entire photo is used. The photo is cropped depending on the length and the frequency of the word. The horizontal axis is defined by the length of the word, the vertical one by its frequency.

A great thing about flickr is that a huge number of community members share their photos based on the Creative Commons Attribution license. We took care only to use photos published under this Attribution License.

Here is a list of all photos and attributions that have been used for the creation of the key visual of Poetry on the Road 2007.

Furthermore, you can try out an interactive version of VisualPoetry07. It is a bit slow (depending on your internet connection) but you should get an idea of how the system works.

Launch Poetry 07 interactive

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