Nio and Kinetic Typography

Nio by Jim Andrews is an animated poetry piece from the first volume of the electronic literature collection. The piece incorporates two different mediums, text and audio, and forms what the artist himself describes as “interactive audio” and “visual poetry.” The piece uses a traditional poetry format in that it is divided into two verses but also branches out into hypertext by allowing the user to interact with the piece in an unusual way.

Verse One of Nio has several icons forming a circle set against a black background. Each of these icons are made up of a group of letters layered on top of each other in what seems like a random assortment. The user is able to click on any of these icons in order to turn on the “sound and visual poems” (Andrews’ description). Once you click an icon a box appears around it to show it has been activated. Once activated a series of letters, the same ones the make up the corresponding icon, will become animated in the center of the circle. These animated letters are accompanied by audio, which are sounds voiced by the artist. Each icon activated a different series of animated letters and random sounds. Up to six of these icons can be activated at once which results in a collaborative of jumbled, animated letters and a chorus of corresponding sounds.

Verse Two uses the same sound icons but allows the user to interact with them in a different way. Instead of a circular display the sounds are organized in a grid. The 4×4 grid is organized into four channels with which you can interact. The sound icons are all stored in a bank below the grid and can be dragged and dropped anywhere on the grid. In this verse there are more audio manipulation options such as volume adjustment. There is also a “Loop” option, which allows you to play the audio on a loop. Similar to the first verse, you can play multiple audio and text animation at the same time.

I saw a correlation between Nio and the pieces Guillermo introduced in the blog post “K1NeT1C TYp0gRaPhY.”  In this post Guillermo states, “Kinetic typography artists use selections from all different mediums to produce a work. Clips of film, songs, and pieces of literature are all commonly used for kinetic typography works.” Based on this description Nio is comparable to the examples referenced throughout the aforementioned post and Andrews can be classified as a kinetic typography artist. Andrews’ piece fits into this category because his work incorporated more than one medium. The main contrast between Nio and other works of typography is the difference in narrative qualities. While all the examples of kinetic typography from the blog post tell a straight-forward story, Nio lacks such narrative qualities. However, the absence of these qualities are not to the detriment of the work. Referring to this piece as poetry is appropriate because the various elements, although they lack a clear message, go together very well and produce something that is poetic and aesthetically pleasing.

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