abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz, visual sound poetry for iPhone

Jörg Piringer

As Geoff Huth wrote, “we are living through what might be the greatest age of visual poetry, in a time when the methods of production and distribution are such that the form can prosper without the need for extensive capital”. A convergence of factors, including the Internet, print-on-demand publishing, and an increasing interest in the visual and textual,-has allowed this hybrid form to flourish across the planet. Therefore, there is nothing suprising about finding one of Jörg Piringer’s creations among the most rated iphone apps. Piringer is an Austrian “visual sound poet” and a founding member of the Institute for Transacoustic Research. He has recently released an application for iPhone and iPod touch called abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz whose main ingredients are typography, motion and sound. According to its creator it is “a sound toy, a performance tool and an art work in its own right”. The design is very simple, with a white screen flanked by the alphabet, plus a set of basic buttons above and below. A slider at the top gives the option of selecting the type of vocal sound (Gravity, Crickets, Vehicles or Birds). User simply drag a letter on to the play area and depending on which type you’ve selected on the slider, the letter will act in a certain way and make its own sound. The combination generates a unique and interactive sound ecology. Additional settings include the ability to take a photo of the screen resulting in a still frame of what has just been performed. It looks like Piringer has found the perfect support for his niche of researching vocal sounds and their relation to dynamic typography in a highly popular and commercial device.

Valentina Culatti