by Nico Vassilakis


What are you looking at when you’re looking at what you’re looking at. The only material is Seen. Only the material is Seen. Seen, unseen, what an eye might see. Two e’s, two e’s, s_ _n to be. The eye will track. The orb will float till it finds its oar and focused boat. Seeing the former left behind, a past tense of alphabets touching aqueous humor. A sequence comprised entirely of having seen and seeing it too.

There’s a word for just about everything, but there ain’t a word for this.

How to proceed…these explorations and explanations are ancillary and redundant to a singular encounter with visual poetry. A definition that undulates in water fluctuates in its own meaning. These accounts attest to failure that never concludes

How letters release from words and what they find themselves doing before and after forming into words.

Letters are free to arrange themselves any way they want.

For a moment they’re autonomous and independent with no restrictions, so they navigate or are drawn toward one another in order to form new and unrealized results. 

My vispo tends to mimic this reflex, it strives to capture and promote this moment.

Hello letters! – you will leave your words, will be unattached, able to drift into all new visible features of experience.

A sequence of energy constants:

  1. a) The discharge of a word is finally equal to the energy found in its letters
  2. b) Now make those same letters askew, reposition them on a page, have the letters touch other letters in unaccustomed ways – the energy is the same
  3. c) Then cut the letters in half and use their visual elements as the available material to construct or compose the new vispoem – the energy remains

Letters seek liberty from word supremacy. Will detach from word and roam the page. Will find new designs to thwart their word captor. Will unhinge entirely and emerge alongside natural formations. 

Only then.

Will the letters offer to return, to reconvene. Will reassemble. Will re enter the word template. Will be poured into WORD meaning, the slots of which letters attend.

That time between, to draw and to write a letter.

Drawing is a primitive expression of marking space with time. Writing, or alphabet, is a forced societal construct.

Vispo is writing that exploded and reconvened into another form of seeing. Reading this result is openness, writing this new seeing is one way to transmogrify language.

I see no reason to destroy word, I simply want to undo word so the letters become revealed. Letters gather in a pre word formation, free to move about and explore before they are forced to line up and take their place in a word sequence. 

I see the letters as ingredients without which words would not exist. Words are a form of convenience. They take the place of an object in language. Letters are the math that allows this equation to result in words. We wipe our memory clean of letters and allow words to fill the air. The information letters house has become lost to us.

A visual poem is successful when it makes alternative use of writing and devalues the sequence of alphabet typically reserved for word communication, and offers a visual logic to how letters can be presented. I am particularly interested in letters, but more so, I am involved in the pieces of letters that just barely hang on to recognizable form before being jettisoned into new terrain. This terrain is part of the development of language or pre/post language. How children are first asked to draw and then to write letters. It moves from free expression in drawing to rigid grid-like writing that makes everything the same. Children are forced to comply to group communication before they are ever encouraged to create their own alphabet. 

My work could look like a document or field recording of my unconscious, but more than anything it is a capture shot of letters before or after they formulate into word. Letters have a life unto themselves. “…letters have a destination other than words.” Isidore Isou

My overall concept about this is that we are on the planet to find a way to leave the planet. We are exhausting the planet’s resources and so technology or the language of technology must take its necessary path, must reach a conclusion. Human beings, in their current condition, will consume the very means that sustains them. We will have no choice but to explore off-planet solutions. 

Technology is a problem we live with, a problem we absorb and adjust to as we go along. Nature is the great equalizer. Nature is an alphabet we have forgotten, because convenience has made us soft and helpless. Also, the idea of generating constant profit has degraded our integrity. Being a poet, a real poet, is become near impossible in this world. Too many other concerns have made us into hybrid poets, living as poets in tangential situations. How are we able to maintain focus in this accelerated environment. 

My fascination with how letters sit beside each other and patiently wait to be freed of their word logic scrum hasn’t subsided. So, I capture that alphabetic dalliance as document of some future language event. Vispo is a byproduct of ones experience with literature, with writing, reading and seeing. It’s about how you look and read your way passed words and re familiarize yourself with the intentional drawing of letters.

We called those involved The Stareists

The first tendency of Letters, when newly released from their word bondage, is to become decorative. This is usually followed by design logic and visual pun, as well as other compositional templates. Next, Letters either proceed into new visual poetics or return to the word. We are taught to return, but are seldom given an option. Yes, they said, let us go, free us. 

Vispo is a response to reading and writing language. There is a connection between seeing writing and writing reading and reading seeing. Vispoets transmogrify, they undo the word, they reveal the potential locked in the word by visually deconstructing it. They replace language with other visual language. 

Minor sources of sugar. Button shaped trees. Air pricked with negative light. Invisible chairs crossing the sea. Literature derived from art manifestoes. “Logically, the universe is absurd” 

Thought Veranda busy in motion. 

Open. Opent. Oh, pent up. Immersed in language, pearls loosened from the branches. Captured in a sphere. One eye accepts light for the other more demur pupil. A three-sided funnel that spells a tongue, that sees an image of hovering on the heels of dolphins cavorting. Tonight in the company of cellular division. Between two shoulders is a head in the middle. 

The scarf was strewn on the floor in the shape of the letter S. 

a full of b 

abc full of d 

abcd full of e 

abcdef full of g 

abcdefg full of h 

& i & you 


“My work constitutes an attempt to immortalize fleeting moments… I must seize the very instant in which the living experience seeps on to the symbol, which in this case is the letter.” Mira Schendel, 1975 


You take lines and shapes and given possibilities and make alphabet. You use it to make sounds and you map out trajectories of thought. You make names and call your children by them. This is done everywhere. And it’s been done for thousands of years until you became bored with this method — until you have surrounded and suffocated yourself with these products of your creation. 

You go through ubiquitous, unrelenting text — you are altered by text, by its message. You’ve had to alter how you see. You are forced to alter text itself. You stare your way through words and into middles of words. You resolve the noise of your eyes. The information you see, you seek, to find another nature therein. 

It’s you viewing textual oddities askance. Eccentric viewing. It’s the words, their origins, words within words, the seeds of language. It’s the symbols, signs, and icons seared into your brain. It’s you being attracted by perfect letter structures. It’s the revisiting of early alphabet education. It’s the timeframe between learning how to draw letters and how to write them. It’s you seeking to express the phenomenon of seeing language. It’s you transforming and appreciating the design and construction of alphabet. 

“Upon it draws a handwritten gnarl if thoughts untie let loose to move that twice subsumed both time and space through ink refined these letters hold and release the tiny marks remain.” 




I let my brain do the thinking. I watch it think for me. There’s an enjoyment I get seeing where it goes. From one visual idea to another it makes the associations. I follow them as an observer. I look on it as an observer of my own brain’s momentum. I’m not in charge of this activity. I’m not willfully in charge. I’m not directing the seeing. My brain looks up, acquires information, and it sees for me. It goes from one enticement; lets say a capital B, then to another peripheral small case k. It makes the connection and I am simply viewing. When this happens I am aware of feeling detached. As a spectator I sense another consciousness at work. The brain itself is receiving stimuli and translating that information into patterns that I would normally seek. The exception here is that I’m not knowingly seeking them out. I witness my brain working. This is another consciousness. I thought of what to compare this to and it came back to staring. When you stare at one fixed point you are incorporating surrounding information and having an experience that includes that fixed point plus everything else around it. Though you might feel locked in one position your brain is doing some amazing things. So I thought, maybe my brain thinks I’m staring and is piecing the puzzle together for me. I am not actively looking. I am not engaged in staring either. My brain connects the dots before I even see what I am seeing. It is like a

form of entertainment, I see my brain seeing and it expresses itself by my following its lead. I watch where it leads me. What I watch is mostly bits of language: half-words, part phrases, single letters, shapes within a given letter, fonts, size, etc. And these, of course, are everywhere. Anywhere the printed word is displayed.

I was startled at first by this minutia of time separation between seeing and seeing my brain see.

Staring at letters reminds you that their visual substance is there to encompass entire human histories

Each letter contains a history that is both personal and communal

Talking is an acceleration of letters

A letter has no beginning and no end

You stare for combinations that are pleasing.

Stare your way into a word till the meaning of the word is gone then allow each letter to achieve its visual potential

Deconstructs alphabet and so alters the message

Words are patterns imbued with designated meaning. Alphabets are the periodic table of talk. Letters are visual entities that hold memory and experience in place. 

“I’m looking through you, you’re not the same.”

The initial act of reading is staring. Text itself is an amalgam of units of meaning. As you stare  meaning loses its hierarchy and words discorporate and the alphabet itself begins to surface. Shapes, space relations, visual associations emerge. Alphabetic bits or parts or snippets of letters create a visual vocabulary amidst the very text you’re reading. Atomic incursions. Noodling among the utterances. Like scuba diving in( )between letters to liberate the bonds that keep them in place. That moment before the letters arrange. I’m stuck on parts of letters floating. 

Writing as field recording device. 

How uncomfortable is it to say, I document what thinking arranges for me. It’s a situation I observe. Where my thinking goes. Watching my thinking think. Documenting my staring. Getting ready to write for writing. For documenting.

A momentary paralysis imbued with hyper focus. Not in charge of what to think. And now that we stare into any number of screens a day we, ourselves, are caught.

Finding your aleatoric self among the pencils. Here. An alerted poise of tumult. With thought, with movement, with decisions over both. Mostly it is documenting. The relation between chemical interface and its effect on thinking. Hallucinating the possibilities that generate a reason to speak or to write speech.

Staring formulates a holding pattern writing prepares for.

A kind of Staring Poetics.

Staring at textpo creates the potential for vispo.

Letters alone are typically unwanted things. They are in danger of being individual, of lacking community, of not forming into a word. Isolated. You can leave these images if you want, but know that the letters remain afloat even after you’ve gone. Nothing for a change or everything changes. The quantum of alphabet. Its elements seeking adhesion, making their way to some certain molecule. And so the material changes, time changes, seeing changes. Staring your way through to another approach we seldom heed. 

To vispo; the act of looking at alphabet and seeing only its visual material. 

To vispo; the act of staring at language. The uncovering of design material used to fashion alphabet. 

To vispo; a way of liberating the letter, to read past the word toward its component parts. 

Creative Staring

An elongated gaze.

Vowels in the kitchen.

Staring your way into and through the letter as object.

These alphabet parts seek a vision to upend everything that came before.

Seeing is believing that alphabets are in motion and in a moment come together to form a word. Otherwise, letters are everywhere at once, hovering in consideration. Visual poetry documents this occurrence, the individual letters that precede the making of a word.

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