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Images courtesy of Nico Vassilakis. Used by permission.

Nico Vassilakis


The vispo of Nico Vassilakis is frequently centered around the attempt to extend the time of the viewer's look at the components of written language, so that a look turns into a stare. As he has put it, individual moments of looking at words are "bundled." The meaning comes up almost instantaneously as "what you recall of its definition," after which one quickly moves past that moment. But staring a bit longer becomes "a portal, a doorknob into the larger notion of time" in which the quick "bundled" meaning of a word slips or mutates into something else. *

a slide from Stampologue by Nico Vassilakis

The scale at which Vassilakis works varies from word- or phrase-units that have had their ends cut off down to pieces of individual letters. These visual poems are almost always in type, rather than handwriting, though usually the most familiar fonts are involved. The presence of these familiar letter shapes allows these pieces to manifest the common tendency of quickly passing over the visual features of language. Many of Vassilakis's new images were captured by use of a toy microscope. These pieces often go so far as to force the viewer into a stare. Yet these microscopic letters and words appear before us not as specimens to be dissected, but as quivering cells for us to watch as they slowly transform.

a slide from Perforations by Nico Vassilakis

Vassilakis has recently moved into video compositions. These pieces naturally allow him to use time directly as a medium. They are distinct from his "still" pieces, however, in that they are full of jumps, cuts, and disjunctions that arise unpredictably. In these video vispoems the viewer is usually just about a split-second behind what is taking place. Instead of the viewer rushing past language, language rushes past the viewer.

a still image from a video work by Nico Vassilakis

Nico Vassilakis's vispo ferrets out of the viewer an awareness of the distinctness between the seen aspect of written language and the (primary) meaning that is tagged to what is seen. This different look at vision, as it were, has far-reaching effects that can in turn help us to look at other vispo in a different way--and at a different rate.

* Quotes taken from Nick Piombino's interview with Nico Vassilakis.

(Jump to Vassilakis links on the resources page.)

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