Individual Work
Anipoems

Ana Maria Uribe takes inspiration from letters themselves to create her animated video poems, aptly titled, Anipoems. Made in 1997-2000 these simple monochrome animations “are typography and motion, in that order.” Inspired by Apollinaire’s poetry and Morgenstern’s “Night Song of the Fish,” she explores new mediums for presenting visual poetry. In a 2003 interview, Uribe said “I describe myself as a visual poet who uses electronic means.”

Using an early version of macromedia flash, she animates simple manipulations of letters and exports them as continuous looping videos. Still in a relatively early era for personal websites, she built a site to host her animations and display them in an intentional order and style. The website, as well as most the poems, work both in Uribe’s native Spanish, and what was clearly becoming the language of the internet, English.
The substance of her poems, their affective power, lies in the movement of letters. The body of the poem is formed by the spatial associations of elements, developed and collapsed in animation. The importance of word choice disappears completely as attention is placed on the pictorial quality of letters. These calligramme-like animations take the importance of form to the extreme.

In “Primavera” the letters “q” and “p” are repeated to build vine like columns across the white space of the video poem in an infinite loop. It is simple, like an understatement. But, the building chain of letters followed by their absence and regeneration is affective. The sudden disappearance of the letters, which you had gotten used to extended, living, grown, is haunting. The poem forces you to consider the letter in motion, to recognize that a q entwined with a p no longer serves its symbolic purpose. Instead of thinking of letters as signs, Uribe considers their aesthetic particularity. By animating repetition and focusing on the shapes of letters, each is endowed with an inalienable identity. “If there is an ‘insight’, it comes from the letters themselves, from their secret identity, which is revealed to me when I least expect it.” [1]

Humor is important in Uribe’s work. Undercutting the precise minimalism of her visual style is subtle jest in the animated movements. The titles of her poems, which are short and somewhat irreverent, invite the viewer to watch the pieces lightly. “Gym 1,” animates a repeating series of letters organized in a grid. T to Y to I, back to T, reminds one of arms extending in regimented aerobic movements. It becomes obvious that there is a joke, a kind of visual pun, to laugh at in the poem. At the same time, the humor allows the poem to be many things at once. The wavering quality of the aesthetic is foregrounded, as the concrete poem oscillates between composition and moving video.

“Desire,” which appears on Uribe’s website under the umbrella category of “erotic poetry,” coquettishly plays with letters. Eschewing her austere black and white aesthetic, the erotic poems flirt with color. “Desire” is a fleshy pink and bruised beige, that features the word desire folding and bending in sinuous contorting movements. Eventually the “s” and the “i” free themselves and the music in the video changes to robust, evocative guitar. Uribe explains that “the ‘s’ and the ‘i’ dance a tango and compose the Spanish word ‘si’, which suggests acceptance (=‘yes’) but on a second reading may just be conditional (=‘if’).” The play of the letters, the garish color choices, and almost provocative movement, forces the word desire to perform its associations. Under Uribe’s guidance, the letters palpitate off the page, taking on memories of each other, undulating associations.

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