Interface & Interaction Design
Poetry on the Road 2013
Client: Poetry on the Road
Team: Friederike Lambers, Boris Müller, Florian Pfeffer, Studio NAND
Poetry on the Road is an international literature festival which is held every year in Bremen, Germany. From 2002 — 2013, I was commisioned to design a visual theme for the festival. While the theme itself was changing, the underlying idea for the visuals was always the same: All graphics were generated by a computer program that turned texts into images. So every image is the direct representation of a specific text. The design and the development process were a collaboration with the design agency one/one.
In 2013, I teamed up with Studio NAND in Berlin who have a great experience in creating challenging concepts and generative visuals. I think the result speaks for this approach!
The conceptual starting point in 2013 was to place the words of each poem on a map. For this, we treated every word as a location and used a geographical database that would return the longitude / latitude coordinates for the specified place. If the word would not exist a location, the database would suggest a similar name. For the german word “und” (“and”), you would get the coordinates 47° 56' N, 92° 2' W as UND is recognized as the University of North Dakota.
“Niemand” returns the Jan Niemand Park in South Africa, “Die” returns “Diou” in France, “Ungewisse” returns the city of Uniejowice in Poland – just to give you a few examples.
Here are a few more results:
Hrady, Czech Republic
Nahe, Germany, Nahe, Germany
Tuvaluan, Tuvalu, Tuvalu
Stadtteil Schnelsen, Stadtkreis Hamburg, Germany
Chalbanda, Anand Nagar 783133, India
Vrtovin, Dobravlje, Slovenia
Beaubears Island, Miramichi, Canada
Vedbräten, Bruvoll, Norway
Gillespie Field Airport, El Cajon, CA 92020, USA
Gang, MO 65466, Eminence, USA
Trufant, MI, Trufant, USA
FREELING, SA, Freeling, Australia
Bedkani, Siddapur 581328, Siddapur, India
Irvendi, Chintriyala 507153, Chintriyala, India
We then placed the points on a map – and soon realized that the standard Mercator projection would be very unsatisfying for this method. So we choose the Dymaxion projection that was developed by Buckminster Fuller.
This projection method allowed us to create a visually much more interesting distribution of locations. The resulting visual is a heat map of the distribution of locations.
2013 was the last year that I worked on visuals for Poetry on the Road. Poetry on the Road is one of my favorite projects and I did it for 12 years. For me personally it was really important and I still believe it is a unique generative design project. In the beginning I never thought that the organizers would stick to the same concept and the same person year after year.
However – I decided that it is time to pass on the baton. I have never been a great programmer – but in the last few years, Poetry was the only coding project I did. I created a couple of influential graphics over the years, but without constant practice in programming it has become difficult to say something new.
Finally, I want to thank Regina Dyck from Poetry on the Road who is a great client! And I would like to thank Florian and Friederike Pfeffer who are always a pleasure to work with.