IMPROMPTU #3: Nico Vassilakis

Nico Vassialkis

Vassilakis - Picture

Creative Staring

The uncanny nature of the eye to misjudge then right itself. For that one moment when the eye cannot locate the information is a beautiful thing. A visitation of early development and the brain in a frenzy to categorize our external environment. The eye has become complacent and sensory transduction freaks out when the unprecedented comes in contact with our body. That one wonky second when the brain doesn’t know how to process incoming information. It’s that I love, it’s what drew me from writing to seeing writing to reading seeing. I seek that occurrence and if I can offer that experience to another person just once then I am content.

I think of vispo as preparation for a future language event. We are inundated by our word-text surroundings, it suffocates our thoughts.

Vispo takes from the blurred periphery of language, and language material, and brings it front and center. This helps people refocus their attention toward what’s missed, what’s missing, what needs further investigation.

You can read anything as language is everything.

The thing you don’t want to do is explain everything. You don’t want to verbally replicate what is obviously visual. Some reviewers of vispo do this and suck the life force out of a piece.

I think vispo is a kinetic mirror. It shows origins, where written language came from and it shows potential, where it might be going. Words are a limited system that convey only some aspects of our experience. To visually enhance written language by getting in there among the letters and exposing the ingredients of words is useful. It keeps our communication exchange agile and fresh, it enables you to (re)explore new terrain. What makes language language?


Stare at a word until the letters start to discorporate. You will find that letter cohesion, the letter glue that keeps letters stuck inside a word, is disrupted and dissolves. Fragments of letters will dislodge too. You are then free to visually interpret or document the life of letters outside their word existence as loosely or succinctly as possible.

Nico Vassilakis wrestles letters to free them of their word scrum. Many of his results can be found online and on his website, Staring Poetics Alphabet Noir, a book of poems/texts about visual poetry, is forthcoming from c_L Books. Another book coming out is In The Breast Pocket Of A Fine Overcast Day from Deadly Chaps Press. Nico is also vispo editor for COLDFRONT magazine.