Rick Poynor, “Dom Sylvester Houédard: Letters in Space”
In the mid-1960s, concrete poetry was an international art world phenomenon and Dom Sylvester Houédard—Benedictine monk, religious scholar, creator of “typestracts” and a leading theorist of visual poetry—was one of its most tireless ambassadors. In his visual poems, tapped out an Olivetti Lettera 22 portable typewriter, Houédard built abstract, non-semantic space-frames from a rigorously purified palette of dots and dashes. After a period of obscurity following his death in 1992, Houédard has been rediscovered by a new generation of artists, designers, and cultural historians. This richly illustrated lecture will explore his visual poetry, his connections to the concrete poetry scene, and his work’s legacy today.
Rick Poynor is a British writer, lecturer, and curator, specializing in design, photography, and visual culture. He is visiting professor in Critical Writing in Art & Design at the Royal College of Art in London. Poynor was the founding editor of Eyemagazine and he has written its Critique column since 1999. In 2003, he was a co-founder of Design Observer, where he writes a wide-ranging regular blog. His column for Print magazine has been running since 2000, and his work has appeared in Metropolis, Blueprint, Icon, Frieze, Creative Review, Domus, The Guardian, Financial Times, and many other publications. Poynor’s books include Obey the Giant: Life in the Image World (2001), Jan van Toorn: Critical Practice (2008), and No More Rules: Graphic Design and Postmodernism, which was reissued in 2013.