:: painting with words



WordNozzle is an experiment in "painting" with text. It enables the user to select any text-only (ASCII) file as an input to the nozzle, and then spray the words of text in a continuous stream while controlling the font, size, style and color of the text.

WordNozzle was motivated from two directions, one quite practical and the other quite theoretical. On the practical side, WordNozzle is an attempt to address the clumsiness with which current page-layout and graphics programs handle text manipulation. First, the user must type in the text, then select it, then select a different font from a menu, view the result, select another font from th emenu, view the result, go to a different menu to change the size, view the result, go to the menu again change the size, view the result, and so on. The same steps must occur in order to sample styles and color variations as well. The entire proces requires multiple repetitive steps. WordNozzle attemtps to circumvent this laborious process by treating the text like a stream, much in the same way the "paint" used in the spraycan of mos popular graphics packages treats color. The user chooses a text stream and can then manipulate the visual appearance and location of each word as it comes out of the nozzle in a continuous, free-flowing fashion.

The theoretical motivation stems froma study of the Concrete Poets of the mid-60's and onward, and their Futurist and Dada ancestors in the early part of this century. These artists treated the visual appearance of text as a principal participant in the production of meaning. Their interests in such experimentation grew out of - among other things - a deeply held beliefe that traditional forms of written communication, with its clean spacing, rectilinear layout, and sober letterforms, no longer did justice to the cultural schizophrenia of the modern age. Working the constraints of traditional letterpress, these artists and poets managed to explore text's visual presence in ways that seem fresh even to the MTV and David Carson-jaded eyes of the 1990's. WordNozzle represents an attempt to partially answer the question: What would a Futurist/Concrete Poet want in a tool for digitally manipulating text?

Jason E. Lewis




Escapism, San Francisco, CA, June - December 1998

Mill Valley Film & Video Festival, Mill Valley, CA, October 1998

CTHEORY Digital Dirt on-line exhibition, October 1998 - present

I.D. Magazine 1996 Design Review Honorable Mention
technical / download

Director for the Macintosh

WordNozzle comes in two versions:

Desktop version
The desktop version is the original version. It includes on-screen controls for changing the text's font, size, and greyscale tone.

Performance version
The performance version was developed for use at clubs, galleries, etc., as a live projection. All control is excercised via the mouse and key commands. Multiple color spectrums are available from which to choose the color of the text.


"WordNozzle: Painting with Words", Special Interest Group Graphics (SIGGRAPH) Annual Conference, Los Angeles, August 1997.

Dynamic Poetry: Introductory Remarks to New Medium, Master Thesis, Computer Related Design, Royal College of Art, London, November 1997