Visualization of Social History and Individual Fate: Andrej Voznesenskij’s Experimentation with Words and Images

Tatiana Nazarenko, University of Manitoba

Andrej Voznesenskij has been acknowledged as one of the most technically accomplished Russian poets. He is fascinated by formal experimentation using both linguistic and visual dimensions of discourse. The present paper explores the peculiarities of two fused modes of representation (visual and conventional) characteristic of Voznesenskij’s visual poetry.

The study investigates the evolution of the poet’s approach to text visualization starting from his early experiments, “poems for eyes exclusively,” in the late 1960s up to his latest and most impressive experiments with the visual imagery of the text in the 1990s. Special attention is given to Voznesenskij’s visual rethinking of Pavel Florenskij’s concept of implicit correspondence between the given name and the fate of its bearer. Therefore, the poet attempts to analyze and visualize the creative and psychological profiles of well-known representatives of Russian culture (Esenin, Majakovskij, Severjanin, Gumilev, etc.) as codified in their names.

Such aspects of textual visuality as layout, spatial arrangement, typography, color application, fluctuating point of ingress and other graphic manipulations are given a detailed treatment as significant agents of the semantic of each individual work. Numerous linguistic puns and witty word-play, onomatopoeic and sound effects, as well as other phonetic, morphological, and syntactic displacements epitomized by Voznesenskij’s experimental poetry are analyzed in the broader sociolinguistic context. The textual and visual semantics of the works are discussed from the semiotic perspective.

The problems of interpretation of Voznesenskij’s experimental works characterized by juxtaposition of linguistic and visual elements are explored in the light of the theory of aesthetic reception.

The presentation is accompanied by the display of overhead transparencies.