Visual poetry, like literary poetry, has different colours. A poem can be lyric, ironic, epic. Depending on what you want to express, you use one language or another, or different techniques and materials. You can go from utilitarian language to magic. I actually made a cybernetic sestina once. A sestina is a very complex medieval form created by Arnaud Daniel, a poet of the trobar clus, i.e. hermetic, almost Surrealist. Some friends gave me a machine and I told them what a sestina was. They said, we need so many verbs, so many nouns, so many adjectives. They put all this in the machine, gave it instructions, and the machine came up with some lovely poems. The structure of the verses was too identical, of course, but the machine created some amazing images that seemed to come from the subconscious. And that made me think, because the images were really cosmic. It was like a test-tube baby… Ha, ha, ha!
The actual method doesn’t differ much whether it is a visual poem or an object poem, because you don’t make it yourself.
No, I imagine it, I make a draft, and if it needs drawing I give it to a draughtsman; or if it needs something mechanical, I have a friend, Manel Viñas, who has a small factory and helps me find the necessary tools.
Do modifications occur in the process of production? Or do you let your collaborators introduce them?
No, no. I make sure nothing is modified, but I don’t need to worry because they’re all very faithful. Manel is even more of a perfectionist than I am. I believe that a visual poem has a nucleus that must not be modified, the rest is secondary; but he says no, everything must be exactly as in the draft. He’s very fussy, but that’s not a bad thing. He’s a great help. I have an object that hasn’t been exhibited yet, and it needed an anchor, not a small one, no, a big one, a ship’s anchor… and he found one. On another occasion we needed a square cartwheel and he took me to a factory. When the owner found out what we wanted he said: ‘Talk to the manager, he’ll understand…’ Ha, ha!
Ballester, Arnal: ‘Com fer una roda quadrada’, La Il·lustració. Revista molt il·lustrada de l'Associació Professional d'Il·lustradors de Catalunya, no. 1 (November-December 1994), pp. 4–7