Walter Benjamin: A Literary Organism Analysis

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Artist Statement


I am fascinated by the analysis and visualization of a text to find beauty in underlying patterns or connections that are normally not apparent. A Literary Organism was first used in a project where I explored methods of visualizing the writing style of Jack Kerouac in On the Road. For this piece, I analyzed Benjamin's essay, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," for word count per sentence and by themes within its structure, and I did it all by hand. Some people knit; I enjoy the act of painstakingly analyzing text with a pen and a highlighter, as (to me) the process of gathering the data is as equally important as the visual outcome. This information was then used to create a literary organism of the essay that is color-coded according to the devices used by Benjamin to bolster his argument. The structure of Benjamin's essay is made apparent through this type of visualization: the essay is divided into numbered sections, then paragraphs, then sentences and finally words. Visualized in this manner, the text becomes an organic, plant-like structure that is living and breathing instead of only being seen in its usual form: black lines on a page.


Stefanie Posavec | See All Editions


Stefanie Posavec was raised in Denver, Colorado, where analyzing the grammatical structure of sentences in high school English class proved to be more influential than she ever imagined. She moved to London permanently in 2004, and holds a BFA from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado (2002), and an MA in Communication Design from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London, England (2006). Through a random twist of fate, her MA project ended up traversing the internet and she now spends free time coming up with new ways to analyze text and information for a variety of different projects, exhibitions and people. Her day job deals with text, but in a different way: she works as a book cover designer.