Dan Visel, and I work at the intersection of publishing, design, and technology.
Do you need an electronic book that’s
not terrible? I can make it for you.
If you’re working on an electronic publishing project – or about to start working on such a project –
I might be able to help. I’ve been thinking about how reading and writing work in electronic environments for years.
I have plenty of experience writing, editing, designing, and developing complex multimedia projects. I’ve made
books, websites, and iOS and Android apps.
More importantly, I can help conceptualizing projects and navigating the space of technologies, which can be unnecessarily
complicated for those who don’t work at it full time. You could think of me as a technologist who can talk to ordinary
people; or as an ordinary person who knows how to talk to technologists. At the moment I’m based in Singapore,
though I’m used to working remotely, and I’m regularly in North America.
Let me know if you’re interested in talking about a project: I might be interested!
Right now I’m most interested in building complex reading environments on the web and in mobile environments.
I’ve used a wide range of web technologies, though most of what I’m doing is based around presenting information through
Keystone) and makup languages old and new (LaTeX, Markdown, XML, SGML). Off the web, I’ve made things with Processing,
Arduino, and Python. I’ve made apps for the iOS and Android platforms and have apps for sale in the Apple, Google
Play, and Amazon app stores.
If I haven’t used it, I’m happy to figure it out.
Southeast Asian Archaeological Site Reports; described in the
Straits Timeshere(image). Working with the National University of Singapore Press, I developed a web app to help put archaeological
“grey literature” – unpublished site reports – online. The app is client-side Node using Webpack (and may be released
as open-source software as a module on NPM); tools allow conversion and editing of datasets in multiple formats.
Cross Dante. This is a project to present texts online in multiple translations: I wanted to read Dante, but I wanted to read across
the different translations available in English, as well as having reference to the Italian original. The project is
here, and Android apps of the different books of the
Divine Comedy can be found
here; iOS versions are
here. The code is not text-specific and could be used for any translation project: it’s available
Screentakes. I built interactive electronic books for
Screentakes.com on film script analysis that work on both the web and mobile platforms which also allow group comenting
Android mobile platforms; the online store component is currently built on WordPress. Apps are currently in the iOS
and Google Play stores; the books are also for sale in web-streaming versions. Behind the scenes, I built a number of
different tools to enable content creators to put the books together and streamline creation.
Democritus Jr. Jr.. This is a tiny IOS/Android app (
Kindle Fire app store) that takes the text of Robert Burton’s
Anatomy of Melancholy and turns it into a kind of
sortes Vergilianae for use in personal divination.
Unfold. I was a co-founder of
Unfold, a Los Angeles-based startup mapping opinion on the web. I was responsible for the initial design and product
management, among many other things.
Sophie. I spent a great deal of time in the early 2000s working on
Sophie 2, projects for electronic book making and reading software. Sophie was a project of the Institute for the
Future of the Book in collaboration with USC and the Mellon Foundation. The first version was written in Smalltalk;
the second was done in Java. I wrote specifications, designed UI and UX, documentation for both projects, along with
project management, bug tracking, and testing as needed.
My work in publishing started as a book designer, and to a certain extent that’s still how I think of myself,
though what constitutes a book (and what constitutes book design!) has grown more nebulous with time. Here are some of
the projects that I’ve worked on:
Circumference Books. A current project is a small press presenting books in facing-page translation. The first two books should be out
in early 2019.
The Event of Art. Book design for a forthcoming monograph for the American media artist.
This Chair Rocks. I did the interior design for Ashton Applewhite’s
fantastic book on ageism. I also created a wide variety of electronic versions of the book and constructed a website
and store in which to sell them.
Selected past projects
Circumference. I did design and production for the first eight issues of
Circumference, a bi-annual journal of poetry in facing-page translation.
Tebot Bach. I’ve done some book design for Tebot Bach, a publisher of poetry based in California that concentrates on work
These projects were done in a variety of electronic media, some just to test out different software. Images to come; electronic
formats often don’t last as long as we hope they will!
The End, a version of a piece by Richard Kostelanetz offering the final sentences to stories which don’t exist
presented for Hotel St. George Press. This is a Java applet programmed in Processing; a Mac application can be downloaded
here, and a Windows application
Nouvelles impressions d’Afrique. A web version of Raymond Roussel’s book-length poem. Roussel’s poem makes radical use of parentheses to
expand his narrative by digression: in this version, you can click on the parentheses and footnotes to expand and contract
the poem, making it significantly more legible than the print version. A version of this appeared in Exact Change’s
Finnegans Wake. This is an audio archive of my ongoing reading of James Joyce’s
Finnegans Wake: I’ve been recording myself reading it out loud and posting it online. I’ve been taking
a break from this.
These projects were constructed in Sophie 1, which can be downloaded
here; it should still work. Download and unzip them; they can be opened in Sophie Reader or Sophie Author. If using
Sophie Author, make sure that the application is in test mode first.
Mothlight. This book is a version of
an essay on the act of watching Stan Brakhage’s film; the Sophie version places one of Brakhage’s films,
Mothlight, under the text. Turning the pages of the book using the red arrows won’t affect playback. Clicking
the area around the text should pause and restart the film.
S/Z. This piece is a version of the start of Roland Barthes’s
S/Z which is itself a reading of Balzac’s “Sarrasine”. Barthes splits the text up into different
lexias, which he argues embody different codes. Clicking any of the buttons for the codes at the bottom of the page
will highlight lexias that use that code; clicking on a lexia will open an embedded book with a discussion of that lexia.
Emily Dickinson 279. This single-page book presents Emily Dickinson’s poem 279. If the daggers to the right
of the poem are clicked, alternate words that Dickinson considered in her manuscript are substituted in, suggesting
other ways that the poem can be read. Clicking “Manuscript” shows a scan of Dickinson’s manuscript
(a button overlays text so that Dickinson’s handwriting can be read); clicking “Reference” shows the
standard reference version of this poem, which provides a very different sort of reading experience.
Tender Buttons. This book presents two different ways of visualizing how the text of Gertrude Stein’s “Tender Buttons”
works: first as a slideshow showing an image representing each word, second as a slideshow showing a different color
representing each part of speech.
I’ve done a lot of writing over the years! I’m in the process of writing a book about reading, though that’s
taking a while. Here are other things I’ve written, split into categories.
“The Book and Place, The Place of the Book.”
TXT: Exploring the Boundaries of the Book, pp. 12–15. The Hague: autumn 2014.
Untitled review of Jack Green’s
Fire the Bastards!,
Rain Taxi, Volume 17, no. 1, p. 16. Minneapolis: spring 2012.
“The Failure of Americans.”
The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Vol. XXXI, #1: The Failure Issue, pp. 80–103. Urbana, Illinois: spring
2011. Nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
Rong–Wrong, Vol. No. 1, pp. 70–76. Amsterdam: 2011.
Untitled piece on Jan Tschichold.
The Most Beautiful Swiss Books 2009, pp. 105–110. Bern: 2009. Translated into German by Daniela Janser.
“The Responsibility of the Reader,”
Logos, Volume 20, no. 4, pp. 167–170. Amsterdam: 2009.
—with Michael Rüger & Bob Stein: “
Sophie – The Future of Reading” in
C5 2008: Poitiers, France. Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Creating, Connecting and Collaborating
through Computing, 2008: pp. 13–20.
—with Christina Svendsen,
Let’s Go Rome 2000. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999.
—with Sam Bull,
Let’s Go Ireland 1998. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1997.
Talks & Panels
Panelist, “Book/Ends?: Rethinking Scribal in the Digital Age” (with Elaine Savory, Michael Pettingger, and
Oz Frankel). MobilityShifts, New School, New York. 14 October 2011.
“The Book in Time: Futures of the Book.” The Center for Book Arts, New York. 24 March 2010
“The Page + The Screen: Siting Text in the Early 21st Century and Beyond” (with Bob Stein). The Public School
NY, Brooklyn. 25 February 2010.
Plenary session, “The Digitization of Everything” (with Sven Birkerts and David Cole). 4th International
Conference on the Book, Boston. 20 October 2006.
“Curating Translations: Case Studies from
Circumference and Archipelago Books” (with Jennifer Kronovet, Stefania Heim,
et al.). American Literary Translators Association conference, Las Vegas, October 29, 2004.
Buzz Poole, “The Next Chapter,”
Print, June 2009, pp. 28–29.
Steve Bradbury, “The Brains Behind
Circumference: Poetry in Translation: a Conversation with Stefania Heim and Jennifer Kronovet”. Sidebar:
“A Note on the Type” by Dan Visel.
Full Tilt: A Journal of East-Asian Poetry, Translation and the Arts, Issue 3, summer 2008.
I wrote many pieces for
if:book, the Institute for the Future of the Book’s blog. At some point, I’ll annotate the ones that
I still find interesting.
I’m interested in a lot of things! Here are some people whose work I am interested in, in no particular
order: Jane Bowles. John Ashbery. Marcel Duchamp. Raymond Roussel. Marcel Proust. Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Donald Barthelme.
William Gaddis. Gianfranco Baruchello. Anna Maria Ortese. Terre Thaemlitz. James Joyce. Gertrude Stein. Paul Metcalf.
Georges Perec. Stanely Crawford. Tan Lin. James McCourt. William Morris. Jan Tshichold. Ray Johnson. Robert Walser. Sergio
De La Pava. Alison Knowles. Henry Green. Guy Davenport. C. S. Peirce. Fernando Pessoa. Heinrich von Kleist. Daniel Spoerri.
Herman Melville. Julio Cortázar. Ronald Johnson. Ross McElwee. Carlo Levi. Chris Marker. Agnès Varda. Andrey
Tarkovsky. Éric Rohmer. Stan Brakhage. Fr. Rolfe. Thomas Browne. W. G. Sebald. Michel Butor. Alice Coltrane. Guy
Maddin. Joseph McElroy. Eleanor Antin. Giorgio Morandi. Scott Walker. Florian Fricke. Robert Wyatt. Moritz von Oswald.
Some magazines that I have liked, mostly in the past:
Dot Dot Dot.
The Sienese Shredder.
FAQNP. I’m a contributing editor at
Triple Canopy, and I think that’s a fine magazine, though I might be biased.