Txt and Twitter as an Art Form

I know the general fashion with writers is to deplore the horrors of abbreviations used on txt (really, you can’t call it “text” anymore) and Twitter, to the point where some writers won’t even use Twitter despite its high level of utility (a.k.a. awesomeness).

Anyway, when you’re a poetry Philistine like me and you start wandering through contemporary, avant-garde, and really mostly e.e. cummings you start wondering if there is something to all this.


Consider, for a moment, flash fiction. The biggest challenge is its strict word limit. Telling a story in less than five hundred words–giving it a plot, decent characters, setting, and conclusion–is really hard for the type of person who can write a 120,000 word novel without breaking a sweat.1


So what about txt and Twitter? Just trying to decipher some of those remarks, and worse (better?) yet trying to have a conversation when each line’s limited to 140 characters or less if you have to use tags…it’s challenging. Some of the abbreviations are clever, some of them make no sense.

Literature? Obviously not.


But I do think there’s a niche in this crazy contemporary art world of ours for this sort of brevity. I easily envision a future where gallery exhibits consist of carefully framed and typographically brilliant statements…in less than 140 characters.2


1. Nope, not me. I’ve had minimalism pounded into me, despite my love of the Romantics.
2. Now’s probably a good time to mention I have a minor in Visual Art, part of which included learning about modern/contemporary art theory and its motivations. I’m not even vaguely a fan, favoring Pre-Raphaelite (both original and 1800s) more than anything else, but I do understand where they’re coming from. And that does make me a little sad.


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