Traversing Semantic Space
Trails is simultaneously a difficult piece of poetry to read and a visualization of connected meaning found within semantic space. Semantic space can be thought of as a domain containing the whole of natural language capable of capturing meaning.
I love "word association football"; instances in songs and poetry when a single word serves as the end of one sentence and the beginning of the next. In trails the meaning connecting words is used and followed semantic space creating trails of meaning. The act of reading can become and interesting exercise as each word has the potential to pivot and change meaning as a new connection is made. It can be a difficult but interesting mental exercise to follow and perceive the meaning that links two synonyms together as one word bounces to the next and the path through semantic space is illuminated.
Starting with the same word each quadrant traces its own unique path to its antonym. The path is constructed by choosing only from each subsequent word’s synonyms. I generated the word sequences using python which scraped synonyms from the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus.
Each quadrant's sequence of words illuminates normally unseen connections found in the English language.
The animation was constructed in Houdini and rendered in Redshift.