Ode to Code to Mode & Morse Code


When I started working with Morse code back in 2012, a writing colleague said to me, ‘I don’t know about the Morse code.’ I never did quite understand what their criticism was, and because my work is often that of pedagogical inquiry, aka practice-led, whereby the process is my learning, I knew I wouldn’t know myself whether my work in Morse code was going to be fruitful, until in retrospect.

The Re-Morse Scale: I programmed my computer keyboard using Pure Data and created ‘re-morse scales’ which I then played on the keyboard according to Morse code. I asked sound artist Andrew McMillan (founder of Vitamin S) if it would be possible to play the keyboard musically, he introduced me to PD, installed it on my computer for me, and showing me how to use the programme.

Some of this re-morse scale work was published in the Canadian zine fillingStation in their Experimental Writing by Women issue 57 and discussed following the opening with Christian Bok on Rob McLennan’s blog  

PD programme used to programme my keyboard
ReMorse Scale using Pure Data (PD)

Listen to ‘ideophone note‘ in Morse code using PD on my keyboard.

McLennan discusses the ‘stunning’ quality of the writers in this issue 57, and that I ‘utiliz[e]s Morse Code in truly inventive ways’. Aside from my Pure Data (PD) re-morse scale, I use breath for Morse code, where the dot is my in breath and the dash my out breath.

My poems, and use of my layout, were set and printed in a show (I titled NeeMiss / nemesis) Makyla Curtis curated. For NeeMiss I also used the daf drum to play my Morse code and recordings were available to listen to, along with my breath recordings.

Other poems to publish my Morse code poetry include Brief and tissue in DEEP SOUTH. In tissue I breath using Anuloma Viloma (alternate nostril breathing). The dot is to be the in-breath via the left nostril the dash is to be the out-breath via the right nostril.

A version of this poem, again the code and layout, as well as title, has been used by weaver Michelle Mayn. In ‘Streaming Tears‘ and ‘Streaming Tears III‘ Michelle Mayn takes my phrase streaming tears from my poem, ’tissue’. Her woven pieces reference my vertically tilted Morse code (which I used to give the Morse code the impression of streaming / raining down the page). You can see a publication of my visual Morse poem here in Deep South2013.

In ‘Streaming Tears III‘ Mayn has used reflective thread following an inquiry I made with her about the possibility of using light woven into my weaving and for my Morse code. An idea I’m still working on, and something I first did, started to think about, back in 2012, and seen here in ‘Drip‘ (https://kellymalone.me/2012/08/17/drip).

Note: Michelle Mayn has also used my shredded writing, something I gifted her, and can be seen on in her invite ‘Shimmers‘, after I approached her about my idea of weaving a tuigen  – weaving my shredded handwriting is part of my pedagogical inquiry around performance writing.  (I subsequently chose to do the weaving myself, focusing on my process, rather than the product).

In 2012 when Makyla Curtis approached me to be part of her ‘abstract compositions‘. Following the brief, I created a small zine using the materials and words given. In addition I cut and pasted the actual material of the small book to encode the pages with Morse code.

barely covered

sonorous om