Ugly Duckling Presse


Tom Comitta

"a high-speed chase in 6,928 characters and 18 scalable vector graphics"

◯ is a supercut of all round counters found in Unicode typefaces. Composed first in the summer of 2011 and updated for this 2013 publication, ? presents these counters at 60pts and in Unicode order. The text begins with Basic Latin (0025), contains findings in the Private Use Area, and ends in the Variation Sectors Supp. Section (1F773).

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About the Author

Tom Comitta

Tom Comitta is a writer and multimedia artist living in Oakland, CA. His speech-text album Howl in Six Voices (2010) was published by and installed in Robert Berman/E6 Gallery’s Say Something!  In 2011, Janey Smith and he co-founded SF Guerrilla Opera, a roving sound poetry troupe that gave voice to street signs and leaked US embassy cables.  Their nine operas appeared in numerous locations around the Bay Area including the Civic Center BART and the Berkeley Art Museum. Comitta teaches multimedia writing at an elementary school and runs the publishing house

Advance Praise

Tom Comitta's ◯, in my mind, is a strange and highly remarkable mixture of text and textile. This collection of letters, characters, signs and symbols extends to breathtaking length like a mega scarf or a giant carpet. The seemingly simple gesture of compiling type characters that feature an oval reveals itself as an act of radical inclusiveness. Asian characters, DVD symbols, skulls, and Arabic numerals all cohere in this party zone for type. ◯ reads like a literary companion to earlier conceptual collections like Ed Ruscha's books of buildings, gas stations and parking lots or Allan McCollum's mass produced unique objects, while carrying the fresh and quirky voice of a poet who re-envisages writing as form of data knitting.—Kota Ezawa
'◯' writes Tom Comitta, or conversely, Tom Comitta inscribes U+25EF. Discretely countering the dream of universal interoperability—one glyph at a time—Comitta rounds up the arbitrary aesthetics of our global standards for character encoding. The result is a thrill to read: an international high-speed chase in 6,928 characters and 18 scalable vector graphics. Although the title is immutably named 'large circle' in Unicode, all references to this poem must also include the appropriate hexadecimal value to ensure that the one doesn’t accidentally imagine 'white circle' (0x25CB), 'combining enclosing circle' (0x20DD), or 'ideographic number zero' (0x3007) which are otherwise indistinguishable to the eye. But that depends on your operating system and font setup—nothing here but contingency and choice. Where do numbered characters meet end users? Which fonts deliver which circular counters? If these are the zeros, where are the ones? Who’s up for checking astral planes for missing characters? What percentage is in Korean? SVG anyone? At any rate, should you want to display the titular glyph online, it’s best to encode the character with either ◯ or ◯ in HTML (e.g. '◯') to ensure maximum compatibility.—Danny Snelson
Tom Comitta is a genius... I love his work so much.—Bhanu Kapil