Artwork from ASCII Art Dictionary (possibly 1999).
This is the second in a three-part series to be published on Rhizome. The first part, exploring the history of the emoticon, can be found here. The final installment (forthcoming) will explore the history of the emoji.
Following in the footsteps of Baudelaire—and paving the way for the Surrealists and the French New Wave—early 20th-century artist Guillaume Apollinaire cultivated a cerebral taste for the most sensational elements of modern life. A poet by calling and a publicist by trade, Apollinaire seized on the outrageous whether he found it in the avant-garde (he coined the term "Cubism" in praise of early paintings by Braque and Picasso) or mass culture (he called the serialized tales of fictional super-villain Fantômas "one of the richest works that exist.") Apollinaire’s poetry fed on the chaos of Paris in the early 1900s. Take this representative passage from 1909’s "Zone":