Curator, Leah Dickerman: The Italian Futurists wanted to create an art that took modern life on. They were fascinated with machines, their speed, their roar, and with the barrage of sensory stimulation that came with modernity and crowds. They had a keen sense that this new world demanded new language. And they wrote manifestos by the dozens.
They also invented a new poetic genre that they called parole in libertà—words in freedom. The parole in liberta stand as a hybrid of drawing and writing and sound. They do away with the orderly rows of type that you see normally in a book. They reject most forms of punctuation, and the rules of grammar. They're emphasizing sound and sensation over meaning.
Curator, Ann Temkin: Perhaps the most prominent spokesperson for the Futurists was Filippo Tommaso Marinetti.
Leah Dickerman: Marinetti related this new poetic form to modern life itself, to new ways of disseminating information, like the radio, telegraph, newspaper and billboards.
His first published collection of parole in liberta was Zang Tumb Tumb. The subject of Zang Tumb Tumb is the experience of war. The poem is an effort to capture the noise and the chaos and the mechanics of battle. Marinetti spoke of trying to render the experience economically, to get this all on one page.
Marinetti published Zang Tumb Tumb as a book form, but only after following an entire year in which he declaimed this poetry in front of an audience across Europe. So the book and performance were joined together.