Atom Born Beings

1962 – 1963

24.8 x 30 x 25.4 cm

Letraset on painted metal drum, plastic, painted metal, motor.

Words taken from a poem by Nazli Nour.

Altered in 1963 or later – changed from box to a lighter frame of plastic discs and metal rods.

Private Collection

Photographs by Richard Wilding 2014


“The word accelerated loses its identity and becomes a pattern pregnant with energy. It is pregnant with the energy of its potential meaning should it once again become a word.” Liliane Lijn, 1968

In 1962, Lijn Letrasetted words onto the surface of cylinders and cones, then fixed them to motorised turntables, and made them spin at different speeds. She wanted the word to be seen in movement, dissolving into a pure vibration until it became the energy of sound.

When Lijn puts words on cylinders and cones and makes Poem Machines, she wants the word to be seen in movement splitting itself into a pure vibration until it becomes the energy of sound.

These were the first in a series of works with text and Lijn called them Poem Machines because she made them to give power back to a depleted language.