Francesco Levato

Bela Lugosi’s Dead: An Excerpt from SCARLET





Artist’s Statement

SCARLET began as a digital visual/poetic meditation on the psychological and physical toll of social isolation during the COVID-19 lockdown. The project has since evolved to document the social, political, and personal disruption of the pandemic as we move through its various mutations and surges.

 The digital/visual poems are created through erasure of the novel The Scarlet Plague, by Jack London, collaged with glitched imagery from everyday life during the pandemic. The titles of poems in the series are then derived from objects contained in each glitched still life.

 Glitching is a technique that introduces errors into the code of a digital file or stream that distorts its presentation. The error-induced fracturing of images in SCARLET is intended to defamiliarize everyday objects and surroundings to reflect the psyche under the constant stress of the pandemic.

 The Scarlet Plague is a post-apocalyptic novel, published in 1912, set in California during the year 2073, after the world’s population is decimated by an uncontrollable pandemic.




Francesco Levato is a poet, translator, and new media artist. Recent books include Arsenal/Sin DocumentosEndless, Beautiful, Exact; and Elegy for Dead Languages. He holds an MFA in Poetry, a PhD in English Studies, and is an Associate Professor of Literature & Writing Studies at California State University San Marcos.