Word Clouds were first conceived by Coupland for inclusion in his 1995 novel Microserfs, which was set in Redmond, Washington State’s Microsoft campus, and in Silicon Valley. These text-based works are the artist’s visual representation of “what a computer’s dream would look like.” These early examples of weighted lists or tag clouds emphasize text by its increased font size, offering a type of free association between seemingly unrelated words and phrases that allows the reader to draw their own connections. Word clouds became popular in advertising in the late 2000s, particularly in technology magazines such as Wired, where the artist worked in the early 1990s.
As a writer and visual artist, Coupland has often disregarded the traditional divide between these disciplines. Using letters, words and books as material and content for his art, Coupland harnesses the power of language in the visual realm.