Artists’ Books based on Digital Poetry
How to describe and understand the aspect of the literature in the new media? Janez Strehovec suggests a new terminological unit, the “word-image-body-movement”. It connects the verbal context with a visual-perceptive, material-tangible and a dynamic appearance of the textuality in the new media. Such terminological hybrid of course calls for an interdisciplinary methodology.
Methodological convenient might be a comparison with the theater, as in Roman Ingarden’s theory of the literature-aesthetic experience. Text is in the theater enriched with the physical presence of actors, scenography, costumography and other visual resources. Consequently Ingarden defines it as “a not-completely literature”, as a “path toward visual arts”. 80 years later e-literature interferes also with the theories of visual communication, body art and performance, interactive installations, animation, cinematography and video.
Automated poetry, Enzensberger’s Poesie-Automat (1974, 2000) for example, is a problem to read, because the structure inside the quasi-verses and quasi-poems is too chaotic. SPAM sonnets dismiss this problem in an original way: the subjects of junk mails are simultaneously reasonable “authorial” statements and readymades. It sufficiently consolidates the new media verse, successfully preventing irruption of absurdity. Although the visual arrangement of strophes is the only sonnetic element in SPAM sonnets, it sufficiently evokes the tradition of this poetic form.
The research of new media sonnet continues on a different technological platform. Project in the real time collects titles from Internet news sites and arranges them in a sonnetic form. Each “strophe” links to corresponding news, but when going over with the mouse, the strophe “bangs” into user (enlarges over the whole screen). Sensation of reading News sonnets is pretty unusual, because they draw into user’s senses the realistic contributor – the current news. This fundamentally changes the time dimension of poetry reading: while traditionally deliberate and quietened, in News sonnets it applicates something actual and/or momentarily.
This project opens the spatial dimension of poetry. The author of the traditional poetry is in time and space distant from the reader and can’t intervene into the reading. As a consequence of the swift travel of digital information, SMS sonnets radically change this situation, because now Three different roles appear In the communication system of the project. Passengers on city buses independently from this project send arbitrary messages to the screens, mounted on buses. The Internet user composes a new sonnet from 15 of the last 500 sent messages. And the third role is of course those of the author, the initiator and constructor of this system for a multi-user poetry production. Displayed messages are dispersed over the lines of the city buses, while is the Internet user (the “poet”) excluded from the physical space (can be on any location connected to Internet).
SMS sonnets are “real” sonnets – they are not machine generated. Each stroke has its (signed) author, responsible for the quality of the poem. The system enables “ambient” for “poetical” construction from passengers’s messages. In this ambient are passengers on buses enabled to reply to sonnets, as they are created by the user of the platform. But an even more exciting dimension of this ambient is the possibility to “hack” it: user can send his own 15 messages to the system and make a sonnet from them.