. . . the dragon, seeing itself cornered, has slipped from real
to configurational space . . .
Stanislaw Lem, The Cyberiad
Why do the poets of the present not speak of it?
Richard P. Feynman
My world [—and yours—and yours?], my architectures, my memory technologies, my flows, my histories, indelibly marked by 20th and 21st century re-understandings of spacetime and quantum behavior, without which no electronics, no view of the cosmic nor the nano, none of those shifting yet stable deduced realities, quantal, genetic . . . . Why do the poets of the present not speak of it?
Conflicts of digital and analog bang in my mind, or spiral to meet, perhaps to change, Rig Vedic myth and music theory. What is creation myth in an horizon-bounded universe of necessary not-knowing? Does understanding go to content or to protocol? Is the path from dome to dish, using gravity differently, part of the path that built a dome—or something else?
Writing in quipu is a credible form of digital simulation: the idea of writing itself as more than, as a different kind of memory technology, inflected by moment—what kind of writing is that? More MOO, more Wiki, more Second Life, more bloggish social network? More Sun Ra?
Several of my hypermedia poems approach similar issues using different modalites. From earliest to latest:
1-The Ballad of Sand and Harry Soot www.wordcircuits.com/gallery/sandsoot/
I wrote about this poem in Seven Reasons Why Sandsoot Is the Way It Is
The work exists in both print and digital forms. The print form won the Boston Review prize. On pg. 98, http://bostonreview.net/BR24.5/issue.pdf one can read Heather McHugh’s several-paragraph citation and description of the print work, beginning: “A very odd love song, constructed around the figures of Sand and Soot….”
Jaishree Odin has written a 16-page paper about the Web version
“Reading the print version is a totally different experience from reading the hypermedia work . . . The images move into many web spaces: algorithmic art, webcams, scale-inversion experiments, hyperbolic geometry, robot wisdom/AI, digital sand etchings and so on. The migration from print format to the electronic environment decenters the text and sets in motion diverging series of readings, which only exist by the return of the others.”
2-Errand Upon Which We Came
http://califia.us/Errand/title1a.htm with M.D. Coverley [Flash player required]
A small piece that investigates reading movement and watching text. John Zuern, on an upcoming
SLSA panel www.slsa07.com/proposals.html#panelsubs submitted by Arielle
Saiber, Code Dynamics: Reading Movement, Watching Text: Ten Years of
E-Poetry Co-Authored by Stephanie Strickland, suggests that “the multimodal poems Stephanie Strickland has created in collaboration with designers and programmers, in particular Errand Upon Which We Came (with M.D. Coverley) and Vniverse (with Cynthia Lawson), rearticulate Zeno’s metaphilosophical challenges within the digital medium and in the domain of ethics and contemporary cultural politics.”
http://vniverse.com, a collaboration with Cynthia Lawson Jaramillo [Shockwave player required]
Ice Age nomads made the stars their clock, calendar, and map by processes we can only re-imagine. The Vniverse is part of the larger poem V, distributed across a double invertible print volume,
V: WaveSon.nets/Losing L’una (Penguin) and two online locations [vniverse and Errand]. Since V analogizes the role of nomadic peoples of the Ice Age to nomadic peoples of the Information Age, acts of migrating back and forth between its forms are envisioned as the location for reading.
The Vniverse, like the night sky, is a continuous present in which readers trace their own path. It does not offer an immediate response to a reader’s presence; it is she who has to choose to “read the stars,” an act that involves sweeping the hand, clicking, tracing without clicking, doubleclicking, number entry, toggling, and pressing ‘next’ to activate many implicit time-scales: the time of emergence, the time of cross-layer existence between dissolving and emerging, the time of reading forward in the same constellation. The play-read process is an iterative one. Iterative processes of return overwhelm individual differences in sampling, just as years of sky observation yield recognizable cycles or significant conjunctions. Extinction, as much as production, is to be read.
4-s l i p p i n g g l i m p s e
http://slippingglimpse.org with Cynthia Lawson Jaramillo and Paul Ryan [Flash player required]
In s l i p p i n g g l i m p s e, the water reads the poem text; in turn, the poem text reads image/capture technologies; and, completing the loop, image capture videography reads the water—in particular, reading for chreods, mathematical patterns by which dynamical systems return to their same flow.
The poem’s text specifically samples and recombines words of artists who describe their use of programming techniques or their photo-based experimental work. It then verges into older technologies such as the capture of plants for food and flax for paper. s l i p p i n g g l i m p s e raises issues of the non-human reader (both the computer processor and the water). Regeneration of the screen returns random words, at random sizes, from the poem text at locations fully determined by the water’s motion, as if its motions were eyes scanning the text, bringing it along.
In one possible view, a slider scrolls the poem text either up or down at varying speeds, or pauses it, in conjunction with high-resolution video, thereby enabling several experiences of co-reading: 1-simultaneous reading and watching; 2-reading in concert with the non-human reader, the water; 3-reading and/or reading yourself reading the water reading [the position of the scientist]; and 4-reader-specific multiple perceptions of movement vs. static text. Two purely video views additionally permit “brink” and decipherment and wholly graphic approaches to the poem’s words.
Perhaps also of interest, an overview essay, Writing the Virtual: Eleven Dimensions of E-Poetry