This minimalist poem hovers right on the edge of being an art piece, because each of its 50 environments offers a different mouse-driven (aimed?) interface and music. The four words positioned on the screen’s cardinal points create a space amid them that is both conceptual and a canvas. What is the relation between words positioned in opposite spaces? How do they relate to the title to each section? How do the sound and animation relate to the words and title? Clicking on the words lead to another node in this wondrously strange hypertext… This intriguing art poem is highly entertaining, as long as you can abandon thoughts of meaning and simply enjoy playing with the piece.
This minimalist poem is right on the verge of being a piece of art, since each of its 50 environments offers a different interface and music (driven by the “mouse”). The four words placed on the cardinal points of the screen create a space between them that is conceptual and a canvas. What is the relationship between words positioned in opposite spaces? How do they relate to the title of each section? How do sound and animation relate to words and title? Clicking on the words leads to another node in this marvelously strange hypertext … This intriguing art poem is very entertaining, as long as you can give up thoughts of meaning and just enjoy playing with the piece.
This suite of poems were created from speech to text software listening to different kinds of audio— movies, talk radio, television, and political speeches— and a poetic shaping of the output from that computer operation. This ingenious approach produces some fascinating poems which you might label as “Conceptual writing” or “Flarf poetry” (flip a coin). Part of the interest of this method and its results is how different is the texture of the language produced:
The (mostly) still video of a staircase over which the menu/submenu structure of the poem unfolds is a visual representation of the concept Jason Nelson is exploring with this poem. How can the poetic line be structured around the concept of interior menus and submenus? Does it correspond to a stanza, or are the relations less clearly defined? Jeremy Douglass used this structure to shape a narrative poem, elaborating on details within each subfolder, but Nelson’s structure is more exploratory in its use of submenus for lines.
Based on television footage from Jason Nelson’s childhood in the 1980s, such as Frankenstein reruns, news coverage of President Reagan, ads for Pacman pasta, bubble gum, and dinoriders, this series of narratives and poems are structured on graphs that are as absurd as the footage itself. The graphs and their accompanying narrative and poetic texts chronicle the rise and fall of characters, a President, secret organizations, and the physical and mental health of gum chewers. Characteristically witty and incisive, Nelson’s writing thrives as a Postmodern critique of culture and politics. At the same time, there is a personal touch to his work, as we can reconstruct aspects of his childhood through the video clips, all evidence of the electronic and physical toys (and their power sources), film and food, and a link to politics and the Cold War— with the terrifying specter of nuclear war hovering over it all. With that in mind, read carefully Nelson’s word choices throughout this work to discover a subtext more poignant than snarky commentary.
The third in a sequence of incisive poetry art games, this poem uses a labyrinth interface for the reader/player to navigate the surface of ten different texts presented as evidence of everything exploding. These texts are as varied as they are absurd— including a Dada manifesto, a letter from a young Fidel Castro and another from Bill Gates, the patent for a special kind of box, a NASA flight plan, etc. — and the game maze built on them highlights and comments on them in Nelson’s characteristically humorous poetic style. Completion of each level is rewarded by an odd little video in which a speaker shows and discusses the contents of a matchbook collection. Explosions are obviously a central theme in this poem as reaching every target in the maze reveals new texts after startlingly loud detonations. This idea is also applied to texts, blasted open to reveal their internal politics, implied messages, and ironies.
This poetry game is a sequel (of sorts) to his popular “game, game, game and again game,” this time focusing his satirical voice on popular Internet sites. His strategy is reminiscent of Tom Phillips’ famous artist book A Humument, because Nelson is inscribing on the surface of these websites to create games that critique and invite reflection upon their content, politics, and curating/filtering strategies. The platform game interface allows readers to explore the heavily inscribed pages, revealing poetic texts, videos, and getting subtly unsettled by harmless game “threats,” teleports, and amusing non-sequiturs. The title and the dynamics of the game poem itself engage the adversarial rhetoric of player vs. game (designer) and reader (and critic) vs. poet, particularly the perception that the goal is to win/understand the game/poem. My advice is to let go of those preconceptions and simply experience the work.
The energy of the looped music clip and the whimsically tactile image of its title set the tone for a poem (or 43 quintillion poems) composed of lines about human relationships, spaces in buildings, medical procedures, books, computers, and more.
This set of six thematically linked poems revolve around appliances and obsessions about the body. From the outset, the Nelson seeks to unsettle the reader by taking a medieval, religious kind of image and placing it over a layer of what seems to be digital static, while a couple of soft audio tracks play: one a barely audible person speaking, and a throaty voice repeating “I will eat you.” As the reader explores this surface and clicks on links to go to the poems, she will be unsettled further by entering environments that respond to their presence in various ways. There is a learning curve for each poem as the reader figures out the interface enough to be able to read the texts, which increases the exposure to the environments Nelson has crafted for each short poem.
As you progress through the sequence, think about the use of the word “appliances” in the title, thinking about some of the lesser known aspects of its definition. Also, just read the title out loud.
This series of spatially combinatorial poems are built by arranging words on a five by five three-dimensional grid, using the same engine as in “I, You, We.” Readers can manipulate the object in several ways, zooming in and out and rotating the cube to allow certain phrases to come to the foreground and be read. There is always a word around which the rest of the cube rotates, giving it special meaning within the potential phrases the cube can produce.