Using frames, pop-up windows, animated GIFs, error codes, forms, and pop up menus, this suite of 10 short e-poems written between 1998-2000 by Vietnamese poet Duc Thuan are a snapshot of the pre-2000 Web and its concerns. The interface is minimalist, evoking the title, and the works themselves are simple to operate yet their content suggests an ironic relation to the title. From the opening, Thuan establishes an aesthetic of code and malfunctioning in “Crash,” an idea explored throughout the suite in poems like “The Hidden and the Shown,” “Interact,” and “Interact.” “Imaguage of Consciousness” accompanies images of Web advertising banners along with jarringly loud music to warn us of directions we should avoid. The final poem “Diary of a Drunkard I Only Met Once” uses the simple interface of nested menus to organize a poem in way that provide multliple reading possibilities and stanzas embedded within lines, something evocative of Jim Rosenberg’s work.
These are deceptively simple works, worthy of focused attention to appreciate their complexities.