Who or what is David “Jhave” Johnston? He is a digital media artist and poet, certainly, but what exactly is “he?” William David Johnston is a human being, that is a biological, social, legal, (and spiritual?) entity— the kind Auden wrote about in “The Unknown Citizen”). He is also an artist that adopted a nom d’ordinateur, “Jhave,” whose artistic techniques are codified in the digital tools he creates or appropriates, blurring the boundaries between human and machine to the extent we could call him a cyborg. But aren’t we all? “Sound Seeker” is a record of how David Jhave Johnston develops as a cyborg artist and poet.
“Soundseeker” is several things: a Flash tool created by Jhave to synchronize text to sound, a blog that documents the development and fine-tuning of the tool and its interfaces, a blog documentation of an independent study Jhave did “with the guidance and input of Jason Lewis of OBX Labs at Concordia University, Fall 2008,” and it’s a collection of 12 poetic sketches— thinking through writing with these technologies.
“Glider – Language as Life” (above) schedules aphoristic lines of poetry synchronized to the tune of a minimalist soundtrack, juxtaposing it with videos of a pond and insects that can run on water without breaking its surface tension. Is Jhave suggesting that he is merely gliding on the surface of a poetic field with depths have yet to be explored?
In poems like “plife” Jhave used a 3D digital sculpting tool called Mudbox to imbue words with greater physicality than having them cast shadows like the other objects in a video. These words have an almost organic plasticity as they grow into something more than what they mean.
There is so much more to be said about this collection, but I leave it up to you to explore. To see such a virtuoso cyborg artist and poet at play is a reward in and of itself.
From January to May 2008, Jhave produced a series of 30 sketches, experiments in motion photography, usually involving water, in which he tests out different ways of juxtaposing and superposing his poetic texts with video clips. Published as a blog, Jhave describes the project in the about page as:
I am making a film about god shot on location in my bathroom.
This site chronicles the various screen tests made during production. It is a list of online digital-poetic experiments with source code posted (as often as i get time) that will document the evolution of discrete programming and aesthetic techniques and diverse tangents as they arise in my art practice.
During those six months, these sketches document his exploration of kaleidoscope photography, liquids of different viscosities, different interfaces, textual pacing, animation, positioning, and use of Flash effects and much more. The first one, “Kaleidoscope Study #1” explores multiple videos of water (with and without objects) as a background for scheduled unrhyming couplets.
The default display for this series of “THOught-poEMS” is a looped linear sequence of stanzas displayed in randomized fonts hovering in random positions over randomized video clips, while a cluster of words flock towards the pointer’s location on the text. Jhave provides the reader with control over several variables: videos, font, position, and gives him the ability to toggle, play, or pause the presence of text, video, flocking words, and sound. Finally, the reader can choose to see the video singly or doubled with a mirror image of itself.
This “tiny tale of tourism between bodies” is a poetic narrative about an alien being that teleports into a human body and what ensues. This poem is structured into 123 lines and 121 background images with titles, and allows readers to play through the work on a fairly rapid schedule or use arrows to navigate from line to line, image to image. Clicking on the screen repositions the text, which may allow readers to move the text to a more readable space on the photograph, but otherwise doesn’t seem to contribute much to the content.
From April 1, 2000 to April 1 2001, David Jhave Johnston launched his career as a digital poet with a year of poetry experiments using Flash. Titled “Nomad Lingo,” he published several e-poems every month— producing a treasure trove of works that attest to his raw talent, whimsical style, and the ability to create a lyrical voice through lines that are both sensuous and theoretically engaging.
Note: “Root,” “Soul,” and “Snow” are part of a suite of 6 love poems titled “Sooth” by David Jhave Johnston that use the same interface, each of which has its own tone and strategies. In order to best represent them, I will write a posting on poems in this suite each day, starting on February 12 and concluding on Valentine’s Day 2012.
Note: “Weeds” and “Body” are part of a suite of 6 love poems titled “Sooth” that use the same interface, each of which has its own tone and strategies. In order to best represent them, I will write a posting on poems in this suite each day, starting on February 12 and concluding on Valentine’s Day 2012.
Note: “Sooth” is a suite of 6 love poems that use the same interface, each of which has its own tone and strategies. In order to best represent them, I will write a posting on poems in this suite each day, starting on February 12 and concluding on Valentine’s Day 2012.