Note: This poem was revised, renamed, and republished as “Sydney’s Siberia” in Heliozoa.com.
Jason Nelson’s talent for creating idiosyncratic interfaces to shape his works is evident in this image-driven hypertext poem. The red box allows you to select a portion of the image and zoom in to reveal a pixellated version of the selection that looks like a mosaic (see below).
This three part work showcases Malloy’s finely honed craft as a poet, storyteller, and creator of hypertexts. Each part of the poem is divided into one, two, three, or ten frames each with a different background and text color, and each refreshing on different time intervals. This creates a multiple reading paths for readers to either attempt to read each frame in isolation, or to go back and forth from different frames, perhaps replicating the experience of painting a landscape while thinking about something else.
The Sierra Nevada mountain range and its nature are central to this poem, which contains history, literature, art history, and characters who meet and form lasting or fleeting relationships. People from all over the world come together in these mountains, leaving traces of their path in paintings, music, writing, and family, but also encountering those who are attracted to that natural setting.
I suggest you get a feel for each part of the poem, shifting strategies as needed to best appreciate the visual layout for each section, but eventually focusing your attention on a storyline, and another, and another.
Afeeld is a collection of playable intermedia and concrete art compositions that exist in the space between poetry and videogames.
One cannot do better in defining this collection of whimsically hip works by Liszkiewicz, a 2011 graduate of the M.F.A. in Media Arts Production from SUNY Buffalo (home to the Electronic Poetry Center). I will briefly comment on its different parts, each of which has its own look and feeld:
“Alphabet Man” is a sequence of 12 images built from letters of the alphabet, featuring the adventures of the iconic Alphabet Man as he explores the materials of writing (letters) in order to create new structures, some of which could be considered words.
“Feeldwork” presents the reader with 6 visual fields composed of letters, words, and characters, which respond to mouseovers and clicks to produce new words and meanings.
“Count as One” is a fascinating set of 15 drawing/writing tools, which invite the reader to click on the screen multiple times to create a work of letter art which the reader can save. The most interesting aspect about this work is the insight it provides on the psychogeography of the screen, shaping our interaction as a kind of dérive. Do several (or all) the pieces and think about how the graphical information he provides on each piece shapes where you click on the screen.
In “Concrete Games,” Liszkiewicz continues to transform our awareness of our screen interaction by using the visual structure and game dynamics of two videogames, Minesweeper and Asteroids, to guide us towards different types of artistic composition and play.
The provocatively titled work “This is Visual Poetry” makes very little use of language and doesn’t look like what most people would define as poetry because it is the result of “glitches created and controlled with computer game software.” You be the judge…
“Coda: I/O” presents the output of some of the above mentioned works, and are the result of an interaction and process rather than the process itself.
This generative poem is built from “spam, code, thesis work, and a little bit of language’s heart.” Each part of the poem is organized into three strophes: the first one uses a larger font, the second one consists of a single word, and the third uses three words. Upon opening the poem, the first strophe is selected randomly from a dataset, after which it begins a sequence that reads coherently from one textual generation to the next. The second and third strophes are always independently randomly selected from their datasets, creating new textual combinations with the constant sequence in the first strophe.
This deceptively simple poem contains a limited number of verses scheduled to change from one to the next so rapidly that all but the unchanging final line is unreadable, unless you click and hold the mouse button, which stops the text. That is all the control one has, basically allowing random access to the verses. Fortunately for those who value closure, this is not a combinatorial work at the level of the line (which would probably create more permutations than could be read in a lifetime of clicking), but at the level of accessing the verses, which don’t seem like they have a meaningful sequence and progression. In other words, one can click on the poem enough times to get access to all or most of the verses and formulate a sense of what Jhave is trying to say with the poem.
In a move that echoes Magritte’s famous painting “The Treachery of Images” (see below), Bigelow uses a very traditional poem (“Trees” by Joyce Kilmer) to draw attention to the impact of media on a poem. Magritte’s realistic depiction of a pipe juxtaposed with the seemingly paradoxical statement “This is is not a pipe” led audiences to realize that they were looking at oil paint on canvas, a representation of a pipe, which is much different from a real pipe (try smoking it).
This piece takes us inside the brain and mind of a speaker in the midst of a nervous breakdown. Bigelow roughly maps the initial four parts of the poem on a superior view of a human brain: “My Brain Is” on the frontal lobes, “What My Therapist Said” on the parietal lobes, “The Metaphor Room” on the temporal lobes, and “How to Dream a Suicide” on the occipital lobes. The final section (verse? movement?) focuses on different types of treatment: religion, medication, therapy, and exercise.
When you encounter work by Mez, the first thing that jumps out is her idiosyncratic use of language, which she calls “mezangelle” and I can describe as a mixture of code, English, ASCII art, and phonetic and rebus writing. You don’t need to be able to read code to understand her writing, but it helps to recognize its basic structure, components, and conventions.For example, the image above uses HTML tagging system to invent codes such as <tremor> <fracture> and <polymer>, organized visually with convention used for tables and lists, and concluding what seems like a painful moment by closing the tags </polymer>, </fracture>, </tremor>.Mez has been drawing attention to language in digital environments since the mid 1990s and while her first-generation digital objects are humble text files distributed through listservs, blogs, and social media, they contain code designed to run in the most flexible processors available: human brains.Featured in Electronic Literature Collection, Volume 2.