In this collaborative poem Geniwate takes a relatively simple interface and page space designed by Stefans and makes it powerfully political. The audio recording of a reporter telling the story of surviving an RPG attack in Iraq, along with a photograph with a large drop of blood on the lens, make for a chilling backdrop for the poem. With this frame of reference set, the poem is presented as a stack of words at the base of five columns, which the reader can position by placing the mouse on the base of a column until it reaches the desired height on the screen. It takes some time to place and read the words on each column (which are readable both vertically and horizontally), which allows the looping audio clip and changing hues on the image clip to sink in for a visceral experience.
“untitled(to reconstruct)” by Jason Nelson and Jody Zellen
This collaborative poem places the same text Jody Zellen wrote for “Cut to the Flesh” into a page space designed by Jason Nelson (originally for “Branch/Branch” and “A Tree with Managers and Jittery Boats”). This tree structure is a fascinating way to organize lines of verse because it creates multiple possible readings as the reader opens up branches in the hierarchy. Its cascading effect is reminiscent of William Carlos Williams’ variable foot, richly analyzed by Eleanor Berry and many others as follows:
The variable foot has been taken as (1) a temporal unit, each step of a triadic line being equal in duration to every other (Donoghue, Weatherhead, Breslin); (2) a stress-based unit, each step of a triadic line containing a single major stress (Duncan, Hedges); (3) a syntactical unit, each step of a triadic line being a single complete phrase or clause (Solt, Hofstadter); (4) a unit of meaning or attention (Goodman, Hofstadter); (5) a unit of phrasing in reading, the triadic lineation constituting a score for performance (Wagner); and (6) a visual unit (Shapiro, Perloff, Sayre, Cushman).
“Clippings” by Jason Nelson and Pedro Valdeomillos
This collaborative narrative was written by Valdeomillos on a page space developed by Jason Nelson for his poems “Dreamaphage” (the first version) and “Between Treacherous Objects.” This space creates spatial layers with an intuitive navigational interface that allows readers to pan, scan, and move back and forth through layers each of which reveals a portion of the narrative, which is structured by a conversation about memory, photography, past, present, and how much you might know someone that you love. The images, textual arrangements, and layers create clusters of spatially organized language that gesture towards poetry with its lines of verse and stanzas.
Take a look at Jason Nelson’s poems built from this engine and notice how their structure is so different from how Valdeomillos arranges his narrative in this piece, attesting to the versatility of Nelson’s page space.
“Biggz” by Loss Pequeño Glazier and Simon Biggs
“Pause” by Jody Zellen
This visual work could be seen as a kind of visual poem, scroll drawing, or webcomic strip. Seemingly the result of tracing or drawing by hand on thin paper, the piece has two layers of drawing: one layer is presented at the beginning of the piece for a few seconds before it fades into an opacity that mimics ink shining through from the other side of thin caliper paper. To add complexity, the work seems to be created on a long strip exposed to view partially through a scrolling mechanism we cannot control and which goes by at a rate that is challenging to keep up with. Zellen acknowledges this desire for control by pausing the scrolling just for a moment and briefly bringing up the word “pause” before continuing the rapidly scheduled presentation of the work.
This mechanism enhances the reception of the content, which seems highly political and news-based. Words and phrases like “do-over,” “some think new name” and “jump-off” (juxtaposed with an image of a globe) and the shadowy image of a man in a pose made famous by Richard Nixon suggest that there is no pause in the relentless march of time.
“All the News that’s Fit to Print” by Jody Zellen
This generated poem takes a deceptively simple concept and executes it beautifully. It harvests headlines and cover images from the New York Times published between 2005 and 2006 and randomly combines them to create a mock cover. This juxtaposition of text and images re-contextualizes both to create an incisive and occasionally humorous comment on the content of news coverage at this time in American history. Because the images refresh every 6 seconds, the sequence created between headlines form a kind of poetic text, a layering of lines over time that forms fascinating streams of compressed, verse-like texts. By providing images of the front page of the NY Times, she reminds us of the original context, which we are now predisposed to read with ironic detachment.
“Inanimate Alice Episode #3: Russia” by Kate Pullinger and Chris Joseph
This is a work of fiction told in verse, cinematically, and with video games about the coming of age of a girl named Alice. This novel— self-consciously labelled as such to evoke the original meaning of the term: a new genre— reinvents the genre in digital media for a generation portrayed through Alice.
“Between Treacherous Objects” by Jason Nelson
This sequence of poems arranged on three dimensional environments explore conceptual spaces between words. Each poem begins with a sequence of two words which are then represented pictorially on a virtual space, one in the front and another at the end of an open 3D tunnel, similar to the first version of Dreamaphage. As the reader navigates the diverse, visually engaging, and occasionally dizzying environments she encounters poetic texts, e-mail addresses, and passwords that provide access to short videos.
If you feel a bit lost in these spaces, remember the words at the beginning of each section: they are your cardinal points and won’t betray you. And if they do, wasn’t this foreshadowed by the title?
“Five by Five” by Dan Waber and Jason Pimble
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.
“You’re lying and you filter…” by Paul Bogaert
Between the disciplined dress, posture, and hair of the women taking dictation and the speaker’s tighly controlled voice as he savors every line, word, syllable, and phoneme in this video, this poem seems to be inspired by Michel Foucault’s writings. The video is built from short looping clips from a 1942 film titled “Nursing: Your Life’s Work” in which nurses are taking their board examinations to be certified. The voice of Simon Shrimpton-Smith reads the lines of the poem with great gusto, and when juxtaposed with the images, makes it seem like the women are taking dictation on what seems to be a legal case. The frames of reference evoked by the images and legal language make stimulating clashes with choice words and phrases sprinkled throughout the poem that evoke completely different frames of reference. The repetitions of images and language underscore the word choices, their phonetic qualities, enhancing their cognitive and poetic impact.
Featured in ELO 2012 Media Art Show