Radikal Karaoke by Belén Gache

 

Open 'Radikal Karaoke' by Belén Gache
Open ‘Radikal Karaoke‘ by Belén Gache

Radikal Karaoke, by Argentine author Belén Gache, is an online piece combining text, still and moving images, sound files and user-activated effects. In this work, the reader-user is invited to read out loud poems composed of fragments of political discourses, at the same time as activating a series of videos and special effects. Gache describes Radikal Karaoke as a ‘conjunto de poesías que se apropian de la retórica de la propaganda política’ [‘collection of poems that appropriate the rhetoric of political propaganda’], but the notion here of ‘poetry collection’ is not in the conventional sense of a printed text that brings together several individual poems under into one volume. Instead, the ‘conjunto’ refers to the very creative process of the poetry itself, since the poems are composed of the re-mixing and re-combinations of found texts.

Belén Gache is one of the leading authors of experimental fiction in the Hispanic world, and has published to date a variety of literary works, both print and electronic, that engage in experimental practice. Her oeuvre is frequently characterized by an intertextual play with pre-existing literary genres, authors and texts, set in a creative dynamic with digital technologies, and Radikal Karaoke is no exception.

Radikal Karaoke opens on an interactive interface that displays, in the main part of the screen, a video in black and white which shows rows of spectators, applauding, set on a continuous loop and speeded up. Beneath the video lies the control panel of the work, consisting of firstly a row of buttons each identified with letters, and, beneath these, the lines of text we are invited to read.

In this work the user has to take on an active role in the execution of the poetry, both through our reading of the text out loud (as in karaoke), and through the activation of the visual poetry of this work. The visual poetry is created by the reader-user as s/he presses the various keys of the control panel, some of which produce modifications in the video in the main screen, changing its colour or speed, and others change the video file completely, and replace it with a new moving image.

Gache’s insistence on the ‘retórica de la propaganda política’ clearly indicates that her poetic endeavour has an ideological stance, and she encourages us to deconstruct the empty discourses of political rhetoric by means of parody, and through the shock contrast of sound, image and text. The videos function as a sort of meta-poetic commentary that makes us question the text that we read out, and interrogate political rhetoric, the powers of large corporations, and the indiscriminate consumption of social media.

But it is, perhaps, the very last button of Gache’s control panel –button V7 – which turns out to be the most shocking and disturbing for the reader-user. For, after having passed through a series of videos showing slaves, aliens, and cybernetic entities in thrall to the neoliberal system, the final button shows us… well, try it out for yourself, and see how you are implicated in this video.

 

“Eveline, fragmentos de una respuesta” by Marina Zerbarini

Open "Eveline, fragmentos de una respuesta" by Marina Zerbarini
Open “Eveline, fragmentos de una respuesta” by Marina Zerbarini

Eveline, fragmentos de una respuesta [Eveline, Fragments of a Reply] (2004) is a hypertext narrative by Argentine author Marina Zerbarini. It takes its inspiration from two short stories by James Joyce – ‘Eveline’, and ‘A Painful Case’ (1914) – which Zerbarini uses as a springboard for creating a multimedia narrative that brings together photographic images, videos, animations and sound files. Marina Zerbarini, is a leading digital artist from Argentina who has worked across several media, including photography, painting, objects and installation art for some decades, and whose electronic works include some that fall into the e-lit category, whilst others are more properly net art. She created this work in Macromedia Flash, using the ActionScript programming language. Each time we open Eveline, fragmentos de una respuesta different interfaces are loaded, these ranging from bleached-out images of sheets, to extreme close-up photographs of part of a human face or hand, with the image pixelated such that the individual pixels are visible. The cursor takes the form of a butterfly, and, by clicking on buttons that appear across the various interfaces, we activate different content files, including images, excerpts of text, and sound files (these latter containing excerpts mostly of electronic or orchestral music).

Butterfly cursor over pixelated close-up in Eveline, fragmentos de una respuesta
Butterfly cursor over pixelated close-up in Eveline, fragmentos de una respuesta

The chronological order of the files is not pre-set, and instead, the reader has to piece together the story from multiple stimuli, as s/he reads disparate blocks of lexia, views images, watches videos, and listens to sounds. The two source texts which are the inspiration for this work provide clues as to its possible interpretation. In Joyce’s original short stories, endings are unexpected, and questions left unanswered; in Zerbarini’s narrative, this sense of uncertainty, and of searching for meaning, is re-enacted procedurally, as the reader has to undertake a journey through these multiple sources to piece together the narrative. But more than just a re-telling of Joyce, Zerbarini’s narrative invites us to explore the nature of hypertext narrative and our embodied relationship to it as reader. The foregrounding of the human body through the extreme close-ups means that we have to think through our own affective relationship to the work as we navigate it. And yet… through the overt pixelation, Zerbarini makes us question our own status as human. Is it perhaps our possible transformation into cyborgs as we engage with electronic literature that Zerbarini is encouraging us to reflect upon here?

New Contributor: Claire Taylor

I am thrilled to welcome our new contributor, Claire Taylor, who brings great expertise to enhance our coverage of Latin American electronic literature.
clairetaylorClaire Taylor is Professor of Hispanic Studies in the Department of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies at the University of Liverpool, UK. Her research specialisms include Latin American hypermedia narrative, net art, and literary blogs, with a particular interest in the works of Belén Gache, Guillermo Gómez Peña, Brian Mackern, Ricardo Miranda Zúñiga, Eduardo Navas, Marta Patricia Niño, Jaime Alejandro Rodríguez and Marina Zerbarini. Recent publications include Place and Politics in Latin America Digital Culture: Location and Latin American Net Art (New York: Routledge, 2014) and, joint-authored with Thea Pitman, Latin American Identity in Online Cultural Production (New York: Routledge, 2012).

Werner Twertzog– Back from the Dead

TwertzogBack

Werner Twertzog is back from the void of Twitter deactivation.

My recent entry on Werner Twertzog’s disappearance came a couple of weeks after his June 18 exit, announced on a tweet that I missed at the time and had no access to because upon deactivation, all of his tweets disappear from Twitter’s public interfaces and are reported as nonexistent.

Read more…

Werner Twertzog– he dead?

TwertzogProfileWayback
Internet Archive snapshot of Werner Twertzog’s Twitter page on February 27, 2015.

Werner Twertzog (@WernerTwertzog) is a persona that performs a parodic homage of German filmmaker Werner Herzog on Twitter. This humorous account does an admirable job of capturing Herzog’s voice in (necessarily) brief, aphoristic tweets that express his existentialist perspective and wry humor.

Performing a celebrity’s persona for artistic, humorous, and/or political purposes has recently become a social media trend. Some notable examples are @SlavojTweezek, @TheTweetOfGod, God (on Facebook), and Kim Kierkegaardashian. Werner Herzog’s inimitable verbal style has even been the subject of a series of YouTube videos by Ryan Iverson, such as “Werner Herzog Reads Where’s Waldo?” The Twitter account, Werner Twertzog, has been so successful that its last name has become a term (“Twertzog: To tweet (verb) or a tweet (noun) in a dark, German style that seems erudite, absurd, and possibly morbid.” see this recent interview), a hashtag #twertzog, and a day-long celebration on September 5 (see image below) in which people try to tweet like Werner Twertzog (see image below).

Read more…

“Tierra de Extracción” by Doménico Chiappe

Open "Tierra de Extracción" by Doménico Chiappe
Open “Tierra de Extracción” by Doménico Chiappe

In Tierra de Extracción (1996-2007) (ELC2), Doménico Chiappe’s first hypermedial novel, the extraction of meaning is generated via interaction and manipulation. Poetry is hidden in the fissures of the earth that slip in order to create motion in the different multimedia layers of the work. The novel is composed of 63 hypermedial chapters, each of them represented by an interactive [key] word. Similar to Hotel Minotauro (2013-2014), Tierra de Extracción is an example of interactive narrative. For instance, in one of the chapters (Mangal/Mango Tree), the reader is invited to learn how to roll a dice interactively in order to unfold the stories that lie behind each of its faces. The interaction with the dice produces an empty mise-en- scène to be fulfilled by aesthetic chance. Rolling the dice becomes the space where chance meets creation.

Read more…

American E-Poetry

usamap
Browse the United States of America category.

What is American e-poetry?

The first step towards a response is to delimit what is meant by “American.” For the purposes of this categorization, I will define it as e-literature created or co-created by authors born and/or raised in the United States of America. The focus on birth and/or national identity helps find common ground for American writers who live around the world. In a globalized world, full of digital media that encourage collaboration, national boundaries become blurred and the focus shifts towards convergent characteristics, practices, themes, and poetics.

Read more…

Algorritmos: Infopoemas by E. M. de Melo e Castro

"Algorritmos: Infopoemas" (cover) by E. M. de Melo e Castro
Open “Algorritmos: Infopoemas” by E. M. de Melo e Castro

Since 1986, besides videopoetry, E. M. de Melo e Castro worked on a series of experiments with other computer media (suportes informáticos), coined by the author as “infopoesia” [infopoetry], in which he used image editor software. Once more – and this is a fact the analysis by Jorge Luiz Antonio (2001) does not highlight – the prevailing choice of image editors at the expense of word processors reveals the visual affiliation of Castrian poetics. The infopoems’ visual animations acknowledge pixel as the primary unit of meaning, in the perspective of an infopoetic language. Some of the resulting images were published in Finitos Mais Finitos: Ficção/Ficções [Finite Plus Finite: Fiction/Fictions] (1996) and Algorritmos: Infopoemas [Algorythms: Infopoems] (1998), whose initial essay develops “a pixel poetics” and explains the amalgams created in the title. The quest for transgression, which is underlined by the book’s title (1998), is followed by the quest for formal synthesis:

Read more…

@godtributes by @deathmtn

Open "@godtributes" by @deathmtn
Open “@godtributes” by @deathmtn

Poetry is traditionally conceived as a refined, patterned and stylised language produced by skilled writers and orators. Not so for twentieth-century German philosopher Martin Heidegger. His highly influential and counter-intuitive philosophy, encapsulated in the dictum “language speaks man”, suggests that poets do not make poetry, but poetry poets. It is not a question of self-expression, but of “listening” for language’s “call”. According to Heidegger, this “call” takes us beyond the “mortal” towards the “heavenly”, “the Unknown One”, “god”. I wonder, then, what he would make of @godtributes, a charming little Twitter bot that “listens” to your tweet and “calls” it out back to you, transformed into an (ir)reverent tribute to an incidental, aleatoric deity.

Read more…

Computer Poetry by Silvestre Pestana

Open "Computer Poetry" by Silvestre Pestana
Open “Computer Poetry” by Silvestre Pestana

In the 1980s, the world saw the introduction of personal computers (PCs). While the first creative stage of electronic literature took advantage of mainframe computers, only accessible in institutional environments, the context in which Silvestre Pestana created his first computer poems was totally different – a new wave Pedro Barbosa ironically calls “poesia doméstica” [domestic poetry] (1996: 147). With personal computers, Silvestre Pestana programmed in BASIC, first for a Sinclair ZX-81, and then, already with chromatic lighting, for a Sinclair ZX Spectrum, three poems respectively dedicated to Henri Chopin, E. M. de Melo e Castro and Julian Beck, which resulted in the Computer Poetry (1981-83) series. Pestana, a visual artist, writer and performer – who had returned from the exile in Sweden after Portugal’s Carnation Revolution of April 25, 1974 – brought diverse influences put forward with photography, video, performance, and computer media. From his creative production, it should be emphasized the iconic conceptual piece Povo Novo [New People] (1975), which was remediated by the author himself in the referred series of kinetic visual poems, “video-computer-poems” (Pestana 1985: 205) or “infopoems” (Melo e Castro 1988: 57). By operating almost like TV scripts, the series oscillates between recognizable shapes – such as the oval and the larger animated Lettrist shapes, formed by the small-sized words “ovo” (egg), “povo” (people), “novo” (new), “dor” (pain) and “cor” (color) – and the reading interpretation of the words themselves: “ovo,” the unity, but also the potential; “povo,” the collective, the indistinct, the mass; “novo” and “cor/dor.” This play of relations translates the new consciousness, although painful, of a “new people” in a new historic, social and artistic period, one of freedom and action. In an interview, Pestana (2011) claimed having researched more than thirty languages, only to find in Portuguese the possibility of traversing the singular and the plural, the individual and the collective, the past, present and future, by just dislocating a letter: ovo/(p)ovo/(n)ovo.

Read more…