The title for this Norwegian scheduled visual poem aptly means “poetry floating in the air” and exemplifies why concrete poetry is such a wellspring of inspiration for e-poetry. Ormstad, a poet investigating verbivocovisual poetry since the 1960s, shows his visual and auditory acumen by arranging words and letters in time and space, using the constellation to guide a vocal reading performance of his poems. Gomringer’s notion of the constellation was well suited to the page, where the arrangement of words and letters could seem as random as stars, but offering enough visual cues to encourage readers to find patterns in the page, challenging traditional (left-to-right, top-to-bottom) reading practices. Ormstad uses the the time-based media of the digital computer to create scheduled constellations to shape performances of the poem.
This delicately scheduled poem about the last thoughts of a person apparently in a medical or hospice care facility is presented over the course of Glenn Gould’s performance of Sinfonia No. 5 in E Flat Major, BVW 791 by J.S. Bach. The poem is presented in small portions— as lines, phrases, single words, or even syllables— patiently synchronized with musical phrases. Listen carefully as you read and you’ll notice how dialogue is given distinct voices as two musical phrases alternate. The person’s thoughts have both a poetic and musical personality, and alternates between flights of fancy (or dream) and a reality that may have led to the current near-death situation. The scheduled presentation of the poem also serves to offer a different line structure from what eventually accumulates on screen, including a phrase that changes, which provides readers with two texts. This powerfully moving work that requires undivided attention and sensory focus from the reader to fully appreciate its artistry.
This responsive poem takes the concept of the cut-up and places it in a hauntingly beautiful interface. Based on an image of a wintry Swedish landscape populated by a single evergreen tree and blackbirds against a misty gray sky, this environment is filled with visible and invisible input cues for readers to click on and reveal the texts. The visible cues are the birds, which bring forth the poem suspended in the sky into readability, one bird and line at a time. The sky itself is a grid of hotspots that when clicked reveal a portion of a narrative prose poem in the black background of the earth. The sounds and understated movements of the mist, tree, and birds create a disquieting mood that suits the situation described in the text, one that is full of darkness, implications of violence, and a mystery that encourages readers to explore every surface in this work to get as much information as possible.
This kinetic poem is documented as a video recording of its performance, which would require emulation to run correctly on contemporary computers, now 20 years removed from its original computational environments. Its aesthetics are fitting with other works produced by the French digital poetry group L.A.I.R.E. (Lecture, Art, Innovation, Recherche, Écriture) in the late 1980s and pre-WWW years. The poem’s simple design and use of graphical elements shouldn’t be confused with simplicity of expression. Au contraire, its minimalist use of animation, changing color, and scheduled textual delivery are used as writing.
The title itself is an indicator of the poem’s strategies, as it takes a phrase, inverts its syntax to form another, transforming its textual and graphic elements more than once to write more lines over time than the sum total of written lines. Keeping this in mind, use the subtitles as a source of translation of its words, but not necessarily as an accurate depiction of what can be read at a given moment.