“Poemita” by Eduardo Navas

Open 'Poemita' by Eduardo Navas
Open ‘Poemita‘ by Eduardo Navas

Poemita by Eduardo Navas is an online collection of micropoems published on the Twitter platform which Navas began in January 2010, and which he has continued publishing up to the present day. Navas locates Poemita within his broader portfolio of projects that he has developed with ‘random brief statements’ (http://navasse.net/poemita/), and each tweet constitutes an individual poem, based around keywords that Navas has brainstormed.

Poemita can be classified within the growing genre of Twitter poetry, of which there are now hundreds of examples worldwide, including Canadian author Jason Camlot’s tickertext1 and tickertext2 (2010), the collaborative poetry project using Twitter by Australian author Gavin Heaton, TwitterPoetry (2007-), and the Twitter Poetry competition organized by Marsha Berry and Omega Goodwin in 2009. In these and other examples, the formal aspects of Twitter – in particular, the restriction to a maximum of 140 characters – is a central feature. Sharing certain features with the Japanese tradition of the haiku –and indeed, with the neologism twaiku sometimes being used to describe this type of poetry – Twitter poetry sees the formal restriction to 140 characters as a productive, creative one, leading to the possibility of capturing moments or images with a particular intensity.

Although each of the tweets within Navas’s Poemita are individual micropoems in their own right, when reading them in conjunction a shared set of thematics and concerns emerge. The micropoems all deal with contemporary society and forms of expression. Some poems comment on new media technologies themselves; others lend themselves to considerations of the poetic medium; still others make implicitly political statements related to digital content.

Frequent within these micropoems is commentary on new media technologies themselves. Examples here can be seen in the tweet of 15 August 2012 that reads:

Here, the brevity of the utterances means that greater focus is given to the adjective and noun with which the poem begins; the fact that the noun and its qualifying adjective are pre-posed, in non-standard syntax, means that our attention is drawn to ‘instant gratification’ as the central image of this micropoem. This micropoem is thus a critique of the instant celebrity culture promoted by social media, and the increasing narcissism that constant updates, via platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, encourages. Yet at the same time it is, of course, a metatextual poem, since the writing of ‘aphoristic fragments’ is exactly what Poemita undertakes: the micropoem thus engages in a critique of its own medium, as we see in many of Navas’s other works.

We are, thus, not allowed to sit back and enjoy as we read Poemita; instead, we are encouraged to question our own stance as users of social media as we engage in our reading.

 

“Deal With It” Meme by Matt Furie and You

Deal-With-It-Skateboarding-Cat-Gif“Deal with it” is a meme based on a popular phrase or expression that uses image macros and/or animated GIFs as a snarky response when someone else notes disapproval, most frequently used online forums or social networks. This meme is characterized by an image of an iconic person, celebrity, or event, accompanied by the descending of sunglasses upon the subject’s face and revealing a caption which says “Deal with it.”

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Slenderman, The Marble Hornets, and Totheark

slenderman-1-708110Remember those chain emails your most obscure contacts would send you during the wee hours of the night that read something like “IF U DON’T FWD DIS A CREEPY CRAWLY GHOST OF A GIRL WILL COME OUT OF DA CLOSET AND KILL U” ?

Well they’re back. And they’re coming to get you for not forwarding all those emails.

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“Rubber Traits” by Why?

Screen capture of "Rubber Traits" by Why? A dog drools the lyrics to the song next to a razorblade; a pug with a human mouth (mustache included) sings the words of the song. Text: "A Blade / But I want... / But I want... / Oooo"
Open “Rubber Traits” by Why?

Indie rock/ alternative hip-hop band Why? has always prided itself on befuddling listeners with a distinct blend of unorthodox beats, lyrics that fluctuate between rap and the nonsensical, and a surreal approach to their melodies. “Rubber Traits,” although one of their “poppier” singles, does not disappoint in this respect. The single touches on lead singer Yoni’s frequent bouts with depression, yet the video utilizes kinetic typography to complement Why?’s eccentric musical stylings, which underscores the bands ability to display a valiant sense of humor despite the lyrical content being weighty.

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“Alan Wake” by Remedy Entertainment

Open “Alan Wake Official Launch Trailer”

Alan Wake is a survival horror video game released for the Xbox 360 and Windows platforms and developed by Remedy Entertainment, a Finnish company known mostly for their Max Payne video game series. In the plot of the game, a best-selling thriller writer named Alan Wake is trying to overcome his two year writer’s block and mending his marriage by going out on vacations with his wife to a place called Bright Falls. It is here where the storyline starts to develop itself as a thriller narrative, seeing as the game itself from its beginnings alludes to this aspect through a nightmare the main character has, by showing dark corners, mysterious characters and eerie ambiance in plain day during the prologue of the game. As the game progresses the player learns that there are  pages scattered around the game environment which foretell events warning the player of dangerous circumstances ahead. These pages add more depth to the transformation of the game from a thriller to a horror game, immersing the player in its structure and pace while wrapping it up in cinematic genres that perform language like episodic storytelling similar to a television series.

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“Fuck You” by Cee-Lo Green, et al.

Still from "Fuck You" by Cee-Lo Green
Open “Fuck You” by Cee-Lo Green

This video for Cee-Lo Green’s 2010 hit song “Fuck You” uses kinetic typography to deliver and emphasize its lyrics in perfect synchronization with the song.

Kinetic typography has a rich tradition in film and television, particularly title sequences (as discussed recently in this entry), as well as in electronic literature (there are currently 288 entries of works categorized as kinetic in I ♥ E-Poetry). Different digital technologies have allowed writers to animate language, going back as far as bp Nichol’s “First Screening” (1984) using Applesoft Basic. In addition to programming or creating animated GIFs, authoring programs like Macromedia (now Adobe) Director, Flash, and Adobe After Effects placed sophisticated animation tools for writers to make words dance during the 1990s until the present. Adobe After Effects has long been used for video compositing and kinetic typography, producing video output that was delivered primarily through television, cable, and film. These rise of streaming video services, such as YouTube and Vimeo in 2005 and their integration with social media (or development as social media) have brought this genre to the masses, who are now developing abundant works and communities, and catching the attention of mainstream media.

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[Hotel] in “Limbo” by Arnt Jensen and Dino Patti

limbo-hotel-300x187
[Hotel] in “Limbo” by Arnt Jensen and Dino Patti

This unexpected e-poem appears in chapter 4 of Arnt Jensen and Dino Patti’s indie videogame Limbo, a darkly atmospheric platform puzzle game in which a boy traverses a series of deadly landscapes and ruined cityscapes in search for his sister. This game environment and its physics engine allowed Jensen to write a kind of Concrete poem in which letters perform scheduled operations and act as objects which respond kinetically to interactions. In addition to creating a challenging puzzle within the game, Jensen and Patti make meaningful uses of these characteristics to create multiple words from one, produce irony, typographical humor, and puns.

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“Passing Through” by Alexander Mouton

Screen capture of “Passing Through” by Alexander Mouton. Picture of a barb-wired fence leading to a building.
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This multimedia hypertext work weaves together unpopulated images, ambient sounds, and the text of overheard conversations in several cities to produce an immersive experience of a journey. Best experienced in cinematic conditions (good speakers or headphones, large screen, dark room, no distractions, fullscreen browser window), this is a navigationally minimalist. Each image has an area you can click on to go to the next, and it’s not difficult to find, since it tends to be large and placed over a focal point in the photograph. The simplicity of the interface and knowing from the outset that it is a linear experience, allows readers to relax into the work and not be distracted by wondering about where to go or what decision to make. The sounds and scheduled presentation of the texts also encourage paucity and reflection on the whole sequence of images as a whole.

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“Afghan War Diary” by Matthieu Cherubini

 

“Alphabet of Stars” by Whitney Anne Trettien

Screen capture from "Alphabet of Stars" by Whitney Anne Trettien. Gray background with a bunch of mashed up letters in white and black and two words at the bottom. Text: Write. Read.
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This responsive visual poem is a study of writing technologies and the word, whether it’s “ink sunk into fibrous paper” or “light through liquid crystals.” Inspired by Stephane Mallarmé’s poetic and theoretical writing as studied by Kittler, Trettien’s JavaScript (& JQuery) work explores the range of shades between the white page and the black sky as backgrounds against which writing can occur with light or ink.

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