In this poem, Andrews returns to the question of what is the meaning of language in digital media (as he posed in “Enigma n” 4 years earlier), this time drawing attention to the materiality of its sound rather than its visual information. When played continuously from start to finish we can hear a slightly manipulated recording of Andrews’ voice saying “meaning” three times with different tone and enunciation. The visual information in this poem is the audio waveform for the recording- an important interface to manipulate audio files in audio editing software, such as Audacity (free, open-source, cross-platform software— I recommend it). The neat thing about this poem is that it randomly selects a starting point in the waveform and a width for a selection area, automatically playing that loop a random number of times before jumping to a new random location and width (or shall I say duration?). The reader can select where to go, but not the other variables, drawing attention to words, letters, spaces between words, and even phonemes. Is there meaning in sub-phonemic pieces?
“Enigma n2” is one of a series of “vismu” pieces in which he uses a similar interface to explore the waveform of Wallace Stevens’ reading of “The Idea of Order at Key West,” the Black Sabbath song “War Pigs,” Sarah Vaughn’s “Stardust” and “Black Coffee” (both songs cut and mixed together), and Margareta Waterman’s amazing nonsense poems and writings “F8MW9.” They are all worth exploring, for the works they deconstruct, for the interfaces Andrews’ develops, and for the ways in which they focus our attention on the aural information of these pieces.