This kinetic poem is takes the ancient rhetorical and poetic device of the dialogue to investigate the virtual, conceptual, and perceptual spaces of programmable media. Inspired by theoretical writings by John Cayley and Jean-François Lyotard, this poem explores binaries between past and present, old and new, letter and word, simple and complex writing surfaces, and the right and left eye— each of which has a distinct voice and perspective on the topic.
This mutable poem explores a simple concept, word substitution, using sophisticated tools. The data set is WordNet, which clusters words conceptually so substitutions are governed by synonymy, metonymy, and semantics which should allow the prose poem to retain some coherence. But does it? Here’s the poem after running for minute or so:
This collaborative poem is designed as an installation at Brown University’s CAVE, a cube-shaped room equipped with projection in all six directions, surround sound, and multiple input devices, such as 3D goggles, gloves, and head tracking. Soderman and Carter use this last input significantly in this work as described in their artists’ statement:
Surrounded by four giant close-ups of cinematic starlets gazing down upon you, there is no choice but to look (or look away). Using the built-in “headtracking” feature of the Cave, a portion of the starlet’s face in your line of sight fades away, thus interrupting the (masculine) desire to possess through the gaze: you cannot help but see through what you desire to possess.
This collaborative poem was written for the CAVE at Brown University and is a relatively simple yet compelling argument for this kind of writing, initiated by Robert Coover in 2002. Other CAVE works reviewed in this blog have published video documentation of a performance, which is a far cry from the real deal, but considering it takes time and money to travel to Brown University to use their CAVE (and a prohibitive amount of money to build one), this will do. Soderman and Carter have gone a step further by providing access to the Cave Text Editor and the source files for readers to explore the work and run a preview of it.
This collaborative poem in three parts makes virtuoso use of the marquee tag, which along with the ever-annoying blink tag, has been disavowed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which imperils its existence in future browsers. Each of its parts uses this tag as a central device for shaping its text in a different way to play with Barthes’ notion of how the past is reduced and turned into “a slim and pure logos” through narrative as well as with Descartes’ use of the latin phrase larvatus prodeo (I come forth, masked).
This generative sonnet is inspired by Raymond Queneau’s Cent Mille Milliards de Poèmes but takes a highly visual approach by using images of poets, book spines, and other images. The images are cropped into strips, much like the line-pages in Queneau’s book, an ideal proportion for book spines (see a similar treatment by Jody Zellen) and the photographed eyes of iconic poets. The lines respond to mouseovers, allowing you to change the work as needed.
This kinetic collage poem is built out of text by Soderman and quotes from eight pieces written by theorists and writers whose work reflects upon the nature of writing in spaces other than the printed page. Cut into lines and blocks of text, each of these textual portions are anchored or set adrift in a “page_space” designed by Soderman to allow them to move and rearrange themselves into new textual combinations. In addition to encouraging readers to click on texts to get other quotes from the same source, Soderman places several objects into the space that trigger different events, such as a book that stops the textual movement when clicked. The behaviors triggered by each of the objects remind the readers of how configurable the space for digital writing can be by enacting some of the concepts brought forth by the quoted writers.
This creative engagement of the potential Soderman saw for digital environments to radically reconfigure the interface of a page led to his 2005 Page Space experiment.