[-empyre-] Digital poetry / periphery
I am interested in what is being said regarding digital
poetry and the idea of periphery.
Digital poetry and music:
Popular music satisfies our need for any poetic experience.
Societies have willingly granted the pop music actors the
responsibility of inventing the bulk of our poetic
substance. If poetry did not lose in the exchange (with
music) it did not gain the liberty to freely explore on its
own. The digital revolution has given poetry another
chance to grow without being weighted down by the musical
form. At the same time it has allow writers to not be
subjugated to the vision of an editor. Poets and have
become writers and editors at the same time.
This shake up also happened with computer music. During
the 60?s and 70?s the devices for creating computer music
were huge and expensive. There were only a few of those
big machines dispersed at the biggest universities and
research centres. The big change happened in the early
80?s with the availability of the personal computer, which
enabled many musicians to start exploring on their own,
without the need of being supported by big institutions.
We have seen the results: from that moment the field of
computer music grew in an exponential manner.
A reading, a few years ago, filled me with hope that things
were changing, that everything was not doomed to stay
always the same way it always was. A writer of a New York
based music magazine was saying that the most promising
bands were to come from small places outside of the big
centres. The writer was talking about the empowerment
given to people by new technologies. It was going to be
possible, in the years to come, to produce and distribute
creative work from the peripheral zones of the world.
This empowerment has given us a chance to re-evaluate the
idea of the importance of the location of creators in
relation to their audiences / markets. As the revolution
continues, we are seeing evidence that a far more
fundamental questioning is taking place, that is the
questioning of ?what is an artwork??
The expanded terrains:
When Valerie LeBlanc and myself decided to use wireless
technologies in our project Location, Location, Location:
We are getting closer ( www.wearegettingcloser.com ), we
wanted the people to be the ?visitors of the gallery? and
the curators of the show(s). Ben, Birgitta, Valbert,
Warren, Lynn and the others became the input and the output
at the same time. Obviously the mobility offered by the
technology gave us the possibility of leaving the
constructed world of galleries to immerse ourselves in a
more chaotic setting, thus closer to a real world
In a way, whatever is outside the galleries is in the
peripheral zone. But the idea of periphery is one loaded
with bias to begin with. A periphery always defines itself
to a center. In other words, it is rarely that a centre
defines itself by its peripheries. Jean-Marc Dugas,
businessman / poet / performer and, also my brother, wrote
a collection of poetry entitled: Notes d?un Maritimer a
Marie-la-mer (1993). The last sentence of the book is: Le
régionalisme c?est le bout du monde à la portée de la main.
? Regionalism is the end of the world at fingertips reach-
I think this speaks for a more dynamic nature to the
peripheral zones than what it is usually given.
Speaking of poetry and of digital poetry in particular,
there is something to learn by looking at computers and the
way they work. On one hand we have the Central Processing
Unit located in the tower, the device that interprets and
executes instructions. On the other hand we have the
peripherals inputs and outputs: the keyboard, the printer,
the joy stick, the scanners, the webcams, that are used to
bring meaning to the CPU?s. I.e: No peripherals = no fun;
just the silence of electronics crunching the void: an
electronic stand still. Following this reasoning, and
given the world of Internet connectivity, geographical
peripheral locations potentially enjoy the same power of
input. The questioning of what is an artwork is also being
applied in redefining the relation of power between the
centres and the off-centres, whether it is a city in
relation to a suburb, a curator in relation to an artist or
an artist in relation to a viewer.
Being curated gives the impression of being relevant to the
world. It gives the impression of being ?necessaire?. It
provides a certain level of accreditation and exposure.
The authorization of the Curator(s) says: ?We, the
specialists, have digested the proposed product and deemed
the item to be highly consumable, for whatever audience the
product is being designed for.? But let?s face it - the
world is made mostly of peripheries. There is more than
one way of being relevant and net art offers poets /
artists, possibilities and strategies that do not exist
outside of the cyberspace.
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