[-empyre-] Towards a theory of digital poetics

Julian Oliver julian at julianoliver.com
Fri Mar 13 14:17:19 EST 2009

..on Thu, Mar 12, 2009 at 12:07:18PM -0400, Juan B. Gutierrez wrote:
> Thanks to Simon and all others for such a wonderfully catalytic 
> discussion. Simon says:
> «What I am seeking to do here is to separate poetics from human intent 
> and authorship and regard it instead as a phenomena of things.»

hmm, i'd also be suspicious of this direction.. reaching over Heidegger i'll
quote Heinz von Foerster "Objectivity is a subject's delusion that observing can
be done without him." 

while not being a big reader of verse myself, one thing i've always appreciated
about poetry is that it appears to ask for the confession that all there is -
all provable phenomena - is bound by experience. 

the poetic is always something experienced: it simply doesn't exist without
people and therefore its 'thingness' doesn't either.

intent and authorship are not absolved from verse through automatic writing
processes, serialising or transducing verse in collaboration or competition with
a machine..

rather, that poetic intent is just given new form within experience. in the case
of technologically mediated poetic processes, that form takes on a reflexive
value that exposes the primary intention, to /read/ with poetic intent.

secondly, language is already a technology, no less essentially 'natural' or
in-human than a computer program. 

> and
> «Indeed, the bulk of this research is being carried out by teams of 
> computer scientists and linguists and involves artificial systems 
> interpreting and responding to body language, facial expression, vocal 
> tone, gesture and speech without building precise models of what is 
> occurring but functioning as sets of dynamic contingencies and 
> probabilities that may or may not require resolution prior to action. I 
> consider what they are seeking to do as digital poetics – which is 
> possibly why we find it easy to work together on artistic projects.»
> Digital has become a wildcard that loosely means "through he use of a 
> computing device" in colloquial language. When we ask about digital 
> poetics, there are two dimensions of these questions: (i) the aesthetics 
> of a piece of art (probably of linguistic nature) that cannot be without 
> a computing device, and (ii) the aesthetics of a piece of art (probably 
> of linguistic nature) generated by a computing device.

yes, even 'linguistics', by way of its own methodologies of interpretation, is
still within the realm of experience, formalised or not!

> I agree with both definitions of poetics suggested by Simon: (i) 
> "creative practice of association" and (ii) "The motile engagement with 
> the interplay of dynamic elements". My position is that it is impossible 
> to separate poetics from a fundamental attribute of human beings 
> (intentionality -- precise definition below), and that poetics generated 
> by machines is impossible to occur unless machines have this same 
> attribute; therefore, poetics is not an intrinsic attribute of things, 
> but an elaboration, a derivative, of intentionality.

oops, there you go. you said it ;)


Julian Oliver
home: New Zealand
based: Madrid, Spain
currently: Madrid, Spain
about: http://julianoliver.com

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