Aesthetic Animism: Digital Poetry as Ontological Probe
This thesis is about the poetic edge of language and technology. It inter-relates both computational creation and poetic reception by analysing typographic animation softwares and meditating (speculatively) on a future malleable language that possesses the quality of being (and is implicitly perceived as) alive. As such it is a composite document: a philosophical and practice-based exploration of how computers are transforming literature, an ontological meditation on life and language, and a contribution to software studies. Digital poetry introduces animation, dimensionality and metadata into literary discourse. This necessitates new terminology; an acronym for Textual Audio-Visual Interactivity is proposed: Tavit. Tavits (malleable digital text) are tactile and responsive in ways that emulate living entities. They can possess dimensionality, memory, flocking, kinematics, surface reflectivity, collision detection, and responsiveness to touch, etc…. Life-like tactile tavits involve information that is not only semantic or syntactic, but also audible, imagistic and interactive. Reading mediated language-art requires an expanded set of critical, practical and discourse tools, and an awareness of the historical continuum that anticipates this expansion. The ontological and temporal design implications of tavits are supported with case-studies of two commercial typographic-animation softwares and one custom software (Mr Softie created at OBX Labs, Concordia) used during a research-creation process.