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imposition was presented in an installation version at e-poetry 2007 in Paris. imposition was set up in amphiX of Université Paris VIII during the lunch-time intermission of the e-poetry symposium on 22 May from about 11.30 am until 2.00 pm.

Those visiting the installation were invited to take along a QuickTime and wireless-enabled laptop. They downloaded a 'listening' movie of their choice - one of the 'demons of imposition' - that was networked with the main installation. The main installation ran continuously at the venue and the viewer-participants played their downloaded movies and so, together, constituted a distributed, extensible, networked installation, manifested in literal and sound art, with some correlative imagery.

Simon Biggs, who participated in e-poetry 2007, wrote the following notice of the imposition installation:

"John Cayley's Imposition, based on a text by Walter Benjamin (On language as such and the languages of man), was a visually engaging work which was, by his standards, relatively minimalist. This is a work that brings language to life, a language composed of multiple languages, colliding and creating a frisson between themselves. In a sense this multilingual play could be seen as a metaphor for the entire conference, a playful cacophony of voices in distinct yet merging languages, discursively engaging one another rather than articulating in parallel. In Cayley's work members of the audience login to a common remote server and interact with a generative multilingual language machine, this in turn creating a visually simple but conceptually complex display projected on a large scale in the conference auditorium. As well as the imagery there was also a vocal soundtrack; a female voice articulating in song the phonetics involved in the textual constructions. An abstract soundscape, being essentially non-semantic, it gained great complexity and interest as more and more people logged on and their dispersed computers began to replicate, out of phase and with differing timbres, the vocalisations around the auditorium space. The result was a complex and dynamic spatialised sound sculpture composed of the human voice, evoking a sense of the multiplicity of the voice, language and the pre-linguistic."
- from: 'Multimedia, multiculturalism, language and the avantgarde' originally written for the IDC listserv, available at (accessed 16/6/07), click: textworks, then the article title

(Source: imposition documentation on Cayley's website)



epoetry 2007: John Cayley's Imposition

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Scott Rettberg