Una Selva Oscura

Description (in English): 

 Inspired by one of Tom Phillips' illustration for his Dante's Inferno (Talfourd Press, 1983), "Una selva oscura" is a digital visual poetry framework providing readers with different poems and the possibility to write their own. 

Artist Statement:

My work has been driven by three main themes: interpretation through adaptation, little acts of unacknowledged violence, and the expression of a sexual self. What is at stake in those themes is three aspects of the act of representation. By adapting somebody else's work, I present it anew, in a different context that has to do with the original work but also with my reaction to it, my interpretation of it. By representing little acts of violence in an absurd, cynical or sarcastic way, I provide a depiction of them that acknowledges what would otherwise be left unspoken. By expressing a sexual self that is feminine and feminist, outspoken and in charge of her sexuality, I provide the representation of a reality that is too often left in the dark because of taboos, repression and censorship. 

Written language is my medium of choice because it allows me to express my ideas in a detailed and subtle way, with a narrative when one is needed. Written language combined with hypermedia is my favorite playground. The combination of text with images, films, sounds, and music, plus the possibility to add animation to all that, provides a rich environment for creating complex representations that transcend the more traditional ways of experiencing a work of art. 

Representation has been an object of thought for many years now. I've explored it academically, intellectually, and artistically. Our access to the world, to others, to ourselves is mediated through representation. It is such a powerful tool. There are so many ways to use it, and to abuse it. My work is a way for me to address those issues and experiment with the many aspects of representation as well as the different roles it plays in our lives. 

"Una selva oscura" is adapted from an illustration made by Tom Phillips for his Dante's Inferno (Talfourd Press, 1983). Phillips represents Dante's dark forest by superposing layers of stencil letters in different colors using the phrase "una selva oscura" over and over. 

The first poem in "Una selva oscura" recaptures Phillips' piece. It shows, in a way, the "making of" of the illustration by giving the audience not only the resulting image, but the construction of the illustration layer by layer, letter by letter. It also contextualizes the piece by giving an audio excerpt of Dante's poem. 

The other poems use the same technique with different texts. In each case, a phrase serves as the basis for the visual part of the poem, and the audio track contextualizes this phrase by making available a larger segment of the text from which the phrase is taken. 

The reader is also offered the possibility of composing her own piece, choosing the phrase and the colors for the different layers.

(Source: 2008 ELO Media Arts show)

NT2 entry: 
Contributors note: 

The following people deserve thanks for sharing their passion and their voice with me: Anne-Hélène Genné, Paule Mackrous, Aya Karpińska, Alice van der Klei, Nathalie Roy, Eliška Axmannová. Thanks also to Patric Jolicœur Mondou for his help in resolving coding issues.

Screen shots: 
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Record posted by: 
Scott Rettberg