POIESIS, p0es1s, p0es1e – and beyond: A retroperspective

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

Being fascinated by the dynamics and the potential which medial technologies offer for the artistic investigation of materiality and the individual and social use of language, the poetological concept of the show formulated a key idea which is still reflected in the subtitle of the recent “poiesis”-exhibition: the difference between program and pixel, or between a perception proposition and the ‘underlying’ code. In his foreword to the small catalogue from 1992, André Vallias describes this crucial distinction from the code perspective: “Data dissolve the borders between bodies, surfaces, sounds, words, dots, tones, letters and numbers”.1 Accordingly, the show’s title “p0es1e” exemplifies the difference by intertwining the sign systems of perceivable writing and the digital code normally used to program in an ‘unobservable’ way what can be perceived. Observing the unobservable in language, is surely one of the core characteristics of experimental poetry. The conceptual fusion of different dimensions and uses of languages is still a prominent procedure of poetic reflexivity. Dick Higgins had formulated his concept of poetic intermedia along these lines, in 1965. And so a light is shone on the very ‘nature’ of language, its material, semantic, and performative phenomenology, which is constantly changing under social, media technological, and aesthetic conditions.

Abstract (in original language): 

O conceito poetológico da exposição, interessado pela dinâmica e pelo potencial que as tecnologias midiáticas oferecem à investigação artística da materialidade e ao uso individual e social da linguagem, formulava uma idéia central que ainda aparece no subtítulo da recente exposição POIESIS: a diferença entre programa e pixel, ou entre uma proposta de percepção e o código ‘subjacente’. No seu prefácio ao pequeno catálogo de 1992, André Vallias descreve esta distinção crucial a partir da perspectiva do código: “Os dados dissolvem os limites entre corpos, superfícies, sons, palavras, pontos, tons, letras e números.”1 Assim, o título da mostra, “p0es1e”, exemplifica esta diferença ao entrelaçar os sistemas de signos da escrita perceptível e o código digital normalmente usado para programar numa forma “não-observável” o que pode ser visto. Observar o não-observável na linguagem é certamente uma das características essenciais da poesia experimental. A fusão conceitual das diferentes dimensões e usos das linguagens é ainda um procedimento proeminente da reflexividade poética. Dick Higgins formulara seu conceito de intermeios poéticos nesses termos, em 1965. De maneira que uma luz é lançada sobre a ‘natureza’ mesma da linguagem, sua fenomenologia material, semântica e performativa, que se transforma constantemente sob condições sociais, estéticas e tecnológicas.

Pull Quotes: 

Accordingly, we were interested in artistic projects that were not restricted to special genres or scenes. Everything was interesting that would reflect the relation between language and digital technologies, be it net-literature, digital poetry films, software or media art etc., in terms of the “Media Poetry” anthology edited by Eduardo Kac in 1996 and – as an expanded version – in 2007:4 collaborative writing platforms as well as the deconstruction of symbol and communications systems used on the internet, interactive installations of audiovisual interfaces or databases as well as the languages of operating systems or computer viruses. The challenge has been to poetically reflect the quickly differentiating use of language – language as the basic
institution for thinking, communication, knowledge, and technology in media cultures, whether as alphanumeric basis of every kind of sophisticated simulation, or as a new writing furor in emails, chats, blogs, digital storytelling etc.

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Luciana Gattass