Rhetorics of Surface and Depth in Digital Poetry

Abstract (in English): 

This paper explores the rhetoric of surface and depth in two different kinds of digital poetry. Kinetic and time-based compositions, such as John Cayley’s “overboard” and “lens”, explore new parameters of visual and spatial representation – the ‘complex surface’ of the digital screen. The other type of digital works, the so-called ‘codeworks’, such as “%Location” by JODI, thematise the underlying technological prerequisites and specificities of the medium. Both sets of examples upset and challenge established conceptions of depth and surface. (Source: RiLUnE, no. 5, 2006: http://www.rilune.org/mono5/1_sommaire_resumes.pdf)

Abstract (in original language): 

Cet article analyse la rhétorique de la surface et de la profondeur pour deux types différents de poésie numérique. Les compositions cinétiques et intégrant la dimension temporelle explorent des paramètres nouveaux de représentation visuelle et spatiale – la surface complexe de l´écran numérique. L´autre type d´oeuvres numériques, appelées codeworks thématise les conditions technologiques et les spécifités impliquées par le médium. Ces deux types d´exemples troublent et remettent en cause les représentations établies de la surface et de la profondeur. (Source: Résumé)

Pull Quotes: 

Digital Poetry usually appears on a screen. A computer monitor screen is a surface with implicit depth, because it is the visible manifestation of something which is, almost inevitably, imagined as having an “inside” (the CPU) or, increasingly, an “elsewhere”: the file server, web space or network. Mainframe computers and free-standing PCs tended to evoke a rhetoric of depth because their “workings” seemed to be “inside” them; the exponential growth of networks, and web-based applications may suggest a model of rhizome rather than root: a dispersed, interacting set of nodes which nevertheless seem to remain in some sense “behind” the screen. (2006: 37)

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Alvaro Seica