Time-Lapse Reading as Critical Performance

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

In moving texts, such as digital kinetic poetry, the reader-user might no longer control the duration of their reading, unlike the traditional and static nature of printed texts. The user deals with readable time versus executable time, the human time-line versus the machine time-line. By having an imposed and fixed number of milliseconds to perceive the text on the screen, the user might find themselves completing or imagining the unread text, following the dynamic forms with an imposed dynamic content. Yet, to understand the shifting reading patterns of digital poems, one has to consider another methods or tools that may complement traditional models. Therefore, performing a critical approach solely based in close reading methods might not accomplish a fully comprehensible reading of digital poetry. In this sense, following upon methods taken from other areas, e.g. time-lapse photography and R. Luke DuBois’s concept of “time-lapse phonography” (2011), I introduce the notion of time-lapse reading as a complementary layer to close reading.

(Source: Author's Abstract)

Pull Quotes: 

Generative (kinetic) poems instigate a type of time-lapse, let us say, time-lapse α, which resides in the fact that the poem one reads or tries to read can always be different from screening to screening or, simply, if one refreshes the browser. Time-lapse α might then carry two problems: 1) one does not have sufficient time to apprehend the poem; 2) one tries to apprehend something always divergent. As of problem 2 some writers would vindicate that their pieces are intended to be conceptual, and, therefore, their argument relies mainly in the process, rather than in the output, which some would expect to count the most. However, other writers would advocate for the process as well as the degree of craft achieved in the difficult task of creating poetic output out of a limited or unlimited pool of data, e.g. words. Non-generative (kinetic) poems, thus, might prompt a type of time-lapse β, which is precisely that of the above-mentioned problem 1: textual replacement might occur at a speed rate difficult for our (still) biologic eyes to cope with. Consequently, and returning to our question, how can one read something not totally readable, slightly readable or unreadable? Shall one create screenshots of parts of a poem evolving over time? Shall one screencast a complete running cycle of the poem?

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Alvaro Seica