Computer Poetry

Description (in English): 

Silvestre Pestana programmed in BASIC, first for a Sinclair ZX-81 and ZX-82, and then, already with chromatic lighting, for a Sinclair ZX Spectrum, three poems respectively dedicated to Henri Chopin, E. M. de Melo e Castro and Julian Beck, which resulted in the Computer Poetry (1981-83) series. Pestana, a visual artist, writer and performer – who had returned from the exile in Sweden after Portugal’s Carnation Revolution of April 25, 1974 – brought diverse influences put forward with photography, video, performance, and computer media. From his creative production, it should be emphasized the iconic conceptual piece Povo Novo [New People] (1975), which was remediated by the author himself in the referred series of kinetic visual poems, or “infopoems” (Melo e Castro 1988: 57). By operating almost like TV scripts, the series oscillates between recognizable shapes – such as the oval and the larger animated Lettrist shapes, formed by the small-sized words “ovo” (egg), “povo” (people), “novo” (new), “dor” (pain) and “cor” (color) – and the reading interpretation of the words themselves: “ovo,” the unity, but also the potential; “povo,” the collective, the indistinct, the mass; “novo” and “cor/dor.” This play of relations translates the new consciousness, although painful, of a “new people” in a new historic, social and artistic period, one of freedom and action. In an interview, Pestana (2011) claimed having researched more than thirty languages, only to find in Portuguese the possibility of traversing the singular and the plural, the individual and the collective, the past, present and future, by just dislocating a letter: ovo/(p)ovo/(n)ovo. [Source: Álvaro Seiça, "A Luminous Beam: Reading the Portuguese Electronic Literature Collection" (2015)]

Technical notes: 

Programmed in BASIC.

Critical writing that references this work:

Title Author Year
'Computer Poetry' by Silvestre Pestana Álvaro Seiça 2015
A Beam of Light: Reading the Portuguese Electronic Literature Collection Álvaro Seiça 2014
A Ciberliteratura: Criação Literária e Computador Pedro Barbosa 1996
A Vanguard Projected in Motion: Early Kinetic Poetry in Portuguese Chris Funkhouser 2005
Electronic Literature and Online Literary Databases: The PO.EX and ELMCIP Cases Álvaro Seiça 2014
I Love E-Poetry Leonardo L. Flores 2011
Infopoesia ou Poesia Informacional E. M. de Melo e Castro 1987
Manuel Portela and Rui Torres on the Portuguese E-Lit Collection at Álvaro Seiça 2013
Multimodal Editing and Archival Performance: A Diagrammatic Essay on Transcoding Experimental Literature Manuel Portela 2014
O PO.EX, Arquivo Digital da Literatura Experimental Portuguesa: Uma Recensão Álvaro Seiça 2014
p2p: Polish-Portuguese E-Lit André Sier, Silvestre Pestana, Rui Torres, E. M. de Melo e Castro, Pedro Barbosa, Manuel Portela, Józef Żuk Piwkowski, Piotr Puldzian Płucienniczak 2015
Poemografias: Perspectivas da Poesia Visual Portuguesa Ana Hatherly, E. M. de Melo e Castro, Fernando Aguiar, Silvestre Pestana, Antero de Alda, António Aragão, Salette Tavares 1985
Poesia Experimental e Ciberliteratura: por uma literatura marginal izada? Rui Torres 2013
Poética dos Meios e Arte High Tech E. M. de Melo e Castro 1988
Prehistoric Digital Poetry: An Archaeology of Forms, 1959-1995 Chris Funkhouser 2007
The Freedom Adventure of Portuguese Experimentalism and Kinetic Poetry Álvaro Seiça 2018
The PO.EX Digital Archive of Portuguese Experimental Literature: A Review Álvaro Seiça 2014
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Alvaro Seica