Along with the growth of executable code poetry, code poets are writing poems that draw on the aesthetic, formal, and visual dimensions of computer code without focusing on the executability of the code itself. The work of Mez Breeze, is one such example. Breeze is an Australian net.artist who uses the internet as a primary medium for her work. Her digital multimedia work combines sound, image, text, and code, and her writing includes electronic literature and code poems.
In recent years, growing interest has emerged in the relationship between poetry and computer code. A higher brow version of ASCII art, code poems draw on programming languages like Java or C++ for their formal inspiration. Since 2013, Stanford University has been running code poetry slams to explore the poetic potential of code. Participants in these competitions have explored the broadest definitions of code poetry.
Back in February, when I started this column, I wanted to interview Fernando Diaz about his sound art projects and also — because he's a computer scientist — about algorithms in poetry. The word "algorithm" appears often in critical analyses of conceptual writing, so I had been wondering what, if anything, conceptual writing and algorithms had to do with each other. I wanted to believe, but Fernando was skeptical about this metaphor. After 2.5 months of meeting, discussing, questioning, and haggling, we have only just begun to work through the chasm between our fields, our different values, histories, vocabularies, etc. Latour would be proud. It's been challenging and fun. And I'm grateful for Fernando's patience, generosity, and humor in working with me towards this provisional document.
Alejandro Crawford practices poetry at one of its most experimental edges, where it crosses with and benefits from the special capacities of computing. Crawford has done impressive work already in both fields; in 2007 he won a Fulbright and moved to Lisbon, Portugal where he had been commissioned to perform his operation “transmutilation” working, in part, with Orpheu, the magazine published by Fernando Pessoa and friends. Crawford’s radically recut remix based in part on poems from Orpheu is titled Morpheu (BlazeVox 2010). In 2009 Crawford moved to NYC to study in the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU Tisch. His ongoing work with electronic communications media has expanded his arsenal of poetic technique to include things like video and sound-mixing and the reappropriation of video game hardware to run text-manipulating algorithms. But what he does is not only technically cutting edge, it's weird and funny and fun.
Geeta Dayal in «Slate Book Review» reviews a book that will make you dizzy. In "BASIC: A single line of code sends readers into a labyrinth" she explores the mysteries of a brief line of computer code that draws a strange, beautiful and endless maze pattern on the screen, and much more besides. Here's a precis of what she writes: