digital poetry

Water, poetry, and the Transborder Immigrant Tool

Transborder Immigrant Tool on a Nokia Phone
Transborder Immigrant Tool on a Nokia Phone

Today, creators of the Transborder Immigrant Tool announced the release of their book containing the code and poems that power this inventive and potentially life-sustaining tool. Developed by the Electronic Disturbance Theatre while in residence at B.A.N.G. lab at University of California, San Diego, the Transborder Immigrant Tool is a mobile app developed for use on inexpensive phones that offer immigrants crossing the U.S./Mexico border on foot navigation to water stations in the desert using visual and sound cues. Once a traveler activates the app, the phone locates the nearest water cache using GPS and begins guiding the user towards the water using a compass and poems.

Your tweets, now with more poetry

Poetweet transforms users' tweets into sonnets, rondels, or indrisos
Poetweet transforms users' tweets into sonnets, rondels, or indrisos

Ever wonder what tweets would look like remixed into poetic form? This question, which few people were probably asking, is the premise behind the application Poetweet. Simply type in a Twitter handle, choose between sonnet, rondel, or indriso, and the application generates a poem.

"Divya Victor" is one such poem generated through Poetweet, using the Jacket2 Twitter account:

The poetry of unexecutable code

An unexecutable code poem by Mez Breeze
An unexecutable code poem by Mez Breeze

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.

The poetry of executable code

An executable code poem by GreyLau
An executable code poem by GreyLau

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.

Loving e-poetry

Banner from the I Love E-Poetry project

Do you ♥ e-poetry? Leonardo Flores certainly does. Flores, an associate professor of English at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez, is the driving force behind the I ♥ E-Poetry project, an online scholarly compendium of electronic poetry. E-poetry is part of a growing genre of creative writing known as "electronic literature" or "e-lit." According to the Electronic Literature Organization, e-lit includes literary texts that embrace the affordances of computing or networked technologies in their composition. Examples include hypertext fiction, poetry bots, and literature composed collaboratively online.

Why archive dead media?

A question for Lori Emerson

Lori Emerson using an Apple Lisa in the Media Archaeology Lab

A fair amount of contemporary writing and art would benefit from media-historical analysis. What media at what time made this work possible? What media are brought together in this work? When we want to analyze form in the contemporary, are we not sometimes talking about technical supports, the bridgings between various media the work relies on?  

From sea to screen

Yang Lian and John Cayley's iterations

Where the Sea Stands Still
Yang Lian's Where the Sea Stands Still (London: Wellsweep, 1995), translated by Brian Holton and published by John Cayley

The long poem “Dahai tingzhi zhi chu” 大海停止之处 by Yang Lian 杨炼 and its transformation into the collaborative digital and performance piece Where the Sea Stands Still illustrate an iterative response to digital technologies and globalization. The iterative structure of Yang Lian’s long poem produces an expanding sense of space and geography that, like the title, combines perpetual repetition with continuous change.

The long poem comprises four poems, each entitled “Dahai tingzhi zhi chu” (“Where the Sea Stands Still”). There is no numbering: each poem’s title is identical to all the others. Each has three sections and ends with “zhi chu” 之处 (where/the place where). These final characters combine stillness, spatial and temporal arrest with the sea’s ceaseless repetitive movements.

Rose is a rose in python

Jared Nielsen has created a series of videos in which he rewrites modernist poems as Python programming language scripts. His character — intended to engage children in this experimental poetry-programming — is Guido the Python. Click here for a link to the site and access to the video of the Stein piece.

Montfort & Strickland, 'Sea and Spar Between'

From Nick Montfort and Stephanie Strickland comes this digital poem, “Sea and Spar Between” — a poetry generator which defines a space of language populated by a number of stanzas comparable to the number of fish in the sea, around 225 trillion. Each stanza is indicated by two coordinates, as with latitude and longitude. They range from 0 : 0 to 14992383 : 14992383. To operate the system, you may:

• move your mouse;
• press the spacebar to mark the stanza that is in the center of the screen of that moment, bringing its coordinates into the navigation box at the bottom in order to note them and return to this view;
• click your mouse at the right edge of the screen to move right to a new region of texts (to increase the first coordinate); click your mouse at the bottom, left, or top to move similarly in those directions;
• tap the arrow keys to move the visible lattice of stanzas up, right, down, or left by a single stanza;
• scroll the wheel on your mouse or tap the A and Z keys on the keyboard to zoom in and out;
• type a pair of coordinates into the navigation box at the bottom and press enter to move anywhere in the sea of text.

Click here for a description of the process and the sourcetext. Click here to read the poem.

Kac, Cayley, and Kargl on translation

on translation || Michael Kargl
on translation || Michael Kargl

If you are reading this text in a browser window, you are reading it in translation. Right click right here. View Page Source. This is the original text, composed in and of the internet’s native languages. Note the head/body page division, a convention carried over from print. The < head > is primarily preoccupied with the text's contextual issues. It tells the browser what its title is, offers the search engines clues as to its contents, provides a required reading list of other texts it refers to, and outlines instructions on what to do in the unfortunate event of IE. The < body > is more concerned with appearances. It tells the browser what the contents of the text are and how best to present them. Why HyperText Markup Language continues to textually embody the Cartesian mind-body split I do not know.

Walter Benjamin objected to the binary nature of traditional translation methods, advocating for transparency between an original and its translation. In his influential 1923 essay The Task of the Translator, he wrote: “It [the translation] does not cover the original, does not black its light, but allows the pure language, as though reinforced by its own medium, to shine upon the original all the more fully.” The creators of following three works take the task of translation beyond the binary by creating transparencies between the original language and its original medium through intermediation and the application of what I am calling triple language systems, in reference to the translator of all translators, the Rosetta Stone.

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