Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wednesday Wonder: Poetry Goes Geek

I would never describe myself as a technology geek but I do admire and find myself intrigued by how technology is applied in service of visual art, music, and poetry.

Recently, Denise at NewPages Blog highlighted jason.nelson' My curiosity more than a little piqued, I went searching and what I found is the soul of an artist with the mind of a geek who occupies a genius category of his own making.

Jason Nelson teaches net art, digital creation, and electronic literature (a.k.a. cyberstudies) in the School of Arts at Griffith University in Australia. His creative research, according to a university blurb, focuses on the making of "digital poems and interactive stories of odd lives". (For example, during a residency with Furtherfield in London, Nelson created over three weeks 24 net artworks, each of which, this article explains (see page 5), was "based on or inspired by the text, images or interfaces of other prominent international digital artists", sent by e-mail to many hundreds of other artists, and displayed on a site for discussion and even alteration.) Nelson "exhibits" his work, which literally lives in and comes alive on the Web, in galleries worldwide and in journals with international audiences. He also gives digital poetry readings.

What Nelson does, he does a rather good job of explaining in a series of videos he's posted here and on a page he's titled Digital Poetry Introduction. As he explains it, "Digital Poems are born from the combination of technology and poetry, with writers using all multi-media elements as critical texts. Sounds, images, movement, video, interface/interactivity and words are combined to create new poetic forms and experiences." As for their reception, Nelson has this say: "[W]hen a piece like "game, game..." [one of Nelson's projects] attracts millions of readers while a "successful" print poem might attract a hundred, I think the digital truly is the future of poetry." (It is worth reading the entire Introduction to better understand how Nelson hit on interfaces as one of his creative tools or "poetic constructions".) 

Nelson maintains two principal sites for his work: Heliozoa, which he terms a "stable of sorts [where] these poetic digital horses sleep", and an artwork-and-digital poetry portal called Secret Technology, which offers some of the most fascinating interactive, multi-media poetry-related experiences I've yet found. 

At Heliozoa are nearly a dozen sections, each containing explanatory information about Nelson's individual creations (these are further defined in categories of 3/4 Dimensional, Digital Poetry, Games, Generative, and Video/Movement; go to the bottom of the main page and click on any category):

Games in which reader or user movements explode into hand-drawn, poetic "elements", such as interactive stanzas, crossed-out or obstructed lines, and text loss during play;

Mosaic, comprising a series of "poetic tiles" that can be repeatedly (infinitely) clicked and read and explored;

Cubes, which provide for multi-linear and -dimensional play and reconfiguring (think, poem-as-Rubik-cube), with all elements on the cube, which becomes transformable;

Videographs, described as "stories/poetry from interactive graphs driven by pop-videos";

Combination Various, involving use of a variety of digital poetry interfaces at once so that the poetry created "surrounds" the reader;

Slot Machine, a digital art creation, This Is How You Will Die, in which the player at the online pokie machine "wins" short-fiction combinations and pop-up movie clips, otherwise known as "random death scenarios";

Deep Menu Poetry, which uses multi-level navigation menus to create multi-linear poems;

Circular, a dual-textual-level circular compass interface to create a "rounded guide" to poetic lines;

Speech to Text, in which speech-to-text software is used to process various forms of media into "strange texts" to uncover the "hidden" words the software "hears";

3-D Depth, consisting of multi-dimensional layering that allows for "plays with texts inside texts"; and 

Mouse Followers, involving the combining of different sound, image, and interactive "environments" via interactivity with (clicks of) the mouse.

A hyperlink available in each of the above sections takes you to the relevant place at Secret Technology where the interactivity experiences occur. I played around in all of the experiential sections. I did not find them difficult to use. My favorites were the Cubes, Mosaic, and Circular experiences.

Explore the creation of this Wednesday Wonder and have fun!


Jason Nelson YouTube Channel

Jason Nelson Curriculum Vita (pdf)

Jason Nelson on Wikipedia

Networked Artists Community at Net Behavior


Anonymous said...

making my way through the links!

Von said...

Thankyou Maureen, so beautifully explained and what a find.I'll post a link if I may so I don't loose of forget about it!

S. Etole said...

this will take some time ... time well spent

Kathleen said...


Marcus Goodyear said...

Oh my. I got lost for a few minutes on the Catwalk Zombies poetry game (of course).

David Rupert said...

I am always amazed at your links and the way you honor the work of others.

David Rupert said...

I am always amazed at your links and at the way you honor others.