The digital technology has enabled poetry to exist in digital realm leading to a totally new experience in poetry. Contemporary poetry has elements which are different from the traditional poetry. Poetry today is not the composition of static texts on a piece of paper but instead it has undergone in-depth rewriting of the texts language. Modern digital poetry presents poetry as a subtext in a pixel hidden level. Digital poetry shows an expanded notion of poetry at the level of computer code sub-textual praxis surface and at a level of surface praxis. Through digital poetry, we have a more expanded awareness of it being a process.
This paper will present the historical development of digital poetry and the various features it has incorporated through the use of various technological techniques. The incorporation of new elements into the traditional poetry has changed the way readers are able to read and feel the poem. The difference between the two genres of poetry will be presented as well as how readers perceive meaning and understanding of digital poetry in a way which is different from traditional poetry.
The origin of digital poetry started in the 1950’s as poets started to experiment with computers. This marked the introduction of a new genre in literature known as the sonic or visual art. Unlike the traditional poetry, digital poetry is a conglomeration of various forms a not a single form seen in traditional poetry the new genre of digital poetry therefore comprises components which are heterogeneous through its impressive internet, methods and media. Digital poetry should be examined as an evolving process which incorporates various techniques used in traditional poetry to modern techniques which are continuously being refined by the environment of the World Wide Web (WWW).
Through various computer techniques, poets are exploring poetry development through interactive installation to visual and randomize attributes. Through a network contents in reading, writing and inception of digital poetry and the reader can participate in shaping the form and participating in the poem which is a new media. There is also the technology of the multimedia digital works which incorporates sound, text and image as a highbred category of digital poetry and can be examined via the writing lens. Through the use of chance procedures and stochastic methods. There is the creation of a complex interrelationship between the computer as a reader / writer, the reader and the author as a result of their interaction.
Therefore digital poetry gives poets the room to be creative through the different avenues in the presentation of what they want to communicate. Both traditional and digital poetry presents challenge to the poet. However a traditional poet is faced more with the challenge of creating image through words but not the music and pictures as seen in digital poetry. Digital poetry has the ability to use various enhancements which have been limited in traditional poetry.
The definition of Poetic discourse is the foundation in bringing out the true definition of digital poetry and distinguishing it from traditional poetry. Poetry is different from a prose the structure of a prose is narrative in nature with chronological and logical description of ideas. Poetry on the other hand is versed in terms of its structure giving it a spatial form. Poetry gives a form of suggestion through its narration while a narrative informs. A prose also invokes the arbitrariness and linearity of written word while poetry provides configurations in a non-linear way. Language in poetry is opaque and not transparent. One has to construct meaning from poetry. The signs of poetry according to Todorov are symbols which are intransitive. That means that the words in poetry are in fact the direct objects being referred to. Poetry presents a form of communication were there is no clear distinction between concrete and abstract, material and ideal or particular and general.
Poetic words are therefore in- between; they both ambiguous and redundant. Poetry therefore is about indeterminacy which characterizes poetry as a form of communication where the poet can talk the unutterable. Poetry express inattable in stimulating the audience or the reader to try find meaning or a semantic configuration. When reading poetry, one can feel the tension which is embedded in language. This is why poetry is language. Poetic sense dominates the obscure and effective as well as the conceptual, the prosaic favor and the transparent (Strehovec, 2003). Unlike the use of language in a prosaic way, poetry involves correspondence creation in opening up language for meaning recreation. This therefore leads to the creation of experimental poetry as a new attitude towards poetry. The twentieth centaury saw the development of experimental poetics which have presented the representations in a non-linear in both the content and the form.
The transformation from the traditional poetry into experimental poetry is a change from futuristic to concrete. This has enabled poets to go beyond page, line and book conventions of poetry. The traditional poetry presented a closure of the text and also the word modification. There is also the fixation of the book and new signification and possibilities are closed down. On the contrary, experimental poetry presents open work notion. This allows the interpreter to have the freedom consciousness according to Umberto Eco. Therefore the interpreter is put at the center of various inexhaustible net relations which he can present his own interpretations and form. The traditional poetry is the conventional closed work while the digital poetry is the open work. The traditional conventions of poetry guide the reader to interpretations which are predefined. It therefore sets how readers view the world around them but instead proposes a discontinuity, dissonance and fragmentation of our environment which is media saturate.
Digital poetry is therefore as a result of the aesthetics presented in experimental poetry. This important characteristic of digital poetry presents the convergence of sound, image and text. These convergence characteristics in digital poetry first came to be defined as verbovocovisual by James Joyce and a Brazilian group known as the Noiganndres dealing with concrete poetry. The incorporation of the sound, visual and verbal which are the three basics matrixes as aspects found in all the world languages. The traditional poetry was independent only on the matrix of verbal sign. The nineteenth century introduced modern art leading to the dismantlement of verbal sign matrix as the only aspect in poetry. Digital media led to the combination of the three matrixes in an intuitive and articulate manner; leading to the dismantlement of traditional conventions (Block, Heibach, and Wenz, 2004)..
Digital media in poetics
Digital media provides exiting experimental possibilities and poetry innovation because they offer a play into ambiguity, indeterminacy in non-linear means through the experiences within the intermedia. This non-linearity aspect in experimental poetry depends in the reader’s will to accept or not to accept the author’s poetry scheme. The hypermedia and the hypertext present new possibilities for one to randomly access information. However the reader can interpret and browse in a non-linear manner for a linear narrative leading the reading of the poem which is non-linear in a linear form. The digital poem stimulates new non-linear approaches which prevent the authors preconceived notions means of collaboration, the reader’s notions through interactivity and the notion pf the test through convergence.
The theorists of the new media have agreed that digital poetry is a media which results from the union of computing technologies with visual culture which include the TV, film and photography. Digital computer is a blend of telecommunication, film, TV, photography and storage in its optical storage. Digital poetry is therefore and interconnection of technology and art which started in the twentieth centaury.
The beginning of the twentieth century marked the establishment of film practice and theory of montage and editing techniques. This enabled the articulation of the collage artistic concept and the bricolage which is the tendency towards cultural elements. This was achieved through Dadaists and futuristic typographic experiments. The juxtaposition and montage techniques have been pursued by scholars like Schwitter, Marinetti and Tzara in the production of new expressive poetry meaning.
The development of digital computer and the TV in the mid twentieth centaury led to the development of more experimental poetries in visual, sound and concrete poetry of the traditional poetry of the 60s into new poetry horizon. Various computer experiments for automatic and combinatory text became relevant during this time around the world. These groups include the Noigandres (Brazil), PO-EX for Portugal and the USA L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E. Some of the generated new text forms include L.A.I.R.E from France, Portugal’s Pedro Barboas and Italy’s Nanni Ballestrini
. The arrival of the computer therefore marked unity of theory and art. The experimental poets from various regions of the world were able to start the process of culture recycling through technologies for recording information in postmodern parodies which became a wreading, intertextual experience.
The development of experimental or digital poetry into the internet marks the end of territory and community culture. This is because through the WWW there was the networking of culture with the rhizome metaphor evaluation. The cyber space has created the cyber culture which marks the beginning of the concept of digital poetry such as UBU.com, pOes1s, the E-Literature archives and the ElectronicPoetryCenter. All these leads to the hypermedia establishment, wreading with collaboration, hypermedia and congregating montage through the merging of multimedia with computer programming. The chronological methodology shows the experimental poetics interconnectedness and the infrastructure of technologies. The newly developed concrete, digital and futurist poetries shows the new ways of how we interpret the world and how these new ways help in recreating the way we interpret the world.
Comparison of experimental poetry and the traditional conventions of poems
The digital media has brought about new innovative poetry characteristics in providing a definition of the aesthetics in digital poetry. The assembling and brocolage in the new media define digital poetry innovations. The improvement of electronic media allowed the copying of information similar to the digital media which has facilitated text modification and erodes the concept of text permanence or viewing the text as a fixed entity. There is the possibility of shared authorship in digital poetry which is an aspect not found traditional form of poetry (Bolter, 2001). The poems in the past were fixed and written by a specific author in passing a specified meaning. Meaning interpretation in digital poem is negotiated among authors. The digital poem reader is given the chance to be the author is therefore making a digital poem to be an open work that can use open sources.
Digital poetry enables the building of experimental poetics through the development of concrete, sound and visual poetries through the renewal and development by e-poetries. This is not however the case of most digital poems which are currently available in the internet. According to various researchers, the digital poems have the tendency of creating two possibilities. First there can be the emergence of a system where there is direct interaction with the technology in providing a new reading experience through online means. This suggestion is given by Kenneth Goldsmith. The second possibility that is likely to emerge from digital poetry is the static text replication into the Web’s medium.
A digital poem according to Loss Pequeno Glazier should be seen by its author as a new thinking mode in the in the digital media. Unlike the traditional poet, the digital poet should not think of the poem as a remediation or digestion extension of the poem in a printed form. The main idea behind digital poem is the creation of a process of thinking by the use of new technological medium in the making through thinking by various readers. This calls that poets should have the knowledge in computer programming languages. Through this, the poets will become involved in creation of a digital poem as a process as well as the poet becoming a computer language programmer.
Unlike the traditional poem, digital poem provide an opportunity for experimental poets to write in a fluid and in provisional manner which is flexible and adjustable process making digital medium writing become a very critical activity. A digital poem unlike the traditional form of poems is able to propose a stance which is self-reflective in avoiding linearity and transparency. This calls the readers attention to the anthology and materiality of the medium. Digital poetry like experimental poetry presents its symbols which are intransitive through the main features it has and self-reference seen in experimental literature such as interactivity which involves re-writing and wreading, processualaity of it being an open work and an integration, its networking through collaboration and interaction and hypermediality which is its convergence and integration.
Digital poems are created in hypertext form where by an author develops the poem and programs it at CETIC. This forms the creative hypermedia wreadings and collaborative literary text. A poem in hypertext form is in visible in the flash movies foreground and it is animated which moves around the screen with the movement of the mouse as directed by the readers. This means that text is dragable and has various transparency levels. The digital poem is also characterized by dynamic colors and can be assigned at sounds. The appearance of the animation determines affects animation through sound leading to the disturbance of the poem’s linearity. This hypertext concept creates shared authorship and promotes creative writing.
Reading of digital poems as literary texts
The imposition of new technologies on art has lead to poetry transformations and mutations in unforeseeable manner. The digital medium has enabled poetic text to be in the form of virtual art. This has leads to the examination of the aesthetic effect created by electronic poetic composition as well as the changes involved from the tradition to the digital poems. Though the new medium, visual poetry has been animated and are based on links through various, lexis, frames windows, pages and space forms. The digital poems are also based on elements which are morphological in determining the segments such as images and text forms or characterized by internal temporality. The digital poem genre creates a connection with the author and the reader in a unique way (Jim 2001). The poet is able to express himself both spiritually and emotionally about his personal experience, true feelings. The poet is capable of creating an imaginary picture to the reader in introducing him to a new journey of experience.
The new form of digital poetry has included wide English literature genres which include short lyrics, love songs, poems and tragedies among others. Where now poetry is both in the traditional convention and the digital form marking a change from the conventional paper poems into the digital media. The new form of digital poetry has enabled readers to participate in reading the mind of the author and contributing in the writing process. Digital poetry incorporates aspects of sound visuals and kinetic which inspire the readers to demonstrate their artistic abilities while contribution to the authorship of a digital poem. This therefore shows that a digital poem is a process and not a static aspect seen in additional form of poetry language. This means that there is the freedom of expressing oneself through the new medium. The digital poems are characterized by the incorporation of animation, art , and net communication unlike in the traditional poems which were in printed form.
Many questions have been raised as to whether digital poem uphold the cultural values intended by the initial author or not or do the digital poems means the loose of literary work? Another questioned raised is if the English literature cultural heritage will mean being saved in digital form?
Digital poetry has different types such as kinetic poetry, hypertext, digital visual poetry, computer generated animation, code poetry, interactive poetry, experimental video poetry and holographic poetry. Poets take advantage of the ability of computer which is programmable in nature to create combinational and generative approach in text formation. This leads to the creation of sound poetry types. They also use the internet interactive communities and groups such as blogs and network communities to form a collaborative publication and writing communities. Contemporary digital poetry in synthesis of both the media and art in the intense poetic language through programming.
Digital archiving is the main component and cause of the digital poetry genre. Mark Linethenhal (1992) was the main founder of the San FranciscopoetryCenter and American poetry archives. He was interested in preserving the delicate records of poetry from the last half century. Many peoples have supported the groups and are in need of listening to poems through audio tapes since the 1950’s. In need to keep up with the demand, Mark Linethenhal saw the risk of poem loss and the cultural heritage in them. The Poetry center director, Steve Dickson made the decision of transferring the historically valued poems into digital format. This new form of digital achieving has enabled easy accessibility of classic poetry pieces. Thus, it has been accompanied by the safe preservation and easy archival of classic poetry material. The visual elements of digital poetry has enabled visual element similar to the traditional concrete poems. The new genre has also incorporated the audio element which is a different aspect from traditional poetry.
Young- Have Chang, Heavy Industries for example has the visual elements in making lettering larger than the usual size as a visual element .Which gives the reader up-tempo jazz renditions. The jazz music sound accompanied in this poem give the readers a theatrical feel through its synchronized integration of music, kinetic movement and print. The reader may however find it hard to read the words being flashed in the screen; the reader may still be able to understand the poem. The use of music in digital poetry tells the story when the reader fails to read the word. The reader’s attentions are also kept alert in wanting to know what the whole poem has to tell. Graphical philosophy comes into play through the digital poem components which complements its calligraphy. The music assists in telling the content of the digital poem and the animation gives its a more dramatically and interesting site to watch. The aesthetic aspects of the digital poem are accompanied by both the music and the visual animation; thus making poetry to become a visual realistic with illustrations.
The advantages of digital poetry
Digital poetry absorbs the properties of other media and cooperates with them. (Rya, pp 12). The incorporation of poetry with other artistic forms of expressing words goes beyond the traditional convention in poetry. The Kinetic type of digital poetry realizes on movement and not stasis and imitates arts which are time-based. The visual poetry type creates icons and not lines as well as poetic fields.
Digital poetry syntax is often disruptive and discontinuous. It enables the incorporation of hyper poems and multilayer which enables the poem to be readable in various ways. Kinetic poetry shows the signifier’s instability, combinatory, disruptive and its spatial syntax shows the fluidity of its meaning through the consent which change.
Digital text calls for the reader’s active participation in reading the text just like participating in a game. This is an aspect different from a printed stable text which calls the reader to provide an interpretation. There is active exploration of a dynamic text. The exploration of a dynamic text just like a stable text demands exploration for meaning which one can fail or succeed. The reading process of a digital text calls for the interactive dialogue between the machine and the reader the reader is also invited to participate in the authorship of the poem. The images , words and music presents in digital poetry gives the readers more vivid experience than in traditional poetry which have no images and music.
The poem by Elisa Carlotti called 11 Fiume delle Parole is an example of a simple digital composition. The text of these poems is only based on graphical parts. The interesting features that this poem has are that the reader has to place the cursor on given arrows in the poem screen which makes text to regress or move quickly. This poem is an example of a classical form of electronic writing. The reading time is chosen by the reader and lacks internal temporality. Once the slider is positioned on two or more arrows the text moves very fast making the reader have difficulty in reading. This means that the poem does interact with readers and the style of the poem is like the traditional poem which retains the verbal sytagm and the parole sytagm. The sounds which reiterate the morpheme a, the rhymes and alliteration are accompanied by the sound of flowing and rustling water. Therefore the words why rhyme is able to be represented in music form.
Another more advanced digital poem is known as the Stillicido written by an Italian poetess known as Daniela Calisi. This is an example of as simple digital poem based on graphical aspects and present an interactive level with the reader. This poem presents a better way in giving evidence of the game of entax and poetic verse interacts in the creation of the text. Digital medium is therefore not a medium used by the digital poet only write but a medium which allows the creation of a poem. The specificity and originality of the poem are both in writing and reading through practices of programming. The ability to resort words in digital poetry and altering the verses order present a new transformation of characters. Digital poetry also has the advantage of uniting video images and audio with graphical texts which presents the interactivity and dynamism of poem reconstruction and reading. The reader is therefore given the opportunity to be the reader-spectator and the actor. Through the communication of visual images and text and sound, the reader is engaged in a live Performa ewe are able to give the vision of the action and the characters the author is describing.
Digital poetry brought about by new technological techniques making writers to have a new form of expressing themselves through images, pictures and music.These are aspects which were not available in the era of pre-technology. The digital poems are a product of commemorate art substratum. This has presented a change in form of communication and poetry has remained accessible to readers. The readers are able to get in touch with what the poet is giving through the vivid description given through the use of sounds, visual text and images. Digital poetry has now become a decentralized and unity of intercontinental practices which is created in many languages. Digital poets has managed to steadily define itself in the development of artistic interest and new tools in the creation of digital poetic colure such as the E-POETRY (2001, 2003, 2005, and 2007) and International POESIS (1992, 2000, and 2004) festivals held in the United States and in Germany. These festivals have linked artists from various regions of the world in digital poetry projects.
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