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Electronic Literature Organization:Archive & Innovate, Brown University

Activity: Talk or presentation typesLecture and oral contribution

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Mette-Marie Zacher Sørensen - Lecturer

  • The Department of Aestethics and Culture - Interdisciplinary Aesthetic Studies

In the work with my thesis on digital poetry I aim to highlight the following three axes

1) A theoretical reflection considering language in interaction with the visual and auditory modalities as well as an investigation of the relation between language and technical media, using theorists such as N. Katherine Hayles and Friedrich A. Kittler.

2) An analytical, methodical approach, which investigates digital works of poetry and their intermedial relations and effects of meaning.

3) Putting into perspective the historical concrete poetry and avant-garde movements – primarily from Scandinavia.

With these axes in mind, I aim to present a close reading of the Swedish artist Johannes Heldén and his two digital-poetic works “Primärdirektivet/The Prime Directive” and “Väljarna” [The Voters/The Choosers]

The works of Johannes Heldén are interactive, as you activate the words in a random order on the computer screen. There is a background of pictures with depth and minimal animations that create rather impressive surroundings: a foggy forest and a single spruce with black, naked branches, silently moving. Or a factory with tunnels, smoke, and roads with a single moving truck. The ambience is increased by electronic sounds – drone-like and heavy.

In my analysis of the works I will emphasize the figuration of space on several different levels:

The interactivity accentuates the paratactic character of the sentences. The text thereby establishes a kind of cubistic space. In “Valjärna”, there are parts of the language, which, in connection with picture and sound, come to constitute an imaginary universe, with words such as “branches”, “storm”, “green water”, “clay soil”, “shadows” and “darkness”. But some linguistic sequences break free from the universe and create their own, surreal pictures, “a laughing monkey”, “spider made of teeth”.

There are also aphoristic sentences like “The Alphabet is an instruction” and other sequences that comment on the reception of the work itself on a subtle meta-level. “Väljarna” contains concretistic effects, where, for instance, sentences are shaped like the spruce – and this figuration is redoubled by the sentence “The tree is built by signs”.

The language is in interplay with - but also contrasts - the auditory and visual modalities. I intend to investigate the effects of these relations and constitutions of space through a concrete cross-medial approach. Here I use the notion of The modalities of media elaborated by Lars Elleström, which consist of: the material modality, the sensorial modality, the spatiotemporal modality and the semiotic modality. I employ these distinctions in order to analyse and differentiate the intermedial relations in Heldéns works.

5 Jun 2010

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