Scholars and literary artists interested in born digital literary works.
MLA 22 Languages of the Literary Internet
ELO sponsored session exploring digital literature written in languages other than English and/or in translation
483V. Languages of the Literary Internet
- Cecily Raynor (McGill University): “Digitally Mediated Unpoetry: Augusto de Campos’s Early Web Works and Beyond”
In the world of web and media art, third generation web aesthetics (Flores 2019) coupled with technological obsolescence converge around issues related to creating and sustaining digital art. This presentation seeks to explore the early web text-art of Brazilian concrete poet, Augusto de Campos. Through close readings of three of his newly converted works from Flash to HTML5, I explore how is his contrapoemas, or unpoetry, play out in digital platforms and discuss the long-term viability of his digital oeuvre for user-experience and sustainability. Augusto de Campos habitually seeks to trouble and dismantle traditional aesthetics and to reinvent modes of creating and disseminating his work. His digital ‘unpoetry’ only serves to solidify his avant-gardism, as De Campos deployed a “multiplicity of media to prove the verbal, vocal and visual dimensions of the poetic word, from video and digital clip-poems, to pop, sculpture, painting and avant-garde music” (Shellhorse, 148). In more recent years, De Campos has disseminated his work on platforms including Instagram (@poetamenos), developing a following that merges under the umbrella of social media. How might these new venues have critical resonances for conversations around concrete poetry and text-art as the poet approaches his ninetieth year? How can we observe digital concrete poetry in a way that underscores the artist’s use of media, language and geometrical imagery as part of a broader aesthetic? Rather than merely a battle against obsolescence, how might De Campos’s digital preservation serve to reinvigorate or extend the life of his work for years to come?
- xtine burrough and Sabrina Starnaman with LabSynthE and Nomi Stone (The University of Texas at Dallas): “Translating A Needful Message into One Breath Poems”
In summer 2020, LabSynthE led One Breath Poem: A Needful Message, a telematic, poetry workshop for The University of Texas at Dallas’ BLM teach-in “Living Legacies of White Supremacy at UTD and Beyond.” For this event, we translated and recorded Ross Gay’s poem “A Small Needful Fact” about Eric Garner into Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Korean, French, and Farsi with the help of student and faculty translators. We believe that moving beyond English situates Garner’s death and American police brutality within the global community. Moreover, the use of languages other than English de-centers English in America.
By translating and recording Ross Gay’s poem—and de-centering English—we highlighted the link between colonialism and violent institutional oppression. However, it’s more complicated than this: when we looked around our immediate community for translators, largely created by our university affiliation, we found that the languages we spoke collectively were colonial or were nations that had their own legacies of oppression. This brings home to us the way in which Eric Garner’s final breath—as well as Breonna Taylor’s, George Floyd’s, and so many others—encompasses all time and all nations, but is still uniquely his and is uniquely American. It is one breath.
LabSynthE uses emerging technologies to create digitally mediated experiences. To facilitate poetic adaptation and exchange for this project, this call-in platform is inspired by works like John Giorno’s Dial A Poem (1968) and Heath Bunting’s King’s Cross Phone-In (1994). When participants dial in from their mobile phones or landlines calls are directed to a voice over internet protocol (VoIP) we programmed on Twilio.com. Using the programming language Python and the server, pythonanywhere.com, we create site-specific arrays (bundles of poetic exchanges) for exhibition, exchange, and translation opportunities. The A&H teach-in was such a site.
- Paulina Chorzewska (University of Warsaw): “Code, Labor, and Poetry: A Case Study of Polish Electronic Literature”
Tomasz Pułka (1988-2012) is a Polish poet whose texts were published in print, but at the same time in many versions on the Internet. Simultaneous reading of both his print and digital works not only allows for a deep examination of the genesis and history of these texts but also shows how Pułka, by inscribing the poems into a digital space remodels the meaning.
A case study that shows exceptionally well how important the perspective of electronic literature is in this research is the history of the poem “Łuk”, published three times in full (in a poetry volume, in a collection, in an internet magazine) and twice (on a poetry portal and an art-blog) published in pieces. The center of my analysis will be the version published on the blog, which is a digital textimage poetic remixed composition – a poetic text woven into a code snippet derived from the home page of the Rzeszów city hall. The purpose of my speech is to use software studies methods (to examine how the Blogger platform models the meaning of the poetic text), but also critical code studies methods to interpret the code that becomes a fragment of a work. The central interpretive category of my analysis will be labor (which is also the main theme of the print version of the poem). Reading this blog post as codework expands the reflection on the labor to include the following issues: machine work, the operational dimension of the code and intellectual work of the encoder, the agency of poetic language, official work, and the dependency of labor and state institutions, as well as labor metaphors contained in the programming language and IT terminology (in the context of the Polish language represented in the poetry text and English indirectly represented in the code).
Cecily Raynor is an Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies and Digital Humanities at McGill University. At the heart of her scholarship is an attention to contemporary cultural products, be they textual or visual, analogue or digital. Within this framework, her research examines contemporary Latin American literature and digital culture, as well as e-lit and computational humanities. Her first monograph, Latin American Literature at the Millennium: Local Lives, Global Spaces, was published by Bucknell University Press in 2021. She is currently co-editing a volume on digital culture in Latin America which will be released by the University of Toronto Press in early 2022.
xtine burrough is Professor and Area Head of Design + Creative Practice in the School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication at The University of Texas at Dallas where she directs LabSynthE. She engages participatory audiences at the intersection of media art, remix, and digital poetry; and writes to reflect on her practice.
Sabrina Starnaman is an Associate Professor of Instruction at The University of Texas at Dallas, where she teaches American literature, and studies women’s activism, urbanism, and disability. Starnaman is currently training to be a Zen Buddhist chaplain.
LabSynthE is a framework for collaboration in the School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication at The University of Texas at Dallas.
Paulina Chorzeweska is a PhD student at the University of Warsaw, Poland, where she studies Internet Aesthetics and digital literature. She also holds an M.A and BA in digital poetics and Polish Philology. She is editor and collaborator of the literary magazine Maly Format where she writes about digital culture and literature in the Internet.
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