"digital poetry" & network conditions

an extension of the {"digital poetry" vs. net art} thread:

Lewis (et al),

Though I, too, called for "net art" to be specific to the net, I
think that we may be over-glamorizing and under estimating certain
network conditions. Lewis, in your critique of [digital poetry] you
say, "it operates with a totalitarian economy…it's closed, no-one
can walk inside it really, no one can move anything in it…" This
point implies that a linguistic act (poetry) can escape closed
systemiticity, which seems impossible to me. (along the same lines,
when you say "one can't translate Finnegan's Wake into cinema because
it's a linguistic experience," I want to insist on remembering the
difference between "linguistic" and "written.) But *more* important
to me, in your critique, is the assumption that the very dynamics of
reading must be somehow different on the internet; that an art work
or artist is not living up to its/her mandate if it does not
illustrate this difference. (ie you refer to "the ones that are just

I see a sort of slippage, here, in that we have all been insisting on
the way in which a text (visual, verbal, written, aural, etc) is
changed/completed/authored by the reader in her interpretation or
performative enunciation of the text. (you described your own net
work, saying, "the work itself ends up being authored mostly by the
user and the machine-though I would urge us to think about how
"language" might be used in place of "machine," both as a catch-all
for analog and digital work, and because I think you mean more the
system than the machine-the machine cannot drive itself, can it? It
needs a language and instructions written in that languageS)

If we are to insist on this, however, we cannot say that the act of
reading is "actionless" in one medium or platform over another. This
needs to refer to reading at large, though we'd be remiss not to
notice the different reading conditions (in this case, network
conditions) at play, effecting the construction, dissemination,
accessibility, physical and intellectual labor of reading, and
interpretation of the work. But this just recalls the age old
story|discourse distinctionS

This concern carries over to my understanding of your statement, "i
want a new art form, a new form of digital poetry that's less
cinematic…" Are you saying that you want something read more
actively than a "passive" cinematic text? (this was a common
critique of Heavy Industries' Flash movies) I am well-aware of
important readings of cinema's cultural context, in relation to
leisure/class, passivity, spectacle, and (easy)identification;
however, I would again underscore my point that there is an action
happening in these readings. Let's think about how a cinematic
narrative is read, in relation to a written one. (and while I
understand the coding of the word narrative, I think that my comments
here could also refer to "non-narrative" texts that are read
spatially, as in poetry-of course, what's not read spatially?!) We
read words/images in a specific order, whether or not that order is
traditionally "linear," or more what I call "curvilinear" (in the
sense that the order may change, but all of the
pieces/words/signifiers are still linked in a distinct way); this
reading-order is a product of our (linguistic) enculturation, of
course, but we must first agree that some process is in place. No
matter what this process is, the text is subject to secondary (and
tertiary, etc) revisions, as we retroactively make sense of the
pieces, in relation to each other, new information, etc. So, when mez


"u" is qualified by "do.NT." This much is obvious. What it should
also make obvious is that I, as a reader, am performing an action.
Bracketing "death of the author" arguments, this action is roughly
the same whether I perform it in response to an e-mail, Flash site,
piece of paper, metal engraving, or filmS. I would, however, be
interested in hearing more on how/why you think that a work becomes
"damaged" when it is translated into another media. Are you referring
more to an artist's intent or the aesthetic value of the work?


Marisa S. Olson
Associate Director
SF Camerawork
415. 863. 1001