John Cayley, imposition
John Cayley, to whom I attribute a great deal of inspiration with regard to digital poetics, features in the Anthology in the first section of PART 2. imposition was performed at an Openned night which I regrettably had to miss. This is a shame, as it’s a piece of work which I find conceptually very interesting, and was keen to see how the concept was realised in a live setting. The Anthology coverage forms a link to the main Openned site (in the real internets) which opens up a Quicktime panorama of the Foundry setting, with the audio of the performance over the top. The inclusion of the panorama certainly is not an arbitrary aesthetic decision; part of the brief for the audience was to arrive with any laptops handy, and with the software installed and ready to go. The result is that the audience form much of the performance – an achievement strikingly visual as around 1/3 of the audience sit with their laptops all working in tandem.
The notes on imposition state that the project is “the networked performance of an evolving collaborative work engaged with ambient, time-based poetics and harmonically organized, language-driven sound.”1 As loaded as this statement may seem, it makes more sense given its origins in overboard (footnoted in imposition’s notes), a ‘textual painting’ in which, as far as I can tell, noise and a stable text interact, one emerging through the other.
Such a setup seems relevant for the performative setting of imposition, since it foregrounds a reciprocal creative process between human beings and their language, all in terms of a wider reflexive participation with the media of flesh and machine. Random generation within algorithmic constraints produce textual variations, and it would appear that the same algorithmic system has been remapped onto the compositional strategies of Giles Perring.
I hope I can participate in one of these performances soon.
Fiona Templeton, imagining being at the republican convention
Before picking up Mum in Airdrie (available here) I was really only familiar with Templeton’s work YOU–The City. Like Mum, this excerpt utilises mainly extremely short lines of text which, as I noted in Robert Hampson’s work, seem to blur the starting and finishing points of phrases. This is helped by the occasional neologism (or perhaps partial erasure), as in the following:
off the realm of
sun pists down
hold you on hold
like fire spreading
a scale of dampnation
and this is where I really
This extract scans fairly easily but turns away from comfotable closure at every turn. “pist” here could be a partially erased “piste” turned into a verb. It also phonetically demands a reading as “kissed” as in sun kissed (or even Sunkist) or (the way I like to read it) “pissed” turned into a kind of past-participle present hybrid verb. I like this reading better, as it complements the neologism “dampnation” later in the extract, a word which seems to imply wet damnation as well as simply an adjective and noun fused. “kid knownly” might go unnoticed as “knowingly” at first glance, only to refuse that reading alone. Interestingly for me, the persistent grammatical disagreements produce a plateau through which such tensions come through with exciting energy. Such has been the joy of reading Templeton’s page-based work for me.
This post has taken longer than I’d expected! I’ll carry on in my next Anthology roundup with Steve Willey’s excerpts from his extended project (to be presented as part of his MA disertation) writing through Walter Benjamin. His relationship with this project, I assume, will eventually drive him mad.
As an aside, it would be interesting if anyone has anything to add / disagree regarding my comments on these works so far. No pressure, but feel free.
- Cayley, notes on imposition, http://homepage.mac.com/shadoof/impose/impnotes.html. Accessed 5th August 2007. See also the PDF download of the same notes. [↩]
- Anthology p. 52 [↩]