Karenina.it - New Media / Experiences


Crossing Language, Media, Culture

By Fatima Lasay

University of the Philippines, College of Fine Arts

July 2001



The invitation to participate in The Virtual Mine's Gegenort Project came into my e-mailbox nearly three months ago from Brazilian poet and literature professor Jorge Luiz Antonio. I have known Jorge for several months now through an electronic discussion group hosted by Webartery.com and we have done a number of previous works together, including the Internet Soul Project Gimokud and the visualizing and translating of poetry in Portuguese, English, Filipino and re-reading through digital music. I have also enjoyed translating Jorge's poetry into the ancient Filipino script, baybayin.


For the Virtual Mine, Jorge and I conceptualized /e-m/ag/inero/ which encompasses electronic, imagination, imaginero the image maker, minero the miner. And Jorge goes on to play with the words: " I can observe "ignero", or "ígneo" (Portuguese word, adjective, for the meaning of "igneous", "fiery", "pyrogenic", "ignescent state", "combustion"…)."


And even further:









This playfulness with words, a natural for Jorge, I could match with a visual and aural installation, by using the various translations to produce computer-generated music that played while Jorge's infopoetries danced on the screen. What resulted was a piece of work that very well complemented the location of the installation, the Gegenort Mine Pit in Germany, where energy, coal, fuel was mined. The transfusion and translation of words produce energy - virtual and real - as the light of imagery and the sound of digital music. The images are animated, looping to dance to the music. The entire energy generation process presented is an infinite loop, from the words, endlessly animating visual poetries are generated. The sound component of /e-m/ag/inero/ also come from the words, which are fed into a program that converts the text into vectors (numbers) and the vectors into music. The instruments used give ambience and reflect the energies of the words. The result - visual, sound poetry - A Energia! / THE ENERGY!


In Jorge's essay "The Digital Poetry Genre", Jorge discusses how artistic texts are seen by two points: "the digital art, the digital poetics, with the predominance of infographic images, with certain similarity with visual arts; and the digital poetry, as the union of poem, moving image and sound in the digital-electronic environment, by means of interactivity, hypertextuality, hypermedia and interface."


Some of the visual poetry or infopoetry, created by Jorge in E.M. de Melo e Castro's course, also make the work a tribute to the foremost teacher and experimental poet of Brazil (Infopoetry is the name given by E. M. de Melo e Castro in a Course of Infopoetry and Sound Poetry in the Postgraduate Program in Communication and Semiotics).


In Jorge's essay, I also especially enjoyed the discussion of how digital media and telecommunications has enabled poetry to rapidly change form and dimension. In /e-m/ag/inero/ we present how the authorship of poetry has also changed dramatically, with the use of the expansive infrastructure of the internet, crossing space and time. The readership of poetry has also dramatically evolved here as /e-m/ag/inero/ will be installed in a room where the only light source would be the animated visual poems projected towards the ceiling and the music playing in the background. While there will be five poems to be projected, depicting five elements that fuse energy to fuel the World (Fire, Water, Earth, Air and Spirit), the background music represents the Spirit Element in the installation. I refer to this as Spirit Music, a wild hypnotic rhythm of taiko drums and shakuhachi, playing to the dizzying dance and color cycles of the projected poems. The Spirit Element and its attendant poem binds all the other poems together, as such:


Let sound(s) be wor(l)d(s)
Deixe o(s) som(s) se tornar(em) palavras) / mundo(s)

Let wor(l)d(s) be image(s)
Deixe as palavras / mundos se tornar(em) imagem(ns)

Let image(s) be wor(l)d(s)
Deixe as imagem(ns) se tornar(em) palavra(s) / mundo(s)

Let poetry be chain of all
Deixe a poesia ser a união de tudo

Let poetry link all of them
Deixe a poesia ligar tudo


Hayaan ang daigd/tin/ig
Hayaan ang ti/nig/tik
Larawan ay syang tinig syang titik syang daigdig
Hayaan ang tula/y/ nilang lahat


The use of music in the work is an important point in communicating and creating meaning which is a process of generating energy as well, such that entering the room would be a participation in a very energizing poetry reading. For Jorge, "it is really another poems' readings, it remembers Camilo Pessanha's poem (first verse): "Só, incessante, um som de flauta chora " (Alone, incessant, a flute sound weeps ...". And the verse remembers not only the flute sound but the sound made by digital and electronic way."


In "Earth", where the words ouro/carvão (gold/coal) are mined in the poem, three percussion instruments play the three-language translations, the marimba, xylophone and taiko drums, producing the industrial music of coal miners.


In "Water", we produced translations of Jorge's Logo Logos Lago Algo (Jorge explains, "the Portuguese words Logo, logos, lago, algo have the some sound and writing similarity, but not in English: soon, Logos (the Divine Word), lake, something.") and predicts, " Logo o logos poderia ser alguma coisa como um lago" (Soon logos would be something like a lake.) The re-reading for Logo Logos Lago Algo consists of crystal and rain synthesizer instruments, resulting in a flowing and gushing sensation.


For "Air", the only verse is "Lá fora um vento me diz ..." (Outside the wind tells me ...) and, as Jorge describes, gets lost in the universe. In Filipino, I saw the verse as "Ayon sa tinig ng hangin …" (According to the voice of the wind …) and re-read the poem as shakuhachi, bottle blow and breath noise.


In "Fire", which was the last of the five poems that Jorge presented during our email exchanges, an idea he sent just before going to the bus station to work, is an infopoetry from Melo e Castro's course. Entitled "Sol Som Lá Fora" (Sun Sound There Outside) and in the image it is written:


Lá fora, (There outside) o sol, (the sun)
meu sol, (my sun) meu som.
(my sound)


For the re-reading in music I used three patches: bird tweet, brightness and warm synth pad, which readily created the ambiance of outdoor daylight.


Aside from the light, movement and sound installation, there is an interactive installation both on the internet and in the exhibition hall in Gegenort. Here, the readers experience the poetry in yet another dimension, following the links to images, text, sound and animation that the readers must "compose" as the links are distilled into their memory.


While exploring the intertextuality inherent in literary forms and experimenting various possibilities of hypermedia with computers and telecommunications, I believe Jorge and I have entered new configurations of space, crossing language, media and culture. Part of our collaboration also is variable media interpretation of poetry, and as Jorge adds, the criticism and creation of poetry with digital and electronic media. This is exciting new territory and there is still so much to learn and explore.



ANTONIO, JORGE LUIZ (2001) The Digital Poetry Genre


Jorge Luiz Antonio
BIOGRAPHY: JORGE LUIZ ANTONIO is from Brazil. He is a poet, writer, Portuguese Literature professor, and is currently studying digital poetry for his PhD degree in Communication and Semiotics Program at the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo, Brazil. He wrote "Almeida Júnior através dos tempos" (Almeida Junior throughout the time) (1983), and "Cores, forma, luz, movimento: a poesia de Cesário Verde" (Colours, form, light, movement: the Cesário Verde's poetry) (to be published in mid-2001).


Fatima Lasay
BIOGRAPHY: FATIMA LASAY is an Industrial Design graduate of the University of the Philippines; she is also a practicing artist, writer and researcher. Fatima is a teacher of digital media art also at the University of the Philippines and is currently working on her MFA thesis on religious imagery, symmetry and visual recurrence analysis. Fatima runs and maintains Hoydigiteer.org, a digital art initiative focusing on networked projects, workshops and exhibition.


/e-m/ag/inero/ by Fatima Lasay and Jorge Luiz Antonio is an Experimental Poetry Installation that will take place in Neunkirchen-Wiebelskirchen, Germany, along with ten other installations from all across the globe. The project, initiated by five new media artists from Saarland, Germany, will also present the installation online through http://www.the-virtual-mine.net/ in August 2001.

(This review was first published in FineArtForum, E-zine, vol. 15, issue 08, August 2001, in the following url: http://www.fineartfortum.org/Bakissues/Vol_15/faf_n08/text/review02.html )