Jacques DONGUY (France)
Jacques Donguy (b. 1943) – poet, performer, essay writer, translator. Took part in the movement French Beat Poetry and was among the ideologists of the poetic movement Nouveau Realisme. Published a great number of poetry productions, making use of new technologies, and since the early 1980s he has been one of the theorists of the computer poetry genre. Wrote a number of books dedicated to various trends in the contemporary literature. Conducted a large number of poetic performances with use of various computer technologies (sound transformers, simultaneous transmissions, and sample projects). Professor at Paris I University. For more information see the bio-bibliography of the participant . Taken from the poet’s manuscript. © 1999 Jacques Donguy, Paris.
ELECTRONIC POETRY, DIGITAL SOUND POETRY, METAPOETRIES
The ear favors no particular “point of view”. We are enveloped by sound. It forms a seamless web around us.
Marshall McLuhan, “The Medium is the Massage”
“Just as the heart is programmed to pump blood, my sinewy brain is now programmed to fire, launch, transmit, beam thoughts through the electronic window into Cyberia.”
Timothy Leary, “Chaos & Cyber Culture”
“To write of the cyber performances of Crash Machines as a body-machine interface is really to miss the point, because the quick mutation of a new body type, the Spasm Body, fit for the age of digital reality is what really happening here.”
Arthur Kroker, “SPASM”
Dick Higgins, the theoretician of intermedia who died suddenly in Quebec the last October the 25th sixty years old wrote about poetry like an intermedia, including postal poetry or mail art poetry, concept poetry, video poetry, visual poetry, action poetry, sound poetry. Intermedia is the concept of mixing elements, different from the mixed media, simple addition of elements, like opera.1
Timothy Leary, dead in 1996, established a parallel between the Johannes Gutenberg’s invention in 1456 of the press with mobile types, giving rise to the production line work of the Personal Book and the invention of the Personal Computer or PC in the eighties. Just as the Personal Book made the connection between the feudal system and the industrial era, the Personal Computer permitted the individual to evolve towards the information era. Touching on the Literature assisted by Computer through the Joyce’s works, Timothy Leary presents Joyce not only as a writer, but also as a proto-hacker reducing the ideas to fundamental ideas before he brought together in indefinite combinations.2
Sound and image. Or the Raoul Hausmann’s Optophonetic who registered a patent in London in 1936 for a machine able to transform sound to image and vice versa.3 The artist Gwek Bure-Soh created a video camera in the eighties transforming, through an interface image in sound and used it during a reading performance of computer poetry at Aubervilliers Theater in December 1998. The sound of our voice was transformed live by the light on the hands of Bure-Soh through the interface camera with the IRCAM’s software Max.
The sound. Stelarc, the Australian artist, before he developed the “amplified body” thought about an intermedium dance/art: “When I went to Japan, one of the first things I did was a choreographed dance piece. I had asked Frank Beker, a musician friend, to compose a piece for a work and that just didn’t work out well. I became increasingly interested in connecting body gesture and posture with sound. The idea of amplifying a muscle signal came to mind. Now, if I twist my arm, flick my fingers, contract muscles and electrodes are stuck on the skin, I can pick up the signal, pre-amplify and process it. I can make sounds that are structurally connected to the motion.” 4
From Raymond Roussel to William Burroughs, the writing like a way of selecting and stocking of information. Or the Aesthetics of stocking. Random operates the distribution of the text. It is what we are developing with Guillaume Loizillon in our texts processed by computer since 1983. Or the technique of sampling, like the DJs today.
The digital revolution. According to Arthur Kroker, we are the first citizens of a culture that actually vanished in the vortex of the electronic frontier. “Disappearing into its own trompe l’oeil, the electronic vortex of the floating self is finally liberated of (fixed) identity, of (determinate) gender, of (localized) history, and of (bodily) subjectivity”. Crash aesthetics for cyber ears.
Video poetry. Melo e Castro realized his first videopoem, “Roda Lume”, in 1968 in Lisbon. But the American visual poet Richard Kostelanetz developed this concept of videopoetry since 1975 and at the Experimental TV Center of Owego, he realized “Videostrings”. In Italy, Enzo Minarelli realized “Volto Pagina” in 1986.
Holopoetry is another poetry intermedia using new technologies. Richard Kostelanetz, interested by the discovery of “alternative possibilities for organizing words”, produced his first poetic hologram in 1978, “On Holography”, a rotating cylinder with five syntactically circular statements passing endlessly before the viewer’s eyes. Another hologram was produced in 1985, “Antitheses”, with five sets of words on four planes, for example Warm/Cold, Love/Hate, Patrimony/Parsimony. In Brazil, we have to quote the Brazilian concrete poet Augusto de Campos with “REVER” in 1981, after in 1985 “LUZMENTEMUDACOR” with Moyses Baumstein. An exhibition took place in November 1987 with the title “IDEHOLOGIA”. Eduardo Kac, another Brazilian poet, will be the theoretician of the holographic poetry. He realized in 1983 with Fernando Eugenio Catta-Preta “HOLO/OLHO”. He lives in the United States since 1989. According to him, Holopoetry is a new frontier of language, a “three-dimensional structure storing information in a non-linear way”.
Other technological media will be used by poets or artists, like the neon with Maurizio Nannucci in Italy, or the liquid crystal display used by Augusto de Campos for his poem “CIDADE CITY CITE” exhibited in the Avenida Paulista in Sao Paulo.
The computer, according to Arthur Kroker, has no memory, or a cynical memory. In fact, as Borges Checked it, human remembrance is also forgetting. The first computer poem was from the German Theo Lutz in 1959. We can quote the poets Brion Gysin, Emmett Williams, Dick Higgins and Jackson Mac Low . But with the CD-ROM, a new aesthetics appeared the CD-ROM writing. In the CD-ROM Alire/Doc(k)s (5), Ladislao Pablo Gyori developed the Virtual Poetry (VP) with words in 3D floating in space and recombining themselves indefinitely. Ourselves, we work an endless sampler text processed by computer since 1983, first published on screen, and now read during public performances. There are other computer poets like Philippe Bootz, Tibor Papp or Philippe Castellin . Or the assisted generation of text by Jean-Pierre Balpe. Amplified memory like Stelarc used the notion of “amplified body”. From passive supports of data (books, prints, tapes, LP) to virtual and active systems.
1. In The Intermedia Essay, Something Else Newsletters, New York, 1966.
2. Timothy Leary, Digita deli, New York, Workman Publishing CO., 1984.
3. Jacques Donguy, in Art Press magazine n 255, March 2000.
4. Nicholas Zurbrugg in Electronic Arts in Australia, Continuum vol.8 no.1, Murdoch University, Australia, 1994.
5. Magazine Alire 10 – Doc(k)s 3 13-16, Poetry and Computer, with CD-ROM, Ajaccio, 1997.Previous (Ide HINTZE), Next (Enzo MINARELLI)