RE: [-empyre-] on electronic poetry
Hi Jaka--great to hear from you.
> i joust came back from short 1. of May holydays (slovly going to summer
> my part of world)
It is spring here and the cherry blossoms are magnificent
> and find my inbox to contain many messages with thoughts on electronic
> poetry whic is
> topic i explore quite a lot in my own art work (interested might check
> it at http://www.jaka.org )
Yes you do! I am a fan of your work, actually, and had it in mind to bring your work into this
discussion at some point anyway. That'd be now!
I have visited your www.jaka.org site on several occassions. I just visited it again. I have
experienced your 'Typescape.2' piece before and was very impressed. I tried it just now but I
think I need to reboot from all the multitasking I've been doing before my machine can handle
'Typescape.2'. Could you speak about that work, Jaka, and tell us what to do and something of
what to expect in this piece and how to move within it?
And, since we are on the subject of poetry and programming, what is the role of programming for
you in this piece?
> well i was not able to follow from beging so i'll like to ask Jim (i
> also have to say i like
> your work a lot!) and list on some topics:
> - how exactly do you think of computers as language machines?
Let me address it further down in the post in context of your comments below. But I should also
add that the notion of computers as language machines is something Simon has written about. And
it is something that students of Computer Science become (often painfully) aware of in third
year of study when they confront the 'confoundingly mathematical' course they take in 'language
and the theory of computation'.
> i have problem with this: i found computer to be very visual (we use
> graphical user interface),
> there are several visual programing languages, we rarly give text
> comands to computer
> and most of all programing languages are not at all close to natural
> human languages (whic
> still are main material of (e)poetry be it in visual or in sound
> manifestation of language). when
> we translate code of computer we basicaly get 0's and 1's (or aples and
> peaches it realy doesn't
> matter) - which is pure logic and so more mathematics than language
An interesting point. Allow me to first say that the idea of computers as language machines is
not meant to displace the visual from its lofty position in net.art--heaven forbid :)
I'm joking in a sense, but serious in another sense: the notion of 'visual language' is
something i have been fascinated with even before i started vispo~langu(im)age. And, like you, i
am fond of visual programming environments like Director, Delphi, Flash, Visual Basic, etc.
There's a phrase used by Clemente Padin I like, the Uruguayan polyartist poet: he speaks of a
poetry that winds through all the dimensions of language.
Concerning the question of whether computers are language or math machines or whatever, well, in
a sense it's a red herring, isn't it. because we see that mathematics and language are so
intimately bound together in the theory of computation, are both so present and crucial to the
theory of computation (and the actual workings of computers) that computers are mathematical
language machines. When you search www.amazon.com for 'language and the theory of computation'
you come across some titles that, if you look at the books, look like pure or applied
mathematics texts. Yet you will find that they also talk incessantly about language and the
properties of language, and they contain work by no less than Noam Chomsky--he was trained
initially as a mathematician--he has done fundamental work in Computer Science though he is a
Linguist. Howso? Computers have to parse the source code of programs according to the rules of
grammar established in the language, and Chomsky has done work on how to describe grammars
formally in ways that computers can handle. Production rules for constructing propositions and
so forth--there's something called 'Chomsky Normal Form' which, given his later work, has an odd
In any case, part of what Simon and I have been discussing is the relation between language and
mathematics present in the phenomenology of computers, trying to probe deeply into the 'andness'
of language and mathematics in the phenomenology of computers.
> - i would also like to ask you Jim do inside e-poetry find relevant the
> medium of it?
Sorry, Jaka, i don't understand the question. 'inside' what? also, what is the question about
If you mean to ask whether I think that understanding media is important, i would say yes. for
many reasons. the first of which, for artists, being that if you don't, the media may have their
way with you in unexpected and road-kill fashion. what are those signs on the road and am i
but, knowing your work at www.jaka.org , which is very informed about visual, literary, and
programmed media, this will hardly be news to you. you started out as a print poet (so did I)
and you published a book of poems in 94 or 95, if i recall correctly, and have since moved into
a totally intense engagement with language, the visual, and programming from Slovenia to the
soft skinned space (and many points elsewhere).
> Can difference betven e-poetry on a web page and in exe program be relevant?
Relevant to what? The questions of whether it is net.art or web.art or something else?
Yeah, who cares?
The things I consider concerning differences between a browser shell and a Windows or Mac exe
shell are things like browser chrome (frame) (i like full-screen for some work, as do you, i
see, and this can be achieved in some browsers), ease of communication between windows (that is
why i made Windows For Shockwave), access to the player's system (in shockwave you can write
.txt or .htm files to the player's drive, while in projector/exe you have full access to all
system files and resources), download/startup time, whether you want people to have to visit the
site to re-experience the piece, and other stuff like that. exe work can be very net-based. web
work can be cd based. web work can be very net based in dealing with email, for instance, or
other mainly non-web but net-based protocols. at this point, whether a piece is web or exe, it
can handle various net-based protocols. web work does not have access to the client file system
and registry and so on. but it should be said that web based work usually gives the viewer
quicker access to the work (if the plugin is installed blah blah) and can function with the
speed of desktop applications if programmed carefully--my piece arteroids at
http://vispo.com/arteroids can go fullscreen in a browser and the performance, as a computer
game, is desktop-quality in its speed--ok, i'm proud of that. It can (and has) also occupy
smaller spaces inside browsers (like it does in the arteroids essay and on quadgames.com, a game
i have a special fondness, however, for good web based work because the web has been my
excellent publisher for some years and i am still excited about it as not the library of all
knowledge (if you look back in the correspondence you see some fascinating posts on this
subject, the totality of true propositions) but as a place of international communications and
the development of a new art therein that is capable of synthesis of arts, media, and
programming in a very very public way. And not-quite-uncountably much else indeed denumerably
many other things, even only finitely many of them, but enough for now.
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