Kac's holopoetry and digital poetry: Critical fragments

"Subjetividad en la poesía holográfica de Eduardo Kac," Eduardo Acuña-Zumbado. In: Luis Correa-Diaz and Scott Weintraub (eds.). Poesía y poéticas digitales en América Latina, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, 2015.


Ikonen further acknowledges the work of Eduardo Kac as being particularly relevant to the potential for signs to change over time, and identifies a distinct similarity between Kac's holographic poems and the events seen in some onscreen, kinetic typography, such as the digital artefacts by Waber and Van Der Dorpel. Kac, moreso than any other theorist, appreciates that letterforms in temporal environments can be susceptible to change. Most significantly for this investigation, he acknowledges greater degrees of change than other theorists.

Although Kac's works are holographic – neither presented on screen nor paper – they bear a much closer resemblance to some onscreen transforming typography than the print or even screen-based typography that is more commonly cited as its precursor. Kac produced "holopoems" from 1983 onwards. These holopoems provide temporal experiences as viewers navigate around them in a gallery space. As they move, viewers experience what appear to be changes in the letterforms in the poem. Kac describes his works as containing "fluid signs", or signs that alter over time, "therefore escaping the constancy of meaning a printed sign would have". They are capable of "metamorphoses between a word and an abstract shape, or between a word and a scene or object". Fluid signs can present multiple meanings. A fluid form evolves over time to the extent that its meaning also changes. A fluid sign is "not either one thing or another"; its form is constantly in flux, as is its identity (Ikonen). A single form may be observed in one moment as having a verbal identity, and in another moment, once it has transformed, as presenting another identity. Though in typography we would normally expect form and identity to be inextricably linked, and fixed, here, an additional identity is introduced without the introduction of an additional form.

Fluidity is exemplified in Kac's Souvenir d'Andromeda. In this holopoem, as the viewer navigates around the hologram, a number of abstract polygonal objects appear to align to present the word 'LIMBO'. The relative position of the viewer causes those objects to appear to be arranged in different ways, and therefore by changing the relative locations of the viewer and objects (as when the viewer navigates around a holopoem) the objects can appear to align to construct a meaningful configuration. The word "limbo" aptly describes the state of uncertainty in which the letterforms exist, and the way in which their identities cannot be taken for granted. The depicted objects appear, at times, to be abstract, and at other times to be linguistic. Hence, their identity changes over time. It is this behaviour that Kac later describes as "fluid".

"Fluid Characters in Temporal Typography", by Barbara Brownie, Fusion n. 1, February, 2013. <http://www.fusion-journal.com/issue/001-fusion/fluid-characters-in-temporal-typography/>


Gerald L. Bruns, "Interpretation," in: The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics: Fourth Edition by Greene, R., editor in chief (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2012), p. 716.


"The holopoem, in other words, is a virtual text that moves and changes as the reader wanders through it, thus giving William’s practice of “broken composition”, not to mention the concept of a complex entity, a new turn—something one might compare to a funhouse tour, since the reader, however much now a collaborator of sorts, remains (rather like Spicer’s poet) subject to the words themselves, or at least to the letters (or digits) that endlessly reshape themselves and their environment. 3

To be sure, any form is inevitably caught in the double bind of its technology, which limits or confines what it makes possible – witness the difficulty of citing a holopoem:  “Because of their irreducibility as holographic texts”, Kac writes, “holopoems resist vocalization and paper reproduction. Since the perception of the texts changes with the viewpoint, they do not possess a single ‘structure’ that can be transposed or transported to and from another medium” (“Holopoetry”, 132-33). The best one can do is to make a film of such a poem, which Kac has done in the case of several of his works.4 A mere photograph simply turns the work back into a piece of visual poetry."


Gerald L. Bruns, What Are Poets For? An Anthropology of Contemporary Poetry and Poetics (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2012), pp. 13-17.


Pawlicka, Urszula. (Polska) poezja cybernetyczna. Konteksty i charakterystyka (Kraków: Korporacja Ha!art, 2012), pp. 32-37; 157-163.


"La holopoesía experimenta con la dislocación del discurso, el movimiento continuo, la inestabilidad textual, la discontinuidad transicional. En ella los signos son elementos flexibles (sintáctica, semántica y gráficamente) que cambian de lugar y establecen una relación interactiva con el espectador; la idea de que el holopoema refleja una visión de la palabra y del mundo como elementos "maleables" es fundamental. La holopoesía emplea la tecnología y explora los usos de la refracción de la luz con el fin de producir obras de naturaleza inestable, cambiante, polifacética. Obras que, por decirlo de alguna manera, invaden el espacio del perceptor-reconfigurador, cuya presencia es crucial para la reconfiguración del holopoema. A partir de su perspectiva perceptora, lee y da sentido a los elementos que el holopoeta dispuso para el holopoema."

Periódico de Poesía, No. 44 No. 44 / Noviembre 2011 ("Poéticas visuales"), Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.

Poesía tridimensional en el espacio: La holopoesía de Eduardo Kac
Por María Andrea Giovine

María Andrea Giovine es jefa del departamento de Traducción e Interpretación, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.


“Reflections on Intermedia Poetic Modes: Bartolome Ferrando and Eduardo Kac.” Contemporary Poetry from Europe and the Americas. FMLS Oxford Journal (2011) 47(4): 429-441.


Simanowski, Roberto. Digital Art and Meaning: Reading Kinetic Poetry, Text Machines, Mapping Art, and Interactive Installations (Minneapolis: Univ Of Minnesota Press, 2011), p. 30 (holopoetry); pp. 54-57 (Genesis).


Brownie, Barbara. “Fluid Typography: Construction, Metamorphosis and Revelation.” Writing Design: Words and Object. Ed. Lees-Maffei, Grace. London: Berg, 2011.


Ioana-Eliza Deac. “New Meanings of Poetry in Eduardo Kac’s Poems,” in: Cybertext Yearbook 2010, University of Jyväskylä (2010). Editors: Markku Eskelinen & Raine Koskimaa. <http://cybertext.hum.jyu.fi/index.php?browsebook=7>


Digital holopoetry – latest, provisional frontier – brings forth, beyond the page and the object, a third dimension that is exclusively kinetic and immaterial.

Matteo D’Ambrosio. “Le disavventure della parola. Dalle avanguardie storiche all´ambiente multimediale,” in: Il testo, l’analisi, l’interpretazione. Volume terzo: Studi di teoria e critica letteraria sul tema Letteratura, tecnologia, scienza, a cura di Matteo D’Ambrosio (Naples: Liguori Editore, 2009), p. 18.

Matteo D’Ambrosio insegna Storia della critica letteraria presso l’Università di Napoli “Federico II”. Semiologo e storico delle avanguardie.


Annalisa Dell’Annunziata. “La Poesia informatica. Teoria e critica del testo e della lettura,” in: Il testo, l’analisi, l’interpretazione. Volume terzo: Studi di teoria e critica letteraria sul tema Letteratura, tecnologia, scienza, a cura di Matteo D’Ambrosio (Naples: Liguori Editore, 2009), pp. 48-54.

"Friedrich W. Block: "Im Uebergang. Notizen zur Selbstbeschreibung der Poesie". In: Christian Steinbacher (ed.): Fuer die Beweglichkeit. Notizen, Raender, Nomaden. Linz: Stifterhaus 2009, pp 21-39.

Alors que l’épistémologie rationaliste héritée de Bachelard décrit les progrès de la science selon un modèle d’avancée historique correspondant peu ou prou à la levée successive des obstacles ou des préjugés subjectifs voilant ou faussant la connaissance objective, et ceci de façon extrêmement abstraite, sans se soucier des procédures et des gestes du scientifique réel, réduit à un idéal-type de raison, l’anthropologie des sciences, élaborée par Bruno Latour, s’attache aux conditions concrètes qui déterminent les opérations scientifiques, en étudiant ce qui se joue quotidiennement dans les activités d’un labo: multiplication des appareils de mesure et chaîne d’inscripteurs orientés vers la production finale d’un texte destiné à des revues spécialisées formant le contexte de véridiction / validation des énoncés.  Que produit au juste la science?  De la nouveauté ontologique.

Des textes, certes, mais plus décisivement des êtres inédits, de nouvelles entités qui désormais font partie de notre univers commun:  les vaccins, les microbes, les gènes, les quarks - des hybrides complexes qui résultent de décisions à la fois scientifiques, politiques, technologiques et qui deviennent des enjeux collectifs.
 
Eduardo Kac est le poète par excellence de ces quasi-objets mixtes et impurs produits par les sciences.  Son travail consiste à s’emparer de ces nouveaux êtres et à tester leur possibilité de constituer des médias pour des stratégies composition-nelles langagières: dans un premier temps Kac s’empare d’appareils technologiques en développement (l’hologramme , le minitel, l’ordinateur), puis, avec la réflexion sur le codage ADN comme forme scripturale, va tester des modes d’écritures biopoétiques inédits:  création d’un lapin fluorescent par modification du génome, écriture avec des bactéries dans un biotope, devenant à son tour créateur de quasi-objets rejouant les données de la science dans un sens ludique et politique.


Olivier Quintyn

"Hodibis Potax — Compte rendu", Cahier Critique de Poésie -- CCP 16, cipM, septembre 2008, p. 170.


"Eduardo Kac, one of the pioneers of Holopoetry, notes that "holography and computer holography blur the frontier between words and images and create an animated syntax that stretches words beyond their meaning in ordinart discourse" (Kac). Computer animation techniques create a new kind of poetic composition that challenges fixed visual and verbal forms. In Holopoetry, the sequence of linear reading is broken since the poem is either visually fluctuating or verbally reonating; the reader cannot assume that there is a fixed beginning or ending. This results in a changed reader, one who will generally "have multiple and differentiated experiences of the text," with all of the experiences being equally valid (Kac).

Angelica Huizar

Huizar, Angelica. Beyond the Page (Bethesda, Dublin, Palo Alto: Academica Press, 2008), p. 11.
Block examines the question of how the computer media extend the current spectrum of visual poetry. (...) A really new quality in the Turing Galaxy he recognizes, similar to myself, is the inclusion of the body. First examples he sees in the digital Holopoetry by Eduardo Kac, and in the "currently most famous media artwork," "The Legible City" (1989-91) by Jeffrey Shaw and Dirk Groeneveld.Volker Grassmuck"A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Turing Galaxy: On naming the age of the networked digital computer", Contemporanea, vol. 5, nº 1 e 2. Dez. 2007.
Poet/artist Eduardo Kac (b. 1962) first gained international recognition in the 1980s with his computer-generated holopoetry. Over the past twenty years, he has more radically explored the possibilities of contemporary media technology for artmaking, a development documented in Telepresence & Bio Art: Networking Humans, Rabbits, & Robots (2005), a collection of Kac’s essays . The most notorious of his “bio art” creations is the “green fluorescent rabbit” (2000). The first of his “transgenic” artworks, Genesis (1999), was also his first “biopoem.” It was based on an artificial gene created out of a phrase from the biblical Genesis represented in Morse code that was then converted into a DNA sequence according to a special code. The gene was mass-produced by a specialized firm and then introduced into bacteria in a petri dish, which were genetically engineered to glow, either blue or yellow: only the blue ones contained the artificial gene. Mutations were externally stimulated. The gene was later extracted in its mutated form, decoded and re-translated; the phrase had changed.
Claus Clüver
Claus Clüver: “Transgenic Art: The Biopoetry of Eduardo Kac", paper presented "Imagine Media! Media Borders and Intermediality", Nordic Society for Interarts Studies eighth conference, Växjö University, Sweden, 25–28 October 2007.
Belle exposition des oeuvres poétiques (holopoésie, biopoésie, poésie numérique, poésie interactive) d'Eduardo Kac en ouverture de la Biennale Internationale des Poètes en Val-de-Marne à la toute nouvelle et magnifique médiathèque de Villejuif. C'est la première fois que l'on peut, en France, voir ces œuvres singulières réunies en un seul endroit. Eduardo Kac expose également le biopoème "Erratum I" qu'il a réalisé dans le cadre de sa résidence à la Biennale Internationale des Poètes.
Jean-Pierre Balpe
Rédigé par Jean-Pierre Balpe le 23 mai 2007
<http://hyperfiction.blogs.liberation.fr/hyperfiction/2007/05/exposition_edua.html> 

Que devient l'art ?
Eduardo Kac, l'artiste qui s'est fait connaître par son lapin transgénique fluorescent, expose exceptionnellement du 22 mai au 2 juin 2007 à la Médiathèque de Villejuif une série d'œuvres qui retrace une partie de son parcours artistique dans le domaine spécifique de la poésie : holopoèmes, biopoème, poèmes numériques…
Cet artiste ne cesse de remettre en cause les fondements de la création artistique en utilisant dans ce champ les recherches scientifiques les plus en pointe. Il redéfinit ainsi à la fois ce qu'est l'art et ses domaines d'extension se demandant, par exemple, ce que peut signifier la création artistique à l'ère de la conquête spatiale.
A l'occasion de cette exposition, la Biennale Internationale des Poètes en Val-de-Marne organisatrice de l'événement publie également, aux éditions Action Poétique, un ouvrage intitulé HODIBIS POTAX qui présente l'essentiel de l'œuvre poétique réalisée d'Eduardo Kac.
A noter qu'Eduardo Kac a été poète en résidence de la Biennale Internationale des Poètes pour l'année 2007 et que c'est dans ce cadre qu'il a réalisé le biopoème Erratum I qui sera exposé à Villejuif.
Rédigé par Jean-Pierre Balpe le 14 mai 2007
<http://hyperfiction.blogs.liberation.fr/hyperfiction/2007/05/que_devient_lar.html>

Christine Scheucher: Figuren des Unmittelbaren. Zur Fortschreibung der Avantgarden im digitalen Raum. In: Anja Ohmer (Hgn.), Aspekte der Avantgarde, Bd. 9, Berlin: Weidler-Verlag 2007, pp. 107-111.
Hypermedia for Kac provides the means to create poetry where “syntax is organized in discontinuous space,” and where “it does not matter if one is using phrasal, vocabular, syllabic or literal structures.” Here the “performance” is intentionally shared: the artist creates a certain number of enabling structures of meaning, while the lexical, semantic or visual content or arrangement of the work of art is left up to each subsequent viewer/reader. This is what the artist calls “a viewer-activated text.” (...) In this case, since the creator explicitly invites the viewer into an extended interpretive and creative engagement with the existing piece, the viewer does not take part in the process unconsciously, but is aware of her intentional participation in creating a new whole.
 Tatjana Chorney
Chorney, Tatjana. "Hypertexts and Reader-Engagement: Reading, Writing, Adapting", EnterText, Volume 7 number 3 Winter 2007, pp. 288-310, Brunel University, Uxbridge, London.

Eduardo Kac, qui a inventé le terme d'holopoème, le définit ainsi : « Un poème holographique, ou holopoème, est un poème conçu, réalisé et montré par voie holographique. Ce qui signifie, en tout premier lieu, qu’un tel poème est agencé de façon non-linéaire dans un espace immatériel tridimensionnel et, qu’en fonction de la façon dont le lecteur ou le spectateur l’observe, il donne lieu à de nouvelles significations ».  Il faut effectuer une différence entre un poème existant holographié et l'holopoèsie qui tire partie des propriétés mêmes du médium. Eduardo Kac réalisera des holopoèmes à partir de 1983, date de création de Holo/Olho. Il en publiera une vingtaine sur une période de 10 ans. L’une d’elle, Quando, (1988) produit une image paradoxale : il faut effectuer 2 tours pour la voir en entier. Cette œuvre montre clairement que l’holopoésie ne consiste pas à introduire la troisième dimension en poésie mais qu’elle introduit un monde virtuel qui possède ses lois propres, un monde non narratif qui ne se dévoile pas de lui-même, que seule l’activité de lecture permet d’explorer, autant de caractéristiques qui préfigurent les œuvres programmées interactives. (…) La poésie holographique préfigure les installations textuelles en réalité virtuelle ainsi que la poésie animée en ajoutant au texte la dimension virtuelle et le rôle actif de l’activité de lecture : chaque mouvement physique du lecteur lui modifie les caractéristiques esthétiques de l’œuvre.


Philippe Bootz

Bootz, Philippe. "Les Basiques : la littérature numérique," Leonardo/Olats, décembre 2006. <http://www.olats.org/>


I am reading through an interview with Eduardo Kac, just recently published in the review Critique, the issue on “Mutants” (June-July 2006, p. 533 and ff.), and I go straight to “Ce qui est en cours” [“What is happening now”], where poetry is “mutating.” What is the mutation? (And, by the way, the belated sympathizers of the revolt against genetic engineering, behind the “eco-crowd” [“les écolos”] in France, would do well to read this whole issue. “Genetic engineering” is the “global”phenomenon, whether José Bové understands it or not.)Here is what Kac has to say regarding “the artistic use of mutation:”“It is because of poetry that I started to use new media, starting in the early 80s.”“…we are by nature genetically engineered beings.” (p.556)“Bio-art is an art in vivo.”“There are no norms. There are only mutants. What’s important is that you feel alive.” (p.563)“Mutation is first of all a medium on the same order as oil in painting.” (p.555)Etc.It is about nothing less than poetry’s exit from the sphere of the logical, understood in the archaic Greek sense, of speech (logos), of language and the linguistic (logikon), or even about what Barthes (in his last course at the Collège de France) called the sentence [“la phrase”]. In other words, about the poem as proposition, judgment, grammatical and logical articulation interested in truths and in truth. The sentence, the stanza, the book (etc.) have become modalities of a “medium”… among others! One could say, to (counter-) paraphrase Réne Char, the earth is self-ejecting from its literate (literal, and “cultivated”) parentheses.Michel Deguy

Michel Deguy, "Mutation," in Po&sie #116, 2006
Translated by André Spears

En 1996, Eduardo Kac écrivait un poème d’un type particulier intitulé Secrets. Ce poème existe dans un espace en trois dimensions. Chaque lettre est en continuité spatile avec la lettre suivante composant ainsi les mots. Ce poème spatial inaugurait ce que Jean Clément analysait avec une grande acuité peu de temps auparavant: l’hypertexte, par son dispositif, instaurait la predominance d’une spatialité du texte au detriment de sa linearité. Secrets est à ce titre exemplaire. La lecture de ce poème est soumise à notre capacité de piloter un dispositif qui ressemble à la conduite d’un vaisseau spatial à la recherché de planetes (les letters des mots) et de galaxies (les mots du poème).

Luc Dall'Armellina et Annick Lantenois

Dall'Armellina L. et Annick Lantenois, « Du voyage à l'errance : une approche de l'hypertexte », in: « Art et littérature - Le voyage entre texte et image », sous la direction de Korzilius, Jean-Loup (Amsterdam / New-York: Éd. Rodopi, 2006), p. 304.


Norbert Bachleitner. “The Virtual Muse. Forms and Theory of Digital Poetry”, in: Eva Muller-Zettelmann and Margarete Rubik (Editors). Theory into Poetry: New Approaches to the Lyric (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2005), pp. 308-310.
From here it is only a short walk to the world of digital or, more exactly, holographic poetry in which the poem is kinetic in the nature of the case.  In a holographic text the page is replaced by an empty three-dimensional (actually four-dimensional) space in which words float and reconfigure themselves as readers proceed through it, perhaps reading but certainly experiencing the materiality of language in a seemingly dematerialized way. The space of the poem is actually four dimensional, because the reader moves temporally through the space and so alters it (and its contents) as he or she proceeds.  Here is certainly a subject for further study.5


In: Gerald L. Bruns. The Material Of Poetry: Sketches For A Philosophical Poetics (Athens GA: University of Georgia Press, 2005), p. 74-75.

Gerald L. Bruns  Professor of English, Department of English, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN.

Als der Künstler Eduardo Kac in den 80er Jahren die Holography für sich entdeckte, begann er mit prinzipiellen Fragen: “It is very  important to emphasize that not all texts recorded on holographic film are  holopoems. It is technically possible, for example, to record a symbolist  sonnet on a hologram. Such a sonnet does not become a holopoem simply  because it is displayed on holographic film. What defines a holopoem is not  the fact that a given text is recorded on holographic film. What matters is the  creation of a new syntax, exploring mobility, non-linearity, interactivity,  fluidity, discontinuity and dynamic behavior only possible in holographic  space-time.”[7]Kacs Ziel ist die Abgrenzung echter Holopoetry von solcher, die nur alte Artefakte ins neue Medium bringt. Die Notwendigkeit dieser Abgrenzung war begründet im Missverhältnis zwischen technischen Fähigkeiten und künstlerischen Konzepten im Einsatz der neuen Technologie, was damals ein generelles Problem darstellte[8]. So unterscheidet die Holography- Künstlerin Margaret Benyon zwischen dem bloßen Einsatz einer Technologie und deren ästhetischer Nutzbarmachung: „The credit for exhibitions arranged by artists of laser beams as purely physical phenomena, for instance, should go to the inventor and manufacturers of the laser, rather than to the ‘artist’.“[9] Im gleichen Sinne stellt der Kunstkritiker Peter Fuller den Anteil des Künstlers an holographischen Objekten in Frage: “the very process of making a hologram does not allow for the admission of a human imaginative or physical expressive element at any point. The representation is not worked, it is posed and processed [&] hence the hologram remains a particularly dead medium compared with painting.”[10] Genau dieser Geringschätzung der Holography antwortet Kacs Forderung nach einer Holopoesie, die aus dem Medium selbst entsteht und dessen technische Möglichkeiten ästhetisch-konzeptuell nutzt.

Roberto Simanowski. “Close Reading und der Streit um Begriffe”, <www.dichtung-digital.com/2005/1/Simanowski>


No campo da holografia, da holopoesia, a presença das características citadas anteriormente, a saber, a fluidez e a efemeridade material são acentudadas, como assinala Eduardo Kac (2003). Assim, o fato dos signos não poderem ser apropriados, supõe uma densidade material que nos lembra a flutuação irregular e instável de sua superfície. A poesia holográfica torna evidente, entre outras coisas, a impossibilidade de uma estrutura textual absoluta. Ela amplifica, por sua própria particularidade material, por sua materialidade construída de fótons, a instabilidade de sentidos a que o leitor normalmente está sujeito. O fato da irradiação objetal se dar pela sua própia instabilidade redunda na idéia ou conceito em que nosso estudo se estrutura: a fluidez, a instabilidade textual, a liquefação das estruturas significantes, enfim,  a materialidade que se recusa à imobilidade do olhar.
 Luiz Antonio Garcia Diniz
 “Arquitetura textual líquida: A liquefação das textualidades no interior dos ambientes imersivos”, In: I Encontro Nacional sobre Hipertexto: Desafios Lingüísticos, Literários e Pedagógicos, 2005, Recife/PE. Anais - Conferências, Mesas Temáticas, Comunicações Orais. Recife : UFPE, 2005.

Eskelinen, Markku. “Towards Computer Game Studies”, in : Wardrip-Fruin, Noah and Pat Harrigan (eds.). First Person: : New Media as Story, Performance, and Game (MIT Press, 2004).
A convergence of reader and viewer can be observed in the “eletronic poetry” produced by poet Eduardo Kac.  Kac achieved fame for his holopoetry and holopoems, new forms of electronic literature he invented in 1983 to overcome the shortcomings of the two-dimensionality and linearity of the printed page.  Holopoems are textual structures in three-dimensional holographic space which continually change shape, color or position.  It is difficult to decide if the reader of a holopoem is a “reader”, a “viewer” or “participant”.  In his theoretical works, Kac constantly shifts between reading/reader and viewer/viewing:  “engagement on the part of the reader or viewer,”  “the viewer looks for words,  “the reader has never seen” or “the viewer has to read”  Kac 1993).  The holopoems introduce changeability and temporality into the literary text, which not only has consequences for the text but also for the reader. Kac states: "By textual instability I mean precisely that condition according to which a holographic text does not preserve a single visual structure in time as it is read by the viewer, producing different and transitory verbal  configurations in response to the beholder’s perceptual exploration."Jack Post, "Requiem for a Reader? A Semiotic Approach to Reader and Text in Electronic Literature", in: Jan, Van Looy and Jan Baetens (Editors). Close Reading New Media. Analyzing Electronic Literature (Leuven University Press, 2003), p. 137.
If poetry stored and retrieved electronically marks one end of the definitory spectrum, Eduardo Kac's near-equation of hyperpoetry with unique and tangible artefacts marks the other. Kac's poetological writings mostly deal with his own work as a poet in a form of art he calls holopoetry; poems as physical artefacts that literally need to be seen, even touched, to be understood. Kac writes texts that often are as short as two words, three-dimensionally made to change into each other as the viewer/reader moves the object that renders these poems visible.


Klaus Stierstorfer. Beyond Postmodernism: Reassessments in Literature, Theory, and Culture (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2003), p. 93.

If poetry stored and retrieved electronically marks one end of the definitory spectrum, Eduardo Kac’s near-equation of hyperpoetry with unique and tangible artefacts marks the other, Kac’s poetological writings mostly deal with his own work as a poet in a form of art he calls holopoetry;  poems as physical artefacts that literally need to be seen, even touched, to be understood.  Kac writes texts that often are as short as two words, three-dimensionally made to change into each other as the viewer/reader moves the object that renders these ‘poems’ visible.

Peter Paul Schnierer, “Modernist at Best: Poeticity and Tradition in Hyperpoetry”, in: Beyond Postmodernism: Reassessments in Literature, Theory, and Culture, Klaus Stierstorfer, ed. (Berlin ; New York : Walter de Gruyter, 2003), p. 93.


Peter Paul Schnierer, Professor of English Literature, Universität Heidelberg, English Department, Heidelberg, Germany.

Eduardo Kac’s work shows sensitivity to the different in-betweens in which a sign loses its identity and becomes other. “Reversed Mirror” (1997), a digital videopoem, deals with “the subtle dissolution and reconfiguration of verbal particles”. These dilatory states are further explored in Kac's holopoetry, for example in "Souvenir d'Andromeda" and "Adhuc", which combines holography, film and digital animation. Here textual motion and change are made dependent on the reader's movements as a perceiver.”
 Teemu Ikonen
 Teemu Ikonen, “Moving text in avant-garde poetry. Towards a poetics of textual motion, in: Dichtung-Digital, Vol. 4/2003, Markku Eskelinen (editor) <www.dichtung-digital.com/2003/4-ikonen.htm>

Eduardo Kac's hologram "Adhuc" from 1991 is a startling event. His HOLOPOEM -- materialized in object form instead of in print -- is developed in the tradition of visual poetry. Its fleeting presence is only attainable for an instant. This immediacy, which is the essence of art, can only ever be experienced, but certainly not calculated, in the here and now. Kac's hologram "Adhuc" shows combinations disintegrating and making way for newly combinable modes of understanding. Converging deferentially, words mix together and disintegrate into inter-penetrating, self-charging and self-extinguishing fragments of letters, writhing and dancing (cf. Kac's holopoem "Amalgam" from 1990). In cognitively effective experimentation "Adhuc" plays with closeness and distance, interpretative interest and arbitrary indifference, sense and nonsense, committed enlightenment and cryptic riddles. Recognizable words such as EVE, FAR, FOUR, YEARS, WHENEVER, NEVER suddenly mutate, disclosing other hidden readings and meanings, merging and surpassing themselves in limitless incomprehension or abandoning themselves to total dissolution, immersing themselves in the void of the conceptless and virtually inconceivable dimension of holographic light space. From the inside a rolling movement, at once binding and disbanding, questions linguistic definition with letters that combine at random and then separate anew with the movement of the spectator. Contradictory interpretations become reasonable, familiar combinations revert to nebulous enigma -- until they "dawn" again, bringing light to darkness as alternative renderings


Christian Schneegass, "Enlightening Images in Thin Air". In: Jung, Dieter. Holographic Network (Bramsche, Germany: Rasch Verlag, 2003), p. 219. Christian Schneegass is professor of art at the Berlin Akademie der Künste.


Read the complete excerpt from:  “Perspective in experimental shaped poetry: A semiotic approach”, John J. White, in: From Sign to Signing, Wolfgang G. Müller and Olga Fischer, eds. (Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2003), p. 120-121.
John J. White is Professor of German and Comparative Literature at King's College London.
Eduardo Kac began writing through the process of holography in 1983. As well as assuming a critical standpoint in relation to linear text, Kac's holopoems, concerned with time and movement, border on the cinematic. A conventional movie is a series of recorded shots projected in quick succession onto a single screen in front of a seated audience. The different shots within each holopoem are not projected sequentially onto a screen but through a singular filmic surface, a surface that simultaneously records a series of different images (of words) from different points of view. Each holopoem thus compresses a substantial amount of recorded time in the form of different sequences of letters, a time which can be reread only when one moves around it. As the reader moves in relation to the holopoem included in this exhibition, Ad Huc, different words appear and disappear: whenever, four years, or never, far eve, forever, evening (all of which refer to the measure of time).Isobel WhiteleggIn: “Writing Space”, included in the catalogue Transit published by the University of Essex in 2002 to accompany the exhibition of the same name.

"Kac's poetic works push textuality into other realms of experience. A good example of this lies in Kac's considerable oeuvre of holopoems, holo-textual works displayed in three-dimensional space, works that change according to time and the viewer's position in relation to the text."

Loss Pequeño Glazier, Digital Poetics: The Making Of E-Poetries (Tuscaloosa: University Alabama Press, 2008), pp. 138-139.


Beaucoup de contributions critiques ne distinguent pas parmi de typologies textuelles : celles qui présentent un statut discursif communicationnel, celles d’ordre narratif (fictionnel) et celles qui rappellent une idée, même si renouvelée, de poésie. Il faudrait plutôt signaler, au préalable, les spécificités et les différences qu’on peut relever.  Le cas le plus éclatant est bien sûr celui de l’holopoésie quadridimensionnelle, capable de simuler la matérialité linguistique, qui impose des remarques spécifiques. A ce propos cf. au moins Eduardo Kac, Recent Experiments in Holopoetry and Computer Holopoetry, in Ouvrage collectif, Display Holography, edited by T. H. Jeong, SPIE, Bellingham (Wa.) 1991, pp. 229-36.
Matteo d'Ambrosio
Matteo d'Ambrosio: Une semiotique à venir pour la cyberpoésie, <http://www.olats.org/projetpart/artmedia/2002/t_mAmbrosio.html>


Hija de la cibercultura, la Holopoesía es la máxima expresión artística de la era digital computacional. Poesía producida gracias a la realidad tecno-virtual y realizada en el espacio inmaterial tridimensional en constante transformación. Según el brasileño Eduardo Kac, la Holopoesía, en contraste con la poesía visual, “pretende expresar la discontinuidad del pensamiento; en otras palabras, la percepción del holograma no tiene lugar ni lineal ni simultáneamente, sino en fragmentos que el observador ve en función de las decisiones que toma, es decir, dependiendo de la posición que adopte respecto al poema” ( Catálogo Exposición… 20). Aquí los fractales son los integrantes mayores del Holopoema. Son creaciones de sintaxis nuevas, discontínuas, irregulares, indescifrables, no medibles por las tres dimensiones no euclidianas y cuya morfología posee el carácter estético de lo maravilloso. Los Holopoemas, igual que las figuras neobarrocas posmodernas, están dotados de dinamismo, inestabilidad y metamorfosis rítmicas graduales. “La percepción espacial de los colores, los volúmenes, los grados de transparencia, las transformaciones de la forma, la posición relativa de las letras y las palabras, y la aparición y desaparición de formas es inseparable de la percepción sintáctica y semántica del texto” (Catálogo..20). Poesía virtual. Poemas cuatridimensionales que integran no sólo lo espacial, sino lo temporal. De allí su fluidez, su fugaz percepción y la no permanencia en el tiempo. Poesía para la memoria instantánea global, promocionada e impulsada por la cibercultura. (Véase,por ejemplo, los Holopoemas de Eduardo Kac, Zero, 1991; Havoc, 1992; Holo/Olho, 1983). http://www.ekac.org/holosp.html

Carlos Fajardo, "Poesía y posmodernidad" in: Espéculo. Revista de estudios literarios, N. 20, 2002. Universidad Complutense de Madrid.

Carlos Fajardo es poeta, investigador y ensayista. Filósofo de la Universidad del Cauca. Magíster en Literatura de la Pontificia Universidad Javeriana y candidato a Doctor en Literatura de la UNED (España). Es profesor en las Universidades Distrital Francisco José de Caldas, La Salle de Bogotá y en la Maestría en Filosofía de la Universidad INCCA de Colombia.



The most radical experimental poems today are probably the holographic and fractal poems by Eduardo Kac. These poems are multilinear, interactive, open-ended, incomplete, and can not be translated or printed completely into paper because of their multiple dimensions. In order to define these new experiments as poetry we need to have a very inclusive notion of poetry. In the new electronic era there is a potential for a bigger complexity of interrelations than ever before. The subject, the author, the reader, and the poem are related in a multiple, immediate, and unfinished chain of textuality where the context of impermanence is the dominant way of reading and composing.

Laura López Fernández. "Experimental Poetry in Spain", Corner, N. 5, Fall 2001--Spring 2002. <http://www.cornermag.org/corner05/page08.htm>

Laura López Fernández is Assistant Professor of Spanish, Foreign Languages Department, Georgetown College, Kentucky.



With the emergence of electronic writing, perceptions of the possibilities and limitations of the artistic medium and the mechanisms of reception have taken the form of varying narratives of space.  These narratives focus on all facets of electronic writing:  the physical space in which the writing is stored, the virtual space in which the writing is often said to reside, the textual space in which the elements of the writing are inscribed, the literary space in which form and meaning relate, the personal space in which perception takes place,  and the cultural space in which  texts and readers interact.  As an example of the intersection of these narratives, the holopoetry of Eduardo Kac employs the novel space of computer-generated holography to create visual poetry that calls for the reconfiguration of narratives of electronic, artistic, and poetic space.  Kac’s works also offer an example of the possible benefits of constraint on the expanding and extending medium of electronic writing since the ideas and methods of restricting these new spaces will determine the future techniques and processes of artistic/literary signification, as well as influence ensuing narratives of space.Wayne Kobylinski, West Chester University of PennsylvaniaWayne Kobylinski, “Intimations of Immateriality:  Narratives of Electronic Literary Space,” TEXT Technology 11.2 (Celina, Ohio: Wright State University), Winter 2002: 31-51.
To read and to see is to attempt to impose a certain performance on the system; it is to engage with the system such that it performs and produces a coherent and legible output. In this sense, and in that it contains at least two mutually exclusive pictures and perspectival positions within its frame (e.g., Hans Holbein's painting The Ambassadors <http://www.artchive.com/artchive/H/holbein/ambassadors.jpg.html> contains a "correct" picture of the ambassadors or of the skull, but not both simultaneously), the anamorphic has a strong connection to Eduardo Kac's holopoetry. Kac identifies the primary formal quality of his holopoetry as "textual instability," "the condition according to which a text does not preserve a single visual structure in time as it is read by the viewer, producing different and transitory verbal configurations in response to the beholder's perceptual exploration" ("Holopoetry" 193).40 Such visual and verbal instability, whereby "the linguistic ordering factor of surfaces is disregarded in favor of an irregular fluctuation of signs that can never be grasped at once by the reader," is achieved through what Kac terms the "fluid sign," which resembles the anamorphic in the description of its operation: "[A] fluid sign is perceptually relative.... [it is] essentially a verbal sign that changes its overall visual configuration in time, therefore escaping the constancy of meaning a printed sign would have" (193-4). The perceptual change for Kac, however, is one achieved through time rather than dimension. Holopoetry strives for temporal mutability, so it is not a true anamorphic, but Kac's theorizing of fluidity and the impossibility of a stable perceptual position does speak to the hypertextual process of construction, making, and interactive performance.

Rita Raley. "Reveal Codes: Hypertext and Performance". Postmodern Culture (Johns Hopkins University Press), Volume 12, Number 1, September 2001. <http://muse.jhu.edu/demo/pmc/12.1raley.html>

Rita Raley is assistant professor of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she teaches courses in the digital humanities and transnational literary studies.



La question du mouvement et de la "mise en film" des textes trouve une illustration intéressante chez le poète Eduardo Kac, auteur d'une théorie sur la poésie holographique. On verra aussi comment, avec Genesis, à partir de l'informatique et du réseau, l'artiste et écrivain a inscrit une phrase de la bible dans le patrimoine génétique d'une bactérie.Hugues Marchal. " Une histoire e-littéraire?", Histoires littéraires, N. 6, 2001, Paris. <http://www.histoires-litteraires.org/les%20articles/artmarchal6.htm>

“Holopoems, which have no beginning or end and which create new reading possibilities each time the reader changes position, bring visual poetry into the twenty-first century and indicate that this truly multidisciplinary art will survive well into the future.”O'Neil, Mary Anne.  “The Fortunes of Avant-Garde Poetry”, Philosophy and Literature, Volume 25, Number 1, April 2001, pp. 142-154 (Review). Published by The Johns Hopkins University Press, p. 153.
Eduardo Kac, brillant théoricien de la poésie holographique.

"Écrire à l'âge de l'Internet", Hugues Marchal, Magazine littéraire n°392, Paris, Novembre 2000

Entirely dependent on the reader as cocreator is the holographic poem (or holopoem) as created by Eduardo Kac: immaterial, it remains invisible until the viewer/reader moves into a particular position, and then the three-dimensional text unattached to any surface moves with the viewer’s every movement, changing color and shape, with its letters transforming themselves into other letters or breaking up to recompose themselves into (an)other word(s), suggesting a range of meanings. Engaging with interactive computer texts and hypertexts, the reader/performer has finally begun to move fully into virtual space and into possibilities of textual operations that are still being explored by the artists/programmers.

Claus Cluver, “Poetry and the New Performance Arts ,” in: Claire Sponsler and Xiaomei Chen (eds). East of West (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2000), p. 53


Posted to the webartery list, Message #773
From:  Eric Vos <ericvos@xxxxxxx.xxx
Date:  Wed Dec 31, 1999  9:59 pm
Subject:  Re: Kac



[On re-reading the promised review, I found that some passages were too
much concerned with the 1995 *book* to be worth re-typing in a more
general context. Here are the more relevant ones, focusing only on
Eduardo Kac's holopoetry, not his hypertexts, telematic and biogenetic
installations, etc.:]

---------

[...] In [Eduardo] Kac's conception of holographic art there is no such
thing as *the* holographic image. This should not be taken in the
latter-day vein of liberal theories of interpretation, emphasizing the
legitimacy of rival readings of any art work, its essential
poly-interpretabiblity, and so on. It should be taken much more
literally. The hologram stores an image of an object (whether a 'real'
object or another image), but as Kac explains: "Every point on the
surface of the hologram 'sees' and records the object from a different
viewpoint." Consequently, to see the entire image, as recorded on the
entire hologram, the spectator would have to be able to observe all
points on its surface, to see from all viewpoints. When used for
scientific, industrial, or commercial purposes (e.g. laser scanning of a
product code at supermarket registers), the holographic image ordinarily
enables the viewer - whether human or mechanic - to do just that. In such
cases, the image ususally aims at reproducing a virtual environment or
object with visual stability. The image is manipulated in such a way that
it allows the viewer to probe a space that remains constant for the
duration of the experience. But holograms *need* not be oriented towards
this simultaneity. Especially when used as an artistic medium,
discontinuity may become a much more prevalent feature of holography. And
Kac's holography is discontinuous throughout, shattering
three-dimensional space into discrete viewing zones.

[...] Whereas every point on the surface of Kac's holograms stores a
different image, or stores an image differently, the spectator can only
perceive specific points, depending on relative position and
corresponding angle of perception. Here, space (not the space of the
image, but the space of the recipient) and particularly time enter the
scene of holographic art. To see the holographic image in its 'entirety',
the spectator must move through time and space, with the obvious result
that the image is (dis)continuously changing. Images become temporal
things; holography, says Kac, is "an art of time." This temporalization
of spatial structure opens up a magnitude of new possibilities, including
perceptual non-linearity, time-reversability (while the observer
necessarily moves 'ahead' in time, the image changes 'back' to its
original state, then changes again, etc., eliminating notions of
'beginning' and 'end'), and, the crown jewel, ordinary stereoscopy turned
into 'retinal rivalry,' whereby each eye perceives a totally different
slice of the holographic space-time (dis)continuum.

Or a totally different text, for Kac - holopoet - always fills his
spatio-temporal holographic images with words. Visualized, animated
words, appearing and disappearing, springing together and sliding apart;
exploding words, with word fragments combining into new words, with word
and letter traces remaining, then suddenly becoming part of still new
words, or merging with the background colors. In a Kac holopoem, anything
can *happen*. Yet for all animation, motion, and other time-effects,
holopoetry is no video poetry. The difference between the two lies not in
technical means primarily, but in the self-imposed absence of
poet-orchestrated sequence in holopoetry. The sequential structure of a
Kac holopoem entirely depends on the way in which the actions and
movements of individual readers turn the holographic text environment
offered by the poet into a space-time event.

[...] For Kac, the core of visual poetry lies in the Futurist invention
of a typographically dissolved syntax, which leaves decisions regarding
the composition of a 'message' to the reader. [...] But being limited by
the possibilities of printing techniques, Futurist visual poetry and its
later Concrete and Neo-Concrete successors could never break through the
barrier of presenting a stationary, constant and monoplanar constellation
of signs. This connotes a view on language according to which we, the
language users, are in control. According to Kac, we are not: "When I
defend a model of language as fluctuating, oscillating turbulent and so
forth, I am not talking about ambiguity in a stable model of language
that can be interpreted in one way or another. I am talking about [...]
the realization that language has its own dynamic, and no matter how much
one tries to grasp it, how much one tries to arrest it, how much one
tries to condense and objectify it, it's going to continue to spill off,
and spill out, and blend and merge and dissolve." That dynamic,
time-oriented, open and uncontrollable realm is the environment reflected
in Kac's holopoetry [...].

[...]

Exploring the possibilities of these works, Kac's goal is inspired by
Baudrillard: "The artist [should] restore the responsibility of the
media, in the sense that the media must allow people to respond. The
media must bring people closer, not keep them apart, as television does.
The media must allow for people to interact, to share, to discover
together, rather than be at the end as consumers." These words brought to
mind a personal recollection. On August 16, 1993, Carleton University Art
Gallery (Ottawa, Canada) hosted a reception for the participants in a
congress of the International Association of Word and Image Studies. In
the main hall, visual poems and other word/image works were mounted on
the walls, with the spectators all standing quietly, by themselves,
contemplating a work for a while, then moving to a position in front of
the next work on display, occasionally moving forward for a better look,
and so on. In a side room, people were rushing to and fro a couple of
holograms, not just bending backwards, forwards and sideways, crawling on
hands and knees and climbing chairs, but suggesting positions to each
other and directing others to certain positions - all in order to read
poetry, to make poetry *happen*. In the corner of that room stood Eduardo
Kac, observing the crowd, looking happy.

--------------

best,
Eric


Speaking of perspective, I was wondering about the link many historians make between perspective and humanism (age of the world picture). Post-humanism, post-self of electracy, changing subjectivation in the digital apparatus. We were speaking of Kac recently. Thinking of holopoetry therefore. Hologrammatology. Using holographic technology, it allows 4-D relationships to letters and words. Reader moves around in the writing (words liberated from any surface); same for pictures (word-image difference reduced). Possible to view-read from any perspective (hence any point of view? does that follow?). The end of the paragraph, the irrelevance of syntax (replaced by animation).Greg Ulmer, Professor, Department of English, University of Florida, Gainesville. Posted on 24 Nov 1999 to the "Invention list", hosted by the Florida Media Arts Center. University of Florida, Gainesville. Archived at: http://www.lists.ufl.edu/archives/invent-l.html.
The ultimate strength of Kac's work does not necessarily lie in the conceptual structure on which it is based or the source of the artist's inspiration (which are not the starting point for the viewer-reader), but rather the impact of the intrinsic poetic dimension. In the final analysis, the objective is not to explain, but to present an infrastructure that generates a multiplicity of experiences and interpretations. Wittgenstein believed that language was only useful in allowing us to realize how inefficient it was in describing the world: "I am only describing language, I am not explaining anything." In Kac's case, too, language is not definitive, but neither is it useless: its usefulness lies in its ability to be many different things as we use it to navigate through the seductive labyrinth of his works.Pablo Helguera, Director of Education of the Guggenheim Museum, New York. "Restless Words", originally published in Art Nexus, No. 31, February – April 1999, page 119 and 120.
Dans la mesure où, contrairement à celles qui sollicitent le toucher et l'odorat, les oeuvres acoustiques et surtout visuelles sont accessibles au-delà du seul contact direct avec le "spectateur", celui-ci -- et, en amont, le créateur de l'oeuvre -- peuvent et doivent s'appuyer sur une organisation spécifique de l'espace. Les contraintes qu'imposent encore l'utilisation de l'outil informatique font que cet espace demeure essentiellement bidimensionnel (mais les effets de relief peuvent déjà être gérés de façon assez satisfaisante). Il faut noter ici le travail remarquable d'Eduardo Kac qui, à l'Art Institute" de Chicago, développe une forme artistique nouvelle qu'il a baptisée Holopoetry et produit ainsi des images et des fragments de textes qui évoluent dans un espace tridimensionnel "virtuel" (on pourra consulter ses publications et explorer certaines de ses réalisations sur son site : www.ekac.org). Mais les deux dimensions qui s'imposent à nous dans la plupart des créations "spatiales", celles de l'écran comme celles de la page (ou de la toile !), sont à ce point prégnantes qu'elles imposent une sorte d'ontologie plate" qu'étudient épistémologues et linguistes. Je songe ici à deux ouvrages qui ont pratiquement le même titre : Il mondo di carta d'Enrico Bellone (Mondadori 1976, paru en traduction anglaise sous le titre A World on Paper, MIT Press, 1980) et The World on Paper de David Olson (Cambridge University Press, 1994).Paul Braffort, writer, member of ALAMO (Atelier de Littérature Assistée par la Mathématique et les Ordinateurs). "arts @ ?", originally published in the annals of the symposium "Que ne peut l'informatique ?", 27-29 octobre 1999, realized at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, Paris. Also published online: http://cazes.cnam.fr/QNPI/Actes/Braffort.html.
There has been some tentative interest in 3-D textuality within the new media arts community, perhaps most notably on the part of multimedia artist Eduardo Kac. Since 1983, Kac has been refining a technique he calls "holopoetry," which uses holographic imaging to situate arrangements of words and phrases in a 3-D text-space. These constructions, or "holopoems," are highly suggestive, not only for the creative effects derived from their third-dimension, but also for their evocation of "fluid signs" (Kac's phrase), a phenomenon that is temporal as well as spatial as words and letterforms mutate and migrate over the course of the viewer's engagement with a piece.Matthew Kirschenbaum, independent writer, in "Lucid Mapping: Information Landscaping and 3D Writing Spaces", Leonardo, Vol. 32, N. 4, 1999, p. 263.
Una nueva estética comienza a asomarse en el horizonte como resultado de investigaciones realizadas por artistas integrados a los medios electrónicos y fotónicos y la coexistencia de los espacios rales y virtuales. Eduardo Kac, poeta y artista brasileño, autor de varios holopoemas que son esencialmente hologramas digitales lleva al lenguaje a su objetivo primordial tanto en lo material como en lo subjetivo para decirnos que sus holopoemas: "definen una experiencia linguística que tiene lugar fuera de la sintaxis y conceptualizan la inestabilidad como la clave del agente significante." Kac usa la holografía y la holografía computarizada para borrar la frontera entre las palabras y las imágenes y para crear, al mismo tiempo, una sintaxis animada que amplia las palabras más allá de sus significados durante un discurso ordinario.Matilde Daviu, Professor, Facultad de Ciencias y Artes, Unimet, Caracas, "La Escritura Espacial a partir de un Holograma", paper presented at I Congreso de Investigación y Creación Intelectual de la UNIMET, Venezuela, 1998.
Poetry has a long history of challenging language norms. Since Mallarmé and Apollinaire, poetry has been challenging typographic and visible language presentation norms as well. Eduardo Kac is a contemporary poet who follows in that tradition by exploring new media poetry. His holopoetry is at the leading edge of interactive media. The viewer/reader sees the poem in space and time responsive to his or her movement and position. The poem reveals itself not linearly or simultaneously but through fragments. According to the poet, "what matters is the creation of a new syntax, exploring mobility, non-linearity, interactivity, fluidity, discontinuity and dynamic behavior only possible in holographic space-time." Poetry is about pushing limits, aesthetics, transcendence -- even communication. Our attention is thus drwan to poetic exploration that uses technology positively, not for translation of past conventions, but to open new language transactions.Sharon Helmer Poggenpohl, Professor, Illinois Institute of Technology, "Twenty-Six-Not-So-Easy-Pieces", Visible Language, Vol. 32, N. 1, 1998, p. 22-23.

"The spectacular qualities his inventions posses are unmistakable. Kac's ideas and ingenuity, without question, show that he is an adventurous visionary."

Christopher T. Funkhouser, "Chapter Two: Hypertext & Hypermedia", in his Ph.D. dissertation CYBERTEXT POETRY: EFFECTS OF DIGITAL MEDIA ON THE CREATION OF POETIC LITERATURE, University at Albany, State University of New York, College of Arts & Sciences, Department of English, 1997.
Eduardo Kac, le principal théoricien de la poésie holographique, vit actuellement aux Etats-Unis où il enseigne. Il est né à Rio en 1962 et vient de la poésie visuelle, auteur notamment d'un "sonnet pictogramme" en 1982. Pour son travail, il utilise les termes d'"holopoème" et d'"holopoésie". Il a travaillé à Sao Paulo avec l'holographe Fernando Eugenio Catta-Preta, et réalisera, avec sa collaboration et dans son laboratoire à Sao Paulo, l'hologramme poétique "HOLO/OLHO" ("HOLO/OEIL", 1983), anagramme en miroir qu'il exposera au Salon National des Arts Plastiques au Musée d'Art Moderne de Rio en 1984, hologramme paronomastique qu'il a holographié plusieurs fois avec des lettres de différentes tailles. Il va réaliser d'autres hologrammes avec Fernando Catta-Preta, dont "ABRACADABRA", "OCO" et "ZYX", et il montera, avec 4 holopoèmes, l'exposition "HOLOPOESIA", "Holopoésie", au Musée de l'Image et du Son à Sao Paulo en août 1985. En 1986, artiste en résidence au Musée de l'Holographie à New York, il réalise 3 nouveaux holopoèmes, "WORDSL 1", "WORDSL 2" (jeu sémantique entre les mots WORDS et WORLD, ou le monde comme signe linguistique) et "CHAOS", combinant néon et holographie, qu'il montrera à l'exposition "HOLOPOESIA 2" en 1986 à la galerie Espace Alternatif de la Funarte à Rio.En 1987, il réalise "QUANDO?", un holopoème fractal créé avec Ormeo Botelho dans un cylindre de plexiglas en utilisant l'ordinateur, parlant de "fractales holographiques" ou d'"hologrammes fractals". C'est en 1989 aussi qu'il s'installe aux Etats-Unis. Il co-réalisera, avec Richard Kostelanetz, l'hologramme "LILITH" en 1987/89, à partir de mots en anglais et en français, de "EL" (Elohim) à "ELLE" et "HELL". Il commencera à travailler sur les "Holopoèmes-ordinateur" à partir de 1987 ("Quando?"). Le deuxième fut créé à Chicago en 1989, "MULTIPLE", à partir de "3309" et de "POEM". De 1990 date "AMALGAM", composé de 2 groupes de 2 mots, "FLOWER-VOID" et VORTEX-FLOW" qui glissent de l'un à l'autre chaque fois que le spectateur essaie de lire le texte. C'est aussi en 1990 qu'il aura une expositionpersonnelle à New York (Museum of Holography), où Kostelanetz viendra, puis en 1991 à Rio, sous le titre "Holopoemas". Il a à ce jour réalisé 23 holopoèmes.Selon Eduardo Kac, l'espace holographique est immatériel, et l'on peut créer des espaces paradoxaux. Les deux premiers textes théoriques qu'il a publié s'intitulent "Les 3 dimensions du signe verbal" (1984, catalogue du Musée d'Art Moderne de Rio) et "La rupture photonique" (revue Modulo n°86, juillet 1985, Rio). Eduardo Kac travaille aussi sur l'interactivité du regard, sur l'apparition/disparition du texte en fonction du déplacement du spectateur et développe le concept d'"instabilité textuelle" et de "signe fluide", qui ne serait ni un mot ni une image mais quelque chose en état permanent de mutation, un espace instable, relatif à la position de l'observateur, par opposition à la page, qui est fixe. Eduardo Kac travaille sur la fragmentation de la lettre. Il utilisera aussi l'ordinateur, qui permet de manipuler des formes mathématiques de grande complexité. Il est intéressé par le "langage animé qui fuit et réfléchit (deflects) l'interprétation".Jacques Donguy, Professor, Université Paris 1, "Poesie et Nouvelles Technologie a L'Aube du XXIème Siecle", published in Portuguese in the book A Arte no Século XXI, Diana Domingues, ed., Edusp, São Paulo, 1997, p. 260.
Das erste Beispiel ist die digitale Holopoetry von Eduardo Kac. In diesen Arbeiten werden animierte Modulationen von sprachlichen und graphischen Formen auf das Endmedium eines Hologramms übertragen, das in weißem Licht betrachtet werden kann. Je nach körperlicher Bewegung des Betrachters können er oder sie unterschiedliche Fragmente des Textes, Veränderungen der Position und Form von Buchstaben und Wörtern, von Farben, Größenverhältnissen, Graden der Transparenz in einem virtuellen dreidimensionalen Raum wahrnehmen. [...] Die Rezeption verbraucht einerseits kontinuierlich Zeit, andererseits wird die Zeit in der Veränderung als diskontinuierlich erfahrbar, als reversibel durch das Hin und Her des Körpers, dem ein Vor und Rücklauf der Bewegungen im virtuellen Raum entspricht. DiesesðOszillierenÐ veranschaulicht eine Syntax fließender Differenz, des Changierens zwischen Präsenz und Appräsenz, Auflösung und Zusammensetzung, Medium und Form der Signifikanten. Das Dazwischen ermöglicht in einer Weise, wie sie im Printmedium nicht möglich wäre, die exemplarische Beobachtung semantischer Konstruktion und Dekonstruktion [...]Friedrich W. Block, Kassel-based writer, "Auf hoher Seh in der Turing-Galaxis; Visuelle Poesie und Hypermedia," in Text+Kritik, N. 9, München, 1997, p. 196-197.
[In his essays] Kac describes the basic principles and practices of his ground breaking work in holographic poetry, in which communicative procedures and possibilities of sign constitution unique to that medium are investigated.Eric Vos, independent critic, Amsterdam, Experimental-Visual-Concrete: Avant-Garde Poetry Since the 1960s, K. David Jackosn, Eric Vos & Johanna Drucker, editors, (Amsterdam, Atlanta: Rodopi, 1996), p.31.
At another extreme of technological production would be the holographic poems of Eduardo Kac, for whom the spatialized dynamics of the page are transcended through a medium which allows dimensionality to be factored into the linguistic production. Kac's explorations extend the use of the computer as a tool in poetic composition employed by Max bense, among others, in the 1960s, while also engaging with the sort of visual manipulation of surface appearance which characterized the work of Raymond Hains, also in the 1960s. However, in Kac's works as in Hains', the distortions introduced into the final form of the language through light projection, surface manipulation, or computer processing are not additions or supplements to the text. Instead, they are intended to be integral to its linguistic function, to extend the definition of what comprises linguisticfunction, to include the potential of material to signify.Johanna Drucker, Artist and Art Historian, Art History Department, Yale University. Experimental-Visual-Concrete: Avant-Garde Poetry Since the 1960s, K. David Jackosn, Eric Vos & Johanna Drucker, editors, (Amsterdam, Atlanta: Rodopi, 1996), p. 56-57. Reprinted in : Johanna Drucker. Figuring the Word: Essays on Books, Writing and Visual Projects (New York : Granary Books, 2002).
Kac's work takes experimental poetry into a new area. He has created "Holopoetry", words and images imbedded in lasered holograms, a medium whose flexibility allows for numerous manifestations from a single work. Kac has created Secret, the first VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language) poem on the Web, "the words are dispersed in the semantic darkness of a potential space."
Christopher Funkhouser
Christopher Funkhouser, editor. “Toward a Literature Moving Outside Itself: The Beginnings of Hypermedia Poetry” (1996) <http://web.njit.edu/~funkhous/web/inside.html>

Read-time may determine text-time: in all of Kac’s holopoems, the duration of momentary configurations of the texts and the tempo of their transition depend on the (eye-) movements of the reader through time as well as space. (page 224)
Kac’s orientation is towards “motion, displacement, and metamorphosis”. This is particularly clear in holopoems such as Adhuc, in which the constituent letters of a fairly limited number of “basic words” float through holographic space, generating a realm of morphologic possibilities.Now, as one word turns into another on the computer screen or within the holographic space, the most intriguing question is: what happens in between? Merely to state this question, to suggest that this notion of ‘in between’ could be imported into the framework of linguistic organization means to reconsider much of what we thought we knew about the language we are accustomed to use. (page 224-225)
In Kac’s holopoetry, the reception process required for the production of a readable text involves a range of physical and sensorial activities. What text the reader/viewer sees depends entirely on his/her physical position relative to the hologram and, especially, on his/her body and eye movement. [...] Undermining the concept of the text or even the verbal sign as something given, something preordained, such works exemplify the reader’s part in bringing the poem, its text, and its meaning into existence. (page 230)

Eric Vos
Eric Vos, "New Media Poetry: Theories and Strategies", in: Kac, Eduardo (editor). New Media Poetry: Poetic Innovation and New Technologies, special issue of Visible Language Vol. 30, No. 2, 1996.
Eduardo Kac uses a special property of holography to include several images on a single plate. These images become visible one by one, according to the position of the viewer. Kac's holograms are like small animations in which words turn into other words as the viewer moves in front of the work. In Kac's work the semantic space is visually metamorphed, and unexpected associations flash before the viewer beyond grammatically correct interpretations.Janne Koski, Curator, Rauma Art Museum, Rauma, Finland Sähköinen Taide 95, catalogue of the exhibition, Rauma Art Museum, Finland, 1995, p. 4.
He went through poetic revolutions so quickly that there was barely time to see him reciting naked on Ipanema Beach before he had plunged into a computer McLuhan style. Holography allows him to make visible what words say and what they sometimes silence. He works on the context and on the content with the same enthusiasm; Kac's writing begins in his mind and ends in our desire.Maria Victoria Infantes, writer, Karas Magazine, N. 7, Madrid, July 1994, p. 4.
Eduardo Kac investigates the fluid meaning of words and phrases with holopoetry. Words change entirely and change color with just the slightest movement by the viewer. An intelligent deconstructive and poetic use of the now commonplace hologram.David O'Halloran, Director, Australian Network for Art and Technology ANAT Newsletter, December/January 1993-4, Adelaide, Australia, p. 2.
A first approximation to Mallarmé's dream could be found in the holopoem, the poem constructed with the collimated light of a laser beam in a tridimensional virtual space. We must consider that most of the poems sculpted into a hologram, as it normally happens with all new technologies, are nothing but tridimensional adaptations of poems that already worked well on the planar surface. Depth adds nothing essential to these poems. That is what happens, for example, in some holographic works by the German Dieter Jung, which only exhibit a new spacial arrangement for lines of verse –– conventional, at that –– by Hans Magnus Enzensberger. But when the holopoem actually explores a truly tridimensional form of writing, the results can be exhilarating, because the holopoem places the reader before a paradoxical text. In this text, words are no longer organized according to linear and absolute links, and their syntactic relationships are found in permanent transformation.Arlindo Machado, Professor, University of São Paulo Máquina e Imaginário, Edusp, São Paulo, Brazil, 1993, p. 167.
Eduardo Kac's computer-generated holography, coupled as it is with his visualization of word ideas to form what he calls Holopoetry, places him at the leading edge of holography's artistic expressions. Computers allow holographers to create and breathe life into elegant color fields of totally imaginary objects or lightscapes, worlds totally created by the artist. Kac carries forward this ability and concept and incorporates it into language as a fourth dimension. On a computer he plays with and arranges and rearranges words, both syntactically and graphically, and through holography transforms poetry in a space whose laws are different from either the printed page or the surrounding world.Loren Billings, Director, Museum of Holography/Chicago Pamphlet of the exhibition Artistic States of Light, Energy and Matter, October 30, 1992 –– May 2, 1993.
'Visual Literature' –– no doubt an arguable term, employed for want of a better one –– generally comprises not only visual poetry and prose but also includes concrete, semiotic, and holographic poetry, text-objects and text-environments, at least in some of their respects, and bears upon aspects of found poetry, aleatoric writing, artist's books and various other types of word/image works. The differentiation between these "genres" –– if they are to be regarded as such –– as well as their general differentiation from "ordinary" literature has often been discussed in terms of the various characteristic features or properties that they appear to adopt from the realm of the graphic, pictorial, sculptural or performance arts. As a result, "visual literature" is commonly regarded as an "intermedial" art form which challenges or even rejects all or most of the semiotic conventions usually associated with literary communication.Eric Vos, independent critic, Amsterdam, Program of the Third International Congress on Word and Image Studies, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, 1993, p. 95.
An experimental poet since his teens, Kac was among the first writers to realize that holography, a visual technology new to our times, could be a medium for language. In the 1980s, he created holograms in which, among other clever constructions, words from two languages meld into one another, the same letters are reorganized to create different words, a cylinder reveals a series of words, seen only in parts, that reads differently clockwise from counterclockwise ("Quando?" ["When?" 1987]). For art such as this Kac coined the epithet "holopoetry", whose significance he has explained in several manifestos: "The perception of a holopoem takes place neither linearly nor simultaneously, but rather through fragments seen at random by the observer, depending upon his or her [physical] position relative to the poem." Originally from Rio de Janeiro, Kac moved to Chicago in 1989.Richard Kostelanetz, New York-based independent writer and poet, Dictionary of the Avant-Gardes, A Cappella Books, Pennington, NJ, 1993, p. 116.
Eduardo Kac's holopoems should be understood in the context of visual poetry expressed with the holographic technique. Kac's work conveys the idea of universal knowledge, since it is based on the enourmous capacity the hologram has to store information. Holograms will one day be found inside computers. The verbal fragments in Kac's holograms remind us of the residues of the Babilonic library, where all of the knowledge of the world is concentrated.Jörg Schepers, German independent curator, Avanguardia dell'Arte Olografica, exhibition catalogue, Perugia, Italy, 1992, p. 28.
Back to Kac Web