Oiginally published in the magazine Holosphere, Museum of Holography, New York, Summer 1986, Vol. 14, Nº 3, p. 25.

Holopoetry and Perceptual Syntax

Eduardo Kac

The Holopoetry project creates a new poetic language through the improbable possibilities of immaterial, textual volumes, produced through the holographic process. The main problem in poetic expression today is not one of compositional unit (from letter to sentence), but one of syntax, which is no longer organized in a line (“undimensional flow of signs” — Max Bense), or structured on a flat surface (“a textual surface” — Bense). With holopoetry, syntax is organized in discontinuous space.
Instead of reducing the rhythm to the limitations of a flat surface, holopoetry makes it possible to create a poetic language in which it does not matter if one is using phrasal, vocabular, syllabic or literal structures — expression is similar to the enigmatic states of conscience and spaciotemporality is used on an extreme, pluridimensional level of complexity.
This new holistic perception, source of the fruition of real immaterial objects, volumes without mass, requires a response in the structure of language: the possibility to transform the instrument of intellectualization — the word — into a sign as fluid and elastic as thought. By taking over an optic or, better yet an optronic system of production, distributing the elements of the composition in the surrounding space and registering this information on a flat device, holopoetry launches a perceptual syntax, relativizing the cognitive process according to the different points of observation in space.
Quantum theory (Heisenberg’s “uncertainty”, Bohr’s “ambiguity”) teaches that two properties associated with atomic and nuclear objects cannot always be measured at the same time, and that the possible values of these “observable quantities”, or quantized physical magnitudes, can be discontinuous. Holopoetry is coded according to this principle, to take on quantified verbal configurations, whose reading is done in leaps, irregularly, discontinuously, according to each point of view. The way one looks at it modifies the holopoem. The act of looking in itself implies a specific spatial position of observation, in which one must consider the distance between the two eyes (approximalely 6.5cm) which are situated in different points in space. Looking at a holopoem, therefore, is more than receiving the wavefront of a verbal light code; it is reading it according to a changing order. To read a holopoem is to impose upon it a grammar without defined outlines, discovering its meanings in space itself.
Perhaps holopoetry is contributing toward a new vital human experimentation. Restructuring the dimensional field of language can be an adventure as rich as are scientific revelations in physical and mathematical fields. Holopoetry demands an urgent reformulation in the methods of conceiving, producing and enjoying poetic states, for in the holomatic era, the artist intermediates his or her creation through techno-systems, increasing the quantity of information in shorter periods of time and consequently intensifying the sensorial experience of the spectator.
In these three years of work with Catta-Preta, I have created four works: Holo/Olho (Holo/Eye), which uses the orthoscopic/pseudoscopic bipolarization: Abracadabra, analogically constructed in relation to orbital systems, with rhythmic chromatic control; Oco (Hollow), in which an image of conflict between desire and idleness is created; and Zyx, which uses the old Cartesian coordinates of tridimensionality, reorganizing the syntactic space in dimensional leaps.
The development of holopoetry as a hybrid poetic language is an interdisciplinary project, for it deals with a hybridism of genres (visual and verbal mixing) and of structure (syntax and pictorial space) that wants to coordinate the infinite possibilities of the word-image, written with the revolutionary spatial focalization of holography. It would not be worthwhile to try to find, in the pages of literary publications or even in any couple of verses, the radical poetic rupture that will reflect the deep alterations in knowledge and perception that result from new developments in the techno-sciences. It will not be found there, simply because it was not invented to live in books, at least not in those we know today — printed in two dimensions.
Two monumental exhibitions that took place in 1985, the Tsukuba Fair in Japan and “The Immaterials” at the Beaubourg in France, are the most evident proof that in the next millenium, perception and sensibility are bound to undergo deep transformations, metamorphoses which we cannot even imagine. But at least one thing can be affirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt: in the future new art forms will emerge. In time, however, these new artforms will become as classic as the enigmatic smile of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, or the provocative goatee of Duchamp’s Gioconda.

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