Media Poetry and Language Art by Eduardo Kac

In chronological order

Listen to Eduardo Kac discussing his holopoetry, digital poetry, and biopoetry at Kunsttempel gallery, Kassel, on June 21, 2007 [mp3, 46:45 Min, 128Kbps, 41 MB]. Courtesy of Stadtbücherei Stuttgart and Kunsttempel Kassel - www.3durch3.de.

For an in-depth discussion of Kac's digital poetry, see:

Bohn, Williard. Reading Vidual Poetry (Lanham, Maryland: Fairleigh Dickinson, 2011), pp. 141-159.

Kac, Eduardo. "From ASCII to Cyberspace: a Trajectory in Digital Poetry," in: Kac, E. (ed.) Media Poetry: an International Anthology. Second Edition (Bristol: Intellect, 2007), pp. 45-65.



Não!, 1982/84 - Created in 1982 and presented on an electronic signboard in 1984 at the Centro Cultural Cândido Mendes, Rio de Janeiro (in Portuguese). "Não!" is organized in text blocks which circulate in virtual space at equal intervals, leaving the screen blank prior to the flow of the next text block. The visual rhythm thus created alternates between appearance and disappearance of the fragmented verbal material, asking the reader to link them semantically as the letters go by. The internal visual tempo of the poem is added to the subjective performance of the reader. The poem was realized on a LED display.

See it now (Flash plug-in required)



Reabracadabra, 1985
Minitel animated poem shown online in 1985 in the group exhibition "Arte On-Line", a minitel art gallery presented by Companhia Telefônica de São Paulo. An incantatory word of Kaballistic resonance is rendered as a cosmic monolith following the atomic model (the vowel as nucleus and the consonants as orbiting particles).

Please click here to see stills.

See it now (QuickTime required)




OCO, 1985
OCO explores the three-dimensional architecture of the letters O, C, and I, and the multiple meanings (in Portuguese) that emerge when the letter I rhythmically appears and disappears. These meanings emerge through the cognitive associations made by the viewer as well as the perceived spatial relationships between the letters. Originally presented in 1985 as an interactive holopoem (lost), OCO was recreated in 1990 as an interactive digital poem.

Please click here to see a still from the 1990 digital translation.

See it now (Java Plug-in required; click on "Trust" when dialogue box appears)




Tesão, 1985/86
Minitel animated poem shown online in the group exhibition Brazil High-Tech (1986), a minitel art gallery organized by Eduardo Kac and Flavio Ferraz and presented by Companhia Telefônica de São Paulo. Words (in Portuguese) emerge and disappear trough layers of lines and color masses, forming an ephemeral digital graffiti.

Please click here to see stills.

See it now (QuickTime required)



Recaos, 1986
Minitel animated poem shown online in the group exhibition Brazil High-Tech (1986), a minitel art gallery organized by Eduardo Kac and Flavio Ferraz and presented by Companhia Telefônica de São Paulo. Letters forming the word "caos" (chaos, in Portuguese) ricochet off the edge of the screen to simultaneously form the open-ended hourglass outline and the infinity symbol.  As they zigzag, the letters overlap suggesting new meanings.

Please click here to see a still.

See it now (QuickTime required)




Deus, 1986
Minitel animated poem shown online in the group exhibition Brazil High-Tech (1986), a minitel art gallery organized by Eduardo Kac and Flavio Ferraz and presented by Companhia Telefônica de São Paulo. Upon close scrutiny, the apparently random letters and numbers that form the bardcode reveal hidden meanings (in Portuguese).

Please click here to see a still.

See it now (QuickTime required)




IO, 1990
Three-dimensional navigational poem in which the letters/numbers I and O appear as elements of an imaginary landscape. IO is "I" in Italian. In this piece it also stands for reconciled differences (one/zero, line/circle, etc.). The reader is invited to explore the space created by the stylized letters/numbers and experience it both as an abstract environment and as a visual text. In the expanded cosmogonal self the dot of the letter “i” is the sun.

Please click here to see stills of IO.

See it now (VRML plug-in required)



Storms, 1993 - An interactive hypertext piece based on the sefirotic tree of the Kabbalah. "Storms" is organized in vocalic and consonantal bifurcations. To navigate through the poem one is invited to click on a letter at any given time. In some instances, navigation can also take place by clicking outside the word. If the reader does not make a choice, that is, if he or she does not click on a vowel or consonant, or in some instances also on empty space, the reader will remain stationary. The poem does not have an ending. This means that one can continue to explore different textual navigation possibilities or quit at anytime. Originally a Hypercard stack, it is available below in an identical Flash translation.

See it now (Flash plug-in required)



Accident, 1994
Runtime looped animation in which language continuously emerges and disappears. As a speech fragment is repeated and letters disappear from it, new meanings emerge.

Click here to see six frames of Accident.

See it now (Flash plug-in required)




UPC, 1994
In this looped and silent installation-poem 7-foot tall letters are projected against the wall. They emerge out of focus on the right, move across diagonally into focus, and disappear again out of focus to the left. Literal and at the same time metaphorical, the verbal material evokes multiple analogies: "Nothing Above To Left Or Right Nothing Below".

Please click here to see stills of this installation-poem.

See it now (Flash plug-in required)




Insect.Desperto, 1995
Runtime animation in which the visual and sound tracks function independently and complementarily in two languages (English and Portuguese), one not being the translation of the other. “Desperto” means “awaken” in Portuguese. Originally a runtime looped animation, it is available below in an identical Flash translation.

Click here to see frames of this work.

See it now (Flash plug-in required)



Secret, 1996
The words in "Secret" are dispersed in the semantic darkness of a potential space. The reader is invited to navigate this space and create verbal and visual links between immaterial presences, voids, and distant signs. This VRML navigational poem was the first poem written directly in VRML.

Click here to see stills of this work.

See it now (VRML plug-in required)



Wine, 1996
A delicate and silent animation. It suggests an inebriate mental state in which foreground and background blend in almost undifferentiated fashion. The poem articulates the fleeting apparitions of the words from within themselves, as if one word would write another. Words will momentarily manifest themselves in unexpected areas on the screen, often bordering the very edge. The piece communicates as much through the verbal apparitions as it does through their carefully orchestrated evanescence.

Click here to see a still.

See it now (Flash plug-in required)



Letter, 1996
A navigational poem that presents the viewer with the image of a three-dimensional spiral jetting off the center of a two-dimensional spiral. Both spirals are made exclusively of text. The reader is able to grab and spin this cosmic verbal image in all directions. Thus, reading becomes a process of probing the virtual object from all possible angles. The reader is also able to fly through and around the object, thus expanding reading possibilities. In "Letter" a spiraling cone made of words can be interpreted as both converging to or diverging from the flat one. Together they may evoke the creation or destruction of a star. All texts are created as if they were fragments of letters written to the same person. However, in order to convey a particular emotional sphere, the author conflated the subject positions of grandmother, mother, and daughter into one addressee. It is not possible to distinguish to whom each fragment is addressed. The poem makes reference to moments of death and birth in the poet's family. Letter is presented here as video documentation of an interactive reading experience.

Click here to see a still.

See it now (VRML plug-in required)



Reversed Mirror, 1997
A 7-minute, single-channel digital videopoem (edition of 5). This work takes language into a domain of trance where the subtle dissolution and reconfiguration of verbal particles is charged with a feeling that is at once calm and tense.

See ten frames of this work here.

Collection ZKM Museum, Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie, Karlsruhe, Germany (1/5)
Collection Museo extremeño e iberoamericano de arte contemporáneo, Badajoz, Spain (2/5)
Collection Alfredo Hertzog da Silva, São Paulo (3/5)
Private collection, Miami (4/5)

See it on Vimeo.


Perhaps, 1998/1999
This is the first poem written specifically for Internet 2. The poem is a world with 24 avatars, each a different word. Each reader, in order to read the poem, must establish his or her own presence in this textworld through a verbal avatar. As remote participants choose a word and log on with their word-avatar, they contribute with their word choices to determine the semantic sphere of that particular readerly experience. Once in the world, they make decisions about where to go. In so doing, they move towards or away from other words (i.e., towards or away from other participants), producing a syntax of transient meanings based on the constant movement, as well as the approximation and isolation of the words. For example: the word “blood” moving towards the word “abloom” has a very different meaning from the word“titanium” moving away from the word “violet”. Here is the complete list of avatars readers may choose from: abloom, blood, canyon, daze, eleventh, fabric, grace, hour, ion, jet, kayak, lumen, mist, nebula, oblivion, pluvial, quanta, radial, sole, titanium, umbra, violet, xeric, year, zenith. This poem was experimentally read online throughout 1999 using a special server in the Art and Technology Department of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Click here to see a still.

 


 

Outrossim [Otherwise]

This work is composed of two different anamorphic QR codes in a 40ft (12m) vitrine.

Once the lens of the cell phone converts the distorted images into squares, the QR app in the phone automatically reads the two codes and renders the animations visible. The poem has two complementary animations, each accessed through one of the distinct anamorphic QR codes. The code seen in each side of the vitrine offers the reader not only a distinct visual perspective, but also a different approach to the meanings of the poem.

Commissioned by Oi Futuro, Rio de Janeiro, for Kac's solo show Poesia Digital: 1982-1999 [Digital Poetry: 1982-1999], Oi Futuro, Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro (January 15 to March 02, 2014).


Click here.

 



Selected bibliography on Kac's digital poetry


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