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Tecno-Poesia e Realtà Virtuali: Storia, Teoria, Esperienze tra Scrittura, Visualità e Nuovi Media

Author: Caterina Davínio
Publisher: Mantova, Italy: Editoriale Sometti, 2002
Review Published: June 2004

 REVIEW 1: Jorge Luiz Antonio

Every time that a new study of electronic poetry is published, it becomes more evident an existence of an "international" poetry, not in the meaning of a globalization or homogenization of aesthetic proceedings, but of a trial of going beyond physical frontiers and languages. A kind of collective and collaborative international movement is increasing and configuring a new school of poetry, art, and literature, in direct relationship with the creative use of technology. The personal and the collective, regional and national, national and international, the most different events, the most singular projects -- all of these cultural components have been incorporated in a technological culture with aesthetic aim, by means of an intralingual, extralingual, intersemiotic, hypermedia and hypertextual algorithmic translation.

Tecno-Poesia e Realtà Virtuali: Storia, Teoria, Esperienze tra Scrittura, Visualità e Nuovi Media (or, Techno-Poetry and Virtual Realities: History, Theory, Writing Experiences, Visuality and New Media), written by Caterina Davínio, is the result and register of this "International" poetry, offering a theoretical study and catalogue of works in electronic and digital media, by means of 130 entries of artists from many countries.

Caterina Davínio is a computer artist, writer, and curator, who studied Literatura at Roma University I "La Sapienza." During the 1990s, she organized festivals and meetings in many Italian cities, creating a bridge between experimental poetry and the circuit of electronic art. She was one of the first artists who realized animated poetry with the computer in Italy, in 1990. Since 1998, her work appeared on the internet through collaborative projects, including Karenina.it which became an international point of reference. More than 70 of her works are exhibited in biennials and festivals in many countries; many of her essays about new media, poems, computer poetries, and a novel (Còlor Còlor, 1998) have been published in Italy and outside; and several of her collaborations in the form of web pages, sites, and electronic publications appear in NY Art Magazine, Rhizome, BoXoN, Doc(K)s, Arte on Line, and JavaMuseum.

The book, some of which can be accessed online, is divided into five parts: techno-poetry and virtual reality; computer poetry, hypermedia, and Internet; performance and performers; video; and appendix. Instead of an index of names, subjects, and terms, there is a list of artists by classification on the first pages of each chapter.

As the author says, the book "collects numerous international authors, belonging to various generations, who took part in those festivals, and a section, a result of research made for this publication, of artists who have brought their work towards computer poetry, interactivity and Internet, contributing to write a route among visual arts, writings, and technology, inventing a new form of poetry, in which sometimes visual aspects predominate, sometimes verbal ones, in the sign of the motion, of the realization of the futurist dream to bring the words out from the page, by determining a radical change, a conscious breaking with the past for all what concerns the definition of 'art object' and the materials of art" (268).

The first chapter, "Techno-Poetry and Virtual Reality," presents a trajectory of techno-poetry since 1990 in Italy and in other countries, and explores the following subjects: videoperformance and performance in video; videopoetry; video-visual poetry; computer poetry; hypertext, hypermedia interactive pages, generative writing; CD-ROM poetry; hypertext in the Net; hierarchy, interactivity, and collective creation; some common features; net poetry, e-mail poetry, SMS poetry, and poetry in phatic function; art as communication and stratification of the virtual object; a concrete data processing; and the object in the hypermedia and in the Net.

In a clear and concise language, Caterina proposes a concept of techno-poetry: a general term that encompasses experimental poetries using new technologies as video, holography, movie, computer, Internet, and the Web, but also making performatic actions in a physical space. This concept embraces four other categories: computer poetry; hypermedia and Internet, all of them with support as CD-ROM or Web; performance and performer; and video. Each of these items contain subdivisions, according to the technological component they use.

Three other chapters -- "Computer Poetry, Hypermedia and Internet," "Performance and Performers," and "Video" -- have the same structure: chapter title, subtitle, and a list of artists and their biographical notes. These three chapters offer a panorama of 130 authors from the following countries: Germany, Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, Eslovenia, Spain, USA, Philippines, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Yugoslavia, Latvia, Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Portugal, United Kingdom, Russia, and Uruguay.

In the "Appendix," with the subtitle of "Italian Review of 1990," there is a report about twelve cultural events, their objectives, dates, and names of participants, embracing ten years of the curatorship by Catarina Davinio covering venues in Italy and by means of the internet and gathering artists and poets from many countries.

The open and collaborative project, Karenina.it -- Poesia in Funzione Fatica, idealized, animated, and realized by Davinio (and what she calls a "collaborative project, the first one on line in Italy, for experimental poetry" (88)) is the main motivation and a starting point of many projects and festivals. Among "art and criticism, happening and telematic performance," Karenina is "a place of virtual agregation under the theme of scriture and technology to which join artists' experiments, curators, international theoreticians, in a net which counts on thousands of contacts in the world" (85-86). Poetry in phatic function, the subtitle of Karenina.it, is a concept based on Roman Jakobson's phatic function of language and is described "as a paradox, to allude to something that in the art and communication world is happening, that is not clear and whose boundaries is not possible to determine, to imagine development that upsets the way we are accustomed to think about art and poetry" (286).

The titles of projects and festivals give us an idea of the realized events: Centomilamodi di … perdere la testa (1992-1993); Electronie d'Arte e Altre Scritture / Art Electronics and Other Writings (1994-1995); Oltre le Arti Elettronichie: La Nova Sperimentazione (1995); Videometropoli (1995); Poevisioni Elettroniche (three consecutive events in 1996, 1997, and 1998); La coscienza luccicante: L'Arte nell'Etá Elettronica (1998); Virtual Words / Parole Virtuali (1999); Technopoetry (2001); Bunker Poetico (2001); Azione Parallela -- Bunker (2001); Paint from Nature / Copia dal Vero (2001-2002); and Global Poetry Net Action (2002).

The majority of authors cited in the book have their works on the Web, which, for people interested in these subjects, is not only an invitation to enjoy their poetries, but also an opportunity to learn about updated concepts. Many of these readers, if well familiarized with new making of these poetries, will probably be the next participants of projects coordinated by Davínio.

An expressive bibliography corroborates a well-founded and serious research of a scholar, curator, and active and dynamic artist who participates of events in poetry and technology. The international and the national, general and specific, personal and collective, the different languages -- all of them are treated with seriousness of an efficient essayist who cares about registering names, dates, places, proposals, objectives, and projects. There is a logical concentration that links theorization and the presentation of a significative data base of events in Italy, but with the participation, mostly via Internet, of artists from many countries.

Among the works cited above, Tecno-Poesia e Realtà Virtuali is a good point of reference for scholars, researchers, poets, and artists, for it contains theory, examples, and an anthology of international techno-poetry. Moreover, Davínio proposes the name of techno-poetry as a general term to digital poetics, a term that will no doubt be placed alongside "new media poetry" (Eduardo Kac and others), "e-poetry" (Glazier), poetechniques (Plaza and Tavares), and cybertext poetry (Cayley, Funkhouser), among others.

Cayley, John (1996). Beyond Codexspace: Potentialities of Literary Cybertext, in Kac, Eduardo (guest editor) & Poggenpohl, Sharon Helmer (editor). New Media Poetry: Poetic Innovation and New Technologies. Visible Language 30.2. Providence, Rhode Island: Rhode Island School of Design, pp.164-183.

Funkhouser, Chris (1996). Toward a Literature Moving Outside Itself: The Beginnings of Hypermedia Poetry.

Glazier, Loss Pequeño (2002). Digital poetics: The making of e-poetries. Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA: The University of Alabama Press.

Kac, Eduardo & Poggenpohl, Sharon Helmer (ed.) (1996). Visible Language 30.2: New Media Poetry: Poetic Innovation and New Technologies. Providence, Rhode Island: Rhode Island School of Design.

Plaza, Julio & Tavares, Monica (1998). Processos criativos com os meios eletrônicos: poéticas digitais. SP, Campinas, SP: Ed. Unicamp; Salvador, BA: UNEB CADCT, SP: FAPESP / Hucitec. (Linguagem e cultura 30).

Jorge Luiz Antonio:
Jorge Luiz Antonio, professor and poet, researches about electronic poetry for his PhD thesis in Communication and Semiotics at at the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo, Brazil. He is author of Almeida Junior Através Dos Tempos (1983), Brazilian Digital Art and Poetry on the Web (2000), and Cores Forma, Luz, Movimento: A Poesia de Cesário Verde (2002). He reviewed Interpoesia for RCCS.  <jlantonio@uol.com.br>

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