Opening Statement by YASMIN co moderator Roger Malina
Poetry in the Asylum:
There have been times in my life when I have been a voracious reader,
and sometime writer, of poetry. Sometimes this state is triggered by
jet lag. At those times I consume and generate poetry as if my very
survival depended on it. At other times I am cold to poetry.
My Czech grandparents were both musicians and music teachers and they
raised my father in a home where music was almost a basic food. He
used to listen to music as he carried out his scientific research in
the 30s, and later as he created his kinetic art works in the 1950s;
his seminal work "Jazz":
is a visual poem linking sound and image. It was during this time that
he was at personal risk, pursued by the US McCarthy staffers and the
US FBI. Then suddenly in his 50s, after his political problems were
over, he became oblivious to music and painted in silence for the rest
of his life. Is this a coincidence or a connection? What is it that
makes poetry vital for survival? We live in a dangerous age, do we
need a new poetics?
In recent decades, much of the art connected to science and new
technologies has been non contemplative, often loud and insistent,
un-poetical. But other artists, and poets, as they have explored these
new terrains have developed new poetic impulses that have created new
senses of the special and even the sacred. Examples come to mind that
I would put in the category of poetic arts would include:
Jeffrey Shaw's "Legible City : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61l7Y4MS4aU
Char Davies "Ephemere": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oa_aiw7yhpI
David Rokeby's "Very Nervous System" :
Mark Hansen and Ben Rubin's Listening post:
The invited respondents in this discussion have a variety of
approaches to poetry that connects to the sciences and technology of
When historian Robert Ilbert asked Samuel Bordreuil and I to set up
the Art-Science wing of IMERA:
he named it : ASIL, or the French word for Asylum, with the acronym
Arts-Sciences-Instrumentations-Language . Indeed the connections
between the arts, sciences and technology must also be mediated by
languages both image and word, and in particular by art forms that use
language as their raw material. We have recently issued a new call for
residency proposals :
and we welcome proposals from poets that need to collaborate with
scientists or research engineers to achieve their artistic vision. We
need poetry in the Asylum.
Ten years ago poet Tim Peterson, a participant in this discussion,
led a Leonardo Electronic Almanac project around the new poetics :
New Media Poetry and Poetics
>From Concrete to Codework: Praxis in Networked and Programmable Media
and more recently in the Leonardo Book Series at MIT Press we published
New Media Poetics: edited by Adalaide Morris and Thomas Swiss
which documents some of the current work in new media poetics.
In this YASMIN discussion we seek to discuss all the many ways that
poetry connects to the new sciences and the new technologies that
underpin so many of the new ways that we are becoming human.
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