Approach

As an artist I have chosen to focus on an exploration of poetic meaning/becoming; to construct a mechanism that is technologically sophisticated, enabling the examination of states and/or qualities of meaning through the juxtaposition of various media-elements of language, image and sound over time. Thus, through the course of this transdisciplinary exploration, a computer-based techno-poetic mechanism has been authored. I have been working in conjunction with the Dutch programmer Gideon May, to experientially embody research that is relevant to exploration of meaning/becoming. This techno-poetic device potentially provides situations where vusers (viewer/users) can become actively engaged with poetic media-elements through interaction with specific sets of text, image, and sound variables. This technological environment also invites the active engagement of the participant throught the perception of configurations (or patterns) of media-elements within constructed and inter-authored technological contexts.

The user of the system is empowered to interactively construct a media-environment with a set of pre-authored aesthetic media-elements. This participant withnesses first hand the complexity of media-relations inherent to the environment, as it is used to construct differing or alternate virtual environments. These alternate configurations that make up the fabric of intersignification, stem from various permutations of the media-elements, processes, and behaviours that characterise this mutable work of art.

I am seeking in the construction of this environment, to define a space where the participant can potentially become mindfully aware of their actions and the related meanings that arise through those actions. The cognitive scientist Varella, in The Embodied Mind speaking about Buddhist mindfulness/awareness wrote the following:

Its purpose is to become mindful, to experience what one's mind is doing as it does it, to be present with one's mind. What relevance does this have to cognitive science? We believe that if cognitive science is to include human experience, it must have some method of exploring and knowing what human experience is. (Varella, 1996, p. 23)

As an artist and researcher I am also interested in this particular state of mind. Engagement with this mutable computer-based environment enables the user of this mechanism to experience in a mindfully aware manner, a process of meaning/becoming that is predicated upon their participation. The user of the mechanism may potentially encounter a series of different states of meaning during this ongoing process of meaning/becoming. Engagement with this system is characterised by non-closure. It is from this perspective of mindfully aware observation that one can potentially explore this techno-poetic device, examining the functionality of this mechanism through direct interaction. Thus the device can also function as a discourse mechanism in that it enables interactive experiential perusal of a malleable emergent virtual landscape of media-relations, exploring meaning/becoming as the subject of the particular experience. The mechanism enables the examination of specific instances of use that are relevant to a contemporary exploration of a particular technological-environmental context, in the service of inductive logic. The spatial nature of this engagement with context, brings about the experiential observation of complex emergent media-relations over time, and as such, the related emergent meanings generated through this engagement. The resulting enfolded artwork / discourse mechanism facilitates navigation, poetic media-construction, and a number of other aesthetic and behavioural processes.

My research has made explicit the need to articulate a particular field that enfolds a series of divergent researches. These researches seek to function in the service of the exploration of meaning as artistic subject matter. I have sought to enfold these researches in a functional manner, to construct the techno-poetic device mentioned above. I have coined the term Recombinant Poetics to name this emergent field. I will use this term throughout this paper.

The word "Recombinant" is used within this paper in a metaphoric and poetic manner. In a scientific context it is defined as follows:

Recombinant:

Any new cell, individual, or molecule that is produced in the laboratory by recombinant DNA technology or that arises naturally as a result of recombination. (Parker, 1989)

Recombinant DNA technology can be defined as follows,

In genetic engineering, a laboratory technique used to join deoxyribonucleic acid from different sources to produce an individual with a novel gene combination. Also known as gene splicing. (Parker, 1989)

A provisional definition of the term "Recombinant Poetics" follows. Artworks which explore Recombinant Poetics are characterised by the interaction of a vuser (viewer/user) with a computer-based mechanism that enables that vuser to become actively engaged with aspects of experience arising from the combinations and recombination of language, image, and sound elements. The functionality of such a mechanism is made operative within an authored computer-based generative environment. It is the technological functionality of this mechanism that enables direct engagement with digital media-elements. These modular variables of language, image and sound can be observed as fields of meaning experienced within a variety of constructed contexts through processes of interaction. It must be noted that in this case a Recombinant Poetic work is specifically functioning in the service of the examination of meaning/becoming.

In terms of the applied definition of the term Recombinant, the user of this techno-poetic mechanism metaphorically "splices," "combines," and/or "recombines" media-elements, to create "novel" combinations, producing new "media-molecules." The metaphor of the molecule is relevant in that emergent forms can arise out of the combination and recombination of otherwise distinct modular media-elements potentially functioning in conjunction with media-processes and/or behaviours attributed to those media-elements.

It must be noted that each form of media-element will be considered as a "language" element by applying different strands of the definition of "language" as derived from Webster's New Universal Unabridged Dictionary:

Language:
1. (a) the expression and communication of thoughts and feelings by means of vocal sounds, and combinations of such sounds, to which meaning is attributed; human speech; (b) the ability to express or communicate by this means; (c) the vocal sounds so used or the written symbols for them.
2. any means of expressing or communicating, as gestures, signs, animal sounds, etc.
3. all the vocal sounds, words, and the ways of combining them common to a particular nation, tribe or other group, etc.; as the English Language.
4. (a) the particular form or manner in selecting and combining words characteristic of a person, group, etc.; form, style, or kind of expression in words; as the language of poetry; (b) the particular words or phrases of a profession, group etc.; as the language of the army;
5. the study of language in general or of some particular language or languages; linguistics.

The emergent field of Recombinant Poetics seeks to draw from a number of these definitions of language conflating various kinds of language in the service of examining meaning/becoming, these include the following:
  • text, both written and spoken including poetic text;
  • images, both still and time-based, exemplifying the following section of the definition - "any means of expressing or communicating, as gestures, signs, animal sounds, etc.;"
  • music - also exemplifying "any means of expressing or communicating, as gestures, signs, animal sounds;"
  • computer code which exemplifies "the particular words or phrases of a profession, group etc."

Each of these language forms has their own set of operative characteristics. In conflating these forms I do not value textual or spoken language over the other forms. We can say that Recombinant Poetic works potentially seek to present environments that explore and experientially enable the observation of meaning/becoming through the manipulation of the above language forms. It must be noted, where meaning/becoming functions as artistic subject matter within my techno-poetic apparatus, other artworks that fall under the emergent definition of Recombinant Poetics may enfold and explore differing forms of art content through the auspices of a Recombinant Poetic mechanism. It must also be noted that in order to explore meaning/becoming as subject, other layers of content are also potentially enfolded and encountered through use of the techno-poetic mechanism.

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