Language is a technology; a prime mover in the re-distribution of aesthetic values, and though poetry (on the page or on the stage) is my preferred medium, videopoetry as a medium, allows me exquisite axes of entry into a virtual arena where not only can the materiality of language be exposed, but through the conflagration of image, music, voice, text, sound and animation, it highlights a ‘textatic’ slipperiness of meaning. And each piece, operating with its own structure, codes, logic, idioms, reminds us how meaning-making is always a praxis of palimpsest and dissemination, generating a contiguous infolding of meaning.
Since the early 90’s, I have been playing in this field — through videopoems (such as Lingual Ladies, I Got a Crush on Osama, Alphabet City, Belle L’être, This is Your Final Nitrous, White Abbot), Dance for Me and Encore ma coeur from my Salomé project) and recently with animated pechakuchas: (Ceçi n’est pas un Telephone or hooked on Telephonics and BACK IN THE O.S.V.R.: THE GHOST IS THE MACHINE, Medium in a Message Age: Communication in the Era of Technology, Where is Fancy Bred? Re-Thinking Imagination Through the “Unthought” and how that Affects Communication). Each an analytic meditation on the relationship between language, culture, technology and communication. And what binds them all, is a firm commitment to a sense of jouissance. Incorporating a post-literate, hyper-generative aesthetics highlighting recycled language, sampling, borrowing, cutting, pasting, mash-up; engaged in an ‘inter-ventive’ poetics marked by neo-formalized post-consumerist media-infused transgressive linguistic practices – underscoring how whether on or off the screen, each luxuriant letter, phrase, meme is saturated with ideological codes, intertextually drenched palimpsested systems, an ever-shifting political, social, gendered logospace of ‘ambi-valence’. And with the advent of new technologies, I am now able to foreground this in ever-innovative ways.
This is particularly highlighted in the 2016 collaboration with vispoetic media artist and theorist, Jim Andrews. Using dbCinema http://vispo.com/adeena/vids/concatenation.mp4, or Aleph Null https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-syLYJ4Ma8 a graphic synthesizer, ‘brushes’ sample from a set of specified images. Essentially using them as ‘paint’, they are fragmented, bifurcated, highlighting the construction of memory, meaning production, the materiality of language and the ever-recombinatory swirling nature of communication; foregrounding how language is always-already ‘intertextatically’ layered and proprioceptively received. Its seductive swathes of color, texture, image, typographies are synecdochic of how meaning unveils itself as an ever-spiraling space, where “Origin” is unlocateable. And through a kind of Lyotardian dissimulation, there is a libidinous “freeing-up” of structures for maximum potentiality of expression. Color, image, text erupt in an irrepresentable present non present or resonant present that continually escapes itself, visually underscoring how meaning-making is always an anti-hegemonic play of signification. http://vispo.com/adeena/vic7/index.htm?n=1,
And this sense of play is really interesting to me, in that as outlined by Avraham, Abulafia, 13th C. Kabbalistic mystic, in his Science of the Combination of Letters, we are instructed to play inside the language, using ancient practices of recombinatoric alchemy; gematriatic (numerological) substitution, combination, and through lettristic “skips” and “jumps” slippage, meaning is infinitely re-circulated. According to Kabbalistic thinking, we are “commanded to permute and combine the letters; focus on them and their configurations, permutations; combine consonants into a swift motion, which heats up your thinking and increases your joy and desire so much, that you don’t crave food or sleep and all other desires are annihilated. And nothing exists except the letters through which the world is being recreated; through a continual process of constructing and re-constructing borders, orders, laws, mirrors, screens, walls; through a caterwaulery of lolling scrolls brawling sprawls of extracted maculates bracketed tracks, hacked fractures.
I’m interested in creating work where you feel you can inhabit a kind of technopolis (a technopoetic world that reminds us how language itself is material, visceral; how the body bodies forth, re-bodies, swells between the body corps and the body text. And, in the case of the Salomé material, whether the more imagistic work Andrews and I created, or the “stir fry texts” or in the parodic White Abbot, and love how the slipperiness of the text itself mirrors the friction in the fiction as the apocryphal tale is re-told, re-mythed in a contrapuntal history.
And this sense of “play” manifests itself in different ways in the earlier overtly ironic pieces; working against resistance, enclosure, risk, fear. For example, the ‘jouissey’ “Lingual Ladies”, a parody or repurposing of Beyoncé’s pop hit “Single Ladies” poses as an example of and commentary on Conceptual Poetry. Foregrounds the process of hunting and gathering, of assemblage, bricolage, grabbing and cutting and pasting; it playfully becomes a kind of cultural translation, a socio-cultural ideological religious mash-up. Drawing from the miasma of our cultural/intellectual archive, it de-hierarchizes or problematizes, interrogates that distinction between a high art elitist discourse and the “lowbrow” seeming banality of pop culture. Along with Beyoncé, it features cameos from the texts or likeness of Gertrude Stein (1874-1946),
Wittgenstein (1889-1951), the Italian and Russian Futurists (1909-1944), Marx (1818-1883) Derrida (1930-2004), Levinas (1906-1995), Benjamin (1892-1940), bpNichol (1944-1988), Spinoza (1632-1677), Hélène Cixous (1937-) Hannah Arendt (1906-1975), all floating through the boppy mistranslation of a pop song. And acts as a kind of rallying cry for the women of Conceptual Poetry to “put their pens up”, and be engaged / participate in a vital act of cultural, memetic translation. And if a meme, a unit of cultural info virally replicating itself through language, “make a text of radical memes”.
Like the Fox News featured, “I Got a Crush on Osama”, it’s parodic, satirical, ironic; not merely a “send-up” or spoof, generated to mock but a means to comment on cultural practice, female representation intellectualism, meaning-making. And, incorporating strategies of exaggeration, juxtaposition, fractured comparison, analogy, highlights certain discordant features of “reality”, politics, art, ideology.
And through an aesthetics of transgression, invasion, contradiction, ambiguity, ornament and excess, heterogeneity, paradox, hybridity and desire. This sense of repurposing is so fastening – as it asks one to revisit and recontextualize, reframe information and thereby see it in new ways – And if everything inherently intertextual and archival; its celebrating a kind of a ‘kleptopoesis’ of parsed plays laced socio-political-lingual cultural shards fractures highlighting how all is pulsing with palimpsested resonance —
So, all the work is marked by a kind of intertextatic syntacticism; obsessed weaving meaning through found data, shattered matter, shredded fragments of all that is proper, improper, impropriotous, riotous, simultaneously celebrating and questioning all that’s filthy and wrinkled and inside out, all that’s unfolded, soiled, sullied, un-rinsed and uncomfortable. Exploring the impossibility of the possible, the contingency of our finitude, our brokenness, excess and exuberance, within the fissures of being.
List of poetry films
- Gardens of Eros (Video) Produced by Abigail Child and Safia Southey, New York, NY, 2020
- Dance For Me (Video) Produced by Elizabeth Mak, New York, NY, 2019
- Checking In (Video) Produced by Jim Andrews, Vancouver, BC 2014.
- White Abbot (Video) Produced for Salomé Project, New York, NY, 2014.
- Lingual Ladies (Video) Produced for Banff Center for the Arts, Banff, Alberta, 2011.
- I Got a Crush on Osama (Video) Produced by Rosie Moyer for Fox TV 2009, New York, NY.
- This is Your Final Nitrous (Video) Produced for Visible Verse, Festival Vancouver, Canada, 2005.
- Belle L’être (Video) Produced for St. Mark’s Poetry Project. Adeena Karasick and Marianne Shaneen, New York, NY, 2002.
- Mumbai-Ya (Video) Produced by Adeena Karasick, New York, NY, 2000.
- Alphabet City (Video) Produced by Adeena Karasick, New York, NY, 1999.
- ÆROTOMANIA: HOW THE AIRPLANE IS STRUCTURED LIKE A LANGUAGE, for the 21st Annual Media Ecology Association Conference, June 2020.
- BANDAGE, BONDAGE, STRIPPERS AND SLIPPAGE: THE LANGUAGE AND MEANING OF SALOMÉ IN THE 21ST CENTURY, for the 66th Annual Alfred Korzybski Symposium: “Language and Meaning in the 21st Century” Institute of General Semantics, New York, NY, 2018.
- THE CRAZY TALK OF CHECKING IN: HONORING THE PAST, CELEBRATING THE PRESENT, SHAPING THE FUTURE, for the New York State Communication Association / 75th Annual Conference Callicoon, NY, 2017 and The 65th Annual Alfred Korzybski Symposium: Crazy Talk Stupid Talk, Institute of General Semantics, New York, NY, 2017.
- Where is Fancy Bred: ReThinking Imagination Through the “Unthought” and How that Affects Imagination, for the 64th Annual Alfred Korzybski Symposium: Language in Thought and Action, Institute of General Semantics, New York, NY, and the New York Association of Communication Association, Callicoon, NY, 2016.
- Back in the O.S. Back in the O.S. Back in the O.S.V.R. or Siriusly? Medium, Messages and Mysticism, for Book Expo America, 2014 as part of “The Media IS the Message: Multi-Media and the Future of Publishing” (with Ralph Rivera, BBC Future Media), for BookExpo America 2014, The 72nd Annual New York State Communication Association Conference and the 62nd Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture and Symposium for the Institute of General Semantics, NY, NY, 2015.
- Medium in a Message Age: Communication in the Era of Technology for the 71st Annual New York State Communication Association Conference and the Institute of General Semantics, NY, NY, 2014
- Ceci N’est pas un Telephone or Hooked on Telephonics: A ‘PataphysicPhilphenemic Investigation of the Telephone, for “BookExpo America 2013, and the Media Ecology Association, New York, NY, 2013