cite this article as
Currents in Electronic Literacy
Fall 2001 (5),
to Surveys main page
Jim Andrews is a full-time "web.artist" who
lives in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Before becoming
digital in 1990, Jim Andrews produced a literary radio show
called Fine Lines and, later, in the 1980's, a show called ?Frame?
which concentrated on audio writing. He also produced the literary
magazine And Yet and hosted and organized a weekly poetry
reading series in Victoria called Mocambopo. His primary Web
site is vispo.com (http://www.vispo.com),
which represents the center of his publishing endeavors. He
is also the founder of webartery, an email list and Web site
concerned with the poetics of web.art.
do you define your work--what categorizations/classifications
(traditional or otherwise) would you use to distinguish
e-poetry in general and your work in particular?
I consider what I do as a
form of writing, though I work also in image, sound, and
code, besides text. And I call myself a poet from time to
time, I mean I love poetry, that is somehow my first loyalty.
But I also consider myself a web.artist. The latter is probably
more understandable widely than calling what I do poetry,
because my work does not resemble poetry in some ways, and
I rarely write poems anymore, i.e., on paper. Yet I am intensely
involved in language, which is part of the reason why I
say poetry is my first loyalty.
are you doing in e-poetry that cannot be done in more traditional
modes (such as linear paper)?
Various forms of interactivity,
motion, programmability and sound. Also, the color work
I do is not economically possible for me, anyway, in large
print runs. And I am able to publish to a widely international
audience from my place, which I found much harder to do
in print. And I am able to be in touch with other artists
and thinkers more easily than prior to becoming digital.
I am a programmer also; so I'm able to combine all my interests
in the digital realm.
you "collaborate" with others (for instance, outsource particular
technological aspects of a "poem"), do you feel this affects
the poem's "authorship?"
Yes. But authorship is very tangled at the best of times,
given that our thoughts and ideas generally have considerable
history that precedes us.
Who are your readers and how are you interacting with
them? How is youraudience similar to and/or different from
that of the traditional poet's?
I have a site at vispo.com, and that is basically my "book."
So mostly the readers are unknown, though countable. I also
publish in electronic journals and speak at events. I correspond
with those who respond via email to the site, and I participate
in several email lists. I started one list, Webartery, that
focuses on discussion of poetics of Web.art/net.art etc.
My audience is interested in combining poetry with other
media, arts, and technologies, as am I, and in thinking
about the consequences of this.
excites you about this new medium for poetry? And what particular
drawbacks (if any) does working with electronic technology
The synthesis/juxt of various media/arts/tech/communications
excites me. On the Web one may make works that involve sound,
text, image, communications conduit, interactivity, and
much neath text (code). Also, being able to be in communication
with other artists and thinkers easily is exciting. There
is a sense that poetry can have some energy in these directions.
The main drawbacks are the Babel of languages/techs and
the decay time of the technologies, but for me, being a
programmer and communicator as well as a writer, the alternative
is not interesting; I'm not going back to print until I'm
too old or ill to run a computer.
How are you integrating/embracing other media such
as sound, animation, and navigation?
My primary tool these days
is Director. Its strength is in the way that it allows you
to combine/fuse/synthesize/juxtapose different media, and
the granularity of control it gives you over the media.
I have moved into developing the art and tech of interactive
audio for the Web using Director. These pieces typically
involve music/sound/visual poetry, and interactive animations,
and are typically compositional as well as "unfinished"
in that there is content to explore rather than creating
all the content yourself.
kind of aesthetic is emerging in the field?
Poets are closer to visual
artists, musicians, etc and are also closer to scientists
and technologists. Poetry is finding its way in electronic
media, not just print.
do you think the future holds for e-poets and e-poetry?
I think that writing poetry
and writing software will not be so far apart, typically,
in the future as is the case now. Nor will writing and making
pictures. Or writing and recorded sound. I think our sense
of poetry will be extended through all the dimensions of