Currents in Electronic Literacy

E-poets on the State of their Electronic Art:

Reiner Strasser


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Reiner Strasser, living and working in Wiesbaden, Germany, was born 1954 in Antwerpen, Belgium. He studied art, art history and philosophy at the University of Mainz, Germany in the 1970's. His Web works, international collaborations, and Web art projects date from 1996. Strasser's Web work has appeared in several exhibitions/publications since 1997, most recently in these e-zines: Riding the Meridian; Cauldron and Net; Beehive;; ArtOnLine (US); trAce (UK); TEXT 2 (Australia); and on several CD-ROM publications: The Little Magazine, CD 22 Gravitational Intrigue, University of Albany, NY, 1999; Dietsche Warande & Belfort, Elektronische Literatuur, 4.99, NL/B; ALIRE 11, revue de littératur animée et interactive, Mots-Voir, France, 2000; DOC(K)S "un notre web" (book and CD-ROM), Corse 2000; Net Art Guide (book and CD-ROM version), Frauenhofer Institut, Germany 2000; and in real space: Aix Art Contemporaine Web en Provence, France,1999; Amour et Conscience, art show in Paris, 1999; AJAC 25th Art Exhibition, Metropolitan Art Museum, Tokyo, 1999; NOW Festival Nottingham, GB, 1999; AJAC 2000, M.A.M., Tokyo, 2000; INFOS '00 (honourable mention in the net art contest), Lubljana, Slovenia, 2000; E-Poetry festival, Buffalo/New York, 2001; FILE_2001 festival, Museu da Imagem e do Som, São Paulo, 2001; medi@terra 01, Athens, 2001; and II Interpoesia, São Paulo, 2001.

  1. How 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?
  2. E-poetry - electronic poetry, digital poetry - in my view is poetry which is generated with electronic, digital tools. There have appeared different notions over the last few years. Some of them are: Animated Poetry (Visual Poetry using animated letter-signs); Hypertext (Based) Poetry (hypertextual, traditional text-based) poetry); Code Poetry (generated by computer-programs, using computer languages); and Multi-Media-Poetry or Mixed-Media-Poetry (with a fusion of word, picture, and sound).

    I myself prefer the notion of i-poetry or i-art. My understanding of Poetry is not only bound to words but also pictures, movies, etc. - a kind of poetic_a la art - and an "I" with different meanings - interactive, Internet, independent, ...., irritating, intriguing, ....

    I like expressions/notions, which are open in some kind of way, have multiple meanings. I-art or i-poetry works in the triangle of "picture, word and sound" + "interactivity," with interactivity in its double meaning of "mechanical" and "mental/mind_y" through interaction/participation of the recipient.

  3. What are you doing in e-poetry that cannot be done in more traditional modes (such as linear paper)?

    As mentioned before, using "interactivity," "interactive elements," and "collaborating with other artists/poets worldwide."

    The keywords for me in this regard are: "poly-medial" and "hyper-medial."

  4. If you "collaborate" with others (for instance, outsource particular technological aspects of a "poem"), do you feel this affects the poem's "authorship?"

    I have experienced different kinds of collaboration. The "authorship" depends on the part participating artists/poets play in the project or the character of the project itself. Some examples: In 1997 I preferred "shared authorship" (i.e., in small projects with Ted Warnell). Ideal(istical)ly I wanted to remove authorship. Art standing for its own sake. In "weak blood" (a 1999 collaboration with 76 artists/poets), the authorship of the parts are attributed to the contributing authors. In many projects of "" (a "collection" of projects, 1999-2001) authorship is shared once again.

  5. 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?

    My readers? A difficult question. I think most of the people are involved in the net-art or cyber-poetry (to use the notion of Komninos) movement as creators, academics, or readers. There is a smaller group of visitors "by chance." Generally there is only rare feedback through e-mail, except for some projects, where you can participate by sending in "words." Especially in the second group there are many people who have no (close) connection to art or poetry.

  6. What excites you about this new medium for poetry? And what particular drawbacks (if any) does working with electronic technology present?

    The fusion of different media and the collaborative aspect are the most exciting for me. The fusion is the cause of my own history of love for and works in different media (writing, painting, film). Collaborations give a global touch and are cultural experiences I would not get without this medium. The drawback is at first the distance - I would like to have the people I am working with - around me - nearby and at hand - touchable. It is the missing of the real presence. The electronic media by itself is a "time-eater." There is always the danger to virtualize (to lose contact to your real world). In my opinion, this is a general problem of the medium.

  7. How are you integrating/embracing other media such as sound, animation, and navigation?

    Smile - the methods differ from project to project.

    In my view every element (sound, picture . . . ) is as important as the other. There is (it is thought generally - surely it differs when looking at a single project) no priority of an element to be fused/integrated into a piece. I think the elements are embraced by the "content" of the combination. It is less a formal criteria, but the form nevertheless is also important.

  8. What kind of aesthetic is emerging in the field?

    When looking at fusion you may think that the aesthetics of the different media are (simply) combined. But it happens not (only) in such a way. Consider an example from painting. When you set a color at the side of another, the visible character of the first color changes. In "mixed media" the same happens. The aesthetic changes by the combination and forms a new kind of aesthetic. Looking at the different elements (alone), especially the animation (not really unknown from film - but I am thinking of "polylinear" structures here) and the interactivity are unexplored fields.

  9. What do you think the future holds for e-poets and e-poetry?

    Oh, that is a fictive question. I would like to see a future where art and poetry influence/integrate the whole (cultural) society.

Please cite this article as Currents in Electronic Literacy Fall 2001 (5),

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