Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Poetry Foundation has a section on Random Poetry. Here is an example :

Random Poetry 07


First utterance of Talking Popcorn
by Nina Katchadourian

Nina Katchadourian is a conceptual artist, famous for her eclectic projects, some of which involve her mending a spiderweb or sorting a bookshelf. Often her work consists of either a whimsical intervention into a geographic mapping or an uninvited modification of an ecological terrain. She might, for example, dissect a travel map, extracting all the landmass, while retaining, intact, all the highways—or she might augment a car alarum, installing a new bullhorn, which screeches out a birdcall instead.

Talking Popcorn is a sculpture that consists of a popcorn-machine hooked up to a microphone that transmits these signals to a hidden laptop—one equipped to convert these sounds according to the dictates of Morse Code, after which the computer translates these dits and dahs into a series of English letters for vocalization by its own robot-voice. The artist goes on to transcribe each message from this "oracle," preserving the popcorn in a vacuum-capsule for display alongside these texts.

Katchadourian remarks that "Talking Popcorn blurts out words in many different languages, but ultimately it speaks a 'language' very much its own"—and she has even gone so far as to bronze the first four kernels of popcorn generated by the machine, in order to preserve its inital, spoken utterance—the word "WE" (dit dah dah, dit). Her machine almost seems to literalize the notion of the "soundbite," insofar as each phoneme erupts by chance from the void, only to leave behind its own edible casing.

Katchadourian has, in effect, built an "echo chamber," in which we see letters collide or disband at random, doing so in a way reminiscent of the clinamen described by Lucretius, who draws an analogy between atoms and words in order to suggest that all substances and all utterances result from minute nuclei, erupting and swerving into each other as they fall through the void. Each letter becomes a fugitive particle that might appear, change, or vanish, depending upon such a randomized trajectory….