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Humanities 2017, 6(3), 48; doi:10.3390/h6030048

Code and Substrate: Reconceiving the Actual in Digital Art and Poetry

Department of Humanities, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, NJ 07102, USA
Received: 12 December 2016 / Revised: 13 June 2017 / Accepted: 5 July 2017 / Published: 14 July 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Poetics of Computation)
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Abstract

The quality of digital poetry or art—not merely as contained within our aesthetic reaction to digitally expressive works but as well our intellectual grounding in them—suggests that the digital’s seemingly ephemeral character is an indication of its lack of an apparently material existence. While, aesthetically, the digital’s ephemerality lies in the very fact of the digitally artistic enterprise, the fact is that its material substrate is what makes the aesthetic pleasure we take in it possible. When we realize for ourselves the role played by this substrate, furthermore, a paradox looms up before us. The fact is that we both enjoy, and in some sense separately understand the artwork comprehensively and fully; we also allow ourselves to enter into an ongoing conversation about the nature of the physical world. This conversation is not insignificant for the world of art especially, inasmuch as art depends upon the actual materials of the world—even digital art—and, too, upon our physical engagement with the art. Digital poetry and art, whose dynamic demands the dissolution of the line that would otherwise distinguish one from the other, have brought the notion of embodiment to the fore of our considerations of them, and here is the charm, along with the paradoxical strength, of digital art and poetry: it is our physical participation in them that makes them fully come into being. View Full-Text
Keywords: digital; art; poetry; code; expressivity; aesthetics; substrate; erasure; materiality; Modernism; Postmodernism; Objectivist poetry; Flarf; conceptual writing; digital writing; readymade; Armory Show; Stein; Oppen; Williams; Duchamp; Christo; James Little; Pollock; Rothko; Craig Dworkin; Samantha Gorman; Ian Hatcher; Kenneth Goldsmith; Uncertainty; Kant; Heidegger digital; art; poetry; code; expressivity; aesthetics; substrate; erasure; materiality; Modernism; Postmodernism; Objectivist poetry; Flarf; conceptual writing; digital writing; readymade; Armory Show; Stein; Oppen; Williams; Duchamp; Christo; James Little; Pollock; Rothko; Craig Dworkin; Samantha Gorman; Ian Hatcher; Kenneth Goldsmith; Uncertainty; Kant; Heidegger
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Kimmelman, B. Code and Substrate: Reconceiving the Actual in Digital Art and Poetry. Humanities 2017, 6, 48.

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