(SPAM Cuts) KICKING THE KAOS PAD – AGF-POEMPRODUCER
This week’s SPAM Cut features Max Parnell, looking at the transhumanist intimacies and techno aesthetics of self-proclaimed bass poetess, AFG Poemproducer’s new printed collection, Poemproducer, available now via paranoia publishing.
writing in the electronic age. if emotions have cycles. some salmiakki pattern. i am gathering thoughts from every corner of this electronic planet.
> Antye Greie, stage name AFG Poemproducer, is an e-poetess, writer, curator, musician and performance artist known for her deconstruction of language through digital technology. Off the page, she converts her poetry into electronic music, digital media and sound installations in auditoriums, museums and theatres.
> Her first printed collection Poemproducer, published by paranoia publishing group ltd., includes 30 of her poems selected from her poem-newsletter, each one being randomly translated into one of five languages.
> Throughout these poems, there’s a sort of anxiousness that permeates the chopped up, fragmented sentence structure, mirroring the glitchy, jolting style of AGF’s music that wavers between rhythmic and arrhythmic. As readers, we’re frequently fed assertions that dart at us as if from paranoid eyes;
terrorists can attack / security tends to be reactive terrorism is gang war / personal war / trapped
> It seems almost necessary to read these poems at a fast tempo, whereby we experience these warning words like flashes of a strobe light. Yet this anxious tone isn’t consistently one of paranoia. On the contrary, the texts can be anxiously playful in their examination of what writing actually consists of:
I am enjoying the dance / authorship is not a feeling / it is work / revealing patterns / rhythms of people / the visible and audible / text is live / collected in / real time rooms / the ebb and flow of soundscapes
These examinatory passages crop up throughout the collection, often in the form of existential questions planted amongst the technological stream-of-consciousness flow. There’s a sense of falling with each poem, of careering down the page, stumbling on every short burst of words that run into the next assertion. The narrative voice, often wavering between machine-like and personal, frequently addresses the reader, questioning ‘what are we doing? / do we mean what we are / and are what we mean?’ These unanswered questions work to help us make sense of the chaotic, obfuscating language breakdowns that characterise this collection.
> Perhaps the opening of 18, ‘Subject: no harm can fall’, most neatly encapsulates what it is like to read this collection:
you are now / entering the body of words / electrical dadada strict codes cracked by / bending borders —>
It is here we enter this ‘fragile state’, one in which the borders between human and machine start to cross over, echoing the transhumanist rhetoric of ‘human but perfected’, articulated in the prosthetic metaphor of ‘the body: a space-helicopter’. Poem 22 illustrates this flirtation with the cyborg, asking us ‘isn’t breathing techno? / are we just recreating heartbeat? / looking for extended battery life?’ As transhumanists look to loosen the borders between homo sapiens and technology, Poemproducer’s overtly technological style bends the boundaries between automated speech and narrative voice. Throughout the collection, there’s a sense of being intimately addressed, of being present in the poems with the author. Yet the playfulness comes in the subtle AI shades that permeate the speaker’s tone, presenting AGF’s notion of language as coding, as seen in ‘Subject:mmmmmmmm’, a poem consisting of single letters, symbols and numbers.
> Nowhere does this merging of voice stand out more than in the small personal-yet-not-personal closing remarks that end almost every poem in the collection. These vary from the formal, ‘with respect / yours AGF’, to the warming ‘with love from the woods / yours poetess’ and even personal ‘my dearest, i wish you an upmost powerful 2010!’ The tone of the closing remarks fluctuates between impersonal computer automation and intimate speaker-listener interaction, perhaps an accurate way to describe the collection as a whole.
Text: Max Parnell