A modern art movement originating among Italian artists in 1909, when Filippo Marinetti’s first manifesto of futurism appeared, until the end of World War I. Futurism was a celebration of the machine age, glorifying war and favoring the growth of fascism. Futurist painting and sculpture were especially concerned with expressing movement and the dynamics of natural and man-made forms.
Futurism was first announced on Feb. 20, 1909, when the Paris newspaper Le Figaro published a manifesto by the Italian poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti.
The name Futurism, coined by Marinetti, reflected his emphasis on discarding what he conceived to be the static and irrelevant art of the past and celebrating change, originality, and innovation in culture and society. Marinetti’s manifesto glorified the new technology of the automobile and the beauty of its speed, power, and movement. He exalted violence and conflict and called for the sweeping repudiation of traditional cultural, social, and political values and the destruction of such cultural institutions as museums and libraries.
Futurist literature primarily focuses on seven aspects: intuition, analogy, irony, abolition of syntax, metrical reform, onomatopoeia, and essential/synthetic lyricism.
Intuition – when the “creative spirit seems suddenly to shake off its shackles and become prey to an incomprehensible spontaneity of conception and execution”.
Analogy – by creating a communion of two (or more) seemingly unrelated objects, the poet pierces to the “essence of reality”. The farther the poet has to reach in terms of logical remoteness is in direct proportion to its efficacy.
Irony –”so old and forgotten that it looked almost new when the dust was brushed away from it. “
Abolition of syntax—the constraints of syntax were inappropriate to modern life and that it did not truly represent the mind of the poet.
Metrical reform—In order to break free of the shackles of meter, they resorted to what they called word autonomy”. Essentially, all ideas of meter were rejected and the word became the main unit of concern instead of the meter. In this way, the Futurists managed to create a new language free of syntax punctuation, and metrics that allowed for free expression.
Onomatopoeia –There were four forms of onomatopoeia that the Futurists advocated: direct, indirect, integral, and abstract. The first of these four is the usually onomatopoeia seen in typical poetry, e.g. boom, splash, tweet. They convey the most realistic translation of sound into language. Indirect onomatopoeia “expressed the subjective responses to external conditions”. Integral onomatopoeia was “the introduction of any and every sound irrespective of its similarity to significant words”. This meant that any collection of letters could represent a sound. The final form of onomatopoeia did not reference external sounds or movements like the aforementioned versions of onomatopoeia. Rather, they tried to capture the internal motions of the soul.
Essential/synthetic lyricism—In order to better provide stark, contrasting analogies, the Futurist literature promoted a kind of hyper-conciseness. It was dubbed essential and synthetic lyricism. The former refers to a paring down of any and all superfluous objects, while the latter expresses an unnatural compactness of the language unseen elsewhere. This idea explains where poetry became the preferred literary medium of Futurism and why there are no Futurist novels (since novels are neither pared down nor compressed).
Mary Ellen Solt
From Concrete Poetry: A World View (1968, Indiana University Press)
The term “concrete poetry” is now being used to refer to a variety of innovations and experiments following World War II which are revolutionizing the art of the poem on a global scale and enlarging its possibilities for expression and communication. There are now so many kinds of experimental poetry being labeled “concrete” that it is difficult to say what the word means. In an article in THE LUGANO REVIEW (1966), the English critic Mike Weaver, who organized The First International Exhibition of Concrete and Kinetic Poetry in Cambridge in 1964, distinguishes three types of concrete poetry: visual (or optic), phonetic (or sound) and kinetic (moving in a visual succession). And he sees individual poems within these three classifications as related to either the constructivist or the expressionist tradition in art. The constructivist poem results from an arrangement of materials according to a scheme or system set up by the poet which must be adhered to on its own terms (permutational poems). In the expressionist poem the poet arranges his material according to an intuitive structure. Weaver’s definitions and classifications are most clarifying when applied generally; but when we are confronted with the particular text or poem, we often find that it is both visual and phonetic, or that it is expressionistic as well as constructivist. It is easier to classify the kinetic poem because it incorporates movement, usually a succession of pages; but it is essentially a visual poem, and its words are, of course, made up of sounds. We need only to look at Emmett Williams kinetic book SWEETHEARTS to see that it is possible to incorporate everything we have said about concrete poetry in this paragraph in one poem. Often concrete poems can only be classified in terms of their predominating characteristics.
Despite the confusion in terminology, though, there is a fundamental requirement which the various kinds of concrete poetry meet: concentration upon the physical material from which the poem or text is made. Emotions and ideas are not the physical materials of poetry. If the artist were not a poet he might be moved by the same emotions and ideas to make a painting (if he were a painter), a piece of sculpture (if he were a sculptor), a musical composition (if he were a composer). Generally speaking the material of the concrete poem is language: words reduced to their elements of letters (to see) syllables (to hear). Some concrete poets stay with whole words. Others find fragments of letters or individual speech sounds more suited to their needs. The essential is reduced language. The degree of reduction varies from poet to poet, from poem to poem. In some cases non-linguistic material is used in place of language, in the plastic poems of Kitasono Katue, for instance, or in the “Popcreto” of Augusto de Campos, which is a Tower of Babel of eyes. But the non-linguistic objects presented function in a manner related to the semantic character of words. In addition to his preoccupation with the reduction of language, the concrete poet is concerned with establishing his linguistic materials in a new relationship to space (the page or its equivalent) and/or to time (abandoning the old linear measure).
The Oulipo - in full, the Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle, or Workshop for Potential Literature - was founded in France in 1960 by the French author Raymond Queneau and the mathematical historian François Le Lionnais. Made up of mathematicians as well as writers, the group assigned itself the task of exploring how mathematical structures might be used in literary creation. The idea of mathematical structure was soon broadened to include all highly restrictive methods, like the palindrome and the sestina, that are strict enough to play a decisive role in determining what their users write. The most notorious example of this approach is Georges Perec’s novel, A Void,written without a single appearance of the letter e
The appearance of Georges Perec’s Life A User’s Manual and Italo Calvino’s If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler, both exploiting Oulipian structures, did much to modify the general view, as did no doubt the distinction of the Oulipo’s membership. In addition to Queneau, Perec, and Calvino, it has included Marcel Duchamp, Harry Mathews, and Jacques Roubaud, together with many notable writers and scholars little known outside France and a number of mathematicians (such as Claude Berge) who are internationally famous within their profession.
The book explores imagination and the imaginable through the descriptions of cities by an explorer, Marco Polo. The book is framed as a conversation between the aging and busy emperor Kublai Khan, who constantly has merchants coming to describe the state of his expanding and vast empire, and Polo. The majority of the book consists of brief prose poems describing 55 cities, apparently narrated by Polo. Short dialogues between the two characters are interspersed every five to tencities and are used to discuss various ideas presented by the cities on a wide range of topics including linguistics and human nature. The book structured around an interlocking pattern of numbered sections, while the length of each section’s title graphically outlines a continuously oscillating sine wave, or perhaps a city skyline. The interludes between Khan and Polo are no less poetically constructed than the cities, and form a framing device, a story within a story, that plays with the natural complexity of language and stories.
Marco Polo and Kublai Khan do not speak the same language. When Polo is explaining the various cities, he uses objects from the city to tell the story. The implication is that that each character understands the other through their own interpretation of what they are saying. They literally are not speaking the same language, which leaves many decisions for the individual reader.
The book, because of its approach to the imaginative potentialities of cities, has been used by architects and artists to visualize how cities can be, their secret folds, where the human imagination is not necessarily limited by the laws of physics or the limitations of modern urban theory. It offers an alternative approach to thinking about cities, how they are formed and how they function.
At times all I need is a brief glimpse, an opening in the midst of an incongruous landscape, a glint of lights in the fog, the dialogue of two passersby meeting in the crowd, and I think that, setting out from there, I will put together, piece by piece, the perfect city, made of fragments mixed with the rest, of instants separated by intervals, of signals one sends out, not knowing who receives them.
Net Art and the Fireflies of Eternity
Imagine print without literature, just news and technical documentation,
bills of lading, position papers, and so on.
imagine the moving picture without art, just as surveillance and
now imagine the net without net art.
to many people, the latter is much easier to imagine than the former two
dystopias. we have had literature for thousands of years and art has been a
part of the moving picture since near its start in the nineteenth century.
but net art has only been around since the early to mid 1990′s. about 17
years, at this point, this being 2010. and the net is often treated as a
spewing information pipeline that has to be managed and filtered for usable
practical information often of a consumeristic nature. shopping information,
banking info, calendar info, and so on. as an entertainment medium, it’s
mostly used for videos, online games, news, email communication, and so on.
not as a medium in which we seek out the art particular to the net. by ‘net
art’ i do not ,mean video or degraded print, (per se, although they can be
part of net art) but art specific to the net. that’s what i mean by net art.
art that requires an internet connection and lives and breathes through a
browser or because of its internet connection, if it’s a desktop program.
what we lose with there not being as prominent an art of the net as there is
of print and moving image is related to what we would lose were there not a
prominent art of print or art of the moving image.
some might object to that proposition. they might say that the net without
net art is no more difficult to imagine than the telephone without telephone
art. which is easy to imagine because the telephone hasn’t developed
prominently as a medium for art. which isn’t to say that there
haven’t been good telephone art projects. but name me five of them.
the telephone has developed as a medium primarily for conversations between
participating parties. we don’t dial up to listen to art, much. or
participate in an art project when we are actually on the phone. there’s
nothing to say we couldn’t. and perhaps we have, once or twice. still others
will say that the art of the telephone is the art of conversation. which
isn’t specific to the telephone but is certainly different via telephone, in
important ways, than it is face to face.
we imagine, then, a secret art of the telephone in which lovers and others
really digging each other engage. often not recorded but enjoyed and
remembered personally, just the two (or n) of them. a private art without a
prominent public face. though telephone conversations and recordings play
crucial parts, sometimes, in works of art for other media such as movies,
drama, and music.
telephone has not developed a prominent public art because it is so strong
concerning private conversations. the possibilities for dial-up telephone
art or interactive telephone art are completely overshadowed by the way we
typically use the telephone, which is not a public art use or even an
artistic use of any kind, for the most part. we have trouble with fiction
and pretend, often, on the telephone. the stakes are different than in
reading a book or watching art because of the element of trust and personal
disclosure. to say nothing of fraud, which we also are quite familiar with
from the telephone.
the net is quite different from telephone, of course. it is not overwhelmed,
currently, by live conversation. we have had many of them, over the net but
it is by no means all we do over the net. the types of activities we engage
in include writing, viewing visual information, listening to auditory
information, responding to visual, sonic and written information, and a
variety of media, interactive or not. the net subsumes several media at
once. all broadcast media. and some broadcast that has not and cannot be
broadcast otherwise. that’d be the net art and other net-specific
the net also subsumes private broadcasting, narrowcasting. the
telephone–even all forms of radio–even the CB, eventually–can be
net-based. the network is the frequency or set of frequencies. and the
frequency or frequencies can be channeled around the world.
the net also subsumes certain dimensions of print culture. publications have
a net component or are entirely net-based. the range is quite broad. the web
site may simply be a desolate info booth, devoid of interest, or it may rock
the universe in every way. it depends on the involvement in the net the
publication has. artistically, financially, as a distribution mechanism and
as a serious medium in its own right concerning content, the presentation of
content, the definition of content, the media of it, the permanence of it,
and so on. is it meant as entertainment or reference information or
queriable service and/or store or news channel or personal blog or as a post
within a larger network of sites one communicates with?
also, individuals publish their work on the net. sometimes on their own
sites, sometimes elsewhere. on journals, the sites of other individuals,
into huge youtubish databases, and so on. the net is both about publication
and communication. broadcasting and interaction. we are struggling to
understand how this changes the nature of publication itself. and the nature
of communication itself.
one of the great powers of the internet is it’s ability to carry a broad
range of media and modes simultaneously or individually. by ‘mode’, i mean
its type of interactivities or lack thereof. by ‘media’ i mean sound,
visuals, text, and moving images.
it should be clear by now that the internet is going to play an increasingly
important role in broadcast, narrowcast and communication media. and in
knowledge storage and dissemination. and much else.
consequently, an art of the net poetentially becomes too broad and diffuse a
notion. the notion of ‘digital art’ is so vast it includes scans of photos
of one’s cat posted to flickr. there can be no art form called ‘digital art’
because ‘digital art’ is just any art that may even simply have been
digitized from analog and shoveled unreflectively to the realm of bits and
bytes. is ‘net art’, similarly, so broad as to not be a particular art form
well, no, it’s not. different people look at it in different ways. my way is
to specify an art in which the internet connection is crucial. whether for
communication or the querying of databases (and the subsequent retrieval of
dynamic information), or for other decisions relayed or processed
meaningfully via the net. the art of the net is one of the most important
envisionings of the possibilities the net holds concerning broadcast and
communications media, publication, and the synthesis of media, arts,
communication, technology, and science. the art of the net, ideally, is
where we go to get and understand our most intense and fully realized
visions of these possibilities–even when the art doesn’t seem to be about
these things at all, sometimes. but of course we do not need to scratch too
deeply to understand that every painting is, in some sense, about painting,
every media work is about its medium, in some sense, to the degree that it
uses its media/um in media-specific ways. in its ‘rhetoric of media’, then.
and, more deeply yet, in its philosophy of media. stated or not. present or
implied or vacuous, a vacuum filled by the activity of the media/um all over
it like water over the swimmer.
net art encapsulates not only our deepest visions of the possibilities for
meaningful change via or partly because of the internet, but our deepest
visions concerning who and what we become via the existence of the net and
electronic networks more broadly. anything that involves important changes
in who and what we are and how we live and enjoy life and learn and
communicate and view and publish work is important for us to understand and
explore with passion–if for no other reason, then because to understand
these helps us know who and what we are becoming and maybe even already are.
and where we are going. and just what it means to be alive in this
that is an important part of what we treasure about the art of the past. the
art of the past is one of our best ways of understanding life in the past.
we wonder if net art will enjoy that sort of status in the future because of
the issues of obsolescence of technology. will net art last long enough to
have that sort of use to futurity? or will it be continually of the moment?
firefly media of the moment that is burned quickly in the fire of
well, the jury is still out. certainly much, most, almost all will perish
and does so, so far, about every decade as browser technology changes and
networks expand into other, non-browser technologies and some protocols fall
out of use, eclipsed by brighter suns. but some net art persists. it takes
special engineering, often, a savvy knowledge of what’s a good bet to work
with and what isn’t.
the serious work will survive for some time. long enough to have that sort
of use to futurity. we’re just not sure how far that futurity extends.
but, you know, it’s never the thing beyond the grave that we want in this
life. except if it be peace or happiness or a like reward. and it is our joy
to find these in this life as we proceed. which is a way of saying that
whether net art now has a use to futurity later is not the only criterion to
measure its importance now. in fact, it’s a terrible criterion because we
don’t know the outcome now. the more important issue is what it does for us
now. and what it does for us now is help us understand the wired life now
and where it is going and how that changes us. and that’s important to
understand who we are.
which implies that if net art fails as an art form then we lack artistic
ways to understand who and what we are via the introduction of the internet
into our worlds. this, in turn, would imply a sort of telephone-like usage
of the media/um of the net, a failure of imagination in the presence of
overwhelming homogenization of discourse. or a fundamental unfitness of net
worlds to provide an environment that can support art.
permanence/impermanence of media is a consideration. but so is monetary
economy. let’s not forget that the monetary infrastructures that support art
as business are crucial to non-digital and digital art alike. the economies
of attention and valorization have strong ties to the monetary economies of
print, visual art, music, and so forth. the circles of ‘high art’ typically
have ties to the economic opportunities in the art. there is a sense in
which art has nothing to do with art but with marketing, public relations,
corporate or institutional sponsorship, friend networks, and other such
factors which–more than the quality of the art itself–determine the
standing of the art in society.
net art has not been particularly prominent in ecommerce. quite the
contrary. the idea is basically do what you love and the rest will follow.
it doesn’t necessarily follow, of course, with any financial reward. this is
a hurdle net art has to navigate by hook or by crook. currently it is a very
tough proposition. net art has been a follower in this regard. the artists
have not really developed good economic models. or have not followed through
on them, when they have been imagined.
i remember reading what a new york artist wrote about mail art. he said it was dead and wasn’t of much account as art. isn’t this sort of foolish attitude simply a consequence of mail art remaining at a distance from the galleries and a significant monetary economy? does his attitude have anything to do with the art itself or familiarity with it? not likely. the excitement people feel about art works or an art itself is often not about the art itself but the value of the art as commodity valorized, ie, marketed, in appealing ways. we like to think of art as the house of what really matters in life and relationships and thought and the meaning of life and the creation of beauty, truth, and justice. and it is, in important ways. but it is very much a house in this world, with all the troubles of other houses. will net art continue to exist as mail art does? basically outside the institutions? i think it’s fundamentally a question of whether it develops a significant monetary economy. it’s not fundamentally a question of the quality of the art itself.
another impediment to net art is the depth of art experience it can support.
what is the emotionally deepest flash work you’ve experienced? did it change
your life? art needs to be capable of being taken as seriously as
revelation. revelation and transformation are key aspects to our most
important art experiences. firefly media might do it, but not likely. what
is at issue here is the ability of net art to really help us understand who
and where we are, as opposed to merely our being given caricatures and
cartoons of existence–though they can be much more meaningful than we
usually admit. but, still, it’s possible for media to lose or never find its
way to our deepest experience. net art seeks its way to our deepest
experience via the wire to inner worlds, outer worlds, and their
net art must succeed for the internet to be as significant a human venture
as print or cinema. for if it fails, that means we cannot really feel it and
think in it in the ways we associate with art. and these are important to
the ways we understand ourselves and the world, and come to be articulate
and expressive and formulate what worlds we want to make now and for the
future. the failure of net art would be a massive failure of imagination
that would give unto the forces of dullness an unbearable lightness of
media, too complete a capacity for forgetting, and a medium without an inner
net art seeks the human in the post-human, the post in the human, the human
in the post, and the post-human in the post-human. to know what it is to be
human now, and wired. no net art means the wired is tired. a tired wired is
wired working for the man, is corporate complete, is shop till long after
you have dropped, is dronification wired to the grind of slaves, the energy
of slaves, the no poetry zone, no imagination but in products, no ideas but
in products, the triumph of consumerism and perfectly thoughtless media.
accordingly, net art is important to the well-being and futurity of any
possible wired world, and to our understanding of our current situation and
capacities, even, as fireflies of eternity.
so we see what we lose with there not being as prominent an art of the net
as there is of print and moving image is related to what we would lose were
there not a prominent art of print or art of the moving image. those
distopian possibilities seem very remote, as possibilities, because the
media have such rich histories attached to them that we see the very
existence of print and moving image implying the growth of the artistic
cultures that have grown up with the media of print and the moving image,
will we have a similar sense of the richness of history of net art in a
hundred years time? i think it will be a history fraught with more changes
in the technology than we associate with the history of print or the moving
image. so it will be more fragmented a history, consequently. the net art
media species, as it were, will evolve and change and mutate in ways we
associate with hyperspaces. but it will have known histories, nonetheless,
contentious and mysterious, almost, as the present, for anyone who looks
closely into the fire at the contradictions of even the moment of art.