Academic journal article Visible Language

Technology, Polypoetry and the Aura of Poly-Performance

Academic journal article Visible Language

Technology, Polypoetry and the Aura of Poly-Performance

Article excerpt

Using extracts from poets and critics alike, the author lets them speak directly, through quotation and poetic offering, demonstrating the pros and cons of aurality in poetic performance. The central question is: How does technology influence poetry and performance? A secondary question concerns the locus of creativity-is it the poem itself or the technological investigation. Diverse international artists are presented; Henri Chopin, Stelarc, Robert Wilson, Orlan and others, while the critical writings of Walter Benjamin, Jean Baudrillard and Paul Virilio provide a counterpoint.

MY C E N T R A L A R G U M E N T I S that comparative analysis of the almost century-long traditions of media theory and media practice reveals how - across the decades - over-general cultural theory consistently neglects the auratic intensity of new kinds of technological poly-performance.

The following extracts are from the writings and interviews of theorists- the German modernist cultural theorist, Walter Benjamin; the French postmodern theorists, jean Baudrillard and Paul Virtle; the writings and interviews of poly-artists, such as the Italian futurist Marinetti, the American fluxus artist Dick Higgins; the French and Italian sound poets, Henri Chopin and Enzo Minarelli; and the Australian body artist, Stelarc. They suggest how the modern and postmodern avant-gardes have successively identified what Marinetti calls new dimensions of "tactile sense" and what Stelarc defends as new strategies for perpetuating "life in general, and intelligence in particular."

Finally, I suggest that increasing hybrid performance artists, such as the American performance artist and director Robert Wilson, the NewYork "Transgressive" film-maker Nick Zedd, and the French body-- artist Orlan, have combined many of the strategies of the historical avant-garde, and of subsequent postmodern "poly" avant-gardes, in predominantly commercial forms of "Techno-Poly-Pop" performance, offering provocative syntheses of experimental and mass-market, popular and "porn-- modern" multimedia cultures.

Central Question: How does technology influence poetry and performance?

Possible Answers:

a) Technology multiplies poetic and performative "aura." b) Technology destroys poetic and performative "aura." c) Technology trivializes and commercializes performative "aura."

1. Negative and Positive Theoretical Concepts: 1a Walter Benjamin (1936): Technology causes the "loss of aura." 1b Walter Benjamin (1936) Tech no-experiments reveal art's "richest energies." 1c Jean Baudrillard (1987): Technology reduces "metamorphoses" to "metastasis. 1d Jean Baudrillard (1998) Photography rediscovers "aura." 1e Paul Virilio (1995) Technology reduces "animal" bodies to "terminal" bodies. 1f Paul Virilio (1996 & 1998) Art reveals ways to "fight" technology.

2. Positive Artistic Concepts 2a F. T. Marinetti (1924) New Technologies and "radiophonic sensations." 2b Dick Higgins (1992) New Technologies and the "Spirit" of Chopin's work. 2c Henri Chopin (1967) New Technologies and "audio-poesie." 2d Enzo Minarelli (1987) New Technologies create new "Polypoetry." 2e Stelarc (1994) New Technologies and "cyber-aesthetics."

3. Techno-hybrids: Techno-Poly-Pop Performance 3a Robert Wilson (1980s) "Theatre of Images." 3b Nick Zedd (1980s) "Transgressive Cinema." 3c Orlan (1990s): "Carnal Art."


The writings of Walter Benjamin, Jean Baudrillard and Paul Virilio all typify the way in which cultural theory repeatedly associates new technologies with the loss of various kinds of creative authenticity. Benjamin, for example, associates mechanical reproduction - and cinematic acting in particular with the loss of performative "aura."

In much the same way, Baudrillard argues that technology reduces the dynamic energy that he associates with "the body of metamorphoses" to the more symbolic, monodimensional register of "the body of metaphor" and to the still more negative register of "the body of metastasis. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.