New media technologies have inaugurated the most recent and important shift in our understanding of word-image relations. While seminal studies of new media poetry (Funkhouser 2012; Hayles 2006, 2008) and its potentially ekphrastic properties (Lindhé 2013) have been published in recent years, the close relationship between digital poetry and ekphrasis has yet to be convincingly theorized. This article focuses on new media poetry and the digital strategies it utilizes in the ekphrastic remediation of art images. Digital media may be unique in its ability to create highly immersive environments that more readily activate a holistically embodied and dialogical experience for the reader in represencing images, but digital ekphrastic praxis also exploits its multimodal, polysemiotic possibilities to critically reflect on the nature of the digital image and its relations to material ontology. This critique, and its emphasis on both representational and experiential reasoning, primarily takes the form of lyrical meditations on the material and immaterial realities of code, of computer-mediated poetry, of images, and of human-computer interaction. The result of these poetic meditations is a type of ekphrasis that is willfully metaphysical in tone and content, as will be evidenced via a close reading of two digital ekphrastic poems: Deena Larsen’s “Carving in Possibilities” (2001) and Harry Giles’s “Photo of Maud Wagner” (2013).
The Body and the Possible Soul in Digital Ekphrastic Poetry
Jolene Mathieson is lecturer and research assistant at the University of Hamburg, teaching courses on poetry, aesthetics, and ecology. She is currently finishing a project on the metaphysics of ekphrasis in Western Europe and the United States during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Jolene Mathieson; The Body and the Possible Soul in Digital Ekphrastic Poetry. Poetics Today 1 June 2018; 39 (2): 359–382. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03335372-4324505
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