'Living Letterforms': The Ecological Turn in Contemporary Digital Poetics
In this keynote for the Digital Poetics and the Present seminar, RIta Raley offers a reading of David Jhave Johnston's Sooth, a cycle of six video poems, where the reader's clicks draw out lines of poems superimposed on video that drifts around a natural scene. Raley argues that Sooth is emblematic of a recent shift in digital poetry towards a concern with ecology, where non-human actors are animate and lively. She describes this as a step away from the intense focus on the code, the technical and computational processes that dominated digital poetry at the start of the last decade. Jhave's project, Rita Raley argues, is to create digital poems that respond as though they are animate, alive. This isn't about artificial intelligence or simply about emulating life but about prompting (in us, the readers) an embodied recognition of life.