Sunday, January 31, 2010

Note on Electronics and Empowerment of Poetics

In the day, Ed Sanders’ notes on futurist performance modes of investigative poets were a resonant signal – Achilles meets RoboCop! He presented the picture of a modern troubadour wired for total full-metal cyberpoet attack. There was some useful irony after all in the idea that the work of the technology infused artist Jimi Hendrix could be used to dissemble or baffle at least the technology infused uber society of the Johnson-Nixon era military complex. Witness Hendrix’s rendition of the StarSpangled Banner.

The electronic music components a’ brew in the mid-‘70s – with synthesizers on chips and associated circuitry on the shelves at Radio Shack - could carry the poetry forward. These considerations came to Sanders as he ratcheted down a rock music career, to focus on poetics.

In Investigative Poetry he writes:

“Poets will, in the new few years, be able to affix “tone rows” or tangible tone triggers on, say, their forearms, or knees, or thrill nodes, so that during a poem, merely by touching themselves, they can produce, by beaming signals to a noise source, concomitant chords, noises, heart beats, animal songs, percussion, friendly wafts of negative ions, or even projected images that speak in exact harmony (as an overdub in a sound studio, but instanter) with the flow of bard-babble…”

We will take the electronic equipage he conjures in 1976 in “Investigative Poetry” as a bit of a starting point as we look through the inky paisley veil of time to observe a set of electronic devices Sanders built beginning in about 1975. His musical inventions each took names – the Talking Tie, the Pulse Lyre, the Light Lyre, the Microlyre, the Mona Lisa Lyre, and so on. Together they are known as The Electronic Bard System. The first public appearance of such an instrument occurred at Naropa Institute.

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