In 1967, when computers and film were still in their infancy, Stan Vanderbeek and Kenneth Knowlton created some of the first digital literature. “Poem Field” is a poem, a computer-generated piece of literature, and, all at once, a film. In 2015, the work is available for viewing on Youtube at in the AT&T digital archives. “Poem Field” was created on Knowlton’s BEFLIX computer language on an IBM 7094 computer (AT&T Archive). The poem is situated within a larger body of work; it exits within a series of eight poems created at the same time. VanDerBeek collaborated with Knowlton at Bell Labs, which let artists work with computer scientists to experiment with technology and computer science.

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In 2008, Jenny Holzer recast the iconic façade of the Guggenheim Museum in New York City with new light. Every Friday night from September 26 – December 31, Holzer’s text-based light project filled the face of the building with bits of borrowed poetry. Words scrolled upward in white, bold, all capital letters – the words came from the Nobel-winning Polish poet Wisława Szymborska. The project occurred at the end of a years-long restoration of the Guggenheim: the Museum had been fenced in by scaffolding so architects, structural engineers, and conservators could prepare for its 50th anniversary in 2009 (Guggenheim Museum Website). Continue reading “FOR THE GUGGENHEIM: THE NEW NATURE OF TEXT”