Jörg Piringer has a finger in every poetry/media crossover pie: sound poems, visual/video poetry, interactive poems, invented instruments and iPhone apps. Most of it is a long way removed from line breaks, stanzas and metre. However, his installation, 'Rumor Has It', is a piece of conceptual art that grapples with issues that concern traditional poets every day: voice and composition.
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"in the installation rumor has it a machine collects streams of twitter-feeds that contain the phrase rumor has it in real time and prints it out on adhesive labels of variable length. the visitors of the installation can either cut up and attach these rumor strips to a board in the exhibtion or take them to the streets and stick them to whatver they want."
Poems including multiple voices are hardly new: almost every poet who writes regularly, records remembered and overheard conversations for future use. Slipping quoted speech into a poem can often help to liven it up. Piringer has just found a new way of collating interesting snippets; I have to admit to being a little jealous of his idea.
The process of cutting up the strips of text and deciding where to place them is comparable to the process of building a poem out of a freewrite: rearranging ideas in the hope they'll resonate in new contexts. Having many decision makers rather than just one could make for more interesting results; it's just a shame Piringer hasn't recorded the resulting poems.
Perhaps Piringer views the concept as the finished work; the artwork is the parallel between the source material, already distorted by many hands, and the further collaborative process he puts it through?
I'm more interested in the results that this new method of composition could potentially generate. I wish I could try it with different source material, different groups of people, maybe different instructions as to how they should place the words. For instance, you could ask participants to try and put fragments of text that rhymed next to each other, or dictate that the finished poem had to be in a set form.
I'm sure the artist would tell me I'm missing a point, but still: a piece of conceptual art that calls itself poetry, that is actually rooted in written poetry, (but just takes it a step further...) That's got to be worth a blog post, even if the artwork in question was displayed in 2009.