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From ‘words, words, words’ to ‘birds, birds, birds’. Literature between the representation and the presentation: where imagination and refl ection still

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The famous quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet makes a literal reference to the materiality of words. I would like to start from this canonical point to make a leap to the immateriality of digital literature or art. Nowadays there is something about digital literature that, despite being one of the most contemporary of forms in literature, could still be considered very close to the art of interpreting omens from the flight or songs of birds. It seems interesting to me that this activity of the ancient augury, the main function of which was to interpret the will of the gods by studying the flight of birds, occurred in a place called a templum. According to Markovsky, the Latin templum would be equivalent to the Greek τέμενος, from τέμνω, which means ‘to cut off’. The technical terms used to name this act were liberare (to liberate) and effari (to utter), and thus the temple was a ‘locus liberatus et effatus’, or a place liberated through a special kind of speech. Could we talk about digital literature in terms of a new sort of speech? The phonetic similarity between ‘words’ and ‘birds’ as well as the aesthetic formulations considered in such pieces as Maria Mencía’s Birds Singing Other Birds’ Songs or ‘The Language of Birds’ by Belén Gache allow us to discuss the transfer that has been made from the page to the screen in the field of literature. This is a process that could be analysed as a re-citation of the text or as an artistic construction in dynamic interaction in which critics have a decisive role to play and act as mediums, i.e. as interpreters of the ‘birdsong’ to mediate between creators and readers.
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Keywords: Digital Literature; inmateriality; intermediation; materiality; reading processes; words

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Universitat de Barcelona

Publication date: 11 June 2011

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  • The Journal of Writing in Creative Practice is the official organ of the Writing Purposefully in Art and Design (Writing PAD) network. It offers art and design institutions an arena in which to explore and develop the notion of thinking through writing as a parallel to visual discourse in art and design practice. The journal aims to extend the debates to all national and international higher educational art and design institutions.
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