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Twerk, Uncreative Writing Assignment By Giovanna Olmos

I filmed myself reading Twerk with my laptop computer. I didn’t read every line but only the words that drew my attention. It was an unfaithful, arrogant, lazy reading. But I was fully invested. Each Twerk poem being a kaleidoscope of different and made up languages invited me to take an equally playful approach in my reading of it. Just as one might fastforward click through a Youtube video to get the progression of the clip or a sense of the visuals in a music video, I read the book my own way. I knew that my reading would be very different from the author’s intention but I wanted to read for my sake and felt I could get just as much out of it this way. My increased selection power made it feel more like I was writing the book than reading it but at the same time I was limited to the words she had originally chosen. I found myself engaging in a dialogue, I said something and wondered what the next word I would respond to myself/my poem with would be. It was also a very real time experience, rather than looking to the past written word, it was a simultaneous reading. Yes, the words were previously inscribed but the ability to choose more radically allowed the present outside of the text come into the frame of the book and be it. It was like reading the weather. It was a multi-media process which included some mediums yet to be identified.

 

Filming the experience and later watching myself read also highlighted the physical and corporal moment that a poem is. I saw my mouth move, I saw my tongue lick my upper lip, I saw myself look up and stare into the camera for a second. There were many movements that escaped the planned frame of my performance/reading. I could look closer, and understand each word better, by looking at how my body housed that word. How I writhed in my writing of a certain word.

 

The physicality of the book also became forefront. The flipping of the pages. The book as obstacle and facilitator of my engagement with the text. The color of the cover popping into the screen, how does pink and blue color the particular poem spoken? The form of the poem, the title of the text, becomes the whole space and time in which it is read. Making my reading a live Skype performance would change the piece further and the reading, body, would be split once again. Doubled frames. Even the viewing of the piece is multiple because the reader could fast forward through the video. I’m interested in thinking about skimming, medium and frame. How is text consumed by it’s context? How can the text (and the reading of the text) predict and form itself with the context in which it is breathed?

 

Another interesting part of the film I made is that my eyes are mostly not in the frame. This violent cutting off of what we recognize as the human body intrigues me. There is something off about it, the frames disregard and overstep the limits of intelligibility, of name, of face. It reminds me of how the Internet might read me. Chop and delete, compress, copy, overwrite, archive  - disturb. A blind reading. The other night I was laying in bed watching a Youtube video and for a few seconds I believed the person I was looking at could see me. That I was actually in front of him in his room in front of the bed on which he was sitting. If this happened while looking at my film maybe I would move my screen in to catch the rest of the head or check my own head, touch my eyes, forehead, to check they were still there. This mediated reality, the doubling, the mirroring, makes us question what is present.

 

Uncreative writing? Uncreative writing is copy-pasting. And in this move, I’m what happens in between

what happens in between

command c and command v. Or rather it is this in between  space, pause, that is the  space of mistranslation. The “first” text misses itself, does not coincide. In the displacement or reappropriation that which is called around the text is mobilized. When we copy the words what distinguishes the copies from the copied is the medium. The other voice saying them ties the words to a different set of other words. The word itself (what was thought to be there) doesn’t neccessariliy have to change (we might be using the same word - no typo) but we become aware that something was happening around it. This environment was assumed to be the word but when the word is moved, the word is something else. What is the word?! Uncreative writing asks us to pay attention to everything happening around the word. It’s a contextual word where/when the word is always “con” something else. The font, the page, the weather, the eyes. Reading is uncreative writing because we are echoing the word and in doing that awakening asymmetry - a dialogue, more than one possible medium, more than one possible word.

… is in the “unspace” of abandoned tunnels warehouses and cellars. You, an amnesiac search for your past memories chased by a conceptual shark. You, alone and unaware of the many who wander the planes of “unspace” beside you. You glimpse each others in dark corridors, reflections in the water from leaking pipes, in the faintest shadow of a memory that is quickly extinguished by the darkness. You all forget you saw ‘anyone else’, and you all become alone. A singular escape from the shark.

Along the way you meet concepts, characatures, blurry photographs and paintings hung messily on the walls. They must be things you know, but do not recognize. You skim past them, searching for recollection and not the memory itself. In a labyrinth of information (because ‘memories’ I think, requires a intrinsic connection from person to data), you )and all the other amnesiacs) forget who what when and where at every turn of every corner.

—  Alan Liu through Katherine Hayles
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The Evolution of Storytelling (by Maria Popova)

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