Poetry in intermedial art works: commissions from the Poetry Beyond Text project

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    This paper will explore the role of poetic text within intermedial art works, including artists’ books, poetic sculpture, prints, painted scrolls and electronic poetry. In particular, it will consider the significance of the effacement, concealment or partial legibility of such text. An important context here is the history of relations (competitive and complementary) between poetry and painting, from the Horatian doctrine of ‘ut pictura poesis’, via Gotthold’s Lessing’s 18th-century attempt to differentiate the visual and textual arts, to the tension within Modernism between the cross-fertilization of poetry and visual art on the one hand, and the impulse to ‘medium-specificity’ on the other. Contemporary intermedial or hybrid works, often the results of a collaboration between a poet and a painter or sculptor, inherit some of the anxieties and aspirations of this long and rich tradition. At the same time, the potential of developing technical methods (such as digital editing and printing) and the influence of ‘digital convergence’, have tended to blur the distinctions between media and art forms. Drawing on the aesthetic theories of W.J.T. Mitchell and Jacques Rancière, and using examples of commissioned work from the Poetry Beyond Text project (www.poetrybeyondtext.org), the paper will explore some of the ways in which collaborative works express, mediate or reconfigure the aesthetic potentials, tensions and issues surrounding the presence of the poetic text in the visual art work.


    ConferenceTenth International IAWIS/AIERTI Conference and Twenty-First Annual Scottish Word and Image Group Conference: Riddles of Form: Exploration and Discovery in Word and Image
    Abbreviated titleIAWIS 2014
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    Internet address


    • Poetry
    • Intermediality
    • Word and image


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