A “Found” for Bern Porter

My review of Bern Porter’s Found Poems (Nightboat Books, 2011), a welcome reprint of an underappreciated 1972 masterpiece of appropriation , is now up at Hyperallergic.  I had been studying the book in Seattle (when I was there for the MLA convention) as well as on my flight home to New York.

In the spirit of Porter’s “founds”–which provocatively combine visual poetry, found poetry, and collage–I decided to use whatever materials I had at hand (the MLA convention program and the Alaska Airlines information card about emergency landings) to create a humble homage to the Marcel Duchamp of the poetry world.  Indeed, Dick Higgins has said, “Porter’s Found Poems have the same seminal position as Duchamp’s objets trouvées.”

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Art as Experience

Like John Cage said: "Not a peep."

In the comments section of my last post, Can Video Games Be Art?, I sketched out a definition of art as experience, or even as an attitude, rather than as a thing or a collection of things (see here and here). At the risk of repeating myself, I’d like expound on that position, in case anyone is interested (and wants to discuss/debate it).

But first, and briefly: I really do consider Roger Ebert’s argument—that video games aren’t art and can never be art—easily refuted. (I suspect Ebert thinks similarly; he’s obviously being polemical.) Here are two different ways:

1. Redefine art so that it includes video games. (As far as I’ve seen, no one caught up in the Ebert-inspired debate has taken the trouble to actually define art—always a big mistake.)

2. Demonstrate how video games display, in their own way, artistry (formal elegance, originality, personal expression, ingenuity, response to an artistic tradition, etc.). This is what I see most people trying to do, but the key is to find that artistry in the video games themselves, without comparing them to paintings, literature, cinema, etc. If they are an artistic medium, then video games should have their own unique artistic integrity.

That said, Ebert’s right when he asks why anyone really cares whether video games are art. I think it’s self-evident that they can be, but despite that most of them still totally suck.

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