Reviewing Vince Dioquino’s three works

check out the works

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As much I am critical of the very popular indie-isms/ hipsterisms talking about “anti-institution”, “privilege”, “autonomous art” and other notions pertaining to the development of art channels outside the locus of mainstream art-making, I still believe that the truly new can only emerge from a truly radical stance towards everything in the ‘now.’ This utopian impulse, although having the tendency for unreflexive critical viewpoint on anything which is not produced autonomously, is what pushes art and literary practice to new grounds. Here are some reviews I would like to offer as an exploration of this matter:

Vince Dioquino released three of this new works online, namely nameless horizons, tenderness and kara krus. 

namesless horizons is a collection of poems. Let us just say that I really liked the poems, as I do not feel obliged to read into them too much. There is innovation but this boy also gots some skillz in the traditional sense and I always find poetic skill worthy of respect no matter the context.

I am intrigued by the claims posited by tenderness, an epic in progress. The concept is simple enough:

Composed from screenshots of descriptions under the about/bio section of profiles whose demographics are constrained to women aged 18-28 years, within 100 miles of the poet’s location/s, regurgitated into text processed from Google’s cloud-based optical character recognition software, disrupted into 140 dactylic hexameter lines in quantitative syllabic meter

I cannot help but question the relevance of its epic-ness (is the “an epic in progress” merely a quip to imply that the usage of Tinder continues after the work is published?). Does the statement “what makes an epic an epic is its dissolution) simply an exposition of the idea of the digital textual excess as transient, always in the state of copying, deletion, virtual oblivion? Whatever the answers to these questions are, I generally found its claims in want of more exposition or clarification.

I also found that the dense philosophical references in the work’s preface may distract the readers from getting the full impact of the concept in its purity (although as I have said before, the explanation is always part and parcel of a conceptual work, because nothing is self-explanatory).

Nonetheless, I admire the clinical, if not almost forensic, isolation of the texts from the pseudo-empowering context of the app. The isolation of the text and their manipulation attains the playful sterility of flarf, abstracting an otherwise ’empowered’ text and therefore allowing it to be subjected to abstract critique, and also subjecting the reader to an imposed impotence by disallowing him or her to swipe right or swipe left.

Let us move on kara krus, which comes in two variations. The concept is as follows:

pitong salita sa bawat linya, tatiumpu’t siyam na linyang binuklod bilang sestina. dalawandaan at pitumpu’t tatlong salita. inilagak at prinoseso sa isang text-to-speech engine na naka-ayon sa puntong Pranses. isinalansan upang makasalop ng isang MP3 file. matapos makuha ang audio file mula sa textto-speech, ipinatong at nilinis ang tula kasama ng pitong iba pang audio file na patagong kinalap sa pamamagitan ng isang smartphone. nilalaman ng mga naturang audio file ang mga tunog\ingay ng iba’tibang mga kalsada’t kalye sa palibot ng kalunsuran. laman ng bawat recording ang mga ugong ng mga sasakyan, tawag ng mga barker, pito ng parak, tugtugan sa bar, atbp

 

[translation to english, mine:

seven words per line, 39 lines held together as sestina. 273 words. entered and processed in a text-to-speech engine set-up to French accent. organized into a single mp3 file. after getting the audio file from the text-to-speech [app], the poem was superimposed and mixed with seven other audio files which were inconspicuously recorded through a smartphone. the contents of this audio file include sounds/ noise from different streets and alleys around the city. each recording contains the roar of engines of cars, calls from the barkers, whistles from the police, music from a bar, etc.

 

Again, text is manipulated through a third-party app, subjecting the text to trans-coding and rendering it indistinguishable. There is a certain humor in listening to a poem in Filipino being read by a  robotic French voice.

But there is more to it than humor, as Dioquino decides to mix in live recordings into the robotic recitation of the poem.

The .pdf file furthers abstract the poem from the source material as it presents the poem as frequencies, as unreadable lines on paper, making the work a fully conceptual piece: it retains the form of the poem and reveals a dimension of the poem which is algorithmically synonymous to it but visually abstracted from the source, thus imposing a radically new sense of authorship in the very erasure of the traces of these authorship.

Needless to say, I enjoyed this work the most.

 

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