The most interesting exemplars of digital poetics to date have tended to be what I have called elsewhere differential texts—that is to say, texts that exist in different material forms, with no single version being the definitive one. [3] Thus a text like Kenneth Goldsmith’s Fidget has a print version, a digital version, and it also exists as an archive of its gallery installation—an installation whose use of visual and sound media gave it a rather different tone from the other two. Which is the “real” Fidget? One cannot say although each reader may well prefer one mode of production over the others.

The ability to move from one medium to another and back again allows the poet to experiment with temporal and spatial frames. And many of these differential electronic texts use procedural devices, following the example of Oulipo or, closer to home, the rule-governed compositions of John Cage, Jackson Mac Low, and Fluxus.
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The electronic screen thus brings out aspects of Flèsh that are not as prominent in the artist’s book. In reading the book, the four names are endowed with meanings to be compared, point by point, in what is an atemporal grid. On the screen, however, flesh is always an impenetrable exterior, a blank pink wall that the viewer/auditor must elect to “enter” in time. Then, again, when Bergvall performs Flèsh in a gallery situation, the vocal intricacies subordinate individual words and word images to a powerful sonic pattern. The relation of text to audience is thus markedly differential.

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