Beautiful ruins

We all enjoy beautiful ruins, stone monuments to past civilisations and achievements made appealingly impotent, incomplete. The Roman emperors and medieval bishops no longer hold any power over us, save in a residual fascination, the glamour of extinction. This is one of the reasons dinosaurs are more inspiring than the animals we see in the world today. We need to enjoy dead things that can no longer rend us.

Chimera, my book of visual poetry published this summer by Penteract Press, was constructed through a process of ruination, whereby I subjected photographs of objects (including animals, machinery and buildings) to radical transformations, rendering them unrecognisable and, in many cases, more abstract than concrete: form in its purest sense, made up of lines and shapes. The textual elements of the visual poems were generated through a similar wrecking process, using an online cut-up machine to break and splice excerpts from The Lair of the White Worm with Wikipedia entries on zoology. The lines I selected from this aleatory process were then smashed and deformed, often to the point of illegibility. Pulverised words have a special poetry. Here are some examples:

It is in this spirit of playful destructiveness that I have created a large number of “remixes” of visual poems from a sequence called (dis/re)membered. My aim, when revisiting each visual poem, was to ruin it in some way, disorganise it, make it less than itself, but in so doing maybe give it something more: the strange magic of entropy. The pieces making up (dis/re)membered already had a chaotic, fractured character, so all I was doing really was deepening the chaos.

The original version of (dis/re)membered contained 21 visual poems. The new version contains 21 more, each one a (per)version of one of the originals. What follows are some remixes, none of which made it to the final cut. Most are failures, but quite interesting failures, I think.

Several of the original visual poems have been published, for example in the Pamenar Press anthology Temporary Spaces and at Burning House Press.

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