Why did you decide to deal with video poetry and which authors inspire you the most?
I have worked as an assistant for film and video artist for some years before trying my hand on poetry, so using an audiovisual language came natural to me. It interests me as a way to add additional layers to the language, to use a language that expresses itself not only in words but also in sounds and images and to create an interaction between those different layers of language. While the verbal layer of poetry is a way to break open the mind, to pass the limitations of language and say unspeakable things, the audiovisual layer adds a psychedelic element to this practice, a way to alter perception, imagination and focus, that is to say: consciousness itself.
I have been inspired, of course, by a multitude of poets and artists but most of my inspiration nowadays comes from club culture and electronic music. I also believe that some of the most innovative forms of manipulating the human voice in expressive ways is nowadays done is this field.
From the perspective of an active participant of the video poetry art scene can you describe the beginning of this art movement?
I do not believe much in what is nowadays known as the video poetry scene. There are festivals that show some interesting stuff but I do not see much of a real exploration of the formal challenges of an art form that could be defined as using a language consisting of equal parts as words, sounds and images while working in a non-narrative way. Much of what is shown as video poetry uses at least one of these layers redundantly, like putting illustrations on top of a poem that do not add anything new to what is already described in words. But of course these challenges have been faced under different labels going back to the very beginning of video art and further back to Willam Blake and beyond. Poetry has always had a connection to the spoken word, to song, and (like in the poetry of the East) to painting, so video poetry and audiovisual poetry performance stands very much in the classical tradition of the general field of poetry, embedded in contemporary technological means.
Do you think that multimedia productions such as video poetry which present writing that is innovative/experimental and goes across the genres and media in visual culture allow a new space for understanding poetry? If so, can you explain why?
I think this is nothing essentially new, poets have always worked with the technologies that are available to them. But of course every technology opens up new possibilities for poetry while also creating new problems of expression, so maybe our time of accelerated technological invention is an especially exciting and challenging one for poetry. Also the modes of dissemination have changed. Putting a sound poem on Soundcloud opens up a very different path to the audience than does a published book.
How important is the public response to your work? Is there any emotion or stance you want to invoke or cause to the audiences?
As I am mostly performing live, audience response is important though it doesn’t necessarily have be one of approval. I like to disorient the audience audiovisually, to assault their senses in a way that makes a higher concentration possible and lets the words reach the mind in a different way than in the circumstances of a normal reading. People can either accept this experience or reject it by closing their eyes, putting their hands on their ears, or leaving. Ideally they drop their resistances and immerse themselves in all layers of the audiovisual language. And I don’t mind them dancing, either.
What is the purpose of art for you? For example, should it provide a critique of the contemporary society and perpetuate more progressive thoughts and attitudes? If yes, in what sense?
I guess poetry, music and art should challenge our very nature of thinking and perception while the social practice of the arts should create spaces of free expression as well as social and personal experimentation. I do not think any living being can survive in a sane way without the arts, even if only shallow products of a commercial entertainment industry are consumed. So working within the arts is a way of forming and expanding human nature itself. This is of both political and existential significance.
Your work is enhanced with visuals and analog synthesizers and your audiovisual performances push perception to its limit through blurred images, flickering lights, ear-piercing frequencies, hard rhythms, exploration of the fields between noise and dance music etc. You follow the footsteps of both the German new wave and the Austrian tradition of experimental poetry which we can say it gives a new level to these works. In relation to that, is there any aspect of technology that does not exist and which you hope for? Regarding this, have you ever had an idea you could not accomplish because of technical or other limitations?
I am very interested in immersive technologies of art presentation and of course I do not have easy access to all of them. Why not perform in an IMAX cinema? Or with 4D sound? Or in a VR environment? These are all technical possibilities I wouldn’t mind exploring.
Since I have both performed at literature events and in contexts of electronic music, I am sometimes disappointed by the lack of technical professionalism in literary venues. In times when performance and audiovisual enhancement are a common feature of literary practice, the technical aspects of it should be taken serious.
You are part of Babelsprech, an international network of young German-language poetry and your performances have brought you to Sarajevo, Helsinki, Tokyo, Marseille and many other places where you have shown your video poems on festivals all around Europe. Do you consider that this art practice is widespread enough in the world?
Poetry has always been one of the most popular art form in every part of the world, mostly in the form of song. Wherever new technologies spread, they are used for creating art, and hybrid art forms will be invented, whatever their name. At the same time it has never been easier to get into contact with writers, artists and musicians from around the globe. So I think we are doing fine.
What do you expect from this year’s Prague Microfestival? Are you looking forward to it and could you maybe indicate what are your further plans?
Unfortunately I will only be able to attend the final day of the festival but I am looking very much forward to performing there and to meet the other participants and visitors of the festival. Many thanks for the invitation!