From 2006 to 2007 Mauss and Okiishi collaborated on One Season in Hell, an artwork titled after a web-based mistranslation of Arthur Rimbaud’s infamously untranslatable poem Une Saison en Enfer (1873). For One Season in Hell, the artists used now-outmoded word-for-word translators—better known as machine translators—to generate a fragmented version of the opus.
Derived from One Season in Hell, Mauss and Okiishi’s Dia commission investigates the complexities of virtual communication and the variance of meaning in transliterated language. Rather than unraveling an authored text, however, Poetry as not, with singing positions the visitor as poetic generator in which a user’s type is translated into disjointed text and, at times, audible song. Balancing structure and abstraction, while eschewing the fluid speech of today’s statistically based translators, Poetry as not, with singing transmutes the inputted text by a set of irrational rules. The users’ actions are recorded to generate an ever-expanding epic poem, and image clusters drawn from Google trigger a visual stratum for the performative wordplay. Mauss and Okiishi worked in collaboration with Dutch programmers and designers De Gebroeders van Leeuwen to create Poetry as not, with singing.
De Gebroeders van Leeuwen is a multidisciplinary design agency based in Utrecht and Amsterdam. For more information, visit www.studiodgvl.com.
This project is made possible in part by Dia’s Board of Trustees and Commissioning Committee: Kirk August Radke, Chair; Marguerite S. Hoffman; Fady Jameel; Jill and Peter Kraus; and Leslie and Mac McQuown. Generous support has also been provided by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and the New York State Council on the Arts, a State agency.
Nick Mauss was born in New York City in 1980, where he currently lives and works.
Ken Okiishi was born in Ames, Iowa, in 1978. He lives and works in New York City.