Impossible Reversibilities: Jagkso Mac Low

Edited by Hélène Aji

in The Sound of Poetry / The Poetry of Sound

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780226657424
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226657448 | DOI:
Impossible Reversibilities: Jagkso Mac Low

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  • Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)


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This chapter describes the reversibility or oscillation between sounding the visual in performance and visualizing sound either as a script for performance or in a transcript from performance. This is at the core of a number of contemporary works in American poetry, especially works by the late Jackson Mac Low. The specificity of Mac Low's practice lies in the way he bases his work on the execution of installations and processes that aim to redefine the poem as the integrated coexistence to form the complete work. Irreversibility is stressed when visual layout of the gatha becomes not just one source for several sound performances, but also one possibility among several visualizations for single sound event. Hence, what reversibility implies is the persistence of poles, departure points and arrival points, a departure text or audiovisual document and a resulting work that might in its turn be thought of as the departure piece.

Keywords: reversibility; oscillation; visual; performance; Jackson Mac Low; irreversibility; sound event

Chapter.  5175 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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