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Space as an inter semiotic agent in the (de)construction of poetic meaning (El espacio como agente intersemiótico en la (de) construcción del significado poético)

In this study I propose a new mode of reading space in experimental poetry within the framework of visual and verbal semiotic theories (Roland Barthes 1973, 1977; Mitchell W. J. T. 1980, and Theo Van Leuwen 1996). Space can be analyzed as an agent of meaning and not as a mere mediator. Although there is a poetics of space that has been studied from a variety of heterogeneous approaches, since Gaston Bachelard (1957) who talked about the transfer of the poet's affectivity to the surrounding space and objects, to more recent cultural and gender studies on the role of spatial form in poetry, there is still much research to be done on this subject, especially considering new intermedia poetry such as fractal, hypertextual, kinetic, or biopoetry. Many experimental artists are in dialogue with a popular understanding of non-Euclidean geometry. For instance, a major impact of modern mathematics and physics in experimental poetry is the rejection of a coordinated and fixed referential system, in favor of multiple spatial dimensions in a single (re)presentation. In this framework the topological (set of points) dimensions of an experimental poem – cubism, futurism, visual, fractal, typographic, biopoetry, concrete, etc., - usually exceed the bi-dimensional space or planar projection of the page (surface) in which the poem is arranged. Order is deliberately ambiguous encouraging multiple readings. Experimental poets combine representational and nonfigurative space to construct or deconstruct meaning in radical new ways. But in order to access this perceptual domain we need to change our conventional expectations of a poem. In traditional poetry, space is not active, it does not have agency so it is not able to generate meaning on its own, quite the contrary; space is a tool that allows the linguistic codes to produce meaning. In this traditional context G. E. Lessing’s (Laocon 1766) classical division between painting and the plastic arts on one hand, and poetry as a literary art on the other hand, which is based on sequentiality, is still valid. But in experimental poetic practices space is not just a mediator although it is an elusive factor, and it is often disregarded in the interpretation process. Space is neither an empty receptacle nor something independent of the objects of the poem. Space acquires a dynamic and relational value and it is determined by the interaction of those objects. We will see that one of the factors at play in the production of meaning is simultaneity over sequentiality, which minimizes conventional reading and its intuitive expectations. Space contributes to the construction of meaning by disrupting conventional borders between the work and the frame, between visual perception and participation, between the materiality of the signs and virtual space, between rhythm and chaos, between the now of the poem and its projections creating alternative forms in time and space. We will contextualize this with relevant poems by Jose Maria Iglesias, J.M. Calleja, Isabel Jover, Antonio Orihuela, Ramon Dachs and Roger Olivella
Conference Contribution
Type of thesis
Lopez-Fernandez, L. (2014). Space as an inter semiotic agent in the (de)construction of poetic meaning (El espacio como agente intersemiótico en la (de) construcción del significado poético). Presented at the International Conference: Contemporary Poetry: Generic Challenges, Identity and Public Sphere, Conference held at Palma, Mallorca Spain.