A poem dissolved in contingency
Intro 100 years after the emergence of the Dada movement, it is time to once again thrust the world into Dadaistic chaos. In contrast to the Dadaists of that time, we now have new means of creating Dadaistic unrest – above all with digital technologies. The digital dissolves the limits of time. Nowhere else ephemerality is more present than in the digital space, where everything is constantly changing. And ephemerality, which manifests itself in constant change, was also the main goal of Dada. With and at the same time against digital technologies, an antagonism can be created which revolts against itself and yet could not exist without itself. This is Dada digital.
Image from the magazine Der Dada, Berlin 1920
What is Dada? The year 1916: Europe is in the middle of the First World War and the continent stumbles like paralyzed towards an uncertain future. Zurich was spared from the war and right there, at Cabaret Voltaire, a revolution started that should change art forever: Dada.
A form of art? Characterized by collages, meaningless sound poems and eccentric soirées, originates an anti-movement which radically questions the traditional concept of art.
A philosophy? Dada questions everything. It rejects norms and embraces total arbitrariness in its works.
Or is it nothing? Dada defies definition and order. It is anti-art par excellence. It is rebellion against everything traditional – against everything that was and that is.
I.e. everything? "Dada is the chaos from which a thousand orders arise, which devour again to the chaos Dada" . The possibility for constant change must be seen as an inherent feature. Nothing should be fixed, stable and rigid. After all, change is the only constant in everything.
The poem The poem Banalitäten aus dem Chinesischem (english: Banalities from Chinese) from Kurt Schwitters, a Dadaist himself, is reassembled in a new way. In the spirit of Dada and its rebellion against all norms, the poem also rebells against its fixed, unchangeable form. The outcome is a poem which is determined by chance. Certain words remain, others are replaced by random words. The result is an unpredictable poem that is created anew for each user and cannot be read twice in the same way.
Banalitäten aus dem Chinesischen
Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948)
Fliegen haben kurze Beine.
Eile ist des Witzes Weile.
Rote Himbeeren sind rot.
Das Ende ist der Anfang jeden Endes.
Der Anfang ist das Ende jeden Anfangs.
Banalität ist jeden Bürgers Zier.
Das Bürgertum ist aller Bürger Anfang.
Bürger haben kurze Fliegen.
Würze ist des Witzes Kürze.
Jede Frau hat eine Schürze.
Jeder Anfang hat sein Ende.
Die Welt ist voll von klugen Leuten.
Kluge ist dumm.
Nicht alles, was man Expressionismus nennt,
Kluge ist immer noch dumm.
Dumme ist klug.
Kluge bleibt dumm.
Flies have short legs.
Hurry is the joke.
Red raspberries are red.
The end is the beginning of each end.
The beginning is the end of every beginning.
Banality is adornment for every citizen.
The bourgeoisie is the beginning of all citizens.
Citizens have short flies.
Spice is short of jokes.
Every woman has an apron.
Every beginning has an end.
The world is full of smart people.
Smart is stupid.
Not everything called Expressionism,
is art of expression.
Kluge is still stupid.
Stupid is smart.
Kluge remains stupid.
Concept On every screen one line of the poem is displayed. You navigate from screen to screen in order to read the entire poem and you can navigate back and forth. When you switch to a new line, the words are generated randomly. The same happens when navigating back. Even then, the previously read line has changed. This destroys all order and creates arbitrariness. Not even the past, what has been read and what appeared to be certain, remains sure.
Code The new words are related to the structure of the poem. The poem contains two units of meaning per line. A term and a description. The first part remains, the second part is replaced by new words.
The new words are found by using the autocomplete function in Google Search. This idea also refers to the constant reorganization of online content through algorithms, which is particularly noticeable in the Google search results. If you enter, for example, "The world is full of..." in Google Search, five suggestions on how to complete the sentence are provided. So, the sentence can be completed with "... smart people" or "... idiots". These new words are entered into the pool of random words and added to the original poem.
In the end, the new poem is a co-production with Google Search and autocomplete (meaning: a co-production with everybody who ever typed anything into Google Search).
Huelsenbeck, Richard (Ed.). Dada Almanach. Erich Reiss Verlag, Berlin, 1920
Type experimental website
My role concept, design, coding