Wednesday, December 8, 2004

Lionel Kearns

Recommended: On Lionel Kerns - by Jim Andrews

The "Birth of God/uniVerse" visual poem from 1965 is extrordinary in its relevance to digital culture, having been written prior to there really being any. But, as Kearns points out, when he wrote the piece, he was not thinking so much of computers as the dynamic of binary generation present in creation myths, Leibnitz's philosophy, the principles of yin and yang, etc. He was thinking less about technology than philosophy, language, and poetry. This would tend to produce work that is less disposable than a given technology. Computers could as well operate in something other than base two (binary) and, in fact, did so in the earliest days of computers. In this sense, that "Birth of God/uniVerse" is iconic of the birth of the digital age is coincidental. However, the poem is generative of all things, including coincidence. It is close to the source of things. It is thoughtful about the primal. Additionally, there is a concern with design and simplicity here I admire. It is not psychadelic.