It has been a sincere pleasure to host digital poet and programming artist Ian Hatcher in my capacity as Fulbright scholar of Digital Culture here in Bergen, Norway. I was happy to organize two events while he has been in town – a reading and conversation with my University of Bergen students at our University library on Nov. 2nd, and a public reading at the Bergen Offentlige Bibliotek (Bergen Public Library) on Nov. 4th.
Ian Hatcher is a very special artist who has been expanding on the limits of both print and digital literature. He is a writer, a sound artist, a performer, and a programmer. His work explores cognition (the very way in which we think) in the context of digital systems.
Known for his code-inflected live vocal performances, Ian draws attention to language as a system that flows through people, and other systems, in its various forms. Prosthesis is the title of his award-winning print-poetry collection. The work captures the overall experience of pervasive digital technology. The vocal rhythms and textures in this work are designed to evoke digitization in relation to the body.
I had the pleasure of watching Ian perform Prosthesis in British Columbia, Canada in 2015. I must say I was mesmerized, and I found the experience to be deeply compelling. Prosthesis calls to mind a human entity subjected to inhuman processes. But it also simultaneously captures the most intimate human aspects of being alive – things like reading, or breathing, or waiting, or wondering. His unique knack for combining human and computer languages yields an indelible critique of systemic power, communication systems, the military complex, and institutional control. It does this all, while also imparting an uncanny musicality.
Ian has been here in Bergen in order to receive the “Turn On Literature Prize” which is funded under the EU Program “Creative Europe”. He has won this award in collaboration with artists Amaranth Borsuk and Kate Durbin for their piece called Abra: A Living Text. Abra is a kinetic interactive text and a digital application in which lines of poetry mutate, erase, and transform. Abra is also a beautifully crafted book.
What a pleasure introducing this young and innovative poet to new audiences here in Norway! I have enjoyed spending time with him, and I especially relished taking part in his second reading as we read from his work Abra some remixed magical incantations!