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Writing Through the Data Banks
A Note on Poetry and Technology in the Swedish 1960s

by Jesper Olsson

This essay deals with literary experiments from the Swedish 1960s - by artists and writers such as Öyvind Fahlström, Åke Hodell, and others - that elaborate and differentiate the interface of poetry through the use of various media (book, performance, gramophone, etc). Apart from presenting a challenge to the traditionally assigned roles of writers and readers, these texts can be seen as articulating a threshold between a 'culture of expression' and a 'culture of information', where the forms of poetry are shaped, not by the search for the perfect expression of an experience as much as by an attempt to write through the databanks that inform and form (ideological) ensembles of knowledge at a certain historical juncture. The main example in the essay is Åke Hodell's book, performance, record, TV-film, etc. Lågsniff, from 1966, which, through its use of technical codes and data, connects literature to the discourse of information theory, technology, and war. A problematic question to be raised is also, if, and in what way, one can relate these poetic forms to a digital poetics today.


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