Ian Gibbins, in an interview with Rossana Licari:
Ian Gibbins in conversation with Rosanna Licari. Because of Ian’s scientific background, I have noticed he tends to use language in a more categorical and analytic manner than a lot of poets/ video poets I’m acquainted with. This seems to spring in part from the areas that catch his interest, and in part from his intellectual habit of breaking phenomena down into their constituent parts. (I noticed this most recently during an online conversation about the bush fires in Australia.) However, there is another, much larger issue he refers to here, which is the limits — or, if you prefer — the imprécision of language when it tries to describe, for example, emotional states. How can scientists contribute to improving that aspect of language? How can artists?
Ian Gibbins en conversation avec Rosanna Licari. En raison de la formation scientifique d'Ian, j'ai remarqué qu'il a tendance à utiliser le langage de manière plus catégorique et analytique que beaucoup de poètes / poètes vidéo que je connais. Cela semble provenir en partie des domaines qui attirent son intérêt, et en partie de son habitude intellectuelle de décomposer les phénomènes en leurs parties constitutives. (Je l'ai remarqué récemment lors d'une conversation en ligne sur les feux de brousse en Australie.) Cependant, il y a un autre problème beaucoup plus important auquel il fait référence ici, qui est les limites - ou, si vous préférez - l'imprécision de la langue quand il essaie pour décrire, par exemple, des états émotionnels. Comment les scientifiques peuvent-ils contribuer à améliorer cet aspect du langage? Comment les artistes?
Gibbins: “I have utilised scientific language explicitly in many different ways. For example, I have sampled texts from scientific papers, including my own; I have written in what seems to be an archaic scientific style, often making up words in the process; and I have reimagined the context and voice of scientific or technical manuals to give them a very different life.
I now have four books of poetry, and all have some kind of underpinning in science and scientific language. My first, Urban Biology, has a glossary and species checklist in it, identifying all the various plants and animals I referred to in the poems. The Microscope Project: How Things Work came from a major collaboration with artists Catherine Truman and Deb Jones, and includes diverse re-imaginings of manuals and design plans for a range of microscopes and ancillary equipment I once used and managed at Flinders. Floribunda, with artist Judy Morris, imagines the discovery of new plants by European explorers and employs the language of 19thcentury scientific reports. My recent chapbook A Skelton of Desire contains a range of poems built around the structure of the body and the Latin terminology used to describe it.
I don’t have much of a theoretical underpinning for my writing, but as time has gone on, I have developed some more or less neuroscientific basis for what I do. For all of the undeniable value of language, there is much that it cannot do. Indeed, language fails dismally to describe actions and it’s not much better at describing objects or emotions in any kind of detail. We are only consciously aware of a tiny amount of what is happening around us and within us. Nevertheless, the contents of this small window of experience are moving far too rapidly to be captured by language in real time. So, these days, much of my writing tries to replicate what is going on at the edge of consciousness where language is on the verge of breakdown as it tries to keep up with fleeting experience.”
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