|An Infinite Variety of Similar Things (2002-2011)|
|(with JS van Buskirk)|
Atlanta-based poet and writer JS van Buskirk was (as Stephanie Paulk) a graduate of Columbia University and Emory Law School. She frequently performed with the Atlanta Poets Group and ran a bi-monthly series of lecture/performance events called INFO DEMO. Her poetry, prose, and multifarious other projects are available through her website.
An Infinite Variety of Similar Things (IVOST) was initially conceived by JS in 2002 as part of an Atlanta Poets Group performance inspired by John Cage’s Indeterminacy. The poems are one minute long when read aloud, and each is an arbitrary excerpt from a theoretically infinite thought process or preoccupation. In its completed form, IVOST consists of 60 poems: an hour’s worth of a theoretically infinite assortment of preoccupations. They are abstract, lovely, melancholy, silly, banal- encompassing the scope of private thought. Each poem has a key line repeating throughout, representing the recursive and repetitive nature of mental preoccupation.
Soon after JS embarked on the IVOST series, she and I realized that the IVOST poems and the Internet Mandala process would each greatly benefit the other in a collaborative project. I have created Internet Mandalas from the key lines of each of the poems. Thus, the image associated with each poem is essentially a translation of the poem’s key line into visual terms.
There exists a strong sympathetic resonance between the poems - texts presenting private and internal consciousness; and the mandalas - collages of images generated out of the collective consciousness of the internet from the text of the poem. The internal and the collective mirror one another in tone and content. Arbitrary, comical and heartbreaking elements appear unexpectedly in trains of thought and in search results. Some of the mandalas in the IVOST clearly reveal their connection to the text, while others stand in peculiar and even startling contrast to their source. Ultimately, the IVOST pairings demonstrate the connections, tenuous or abrupt, that occur in the mind and in the internet alike.
The complete IVOST book, with revised and updated Internet Mandalas, is available for sale and/or complete online preview through Blurb.