UBUWEB : Avant-Garde Web Use.

UBUWEB was founded in 1996 by Kenneth Goldsmith and has been linked on the Poethead blog since 2008. When I first heard some fabulous Celtic Mouth Music on UBUWEB I shared it around with friends who did not know the site. Today, whilst searching this morning for publications that take poetic cycles (rather than a limited amount of two to three poems so prevalent in the Irish little magazines) I visited UBUWEB site again to put some music on and thought it a good idea to draw attention to what Goldsmith has achieved in terms of avant-garde web use.

“According to UbuWeb founder and publisher Kenneth Goldsmith, statistics indicate that visitors to the site, “are as likely to download a Renaissance visual poem as they would listen to the MP3 of Louis Farrakhan singing ‘Is She Is, Or Is She Ain’t?’” Begun in 1996, UbuWeb hosts enough audio material, text, and graphic work to keep a reader occupied for months. While the site was created to highlight and archive visual and concrete poetry, increased bandwith and an influx of materials have broadened the site’s scope. As Goldsmith told Poets.org, “We’ve moved toward becoming a clearinghouse for the avant-garde.”

from : the Academy of American Poets ( Link #1)


Goldsmith’s Comments on UBUWEB and the issue of costing, site use and how the Web benefits the transmission of ideas , information and poetry, is related to a permanent Poethead page which contains the Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights. Goldsmith , indeed , has achieved what many corporate entities set out to achieve (but often fail at ) in his ability to respect the translation and moral rights of UBUWEB linked authors, thinkers and performers ,

Concrete poetry‘s utopian pan-internationalist bent was clearly articulated by Max Bense in 1965 when he stated, “…concrete poetry does not separate languages; it unites them; it combines them. It is this part of its linguistic intention that makes concrete poetry the first international poetical movement.” Its ideogrammatic self-contained, exportable, universally accessible content mirrors the utopian pan-linguistic dreams of cross-platform efforts on today’s Internet; Adobe’s PDF (portable document format) and Sun System’s Java programming language each strive for similarly universal comprehension. The pioneers of concrete poetry could only dream of the now-standard tools used to make language move and morph, stream and scream, distributed worldwide instantaneously at little cost.” (Link #2)

From : UBUWEB Wants to be Free, by Kenneth Goldsmith.

The third link at the end of this post is to the Wikipedia page detailing the history of UBUWEB, and the fourth link is to the UBUWEB site itself. This short post will go soon enough into archive, so I’d draw attention to the blogroll , which is in the second-half of the page : Ethnopoetics has three links, including one to the UBUWEB site.

The final link is to the Endangered PDF : A Declaration Of Poetic Rights and Values ,

” We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all languages are created equal, endowed by their creators with certain inalienable meanings. These meanings are embedded in sounds and texts; in words, imagination, and the poems that bind them. Poetry is the distillation of language; the uproarious babble of human thought, and the engaging patter of consciousness itself—in all languages—all 6,500 of them.”

I do hope listeners and readers enjoy the site and its ideals, mostly it is approached with curiosity and enjoyed by the many people who have gotten the link for one reason or another.


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