Individual Work

"Looppool" is an interactive Flash poem by German rap poet, Bastian Böttcher. Originally published in Shockwave in 1998, it is currently readable as an interactive Flash poem, made in 2010.

The titular palindrome evokes the Deleuzian concept of multilinear, non-arborescent, rhizomatic textuality, and the text's aesthetic affords multidirectional, playful, ilinxic reading (Callois 1958; Ensslin 2014), all on one html page. The poem works much like a visual, concrete poem depicting a whirl-pool of text. It thus places itself in a long tradition of visual, concrete poetry, dating back to medieval and baroque labyrinth poetry featuring, for example, at weddings (one famous example depicts a Goblet the outlines of which are text to be read by turning the page around until the reader starts feeling dizzy, much as under the influence of too much celebratory wine, see Simanowski 2003). A more recent forerunner is 20th century dadaist poetry (e.g. by Tristan Tsara).

Mouse click activates a red ball moving along meandering, intertwined canals that contain chunks of text read out by the poet's voice-over upon activation. The reader can determine the direction in which the ball rolls by quite literally working the switches, a concept that is mirrored in the rapped soundtrack accompanying the reading experience.

The theme of the poem, which is matched by its multimodal, interactive form, is "la dolce vita" and the importance of making each moment (i.e. each working of the switches) count. The vertigo evoked by reading the circling text reflects the Epicurean content and cool, vernacular youth slang evoked by words and expressions like "cocktails," "land of milk and honey" ("Schlaraffenland"), "at a garden party" ("auf 'ner Gartenparty"), "everything is spinning around" ("alles dreht sich"), and "never go study" ("nie zum Studium"). Much of the poem's language resembles the hyperbolic, semantically empty discourse of advertising and pop culture ("seductively fresh" ["verfuehrerisch frisch"]; "just as you like it" ["so, wie Du sie willst"]; "absolutely insane" ["abgefahren Wahnsinn"]). Thus, the poem critiques, through representational means and mechanics, the mind-numbing and ultimately inconclusive, aimless lifestyles associated with 1980s-90s Western consumerism.