The Digital Collaborations of Born Magazine
During the dot-com boom of the late-1990s, while much of America speculated about the high-tech world of tomorrow or the "New Economy," a group of writers and artists from Seattle recognized that the digital medium offered a different kind of potential. For the first time, with the advent of the world wide web, it was possible to fuse texts with images, sounds, motion, animation, and interactivity. In short, a new kind of collaboration was born.
Thus Born Magazine was created, a quarterly online publication and experimental venue that features collaborations between writers and artists in the media-rich digital environment. The magazine's editors gather poets, graphic designers, animators, and musicians to create "artworks" that defy the limitations—and expectations—of a single genre or medium.
What all these media bring to each poem varies by how the text and technology meet. One poem, for example, takes the form of a landscape over which text blooms; another is presented line by line, accompanied by interactive, moving illustrations; one is read to you by a narrator; another responds to a user's mouse clicks, and places the poem wherever a reader wants it to be. A viewer can also access each poem as plain text, experiencing the piece in a more traditional way.
Born has evolved greatly since it was founded in 1996. Initially a free publication where writers and designers could collaborate on creative projects, Born was soon launched on the web in 1997 and has come of age as computer technology has evolved. Still an all-volunteer project, Born recently announced the debut of its first "off-line" collaborative arts project, "Help Wanted: Collaborations in Art," which features eight interactive installations created by contributors teamed from fields as diverse as poetry, comics, architecture, video, interactive design, and programming.
The diversity of talents and interests represented by such technological collaboration make the web the front line for poetic experimentation and exhibition. While most poets agree that there will always be a need from traditional ink-on-the-page poetics, few could deny the influence of digital collaboration and expression on the future of the form.