– transmitting – 01100011 01101111
01101110 01110110 01100101 01110010
01110011 01100001 01110100 01101001
01101111 01101110 – transmitted –
I urge you to search for a binary text translator, and consider what the binary code in James Renshaw’s Discord means. The rhythmic 0’s and 1’s and their codified meaning lingers in my mind. ‘Discord’, like all of the poems in Renshaw’s digital suite titled Vaguebooking, explores the themes of danger, and endangerment with the self now represented virtually, how do we protect our avatars? James’ poetry cuts keenly to the centre of this new hybrid digital existence. He uses brilliant language whilst layering the traditional and the contemporary, the digital and the analogue.
In ‘Discord’ we have internalised the mechanical nature of our new conversation. A new digital grammatical tone is uncovered. We see people typing, retyping, and retyping, only to say ‘Hi.’ We know that that means something. James gives our digital conversations bodies. They are not as ethereal as we might think.
What is the emotional wreckage left behind when someone stops responding to messages, as in ‘Ghosting/Ghost’? How might the ghost of that person go on existing in the matrix of wires and nodes? How would that Ghost respond if it were given voice? ‘indented on the right – of your physical life. /you were melding with me’ – who is really ghosting whom?
Allow yourselves to be challenged by the emotional undercurrents of these poems. Permit your mind to expand into the limitlessness of the virtual, taste colours, listen to the keystrokes. Let the online languages mutate in your ear, worming their way into your vernacular. Let the endangered take refuge, and share a meal with the dangerous. What seems dangerous at first, might actually be wounded in need of care, and what seems endangered may not need you to save it.
Written by Sheriden Goldie