Digital Communication and the “Dicapoem” Movement
Dicapoem: A Multi-Language Art Form
Poetry read from a printed text is the product of print communications that came to flourish following the invention of the Gutenberg letterpress in the fifteenth century. The large-scale circulation of knowledge and information made possible by print communication paved the way for the Renaissance, the Reformation, and subsequent civil revolutions that, in the end, led to the dawn of modernity. It is in this context that the history of humanity can be said to coincide with the evolutionary history of media technology.
By opening up a new era of digital communication where almost anyone anywhere in the world can freely access a worldwide computer network, the Internet heralded new progress in human history. Smartphones, which are basically handheld computers, have brought about the digital media era of the individual where communication takes place in the condensed time and space of social media.
As we can see in everyday social media exchanges, digital communication goes beyond text to communicate in multiple languages (text, image, etc.) simultaneously. The power of this second Gutenbergian revolution of digital communication has been too strong for poetry to continue following the tradition of only using written text. Accordingly, the “dicapoem” has emerged as a new poetry movement for the digital communication age, creating new prospects for poetry as a multi-language art form harnessing image along with written text.
As dicapoems establish the textuality of words and images, the image and the text are completely inseparable. This is very different from the common practice of making a “photo poem” by juxtaposing a text poem with an appropriate photograph. Photo poems combine a stand alone poem with another stand alone photograph to bolster the effectiveness of each, which means that the image and text are independent—the combination of photograph and written text a temporary arrangement. A dicapoem, on the other hand, is the result of a poet feeling inspiration in nature or an object and capturing what they have seen with a digital camera, then expressing their inspiration in writing and combining these two elements as a single text “written” in multiple “languages.” If you examine the image and written text of a dicapoem separately each loses its reason for being as neither image nor text has independent value as photographic art or written poetry. The culmination of that poetic inspiration is then instantly communicated via social media.
Experimentation and École
I coined the word “dicapoem” in 2004 by combining the word “dica,” short hand in Korean for “digital camera,” with “poem.” Following this, from April-June 2004, a total of fifty dicapoems were published online, and in September of the same year the concept of the dicapoem was brought before the public eye with the publication of the dicapoem anthology, The Way to Goseong. In the beginning the concept of a dicapoem arose from individual experimentation. However, soon enough, with the opening of an online forum in 2004 and the creation of the “mook” (magazine-book), Dicapoem Mania (2006), the bi-annual publication, Dicapoem (2007), and the 2008 establishment of a dicapoem festival held in Goseong, South Gyeongsang Province, I joined with other poets such as Choe Gwangim and Cha Mingi to form an école and thus ...