Sophie-Carolin Wagner – Poietry: Challenging Solitude and the Improbability of Communication


de Gruyter, ISBN-13: 978-3110477269, English, 280 pages, 2017, Austria

With our identities dispersed, allocated and mirrored through digital devices, reinforced by our own tailored bubbles, and threatened by endless flow of information, we keep telling ourselves that we can fully understand ourselves and others, maybe even better with the newest technologies. Sophie-Carolin Wagner is questioning this position through her research documented in this book, integrated with an artwork, both called Poietry as a neologism unifying the two concepts of “poiesis” and “poietic”. Using system theory, the psychic system, music perception, how consciousness applies to communication, and art as a medium she addresses the “improbability of connection through communication”. The book is engagingly exploring all the premises to experiment, including the theoretical and neurological related ones. It includes the code of a Pure Data patch, part of the homonymous artwork. This is putting in relationship two performers, interpreting the brainwaves of one of them in a synthesis of the five basic emotions, then translated into classical piano sounds, establishing an uneasy feedback loop. In this way the individual through its inner manifestations is exposed to this exploration of solitude, by technical and scientific means. Placed in a physically direct, and brain-enacted intimate contact he/she can puzzlingly experience the vacuum of communication. Wagner uses a performing paradox, with a persuasive theory and documentation behind, radically challenging our myth of universal communication media.