We are pleased to announce the launch of the first project funded by the ILS Collection. Martin Jackson’s tutorials is a poetry collection written, edited, translated and distributed ‘live’ on Google Docs. Anyone with the URL – www.tutorials.fyi – can access the collection-in-progress and either observe or actively contribute to its creation.
‘Literary publications – especially poetry collections – seem to exist as rarefied, hallowed, genius-begotten objects. Not only is this often untrue, thanks to the integral but sometimes silenced labour of partners, editors, etc., it can also feel exclusionary, especially for those from backgrounds and countries not historically a part of the production of literature.
The internet provides great opportunities to address this. But the internet is not really a ‘thing’, and not a writing technology in and of itself. Google Docs is a writing technology hosted on the internet, built by a company more insidiously powerful than any before it. It is predominantly intended for business purposes (and to enhance brand perception + profit margins) but here I’m repurposing it for poetry.
Along with Google Docs I’m using another Google product, YouTube, as a primary source for raw material for many of the poems. For most videos that contain speech, YouTube provides automatic, algorithm-generated voice-to-text transcriptions. These veer from the eerily accurate to the jarringly wrong, depending on factors such as sound quality and accent (white, male Americans and ‘well-spoken’ Brits – who’d have guessed – seem particularly accurately transcribed).
An example: throughout March I’m travelling through the southern states of America. In each town or city I stop in, I’ll dredge YouTube for news reports, local artist profiles, real estate ads, documentaries, etc., and also interview inhabitants and conduct more traditional research (libraries, Wikipedia, bars). All these sources will form the ‘raw material’ that I will then edit down into poems – with the talent and ideas of people like you – live on Google Docs.’ -Martin Jackson
Come and help: www.tutorials.fyi
On being awarded the commission, Jackson said “Finding the ILS call for proposals for their Collection grants (via the lovely @crispinbest) was like opening the door to a glove seller. “Hello,” the glove seller says, “I’m here to offer you the chance to own these, the perfect gloves, made just for you. The material, spawned from your own DNA, could not be more haptically satisfying. Their to-the-nanometre measured size as snug a fit as a Borges map. You should always lock your window.”
I’m glad I didn’t lock my window, that I read Crispin’s feed, applied and somehow received the email that told me I’d got the grant. I’m not very good at bearing witness to icicles or sheep or gossamer threads of things. So to have this support to write about YouTube, Cao Fei, quantum mechanics, Rachel Rose and other technologically strange things is invigoratingly lovely.
I will use my gloves wisely. Look, I’m already in them.”
Martin Jackson is a Berlin-based British fiction & poetry writer, artist and photographer. He won an Eric Gregory Award in 2011, and has twice been awarded funding from Arts Council England, with projects featured in WIRED, Frieze, Dazed, The Quietus, Magma, Litro, and beyond.
Read ILS writer Amy Liptrot's interview with Jackson for The Quietus
Follow Martin on Twitter
Image: Connie Zhou / Google