The beginnings of Signalism1 are connected with the year 1959 and with the attempts to introduce into our poetry, where up to that time the principles of Neoromantism and late Syimbolism reigned, some new tones adequate to electronic and technological civilisation.
Those beginnings were connected with the language and the attempts to revolutionise the poetry by introducing some fresh, still literary unworn language amalgams of the exact sciences: physics, biology, chemistry, astrophysics and mathematics. Therefore the original name of these movements was - Scientism.
Already in the next year the scientistic poetry steps out from the language and gives the first visual fruits inspired by Apollinair's calligrams. In the years 1962 and 1963 it insists ever more on the exact. Science is defined as a means of poetry and it is pointed to „how artificial and absurd was separating poetry from science“. Einstein's theory of relativity is proclaimed to be the greatest poem of our age, sung to the glory of man, and the basic mathematical formula of that theory E=mc2 is marked as a supreme metaphor. Structural analogies between poetry and the above mentioned branches of exact sciences are being found, thereat a sign of equity is being put between the words of a poem and electrons in a physical sense, and a protoplasm in biological and planets in an astrophysical sense. A poem is equalled to an atom, cell and Solar system. To the rhythm of a song correspond the forces which hold the electrons, they being life and gravitation. Mathematical and other formulas are being introduced into poetry and a geometrical-algebraic analysis of the poetry, life and death as of basic and given magnitudes is done. A poem, thus, becomes a magic formula of life and Universe and its meanings at this moment exceed far the narrow literary frames. It wants to return finally the lost unity with science, the unity of singing and thinking of antiquity and of the great poems of Empedocles, Hesiod and Lucretius. It strives for a comprehensive picture of the world in whose basis it will be itself as an analogue to an atom, life and Universe.
That original course of Signalism (under the name Scientism) lasts lonely and in an ocean of revived Symbolism and Traditionalism of those years, almost unnoticedly in our literature. The years 1968 and 1969 are crucial for Signalism. MANIFESTO OF POETICAL SCIENCE was published („Polja“ no 117-118, 1968) which summarises in itself all experiences of the previous period. In the same year the text MANIFEST OF SIGNALISM (REGULAE POESIS) was written, and in the next one it was published, giving a basis for forming a militant avant-garde movement aiming to reach and revolutionise all branches of art (especially literature and fine arts), having opened new processes in culture by radical experiments in a permanent creative revolution influenced especially by the new technological civilisation. Those premises were elaborated even more in detail and made more precise in the third manifesto SIGNALISM („Delo“, no. 3, 1970), where a first broader definition of Signalism, as well as a detailed classification of new poetical forms are given.
Signalism widens its basis which thus far relied only upon several already mentioned branches of exact sciences and includes: cybernetics, theory of information, phenomenology, theory of games, structural linguistic etc. While in the first phases evident is an endeavour to introduce particular parts of scientific languages into poetry, the second is characterised by breaking, by means of certain mathematical models taken from statistics, theory of games, combinatorics and cybernetic methods (machines), the clichés of the colloquial and current poetical languages and by opening new, still unforeseeable possibilities of experimenting in the verbal, visual and phonic. Language becomes in a true sense of the word a material used by a poet who sometimes in a programmed poetical fervour uses it to produce his works. This phases is also characterised by an abrupt development of visual poetry, which thus far existed only rudimentary in the movement.
In those years Signalism goes out finally from anonymity imposed on it by our literary situation. Cultural public began to get interested in the movement. Signalist groups were being formed, and there were ever more young people: poets, painters, designers, art historians who created applying Signalist ideas in revolutionising the art. Signalists got linked with the avant-garde artists from all over the world and participated in numerous exhibitions of visual and concrete poetry. They published in magazines, and were represented in international anthologies.
In the year 1970 an international review SIGNAL was started as a newspaper of the movement. The journal already in the first issue published a choice of foreign concrete and visual poets and Yugoslavian signalists. The program of the journal was based on an active struggle for an affirmation of new ideas in literature and art. The appearance of SIGNAL was greeted in the world as a doubtless contribution to avant-garde movements2.
The first Signalist anthology appeared in 1971. in edition of Hungarian magazine „Uj Symposion“ of Novi Sad in Hungarian and Serbian languages, and presents works, visual poems, by twenty authors.
Already in this anthology visible are efforts, and also achieved results, in one of the branches of Signalism, in Signalist visual poetry. The most of the authors found themselves in a new art and literary discipline and operated very self-confidently with its material elements, letter, graphic sign and space, as with one of constituent parts. Visual poetry destroys language and traditionalist understanding of literature and art. It goes, it could be said, from a meaning to a sign, destroying the semantic fortresses of script and Gutenbergian civilisation. The linear syntactic and grammatical chains of texts are shattered, „textual surfaces“ are being created, where their multidimensionality is expressed. Thus sign has been discovered as a basic model not only of new poetry, but also of the entire civilisation it can account with. Semiotics has replaced semantics. Semiotic analysis has became a key for solving specific poetical messages.
Presenting that choice of our poets, Chilean avant-garde poet Guillermo Deisler says: „An absolute distance is, in main features, assessed in relation to the possible problems of our society, as are war, sex, terrible contradictions between the developed and undeveloped, between mass consumption and manipulations with masses. Almost with the most of the artists there is a deep striving for getting out from the system of a linear, exclusively literary communication, for a realisation of advantages of a more open communication. That preoccupation is more evident in a system of signs as of media for destruction of idioms where the established is being ascertained. A great usage of letter as of a visual element, not of an audible one is present (Andrić, Jevtić, Đorđević, Paripović, Janković, Jovanović, Stojiljković, Matković), nor of a literary one, although we meet it also offering sounds, as if in concrete poetry (Todorović, Rošulj). Calligram poems (Rešin, Todorović), poems in a process (Magyar, Vukanović, Matković, Todorović, Poznanović) always move, more than anything else and in a very intelligent, intellectual line, an alternative of poetical language... „That alternative of Yugoslav poets“, this author concludes, „would show itself to be, definitely, an intelligent chance of escape from the linear manipulations of writing and a chance of securing different possibilities, in a best case as a defender of reading for today's and future readers. „During the following years Signalism developed and achieved a respectful affirmation, but exclusively on an international level3. Domestic cultural public is still skeptical, and in part resists strongly and attack severely all marked as a Symbolism.
In the movement itself, a kind of differentiation takes place. Some artists are more and more approaching land art and conceptual art. That differentiation, however, is, more or less, of a formal nature, for those artists too in fact just elaborate in their further engagement some of the basic premises of Signalism. For some of them (Zoran Popović, Marina Abramović) is characteristic that not before this phases they insist on technological and exact moments in their actions, that having not been the case in their original poetical-visual phases.
One of very interesting works in the frames of Signalism was realised by Vlada Stojiljković. Using the elements of collage, design, graphic and drawing ingeniously, he, freed from taboos and conventions, creates a quite new and exciting sign script. In his text Signalism as an Avant-garde Movement (1971) Stojiljković emphasises that a Signalist „does not write about certain theme but presents it, or shows its essence by means of different arrangements of letters and symbols. A purpose of such a work is first of all that the author break the frames imposed on him by poetical, semantic, syntactic and even grammatical rules, and use a non-verbal material to be able to express himself totally.
The syntax of Stojiljković's script, especially in the visual poems: Horoscope; A Sketch for a Mechanical Bird; Transplantation I, II and in the anthology work Upper case/Lower case has been raised to a metalinguistic level. Its elements are in a semiological field. His basic communication channels and bearers of aesthetic messages are sign and image with a readible and concrete result.
For the poetry of Žarko Rošulj a visual understanding is also very important, since in certain moments in a poem the fragile connection with the verbal is completely broken and an absolute domination of the sign is established. Its visual syntax, by which the poet determines the courses of his thoughts and associations in the space - that determining becoming also a part of an all-including and unrestrained typosignalist plays with signs, letters, parts of words and words - requires a synthetical-ideographic understanding instead of the analytical-discursive one.
In his first signalist poems Žarko Rošulj was very close to some realisations of the baroque and manirist European and Serbian poetry of XVIII and XIX century (carmina figurata, the poems in the form of things and animals, especially: peacock, horse, bird and others). Here this poet found inspirative roots obviously in graphic experiments of one, in our literature still neglected and insufficiently examined current of Serbian baroque poets: Orfelin, Trojičanin and Venclović.
In the next phases Rošulj ever more accepts modern researching experiences, those of Brasilian school of concrete poetry as well as, to a most extent, those specific experiences and features of signalist poetry that enabled Signalism that, as a special creative movement, which developed in Yugoslavia in somewhat different theoretical premises, takes a high and significant place in the world's avant-garde movements. The appearance of the „White Book” by Milivoje Pavlović, a young poet, signalist researcher and publicist, rose a doubtless attention of our cultural public. Published in just 50 copies, as a signalist edition, with the volume of 300 pages of the finest print paper, in which not a word was printed (except brief prefaces and conclusions, that book provoked different and often very emotional reactions of those who had a chance to see and „read“ it.
Imagined in the beginning as a provocative gest and an effort to indicate the critical condition of book and literary critics in our country, this book-sign, a play of white rectangulars of an open world, exceeded son its original and culturological intents and frames. By it, to use Macluanian vocabulary, the doors to abolition of linearity and consecutivity of human consciousness and of finding a non-linear logic has been opened even more, as freely as non-Euclidian geometry had been built. „For consciousness is not a verbal process, and the phonetical literacy in the previous development of human culture was giving an exclusive advantage to „a chain of inferring as to a mark of logic and reason.“
Attributing to the invisible and mute sounds the dark crevice between being and language, „White Book“ by Milivoje Pavlović records at the same time its disbelief in communicativeness of the closed language systems of the Gutenbergian galaxy at its close. It is a book-frontierstone there, on the border of two civilisations, that of script and that of image. Instead of the removed language there is a language of the very being of book, an explosion of whiteness, of the space not burdened with script, a script of the immediate and visible, of the nonabstract world of facts and things. The challenge is in its mute readability. The irony is in an interpretation of a rewritten world. For it is at the same time a book-world that multiplies its ironical entity in thousands opened eyes.
Where do the metaphysic horror and reality of the historical and mythical cease? Where do the irony and play of the ludic man of the technological era begin?
The „White Book“ vanishes as a product composed of paper and of lead impressions, and returns to us as a complete art form, a work whose only outside, surface veil is woven from silence. Its experience is an experience of a vanishing script. Its pages ere unrepeatible like still unwritten pages of Universe. There, where is not a trace of script and writing, where we are being defeated but an apparently innocent cleanness of the intact paper, an exciting juncture of signs and meanings is being born on the screen of a new universe.
The researches by Bogdanka Poznanović move in a wide spectre, from those, for me, poetical-visual in her booklet „Stellata“, up to the land art and conceptual interventions („Feedback Mailbox“, „Breath-breathing“ and others). In the action „Cubes-Rivers“ signs and words are still visible and still have an important role. In the basis of the „Feedback Mailbox“ project is a communication, actually an informing (the mode is left to the choice of participants) about one perhaps not crucial, but also mot so unimportant part (means) of an informative system). Very important is also the work „Computortapebody“ where, using a computer tape, diaprojector as a special medium and the bodies of the participants in the action with visible scenic effects an unique informative-sensible and gestual-poetical total has been realised.
Zoran Popović began his researching work on the Signalist plane with typewriter poems in 1969. During 1971 in Zagreb he, working on one short film, draws out a series of suggestive literal-visual structures with a project of so-called „Signalist Clock“. In the following years, the work of that author, especially in the „Axioms“ project, penetrates into the realms of the spatial, corporal (Body art) and conceptual.
Marina Abramović likewise begins with Signalist visual poetry (Smoke and A from 1970), and with a series of projected letters Entering a Square, Going out from a Square, B Projection and others). Especially important are her Sound Ambients where she tries to realise a synthesis of the spatial-visual and sonoric, and recently also of the action of gestual poetry.
In the work of Neša Paripović there were not spectacular slew’s and breaks as with previous artists. From the very beginnings he investigates, calmly and thoroughly, the sign and functions of the sign in its most diverse forms.
The first researches of Slavko Matković are in the domain of visual poetry. Later on, his interests have been widening substantially. Significant is also Matković's work on signalist comics, they being also especially explained theoretically by him. The literary critic Ostoja Kisic has been following the signalist movement already for years. In recent years he announces his voluminous study on Signalism under the title GREAT DISCUSSION. In that book (in several hundreds of pages) especially the beginnings of Signalism are studied, as well as the relationships of this our avant-garde movement with Traditionalism which had seized the Serbian culture in the beginning of the sixties. Especially interesting are Kisic's visual works under the title „Themes from History of Literature“ where he presents in a humorist way particular problems, themes and myths from our more recent and remote literary history.
Ljubiša Jocić, a poet of older generation (formerly a follower of the surrealistic movement), joins Signalism in 1975 with this book MOONLIGHT IN TETRA-PACK, where some of the premises of the Signalist technological poetry were almost completely realised. Critic Aleksandar Petrov, presenting that book, says that „ Ljubiša Jocić writes in a language of tetra-pack“. And that is „a language of the modern consumer society and of media of mass communications“, in a word a technological language.
Discussing Signalism in his text „The Signs Bound to the Reality Itself“ („Politika“, 7 August 1975) Jocić starts from the fact that „Signalism, as well many other „isms“ already confirmed by history, has a significant place in the development of human creation, theory and practice“.
In his opinion this our avant-garde movement was born „In the fires of electronics and thundery powers of atom, in a double nature of electron (material and spiritual one), in the curved spaces of the four-dimensional world. Signalism explores a way for moving the human brain, whose capability is being used just ten per cent, to use those its uninvestigated areas, those other ninety per cent for the movements in those new areas foreshadowed by the technological society.“
Interesting is also the case of Spasoje Vlajić, who started in Signalism as early as 1969 with a still insufficiently ripe and unwhetted scientific poetry, undertaking thereafter, as he says himself, inspired by the discoveries from the primordial phases of Signalism, especially those in the book „PLANET“, a studious investigation of language from exact standpoints.
Examining the intensity of voice meaning in our language, and in some others too, Vlajić learned „that the relationship of a language and a phenomenon described by it is based on a mutual imbuing of the energy whereby that phenomenon acts on senses and places of the phenomenon in a mental and physical picture of the world“. In fact, Vlajić succeeded to come to some laws, correlative equations, on the basis of which one can determine frequency i.e. energy of a colour (e.g. red) on the basis of the very name of the colour. Thus, according to him, one of the basic premises of the second Signalism manifest REGULAE POESIS: 1.8.1 also has been proved: „Signalist poetry will mark a complete liberation of the language energy“. For „the energy of a designation is partly in a functional dependence on the energy of the state described by it. The cited facts point to real possibilities of a more complete liberation of the language energy.“ Dobrivoje Jevtić, Milorad Grujić, Rade Obrenović, Boda Marković, Zvonimir Kostić Palanski, Miroljub Kešeljević, Jaroslav Supek and Branislav Prelević work intensively on Signalist visual poetry. Young poets Slavko M. Pavićević and Miodrag Šuvaković explore the language as well as other opened and scattered areas of Signalist art. Slobodan Pavićević („Silicates of Flower“ 1973) and Slobodan Vukanović („Star Leathers“ 1975) are opened with their books to planetary and cosmic experiences of Signalism. Especially Slobodan Pavićević heads in this, who in his poems - junctions of the exact language of physics, chemistry, mathematics and an archaic colloquial idiom - establishes, builds and examines fantastic, non-earthly worlds. That is a poetry of a new era of explorers and conquerors of the universe, where, beside fancy and scattered imagination, the most recent scientific and technological cognitions and discoveries of sciences are used.
Predrag Šhiđanin, Lásló Szalma and Nikola Stojanović are interested in conceptual searches.
The results of Signalism and Signalist ideas, as we could see from this brief chronological survey, are most visible in fine arts and literature. Art and artistic act are demystified. The art has been marked as ludism, a play of man in cosmos under a permanent threat of an entropy avalanche, chaos and formlessness. Metaphysically, a theological order has been disintegrated, new multidimensional spaces have been established: freedoms, plays, researches. Art is a play and imagining, a human power to exceeds his own alienation and start on a way of „total expansion“ into cosmos, into the world.
A reality of the technological civilisation and a special role of man in the electronical-planetary space of existence has been accepted. Technology has offered new means to arts; to man, to an artist, it has offered new possibilities of conquering, of an intuitive superstructure over the things, the objects of his own production. Machines are, for Signalism, means whereby man liberates his fancy, his imagination even more. Processes of communication will be more and more intensive, the number of information, storehouses of knowledge, arts, greater and greater for advancing that achieved freedom, play, uncertainty of research. Information will flow without a mediator. They will not be lost in the channels of processors and in noises of resistors. They will be full and sudden in their radiation. Signalist art will become universal, with a complex, determinable but not a closed script. It will point to an „essential thinking“ as to a necessity in a cosmos of fight and conquering. Conquering a sense, a beauty of an organised disorder. There where the tension at any point of a body, text and work is huge and threatens always to explode and throw all again to the deadness of dehumanised entropy. It will be a play with things, universe, one's own death.
In Signalism the most of former (traditional) ways of expression is being abolished; changed are languages, systems, communication means according to the newly-marked functions of art. The art is being desubjectivized. In parallel with taking off the mythical and mistificatory aureole its massmediality and spendability is emphasised. But it does not mean also its banalization, its sinking in the daily, its end. Its present offering of „numberless possibilities of realisations“, its not being unique and sublime, sacralized, „its not giving final answers any more“, its experimentation, correcting, a continual searching for the new, its offering a mosaic, discontinued and not total structure and picture of the universe and the world, does not mean that it is not an art any more, that it is an anti-art. On the contrary, refusing to move in the circle: „Absolute - Transcendental - Myth; refusing to be „consecrated“, the art of Signalism takes off a mask from the face of the mummied traditional art and destroys its „holy“ impotence by a creative subversion and building action. In that way the Signalist art becomes much closer to the life. It is a part of that life, of reality, one of its forms, much more condensed, with clearly outlined contours, more organised but also more agonising, reflecting and critical than other forms; charged with a multitude of information, it is substantially more non-genotropic than the reality itself.
As far as experimentation is concerned, in Signalism one has gone furthest in poetry. There the results are also very diverse.
The first scientistic phases, as we could see, has conditioned a synthesis of exact languages with the language of poetry. Science is defined as a language of the core and structure of matter and universe; the former poetry as a language of the relationship between a man and an outer wrapping, shell of the universe. The new scientistic poetry would represent a language of man, core, structure of the universe, matter and their mutual imbuing. The language of that poetry is an amalgam substance where we can already see the contours of a different structure of the world. That is a world of the planetary and cosmic, of the wonderful laws of a restored life, of inexhaustible energies on the dying stars.
Matter, energy, play are basic elements of this poetics and of the worlds just established by it. Covetous games of celestial bodies in which a beginning of any birth is. Love plays of planets attracted by universal (cosmic) law of love, gravitation. They can not resist that call, the spasm reinforcing in them a thirst for conquering some new spaces. Their language is a language of energy that is just to lead up to the disastrous, destructive, in order that a liberation of powerful building methaenergies take place in that newly originated chaos.
The destructive, chaos, wandering. The language is all now, for a word has four dimensions in the Signalist universe. Even life can originate from it, just as it originates from proteins. The amalgamated, synthesised language of poetry and science is a basic food for that universe. But not a fetish either. It must not be sacralized, it is itself liable to destruction, subversion, an apparent chaos of its enthropical being. The love energy in words, voices, monems and phonemes of that poetry became an explosive one, and it, „disarming the logic“ disintegrated into lonely, suspending, wandering words, signs, graphics, lines that curve the space. In that disintegration, destruction of the just born stellar language, one should look also for real rudiments of Signalist visual poetry, that having been by no means introduced from outside, but originated in the very tissue (body) of Signalism.
Destruction of language and reducing of poetry to a sign itself will become a basic feature of Signalist visual poetry. That disintegration of language, the reducing of its semantic values, can be followed from the first attempts in scientistic period, all the time to the great visual cycles in the second period, when visual poetry comes to the fore of Signalist experimentation.
Firstly a connection and meaning between words and syntagmic parts of sentence and verse is being broken. The words isolate themselves, they search for a sense in space, the latter becoming an inseparable and readable part of text now. The verbal and visual are interweaving in unexpected plays of blanks and lingual meanings. A liberated lingual energy inundates a poem. To the fore are put material properties of language. One insists on turnovers, varying, amassing of particular elements. Words are separated freely from broken wholes, often becoming just signs arranged in space, and not real bearer of contents. They are objects of a intuitive and ludic process advanced sometimes by a previous use of mathematical models and methods of creation. Individual words disintegrate into their final, atomised structures of letters and interweave by thin invisible treads with all surrounding elements filling the space of a visual poem: with signs, remaining words, exact symbols, collages. Text flows divergently, in all directions, it is scattered, linearity and one-wayness of script is destroyed. We note its polyvalency and multidimensionality. Syntax is abolished. Semantics is muffled, it takes on different forms, or is abolished too. However, communicative functions of this poetry get new sources. Translinguistic and metalinguistic systems of relationships are established. Text can be still followed (read) in some poems, but with breaks and stops. The tissue of the text is examined freely. Its broadness is emphasised. Reading is related immediately with observing, separating and crossing of particular constellations into visual and verbal totalities. They provoke, further on, whole a net of associations. Visible are new dimensions of the meaning acquired by the language liberated in space. It is where the self-creative energy, insisted on in Signalism several times, achieves a full expression. Words in texts are much more independent now, and therefore more replaceable. They are not petrified in sintagms or verses and sentential sequences any more. Freedom, space and observer's (reader's) invention make possible a continuous, kaleidoscopic play of constituting, transforming and disintegration of meaning.
Beside visual poetry, as a significant novelty whereby Signalism enriched our literature, a computer poetry also appears.
Researches in art by means of computer are of a relatively recent date. They began about the middle and at the end of fifties, firstly in music and somewhat later in painting too. The results achieved in painting are rather well known. However, in literature one did not researched much in this way, and a few texts made by computer did not penetrate the public so aloud as machine experiments in other art branches did.
Machines, as creative instruments inspiring, among other things, an artist for work, and often realising an artist's idea too, were introduced by Signalism during 1969, producing computer texts by means of certain programs. In those first programs, and also in all later realisations of Signalist computer poetry, a generator of random numbers is used, said by particular scientists and theorists to be very similar to human intuition.
All such researches were done in language and by means of language. Certain number of words, groups of words, syntagms, was programmed and left to machine for realisation. Most often the words and syntagms were not chosen randomly, which can be, after all, seen also from the achieved and published results. In the working process of the machine that aleatory elements were expressed.
The obtained results could be presented without interventions, with greater or lesser interventions or, that being the case most frequently, they served as an inspiring matter for poetical work.
That work proceeded in two directions. Firstly: the computer material was undergone to a further processing by means of spatial tables of random numbers or, otherwise, of sequences of numbers being connected according to a mathematical scheme initiated by chance, but made with certain regular interventions. Mathematical combinatorics was of help in such cases.
In another case, different from the previous one where the freedom of poetical creation was limited, to an extent, by schematised mathematical tables and sequences of numbers, and where groups of words were being joined into totalities (lines, verses) according to all phenomena of mathematical chance - with subsequent understandable and necessary interventions - computer material served quite freely for perhaps more complicated, „mathematical“ plays of poetical consciousness and imagination. A fact is, yet, that those consciousness and imagination were conditioned not only by the computer lingual material (products of machine) but also by all those „methods“ of machine creation, by all that disrespecting a language, linguistic norms, common human and current poetical logic, shown by machine in its work, and which became gradually, during the work, to a greater or lesser degree, a constituent part of poet's efforts in liberating and restoration of language.
Visual and computer poetry are not only poetical forms Signalism manifested through, although thanks right to them it perhaps reached the consciousness of a certain number of readers and followers of our modern literature. Those are the most prominent, visible and, as it were, loudest forms of Signalism. Because of their novelty they acted in a shocking manner, and by that itself they attracted a greatest attention of public and critics. But Signalism as a whole can not be related exclusively to visual and computer poetry, and it is especially impossible to identify it just with visual poetry, that having become common with some critics.
Signalism is a complex and scattered creative movement where whole a fan of researching methods and steps manifested and several new literatural and artistic disciplines have formed. One of them is permutational poetry. It is, in a way, similar to the computer one, although in the work on permutational poems computers are not used, but one operates according to certain mathematical model with just a couple of words and syntagms. Lingual elements can be varied until a complete exhaustion of the numerical combinations of the model. If we take four elements, that possibility is exhausted with sixteen variants each of them containing four verses. It means that out of four words we can, by their permutation, changing their positions and relationships, make sixty four verses. It is clear that in a permutational poem the words lose many of their functions and properties they otherwise have in a standard speech and current version. It seems to us that by varying it is possible to exhaust almost all nuances of meanings of some words and of notions they can take on in different contexts and bracing with other words and notions. Of course, that proceeds in the frames of a given (little) number of words and a determined mathematical model whose number of variation is not unlimited. By such step the language is being denuded completely, one by one of its shells of meaning, or sense, are stripped off, all possibilities are examined in order to achieve finally the very core of a language.
A poet need not adhere to an exclusively mathematical model. The number of variations can be lessened or increased. Often by lessening of variations one increases an aesthetic efficaciousness of the originated verses, for too great repetitions can cover completely a high informative value of individual lingual bracings. Sometimes just an opposite happens, that an amassment and rather long combinations of that small number of lingual elements not before the end of the permutational chain leads to a sudden liberation of the all thus far carefully kept lingual energy.
In phenomenological poetry something is expressed mostly which was insisted on by Signalism, at least in its main course, by its very beginnings - a desubjectivisation of a poem and of a poetical picture. The language in phenomenological poems is metaphoric one, any subjectivity is neglected, one tends to a description of phenomena, beings, things, without any burdening with the universal and transcendental. In audible poetry a voice substance of particular words is stressed, with an attempt to express by it the meaning of all a poem. That meaning is formed on a phonic level, but at the same time it is in an immediate connection with its morphological mark. Voice units are separated and multiplied:
and they begin to function as a transferring sense mechanism of one, by voice grouping formed, source of associations, not only of audible , bur also of verbal and visual ones. Voice becomes there a bearer of meaning, of sense. Its acoustic, intonational, visual properties, emphasis, place in words, possibility of collaboration with and influence on other parts of a poem (word), are used for creation of quite new poetical forms.With slang poetry Signalism shows a deeper interest in eccentric variants of our speech. From that inseparable are also a humorist and protest note observable before too, especially in computer and stochastic poems.
Gestual poetry is marked as a most radical discipline of Signalist poetry. There a poet writes by its body through a gest and action. Body becomes a „means of expressing“, a language of total being. Together with surrounding elements it creates a space of a poem. Body is „our general means for possessing the world“ (M. Merleaux-Ponty). All sets forth starts and returns to it.
A gestual poem is created, most commonly, by combining of different elements. It is a dynamic action of body, speech, sound, visual, kinetic and other means of semiotic expression. Sometimes even the audience itself influences the course of a gestual poem by its immediate participation. Thus a tighter symbiosis between the performer of the action and its consumers is realised.
Object-poems have also abandoned a printed page of a book. By the usage of „things as signs“ we are directed toward a non-lingual (in a narrower sense) communication and experiencing of poetical message and contents. Words are objects of poems, as well as, after all, in cynetic and, partly, in visual and gestual poetry, are not elements whereby one communicates any more. Basic bearers of ideas and messages are now objects, things most often taken over from a technological fund of used and discarded items. Emptied great boxes of washing powder, rings of perforated computer tapes, plastic bags with impressed advertising texts, drug bottles, boxes of used creams, baby powder and lotions, fragranted shampoo bottles, packs of computer cards, various package, plastic glasses and dishes for yoghurt, milk, meat, fruits etc. become here a material for a poet. He intervenes in them, processes them, changes their objectness, establishes an interactive core, although most frequently not abolishing semiotic manifestation of the item from the previous advertising and consumer discourse.
Object of a song are material facts that stimulate, irritate, inspire us with their visual, tactile, spatial and temporal and sometimes also their use values. Their function, however, is not a symbolic but a syntagmatic one.
In recent years a new work began, on a creation of Signalist child poetry. (Stojiljković, Palanski, Rošulj, Obrenović). Further experimental and researching effort of Signalists is more and more directed toward a revolutionising of two significant branches of literature. Those are the attempts to create new essayistic and prosaic forms. Less liable to radical interventions than poetry, these two disciplines resist Signalism strongly, and thus the results are less visible so far. Yet, some results appeared, especially by a penetration of the visual into traditional scopes of novel and assay and by its successful connection with the verbal.
From the previous discussion we could notice that Signalism is an utmostly open and very complex art system. Its living tissue is made of a sequence of events, actions, works, in a synthesis of programmed and intuitive ludism. The sources of informative energy arrive to this system in the most various forms, transforming themselves, through a producing ludic process, into an aesthetic energy (information).
Signalist art sees its basic function in an „introducing of the new into the word“, in creating the forms and revealing the contents that will change human consciousness. „Success of an idea“, as Jacques Moneau says it, „will depend first of all on its power to invade, that being doubtlessly related to its own structure, to its ability to master other ideas or to assimilate them, but is without an immediate relation with the selective value the idea has for a man or a group accepting it“.
Crucial tasks of Signalism we see in overcoming the boundaries of the real, in moving the existing borders and searching for new languages of art.
Although confronted to all tradition and traditionalism, Signalism has never been on positions of anti-art, and still lesser on the positions of an anarchist, non-building negation of art. The motto of Signalism was always a permanent revolutionising of the art being, for, as it has been already said several times: Art without an experiment is dead“, and without radical restorations its spirit becomes barren.
Our civilisation has offered to artists new means of communication and expression as well as vast spaces where one can experiment with those means. Accepting those new means and entering new spaces, Signalism tends to express itself, first of all, as a planetary art. It bases its aesthetic attitudes on some results of exact sciences, information theory and sign (signal) as an important mark of the planetary epoch. Accordingly this our movement is turned to the future where it see an ever bigger increase of non-genothropicity, informativness and a creation of massmedial forms of synthetic and hybrid art and sensibility adapted to a different more scattered consciousness and sensibility. The communication chains in such conditions of the system, regulating themselves under the pressures of total informativeness can not be broken nor closed. In the mechanism of communication there is a return-bracing that makes impossible a creative passivity. The consciousness and all the being of an artist is permanently irritated by the flows of inspirative information. The circle of „a being in a play“ is opened. A man, an artist, is in an immediate contact with all the universe. That universe of information is now in a function of creation, of a continuous research.
At this moment the information theory appears as an important factor for a further viewing of Signalist art. In a broadest sense, that theory analyses processes of emitting and receiving information, as well as the reactions following its courses. The information itself has become a physical value and taken over an universal mark similar to the notions of mass, energy and matter.
A measure unit of information is a bit. It is a „communication atom“, i.e. a least quantity of elements in one information that is to come to a receptor (receiver) in order to be transformed into a perception. The principle of the information transfer is the same with living beings and machines. Right that analogy has made possible and opened some of new spaces for action of Signalism. That reflected and gave results especially through a combination (symbiosis) of intuitive and programmed ludism.
An information is an universal phenomenon. Beginning from genetics, whose basic postulates „are based on the process of a information transmission“, through elementary and highest life forms, all living beings can, as „phenomena of self-organising and self-regulation“, be observed through the complex notion of information.
French theorist Abraham Moles has been one of the first who applies the mechanisms of information theory also in aesthetics. Seen from such a standpoint an artistic work radiates certain information. That is a special kind of aesthetic information. The originality of an aesthetic information depends on its unpredictability and grows with unlikelihood. The more predictable an information is, the more trivial is it . A complete „originality“ of an artistic work, however, would make completely impossible „understanding of its aesthetic information“.
Sign is the next element the Signalist art is based on. According to Max Bense, a theory of signs has been already elaborated as a basis for a new aesthetics. That theory starts from a general semiotics, and its conclusion is that „realisation, communication and codification“ constitute a triple function „of something that is expressed as a sign. The sign itself is „in a function of communicativeness, and as such it is founded in every human activity, especially in arts.
Famous Russian theorist L. S. Vigotsky starts from an idea that a sign is a cause provoking a psychological development, a basis ensuring a thinking process. All mechanisms of learning, action, interaction, would function through a sign. What makes distinction between a man and an animal would be actually an ability of producing and using the signs, called by Vigotsky signification, and defined by him as a creation and use of signs i.e. artificial signals.
Thus sign appears to us now as a crucial tool of a man and an artist against the destructive forces of entropy. The world and the universe are shined by the sign as an act of manifesting of an unique researching being and of giving a sense to it. The experience of a sign is an experience of that being itself, liberated from gods, existential uncertainty in front of the threatening silence of nothingness. By a sign we are opening the locked cells of consciousness, sub-consciousness, we are searching for our own ontic mysteries, the hidden potential energies of the spirit. It is one of the main instruments of Signalism for conquering new languages, regions and forms of art in overreachable and still unfoerseeable spatial and temporal relations of the planetary and cosmic.
(From Miroljub Todorovic book Signalism, Nis, 1979)
1) I came to the designation „Signalism“ in 1968 working on the second manifesto: MANIFESTO OF SIGNALISM (REGULAE POESIS). I derived it from Latin word signum - znak. Previous designations scientism i poetry - science (the second having been used in the first manifesto) seemed to me too narrow and inadequate for marking a complex set of ideas, crystallised out in about ten last years first of all in my own work and creative experience, those ideas being ready for a global revolutionising of arts, especially literature. Of course, this derivative, already in the moment of its origin, broke through and far exceeded the boundaries and frames imposed to it by its etymological determination.
2) Here we will cite just some shorter excerpts from those reviews:
„SIGNAL“ is a Yugoslavian journal published in Belgrade. Its purpose is to adapt poetical experience to technical possibilities of our time, to cybernetics and computer technics.“ „El popular“, 11 April 1971, Montevideo
„An excellent newly established review devoted to visual, concrete, cybernetic and signalist poetry. This issue contains also the texts by international visual poets, including: Hausmann, Perfetti, Clavin, Blaine, Bory, Gerz, Carrega and others: a manifesto of Signalism (in Serbo-Croatian and English) and a choice of Signalist poetry of Yugoslavian authors...“„Kontexts“ no. 3, 1971, Exeter, Devon, England
„Literatural avant-garde of Belgrade, Zagreb and other Yugoslav towns is composed of groups calling themselves Signalist ones, has now its newspaper, the review „SIGNAL“. Stuck to the orientation illustrated by the new review, Signalist movement is reflected especially in visual poetry whence traditional means of expression have disappeared, instead of which certain linguistic and visual rearrangements or a fruitful synthesis of poetry and fine art appears. „La fiera letteraria“, no. 22, 11 July 1971
„The experiences of this poetry have destroyed completely the poetical „system“ codified by tradition. That destruction has been achieved on all levels. In any case, a word as a bearer of communication (in a traditional sense) is not sufficient any more. It often transforms into a signal, while a poet resorts to all means in order to return it in a form of sign...“Michele Perfetti: SIGNALIST POETRY, „Corriere del giorno“, Taranto, 27 September 1970
„A new and very valuable contribution to the international scene of concrete poetry. Yugoslavs call it Signalism instead of concrete poetry and emphasise the differences regarding the use of machine technique (especially computers)...“ „Second Aeon“, No. 14, 1971, Cardiff
„A very interesting publication containing various critical discussions about Signalist experiences and experiences of other poetical and visual currents. In one part international poetical texts are compiled, while the second is devoted to Yugoslav researches... The third part of the journal is a bibliography of the most famous publications in that area...“„Le Arti“ No. 6 1971 Milano.
3) Signalism is written about by: (Clemente Padin): LA NUEVA POESIA (SIGNALISMO), „El popular“, 16 October 1970, Montevideo; Godehard Schramm: SIGNAL INTERNATIONAL REVIEW FOR SIGNALIST RESEARCH, „Literatur und Kritik“, Heft 61/72, Wien; Danuta Straszinska: SIGNALIZM NA CENZUROWANYM, „Literatura na swiecie“, No.3, 1972, Varszaw. The famous Polish poet Zbigniev Bienkowsky also writes in the Warszaw magazin „Poezija“, presenting his views on avant-garde, with a special review of our movement. Likewise, in foreign publications, my following texts regarding Signalism were published:
1. POESIA-SIGNALISTA, „Ovum 10“, No. 4, 1970, Montevideo (in Spanish, with a voice of visual poems).
2. SIGNALISM (RECENT YUGOSLAV ACTIVITY), „Second Aeon“, No. 14, 1971, Cardiff. With the text there are supplements by: Žarko Rošulj, Vlada Stoiljković, László Szalma and Bogdanka Poznanović.
3. POESIA SIGNALISTA, an exhibition catalogue, „Tool“ gallery, Milan 1971.
4. O POEZJI SYGNALISTYCZNEJ, „Litery“, No. 5, 1973, Gdánsk (with several visual poems by Yugoslav and foreign poets).
5. COMMUNICATION - BEING - APPREHENSION, in „A conceptographic reading of our World thermometer“ anthology, Calgary, Canada 1973. (With Signalist supplements).
6. COMMUNICATION - BEING - THOUGHT, in „Kontrapunkt“ anthology (Wroclaw 1973, with Signalist supplements).
7. VISUELE POEZIE IN JOEGOSLAVIE (VERSCHIJNING EN ONTWIKKELING) in the book by G. J. de Rook: „Historiche anthologie visuele poëzie, Brussels 1976.
Interesting is also the fact that Signalists had their first exhibition abroad, in TOOL gallery in Milan. Titled POESIA SIGNALISTA YUGOSLAVA from 17 to 31 July, the works were presented by: Vlada Stojiljković, Tamara Janković, Zoran Popović, Miroljub Todorović and Marina Abramović.