I’m one of the keynote speakers for the New Media Consortium’s Symposium for the Future this week (the other is the amazing Beth Kanter), and I’m hoping to stir things up a bit by placing some wildly diverse concepts in conversation with each other. The title alone demonstrates the “wild” part pretty well: “Two Painters, One Poet, and Some Sweet Soul Music.” Plenty of surprises and it’s fun for the whole family, so y’all come.
The one poet I mean is Robert Browning, and the two painters are Andrea del Sarto and Filippo Lippi, each of whom is portrayed in a dramatic monologue by Browning. One of the things I hope to explore is how these two artists, as imagined by Browning, vividly inhabit two contradictory attitudes toward art, risk, nature, love, and, oh, the meaning of life in relation to those things. A far cry from technology, unless one considers art a technology, which I most certainly do. And even if that seems a stretch to you, I think you’ll find that these two poets’ attitudes toward art and vocation map quite interestingly onto attitudes toward information and communication technologies–or computers more generally–at this stage of the game.
Here’s an extra resource for my presentation: a podcast of me reading Browning’s “Andrea del Sarto.” Next up will be “Fra Lippo Lippi” (an alternate name for Filippo Lippi, “Fra” meaning “brother,” as in monk). I hope my readings convey some of the complexities of these portraits, and that I can illuminate some of the connections in my presentation on Wednesday. Whether or not the latter ambition is realized, we’ll always have Browning….