CAPTCHA Poem@: This poem redefines the original CAPTCHA acronym by establishing a new paradigm between humans and machines in times of COVID: “Completely Automated Public test to Tie Computers and Humans as Allies”. In a constant expectation of “not touching”, this new paradigm allows for both, distancing and connection, a paradox not exempt from anxiety within an environment under siege. The multilevel components of this poem@ CAPTCHA include QR codes inviting to “tell your COVID story” that I posted around cities in both, English and Spanish, testimonies that I collected for this project. Hence, QR codes blended with COVID paraphernalia that became oddly familiar: disposed gloves on the ground; requests for masks to enter buildings, etc. In a way, the city became an eerie “installation” intervened by humans, codes and the virus. The old concepts and new realities collide in a transitional stage within the pandemic, in tune with the ongoing “convergence culture” argued by Henry Jenkins.
About the Author(s):
Tina Escaja is Professor of Spanish and the Director of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at UVM. She joined the Spanish department in 1993 after earning her Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania. She has published extensively on gender, technology and representation at the turn-of-the-twentieth-century and their connections with the current turn-of-the-millennium in Latin America and Spain. Her scholarly books include the monograph Salomé decapitada: Delmira Agustini y la estética finisecular de la fragmentación (2000) and the edition of essays Compromiso e hibridez: Aproximaciones a la poesía hispánica contemporánea escrita por mujeres. (2007). As a teacher and scholar, she has won the coveted Kroepsch-Maurice Excellence in Teaching Award (2013) and the Dean’s Lecture Award for excellence in teaching and research (2010) as well as UVM’s University Scholar Award (2015-16).
Escaja is also an accomplished poet, writer and digital artist. Her creative work transcends the traditional book form, leaping into digital art, robotics, augmented reality and multimedia projects exhibited in museums and galleries in Spain, Mexico and the United States. In 2003 she won the International Poetry Prize “Dulce María Loynaz” for her manuscript Caída Libre, published in 2004. Other poetry titles include 13 lunas 13 (2011), Código de barras (2007), and Respiración mecánica (2001/2014). Her collection Manual destructivista/Destructivist Manual (2016), with English translations by Kristin Dykstra, was selected among top ten bilingual readings by Latino Poetry Review in 2017. Escaja has also written award-winning fiction and plays, and is the author of experimental and hypertextual works, including Negro en Ovejas (2011), VeloCity (2000-2002), Código de barras (2006), the interactive novel Pinzas de metal (2003), Mora amor (2017), and Robopoem@s (2016). Her work has been translated into six languages and has appeared in literary collections around the world. Some of her digital and literary works can be experienced at http://www.uvm.edu/~tescaja/
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