In a move that echoes Magritte’s famous painting “The Treachery of Images” (see below), Bigelow uses a very traditional poem (“Trees” by Joyce Kilmer) to draw attention to the impact of media on a poem. Magritte’s realistic depiction of a pipe juxtaposed with the seemingly paradoxical statement “This is is not a pipe” led audiences to realize that they were looking at oil paint on canvas, a representation of a pipe, which is much different from a real pipe (try smoking it).
Bigelow begins by showing us the image of something we instantly recognize as a poem— “Trees” is written in perfect iambic tetrameter and structured into six rhyming couplets— and reinforces it by providing an audio reading of the poem. The materials of print and audio recording (paper and vinyl) are evoked by the images of paper clips and a record, which spins when played to deliver the aural reading— depicting the concept and model of poetry everyone recognizes: lines of verse on the page as a score so that a reader can produce an oral performance of the poem.
But the treachery of the digital image is that it contains codes which can charge it with behavior. Bigelow, in collaboration with Tammy McGovern, has encoded the work to respond to your digital “touch” allowing you to play with it, reconfiguring it into something that belongs to a different poetic scene. “This is not a poem” is a poem: it’s an e-poem.
Within this e-poem you’ll discover a short video clip that will serve as a disturbingly ironic reminder of how print dissemination of Kilmer’s poem is contradictory to its intended message.