This generative poem attacks marketing on several levels: the generative poem in the center of the page does so thematically, the banners that surround it conform to standards for Web advertising banners, and Portuguese commercial slogans are cut up and remixed to expose their underlying messages.
This last strategy is inspired by the Situationist practice of détournement— revealing some of the ideological content that is difficult to notice when posed as a catchy phrase. Marketing slogans use of language in many of the same ways as poetry (such as compression, rhyme, meter, alliteration, and visual design) but to sell products rather than for artistic purposes. Situationists and Concrete poets like Décio Pignatari sought to reclaim visual language from commercial use, notably in his “Anti-Advertisement,” a famous détournement of Coca Cola’s Portugese (and Spanish) slogan.
Is Torres quoting Pignatari by using several shades of red in the banners?
One thing to consider as we read the generated poems and slogans while they change every few seconds, is that the poem in the center coheres better than the slogans, which rapidly reveal its capitalist values. Consider the message of the remixed slogans in the still image above (my translation, clockwise from the top): “Science belongs to us,” “Delicious Spectacle,” “Moved by technology,” and “The discovery that saves.” Positively Machiavellian.
If you can’t read Portuguese, I suggest clicking on the @ sign, signing and sending the current iteration to a blog Torres has set up to gather the output of generative works. Then run the output through a translator to get a sense of the ideas presented, as I did with “Viva semanas” (“Live Weeks”) running its text through Google Translate:
Not consumption. It is rhythm -
pause it touches.
The power of plagiotropia is deep -
There are things that the card does not inspire -
for all other is devouring.
Moved by the war
- For the pleasure of parody -
advertising inspires us.
Images that can bind
- Generation in motion -
eccentric calling every week.
Appear in your dreams!
With credit, all transports -
good enough pure
have is coming.
Cries of Viva!
It feels good to grow and so little
glue is real:
because life is rare!
Note how the poem critiques advertising as “binding” and associating it with consumption, hunger, and endless devouring of merchandise and credit. The original word for “glue” in the antepenultimate line is “Cola,” once again echoing Pignatari’s poem.
Go read the poem, generate your own iteration, and discover more of Torres’ critique of marketing in the digital age.