Nina Freeman has achieved something in her autobiographical game, Cibele, that few writers, artists and poetesses have: the reconciliation of the digital and the analogue worlds in a poetic image. These two worlds are experiencing, presently, something of a painful and confused interaction; so inherently do they now intersect, and yet so undeniably are they separated and contradictory.
The problem to solve, especially for the poetess, is how humanity interacts with these two worlds. The digital world, via the internet, has become a sort of conduit for our thoughts and intellects, and the analogue world merely an obfuscated and unfiltered world of perception; unlike the internet where algorithms guide its content, as the grammar and the vocabulary of a language guide our thoughts. It has been the poetess’s responsibility to reconcile her and others’ intellects and her and others’ perceptions for centuries. So it is the poetess’s responsibility to reconcile these two worlds now that one is manifested materially and one immaterially, as English returns to a transient grammar dictated by speech, not the materiality of a standardised, written word.
The autobiographical poetess must be two people at once: a woman recording her experiences, but also a poetess who may interpret and illuminate the woman’s experiences. Between the two worlds, the woman without the poetess is confused; and so the confused woman produces not a poetic image of a confused woman, but the woman’s confusion itself as if recorded in her diary. In Cibele, Nina Freeman’s poetry reads much like such diary entries, prosaically detailing her obfuscated, analogue world; disconnected from the digital. And, indeed, the reconciliation in Cibele is achieved prosaically.
The digital world is depicted in a prosaic representation of Nina Freeman’s desktop; complete not only with the titular game within a game’s taskbar icon but also e-mail client, instagram-analogue, folders of photographs and archived blog posts and IM conversations, musings, and new and old poems. This digital detritus serves a greater purpose than characterisation, allowing the analogue world to intrude into the digital world in Cibele in the same way it does in reality; via photography and verbal communication.
The analogue world is depicted in prosaic short film clips of Nina Freeman. These film clips transition easily into and out of the digital world, and depict the analogue world intruding into the digital as she photographs herself and converses in-game with her lover. And, ultimately, her digital relationship is consummated in the analogue world, obfuscating what was once so clear in the digital—yet it is this obfuscation that reveals the clarity of the digital world to be, in fact, an illusion.
In this juxtaposition not only is the reconciliation complete, but the two worlds, their separation and their connection, are illuminated by the poetess. Nina Freeman’s digital relationship could not be understood until it had been consummated in the analogue world, and although the consummation revealed with an as high-as-digital fidelity the way the digital world obfuscated the analogue world’s reality, this revelation was as confounding as befits the analogue world. In this poetic image the two worlds are simultaneously connected, disconnected, opaque and transparent. This is not the confusion of the woman, this is the woman’s confusion interpreted and illuminated by the poetess, then distilled into a poetic image.
- Tom Towers