Eduardo Kac is acknowledged on an international level as a pioneer, artist and theorist in the field of telecommunication arts since the pre-web era. A precursor of telepresence art, Kac has extended telematics to biology in something he has defined as «bio-telematics». He has established new and revolutionary art forms such as transgenic and biogenetic art. His work has captured the attention of the media throughout the world, forcing viewers to reflect upon current issues such as the cultural impact of biotechnology and changes in memory-related and spatial-temporal perceptions.
Before all of this, aside from an abundant production of experimentation with all genres related to the technology of communication such as the fax, Kac was a pioneer of holopoetry in the 1980s. Holopoetry is a kind of visual poetry that expresses the discontinuity of thought through a fragmentary perceptive participation as opposed to a linear one. Holopoems move through the space of a fourth dimension and come to life through light and the eye of the observer. Each spectator writes the content of the work at the moment in which he or she is following the texts in motion. Fluid signs can undergo a metamorphosis between a word and an abstract form or between a word and a scene or object. A transfiguration takes place that produces meanings which are found «in the middle» but cannot be replaced by verbal description.
In review, these first experiments of his meant tracing a certain interest in an expressive idiom which – on the one hand – was focused exclusively on poetry (holographic poetry, biogenic poetry, olfactory poetry) for a portion of his artistic quest, it also occupied a central role constantly throughout each of his projects. Genesis (1998-1999) comes to mind immediately since it presents a passage from the Bible that states man’s superiority over nature. The passage was translated into MORSE code via Google and then translated from Morse into ASCII. Finally it was converted into DNA resulting in the creation of an original bacterium. The possibility of modifying the bacterium through activation of an ultra-violet light via web marked the inevitable linguistic metamorphosis of the original passage. In Kac’s Natural History of Enigma (2003-2008), the artist’s DNA graft into a plant (a petunia) is what creates a particular structural and chromatic conformation to the flower’s petals.
Participation and a dialogic relationship are inserted into the linguistic discussion as fundamental components. The presence of the body is constant when it acts in a dematerialized form as in much of his telepresence art as well as in those works calling for a more radical involvement. This applies to his holopoetry as well where the content, images and colours change depending upon different points of observation and can be seen yet again (in a more distinct manner) in his revolutionary Pornograms, a performance of ‘body poetry’ created by Kac on Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro in the early 1980s, and his Aromapoetry (olfactory poetry) in which the composite unit (the poem) is generated by aromas and can only be read through a sensorial experience.
Therefore, language is the source of all of his work, in the way language is revealed in life and the way it is intertwined with technology. Life is written by the invisible language of DNA and technology intervenes – directly and indirectly – to rewrite the genetic sequence and contribute to the re-coding of written and spoken forms, synonyms for the so-called «social phenomenon». Code and language as leitmotifs for all of his work was brought at the forefront on occasion of the exhibition Eduardo Kac: Lagoglyphs, Biotopes and Transgenic Works (Oi Futuro,Rio de Janeiro 2010) where the works highlighted Kac’s artistic quest addressed to «encoding or transcoding of communication, communication that takes place on the cell level in all living organisms or between species; communication between sign systems that takes the form of transcoding and remix; encoded exchange between remote locations via networks that establish telematic connections and telepresence »(C.Paul).
This exhibition anticipated increasing interest in language in general and in this aspect of Kac’s artistic production – more specifically in his production where language is addressed esplicitally. Works of holopoetry were exhibited at the Anglia Ruskin Gallery at Cambridge University in 2012. His series of photographs documenting the performance of Pornograms were featured at Madrid’s Reina Sofia Museum in 2012 within Perder la forma humana. Una Imagen sìsmica de los años ochenta en América Latina. Works of digital poetry are currently on show at Oi Futuro Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro.
Eduardo Kac, Poesia Digital, Oi Futuro Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, 1982-89, 14.01.2014 – 2.03.2014
(1cover) Eduardo Kac, Self-Portrait, typewriting, 1981, 13.7×12.7 cm, private collection, Rio de Janeiro; (2) Eduardo Kac, Detail of installation with electronic signboard and two video monitors, 1984, Centro Cultural Candido Mendes, Rio de Janeiro; (3) Eduardo Kac, Genesis, 1998/99, edizione 1 di 2, collezione Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno (IVAM), Valencia, Spain.(4) Eduardo Kac, Encryption Stones, Laser–etched granite (diptych), 50 X 75cm, each, 2001, collection Richard Langdale (Columbus, OH); (5) Eduardo Kac, Natural History of the Enigma, transgenic flower with artist’s own DNA expressed in the red veins, 2003/2008. Collection Weisman Art Museum. Photo: Rik Sferra; (6) Eduardo Kac, Aromapoetry, 2011, artist’s book with box and slipcase, twelve custom-made aromas enmeshed in a nanolayer of mesoporous glass, letterpress text and graphics, 16 2ml vials with engraved titles, 297 mm x 210 mm x 50.8 mm), edition of 10, signed and numbered by the artist, photo courtesy Axel Heise.
 C. Paul, Life Encoded – The Communication Art of Eduardo Kac, critic text accompaning the show Eduardo Kac: Lagoglyphs, Biotopes and Transgenic Works, Oi Futuro Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, 2010