Inveterate punster tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE prefers not to be called an artist. If he's making a film, you can refer to him as "sprocket scientist." If he's writing, don't accuse him of poems; he'd rather be known for "concrete essays" whose form reflects their content.
The longtime inhabitant of Pittsburgh's underground art community often combines those interests, but seldom moreso than in his latest work, Story of a Fructiferous Society. It's a feature-length DVD he describes as "an ecstatic kabbalist's eruption of language" -- an experiment combining word games, performance art, philology and sensory overload. Tent, who counts Fructiferous Society as both his seventh book and his 246th movie, emphasizes that he's not a traditional kabbalist; his work has little to do with the study of ancient Jewish texts. Rather, the project revolves around an Umberto Eco quote defining an "ecstatic" variety of kabbalism whose practitioners assume a broader relationship with language, right up to creating it themselves.
While a June 19 premiere screening of Fructiferous Society (named for a Renaissance-era German language association) will be in real time, Tent says the DVD is also made to be scrolled through like a book, facilitating absorption of its rapid montage of medieval medical engravings, alternative comics, clips from Werner Herzog's The Enigma of Kasper Hauer, and subtitles sampling the milennia-long search for an "Adamitic," or original language. The audio includes an hypnotic blend of human voices and electronic sounds; there's also audio and psychotropically doctored still images from a game Tent and some friends once played in Berlin, an attempt to construct an alternate language built on English.
"I'm kind of interested in this idea of languguage being infintitely malleable and not necessarily fixed in the form we usually use it in," he says. To coin a term, as he so often does, it's a "homonymphomaniac's orgy."