Crushing Culture-Centric Creative Confines

By Janine Chow:

“Welcome to the virtual home of Urayoán Noel– Puerto Rican poet, performer, professor, and polemicist.”

The awesome alliteration of this sentence strikes the cyber-traveler who chances upon the homepage of Professor Urayoán Noel, who visited Yale today and presented a talk to about 35 people on transnational forms of expression, entitled “Resisting Borders: Transnational Writers and/as Youtube Performers.”

Professor Noel shows a video called “Hoodoo Possession,” by Guillermo Gómez Peña, in HGS. (Chow/TYG).

Noel’s lecture was fast-paced, engaging, and punctuated by rapid outbursts of Spanish (not my first, second or third language), which rolled off his tongue with obvious relish. Recitation, it seems, was Noel’s forte. It occupied the heart of his lecture, as he spoke of a place where that transnational writers move “beyond discreet national canons to multicultural canons.” A place of “blurred borders” making for new creative performance. A place we know as cyberspace.

Noel gave particular attention to YouTube – the “you” part more than the “tube” part. Noel called the site’s title extremely significant. As a space for amateurs to upload their own videos, it stands as a free and open forum for artistic expression – and even facilitates the exchange of cross-cultural ideas through technology that transcends the mere extension of a performance.

“Voice exchange rates” video by Heriberto Yepez. (Courtesy of YouTube).

To prove this last point, Noel showed a clip of “voice exchange rates,” which showed a computer program used by Mexican border writer Heriberto Yepez. On screen, a highly pixelated skeletal face informed us that it acted as a voice for Yepez, and that “I have no accent but Heriberto’s is strong.”

“Thanks to my great and merciful powers, Heriberto’s voice now sounds like an American, white male voice.”

Janine Chow is a freshman in Jonathan Edwards College. Contact her at