ELO Meetup and E-Lit Conference Guide for the 2007 MLA Conference

ELO Meetup at the MLA

As we have for the past several years, we are planning an informal meet-up for people affiliated with or interested in the Electronic Literature Organization at this year’s MLA conference. This year, we are planning on meeting at the “Big Bar” at the conference hotel, the Hyatt Regency, after the “Electronic Literature: Reading, Writing, Navigating” panel, from 5-6 PM on Friday, December 28th. We plan to converge on the bar and have a drink or two. Afterwards, for those who would like to continue the conversation and take advantage of the world’s best deep-dish pizza, we’re reserving some tables at a nearby restaurant. If you’re only planning on joining us for a drink, just show up at the Big Bar at 5PM. If you want in on the pizza, please send an email to Stefanie Boese (sboese2 at uic dot edu), indicating how many people plan to attend and your preference for sausage, spinach, or mixed vegetarian pizza. We’ll put the order in ahead, so we won’t have to wait long in the restaurant to eat. We will “go dutch,” splitting the bill evenly and paying in cash.

Electronic Literature & Related Panels at the MLA 2007

This year’s convention features several panels (“New Reading Interfaces,” “Electronic Literature: Reading, Writing, and Navigating,” and “Electronic Literature: After Afternoon”) that are explicitly focused on electronic literature, and several that are more tangentially related to the subject. Below is a mini conference guide focused on e-lit.Continue reading

Four Brief Observations on the Audiatur Festival

Below is a short piece I wrote on the Audiatur Festival which will be published (in Norwegian) in the next issue of the Scandinavian literary magazine Vagant.

1) The all-grown-up 20th Century avant-garde: Christian Bök kicked off the festival with a virtuoso performance of Kurt Schwitter’s “Ursonate” and later that same evening we heard a remix of the same work in Tomomi Adachi’s “Schwitter Variations.” Over the course of the festival, work by Hugo Ball, Tristan Tzara, and Marcel Duchamp was also performed and/or reinterpreted. The ghosts of the Dada were present. When Hugo Ball gave birth to sound poetry at the Cabaret Voltaire, he said that he did so to “renounce the language that journalism has abused and corrupted.” It struck me as a curious twist that the creatively destructive impulses of the Dada in the early 20th Century have become codified in the 21st Century to the point that they now form the basis of entire school of poetic practices. The Dadaist impulse to use sound to tear down a corrupted language is now the basis of a developed and sophisticated architecture of non-semantic poetics. Can avant-garde practices that are nearly hundred years old still be considered avant-garde? Does it matter? No matter what else sound poetry is it is no longer a revolution in progress, but rather one that has already occurred, an experiment that has developed a room of its own.

2) The (humor) generating capacity of constraints: Another 20th Century literary movement which has lived far beyond it originary moment in the 1960s, the French ensemble of writers and mathematicians, The Oulipo, was well-represented at Audiatur in the person of Jaques Robaud. While to readers unfamiliar with the Oulipo, a writing practice based on mathematical principles might seem to promise only a dry and cerebral outcome, the constraint-based writing presented at Audiatur demonstrated the ample capacity for humor and play within constraints. Robaud performed a backwards retelling of the creation story in the book of Genesis, in which God successively undoes the layers of his creation, and sees that that undoing is good. In his “Brev” piece, Robaud took us down a cycle in of infinite regression in which a reply that likely will never come is amply addressed. Leevi Lehto read a constrained (N+7) poem that was additionally tortured by the use of all the Finnish vowels. Christian Bök performed selections from Eunoia, probably the most famous recent work of constrained writing, in which we heard hilarious passages about food, writing, and sex, each composed of words using only one vowel. One of the pleasant surprises of the festival for me was not that constrained writing practices generated compelling and complex uses of language, but rather that they were almost universally uproarious. It seems constraints enable poets to shed their high serious gravitas and locate their inner comedians.

3) The tower of Babel might not be so bad after all: Audiatur was truly international with readings in Norwegian, English, Swedish, French, Japanese, Finnish, Russian, among others. Several poems were read, notably a couple of pieces by Caroline Bergvall, which were multilingual. My own petty epiphany was that I found it as engaging to listen to poetry in languages that I absolutely no comprehension of, such as Japanese, Finnish and Russian, as I did when the poems were read in English. The odd middle ground of languages I half-understand, French, Norwegian, and Swedish, was more challenging. The musicality, intonation, body language and other physical performance aspects of poems in languages that I did not understand fascinated me. That is to say, just as one can appreciate sound poetry, perhaps one can appreciate the sound of any poetry, provided the meaning of lines and individual words doesn’t get in the way.

4) The shadows of the digital: The one aspect of the festival I thought was somewhat disappointing was that electronic poetry (forms of poetry that make specific use of properties of the standalone or networked computer) per se was not represented in the mix. As evidenced by works included in the recent electronic literature collection (http://collection.eliterature.org) many of the conceptual threads we saw gathered at Audiatur, from a revivification of 20th Century avant-garde practices to conceptual writing to cross-cultural multilingualism, are also present in recent e-lit. I think it would be revelatory to see these practices presented alongside each other, perhaps at the next festival. While e-lit didn’t rear its head, the influence of digital culture could be seen in many of the pieces presented, such as the bits of video game sound effects in some of Bök’s Cyborg Opera pieces, Martin Larsen’s use of binary code, and Adachi’s theremin-enchanced readings of concrete poetry. Perhaps it no longer makes sense to separate digital culture from culture at large, as computers and networks to some extent pervade all aspects of literary culture.

Guest Lecture Monday: Samuel Weber on Walter Benjamin

Below is a flier (PDF) for Samuel Weber’s upcoming guest lecture on Monday, October 22nd from 14:15-16:00. The LLE Digital Culture Research group is cosponsoring Weber’s lecture along with the Institutt for Informasjons og Vittenskap.

Mandag 22. October. 1415-17
Seminarrom 548, plan 5.
Lauritz Meltzers hus, Fosswinkelgate 6

Samuel Weber: “Origins and relevance of Walter Benjamin’s Media Theory: From Reflexivity to ‘Sobriety’.”

Samuel Weber is professor at Northwestern University. He is a leading authority on the writings of Walter Benjamin. In his book “Mass Mediauras: Form,Technics, Media” (1996) Weber showed the continued importance of aura to the aesthetics of the media age. He has translated Benjamin, as well as Theodor Adorno and Jacques Derrida into English. In Bergen Weber will give a broad historical presentation and assessment of Benjamin’s media theory.

New Aesthetic Technologies Conference at UiB, October 17th

Below is a flier (PDF) for the New Aesthetic Technologies Conference, which will be held at the University of Bergen all day on Wednesday, October 17th, featuring guest speakers Bernard Stiegler and N. Katherine Hayles. The LLE Digital Culture Research group is cosponsoring N. Katherine Hayle’s visit along with the Institutt for Informasjons og Vittenskap. I’d particularly encourage anyone interested in Digital Culture to attend Hayle’s lecture “Electronic Literature and Distributed Cognition: What Happens to Literary Art When the Environment Starts to Think” in Lille auditorium, plan 2, Lauritz Meltzers hus, Fosswinkelgate 6 at 14.00.

N. Katherine Hayles, Distinguished Professor at UCLA, is one of the foremost scholars of the relationship between literature and science. She is the author of “Chaos Bound”, “How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature and Informatics”, “Writing Machines” and “My Mother Was a Computer: Digital Subjects and Literary Texts.” Her book, “How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature and Informatics”, won the Modern Language Association’s Rene Wellek Prize for the Best Book in Literary Theory for 1998-1999, and “Writing Machines” won the Media Ecology Association’s Suzanne Langer Award for Outstanding Scholarship.

Visionary Landscapes: Electronic Literature Organization 2008 Conference

The ELO has just announced a call for papers and works for a major electronic literature conference next May in Washington state. I have posted the announcement below. The conference website is not yet online, but will be available on eliterature.org in August.

Visionary Landscapes: Electronic Literature Organization 2008 Conference

Thursday, May 29-Sunday, June 1, 2008
Vancouver, Washington
Sponsored by Washington State University Vancouver & the Electronic Literature Organization
Dene Grigar & John Barber, Co-Chairs
Continue reading

Electronic Literature in the Chronicle of Higher Education

The Chronicle of Higher Education published a multimedia piece on electronic literature including an article (archive), a video piece, and a podcast interview with N. Katherine Hayles. Look for video link under the screenshot of the Electronic Literature Collection, and the audio interview off to the right. The Chronicle covered the Open Mouse/Open Mic reading at the ELO’s recent “Future of Electronic Literature” Symposium in College Park Maryland. Although the preoccupations of the reportage are a bit noob-ish (the video reporter mentions that the reading was plagued with technical difficulties when in fact it was a comparatively glitch-free evening in comparison to others, and many of the reporters’ questions were focused on the fact that there is not a massive popular audience for electronic literature rather than more interesting concerns — Who is the Stephen King of electronic literature? Well, ahem . . . King is a tough one but Robert Coover is sort of our Oprah . . .), it is nonetheless great see this esteemed weekly showing an interest in electronic lit, and Hayle’s audio interview is well worth the price of admission (particularly if you already subscribe to the Chronicle).

E-poetry 2007 Paris Cellfone Video Documentary Extravaganza

First of all, let me point in brief to networked_performance for Simon Biggs’ very good report on the E-poetry 2007 Festival in Paris. I agreed with him that Robert Simanowski’s close reading of “Listening Post” was probably the best of the academic papers presented during the conference. I was also a fan of Jim Carpenter’s presentation, in which he talked in a clear and pragmatic way about best practices for writing good code for epoetry, including distributing source code so that others can learn from it. Carpenter recently released a new version of his poetry engine, which will write some pretty good poems for you. There were many other papers and panel discussions as well, though this festival was primarily about the poetry. For four nights in a row, there were three to four hours of poetry readings. The E-Poetry scene is much more performance-oriented than other venues for electronic writing, and some of the performances were much more video art or performance (for example one work allegedly about the objectification of women included the performer disrobing on stage — providing the Festival with an early controversy, which all such gatherings require) than they were electronic writing as it is usually understood. That was fine with me. Overall, I appreciated my first experience of this very vibrant scene that exists between visual, conceptual, performance, computer, and writing. I also enjoyed the opportunity to meet many writers I have worked with and communicated with extensively online in person, in addition to spending time with old friends in one of the world’s great cities. Rather than a more formal report, I offer you this cellphone video extravaganza — short clips of 30 seconds to a minute of many readings from the festival. Forgive the quality — it was my phone used in dark crowded rooms filled with poets drinking in the poetry, after all.

A Brazilian epoet setting fire to her poems onstage, a la Jimi Hendrix.
Continue reading

Remarks from the UK Electronic Literature Collection Launch, et plus, deux reviews

At the request of Kate Pullinger, I have posted my remarks from last week’s UK launch of the Electronic Literature Collection.

Et plus, there are two new reviews of the ELC. From Montreal, there is a very thorough and intelligent review of the Collection by Patrick Ellis (in English and French) published in Le Magazine électronique du CIAC. From Austria, there is a very good review of the ELC and other works of electronic literature by Franz Thalimar in Der Standard (in German).

Po-Ex — Portuguese EPoetry

After a late night of epoetry readings in a smokefilled theater in Montmartre (more on that later) and the excess you’d expect, after getting lost in St. Denis (I think I wandered into one of the neighborhoods where they set cars on fire during the riots), I finally found my way to Auditorium X and have witnessed a few panels here at Paris 8. Just a quick note: Pedro Reis (of Fernando Pessoa University) gave a presentation on an upcoming publication, a collection of epoetry in Portuguese which will be published both online and on CD-ROM, the Po-Ex project.

ELC UK Launch Report

The Electronic Literature Collection UK Launch event I attended Thursday night in Leicester, England went very well. About 40 people turned up for the salon, including many of the former trAce regulars, interested local people, and people who took the train up from London. I gave a short introduction to the Collection, and Kate Pullinger, Jon Ingold, and Chris Joseph, read from the work. In his introduction, John Cayley discussed the context of electronic literature with the traditional literary world and the art world, showed a bit of Translation, and asked us to think about whether this form of literary art was literature or something else entirely. Jon Ingold gave what was possibly the best short introduction I have yet heard interactive fiction, in particular the brutality of the constraints involved in writing IF, before guiding the audience through a short reading of All Roads. In her presentation of her work with Chris Joseph on Inanimate Alice and other projects, Kate Pullinger raised questions about the economic models for electronic writing, and discussed how Inanimate Alice is in part an experiment in developing a commercial model for e-lit. She also discussed iStories, a project she is working on with Chris to develop a commercial toolset of electronic literature applications that would enable authors with little design or programming experience to more easily develop works in Flash. Donna Leishman also sent in a prepared text which a De Montfort Ph.D. student, Jess Laccetti, read to the crowd while Chris demonstrated a bit of Deviant: The Possession of Christian Shaw. We had a short but spirited panel discussion afterwards, discussing the differences between teaching elit as creative writing and teaching it as literature, economic models for electronic lit, and other things. One of the encouraging things about this event was that a number of readers who had never before encountered e-lit were in the audience, were clearly actively interested in what they saw and heard. I also met a Polish Ph.D. student who is currently living in London and writing his dissertation about e-lit, and overheard a couple of people from London say that they heard about the event at Grand Text Auto ; ). It was a very good evening, and I’m grateful to the Institute for Creative Technologies, particularly Chris Joseph for putting it together. Jess has also blogged the event, and posted short videos of Kate Pullinger’s and Jon Ingold’s readings.

Appropriation in Electronic Literature: MIT5 Talk

Here are the slides from my presentation at the MIT5 Conference. I was presenting on appropriation in electronic literature. The text of my talk (more notes than finished paper, though I’ll come back to this and post the finished paper to the MIT5 site when I get a chance) is below.

Appropriation in Electronic Literature and Digital Culture

A Spectrum of Appropriation

The Oxford English Dictionary cites two definitions of the word “appropriation” that are appropriate to the subject of our discussion here. The first and oldest definition of appropriation, dating back to 1393 is “The making of a thing private property, whether another’s or (as now commonly) one’s own; taking as one’s own or to one’s own use; concr. the thing so appropriated or taken possession of.” A more recent 2002 draft addition is “* Art (orig. U.S.). The practice or technique of reworking the images or styles contained in earlier works of art, esp. (in later use) in order to provoke critical re-evaluation of well-known pieces by presenting them in new contexts, or to challenge notions of individual creativity or authenticity in art.”

It’s important to note that while our main concern is those practices which fall under the latter definition, those practices may also include the former. We can think of the artistic practices of appropriation on a spectrum that ranges from coy modernist practices of referentiality in the work of writers such as TS Eliot, to the practice of recontextualizing and satirizing, such as Marcel Duchamp’s practice in the readymades or L.H.O.O.Q., to the practice of using one literary work as a basic material for another, as in Tom Philips A Humument, to the overt overwriting practices of Kathy Acker. At an extreme end of the spectrum of literary appropriation is plagiarism, simply taking someone else’s work and publishing it under your own name.

There is of course nothing new under the sun, and writers and artists have been making use of appropriation strategies since the ancient Greeks. Shakespeare borrowed both plot and occasionally specific lines from Raphael Holinshed’s Chronicles of England Scotland, and Ireland, and nearly every writer since Shakespeare has borrowed from his work, borrowing a plot, a situation, a line or several. The widespread use of appropriation is not nearly as surprising as the fact that a combination of the popular mythology of authorship and the dictates of contemporary copyright law have contributed to a popular illusion that most creative works are in any sense “original,” or that authorship is ever really a matter of a singular genius working in isolation from the texts and authors that have come before.

In our short talks and discussion today, we’ll be focusing on forms of appropriation in electronic literature and other textual digital artifacts that make use of appropriation strategies including reference, homage, overwriting, recontextualization, and outright thievery. We’ll be focusing on the ways that appropriation has affected our own work as writers in the networked digital environment. I’ll focus on the “softer” side of appropriation in electronic literature and digital art: those kinds of appropriation that use materials from other sources in order to recontextualize or comment on the originals in the creation of a new work. Nick will focus on “five-finger digital culture”: bolder and more extreme forms of appropriation in which artists explicitly take the words or material of others. Jill will discuss how appropriation shapes and structures the blogosphere. Following these short talks, we’ll have a more informal group discussion of the relationship between appropriation and collaboration and then welcome questions from the audience.

Before moving to examples of appropriation in electronic literature and in my own work, I’d like first to consider briefly the place of appropriation in network culture more generally.

The Appropriative Nature of the Networked Culture

While appropriation has always been a part of the processes of writing literature and making art more generally, with the growth of the internet and the rise of networked culture, concurrent with the inculcation of “postmodern” collage and pastiche into high and low culture, sampling, remixing, and mashup in music, film, and television, appropriation has become one of the principle modus operandi of culture in our day. The idea of hypertext itself is appropriative, resistant to the idea of any single written text or work of art existing in isolation. In conceptualizing a hypertext system, Ted Nelson wrote of the idea of literature that “Within bodies of writing, everywhere, there are linkages we tend not to see. The individual document, at hand, is what we deal with; we do not see the total linked collection of them all at once. But they are there, the documents not present as well as those that are, and the grand cat’s cradle among them all.” (NMR 447) Nelson conceived of the hypertext link as a device to make texts extend to those other texts from which they derived, and those that in turn were derived from them, as well as those that they were in conversation with. Nelson himself, in imagining his unrealized Xanadu hypertext system, clung quite deliberately to the notion of copyright – imagining a system in which every link, every borrowed and remixed piece of content would credit its owner with a micropayment. The hypertext system of the World Wide Web, however, has no similar system baked into it. While some wall their writing behind subscriptions or DRM apparatus that require users to pay to play, the general practice of the web is to simply publish information on the network, making it available to all free of charge. The question of who then owns the information, and the legal questions of what someone else may then do with it aside, the global hypertext network works so well only because we make these texts freely available, and because we feel free to link to any other text we want to.

Stewart Brand identified one of the central tensions of the network era at the first Hacker’s conference in 1984 when he said, “On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it’s so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other.” The question, of course, isn’t really what information wants, but what people want. If we consider what authors and artists might want, in comparison to what their audiences might want, we might expect that the creators want to get paid for their work, while the audiences want unfettered access to it. But the equation is not that simple. While artists like to eat, it is in the nature of the vocation to value appreciation more than remuneration. Given a choice between an audience of one hundred devoted readers and a hundred dollar bill, I think many writers would forego the cash. Furthermore, while everyone wants to enjoy the fruits of their labors, artists raised in a multimediated culture recognize that the without unfettered access to other cultural products, without the ability to reference, reuse, remix, and sample from the culture, their work becomes nearly impossible. Imagine, for instance, an extremely copyrighted world in which it would be impossible to reference a television show, or a song, or a brand of toothpaste in a novel without first asking permission and paying a fee. Because so much of the twenty-first century lifeworld is owned, copyrighted and trademarked, it is almost impossible to create art that reflects contemporary reality without appropriating from it.

In his wonderfully plagiarized/pastiched essay in the February 2007 issue of Harper’s “The Ecstasy of Influence,” Jonathan Letham notes that “Even as the law becomes more restrictive, technology is exposing those restrictions as bizarre and arbitrary.” The first generation raised on the network is furthermore wholeheartedly dismissing those restrictions. Few contemporary college students feel any qualms about downloading any music, television show, or movie they want to. Filesharing technology tends to stay ahead of industry attempts to police it. There is an enormous disjuncture between what is clearly becoming the most widely embraced cultural ethos and the evermore-restrictive copyright regime. There is no question in my mind who will lose this war, it’s already in the hands of a culture accustomed to borrowing, swapping, sharing, or from another perspective, stealing intellectual property. Yet piracy may be more benign than industry fearmongers make it out to be. The same college students who download gigabytes of music and movies illegally still purchase songs on iTunes, leave their dorm rooms to go to the movie theater, and pay exorbitant prices for tickets to see their favorite bands play live. The culture of downloaders might no longer be asking which aspects of their cultural consumption they need to pay for, but rather which they want to support. Having made the leap to rejecting contemporary copyright law altogether, many in this generation are also pushing the boundaries of fair use when it comes to using media artifacts owned by others in creating their own forms of expression.

I’m sure that most attending this conference are familiar with the Creative Commons movement, which attempts to find a middle ground between restrictive copyright regulations and the public domain, enabling creators to license their works in ways that permit that to be shared and reused to extents they determine. Since the birth of the movement, an enormous amount of textual, audio, and video content has been licensed in this fashion. Many artists are welcoming the opportunity to participate in a gift economy, and to contribute their own artwork as a material to be recontextualized, reused, and in a sense, recycled by others. While illegal appropriation of images, audio, and texts was a common practice in the early years of the Web, an increasing proportion of creative artists are making appropriation entirely permissible.
From my perspective as a writer and as a literary scholar, one of the most compelling questions about both these changes in attitude and practice with regard to copyright, and the changes in the nature of digital textuality more generally are what impact they will have on both the nature of literary artifacts, and on the culture in which they are produced and distributed. The emerging culture of electronic literature in particular provides some intriguing models of modes of appropriation. The field of electronic literature is largely one based on a gift economy, in which the majority of authors and journals publish and make their works freely available online. While to date, few works of electronic literature are published under the least restrictive Creative Commons licenses, which allow sampling and reuse, one can anticipate that in the future more authors will do so.

Different modes of appropriation are already an important part of the toolbox of electronic authors. I’ll provide a few examples of how electronic writers have made use of appropriation before discussing how appropriation has functioned in my own work.

Appropriation by Reference in Early Hypertext Fiction

Tearing a page from the modernist and postmodernist print authors who preceded them, referential appropriation was a common practice in the works of the authors of the first widely read hypertext fictions, published before the rise of the web in the Storypace platform. Michael Joyce’s afternoon, a story, published in 1987 by Eastgate systems, for example, included characters named (Lolly and Naussica) after characters in other classic literary works, and includes quotations from other literary works including Julio Cortazar’s Hopscotch and “Blow Up,” Frank R. Stockton’s “The Lady or the Tiger,” quotations from Tolstoy and samples from a variety of poets. In afternoon, Joyce’s mode of appropriation in his fragmented narrative was clearly derivative of familiar modernist referentiality – direct attributed quotes and coy references that Joyce used to signal the reader to particular themes in his work, or to personality traits of particular characters.

Another classic work of Storyspace hypertext, Shelley Jackson’s Patchwork Girl, published in 1995 by Eastgate Systems, made use of a variety of appropriation techniques in delivering a narrative that is to an extent itself about appropriation–specifically developing the theme of identity as a patchwork of appropriated parts. Patchwork Girl is an explicit response to and recontextualization of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Appropriation as a Method of Revitalizing “Classics” – Translation and Adaptation

Megan Sapnar’s Pushkin Translation
Sapnar and Ankerson’s Figure 5 Media Series
Barry Smylie’s Illiad
The Intruder by Natalie Bookchin

Appropriation as a Method of Harnessing Network Discourse

Many examples of art that use network traffic/metrics/etc. as basis for algorithmically generated art – for example http://www.cinemavolta.com/phaseframe.html
The Impermanence Agent

Appropriation and Collaboration

You and We
My Boyfriend Came Back from the War

Appropriation in My Work

The Unknown – Homage, Overwriting, Identity Appropriation, Network Effects, Meta-Appropriation.
Kind of Blue – Appropriation of characters, situation, and discourse model. Explicit appropriation.
Implementation — Physical appropriation of public spaces as writing media, direct appropriation of some other texts (for example US Iraq war propaganda leaflets).

(Process-Intensive) Literature

These are the slides from my 6-minute talk at the ELO Future of Electronic Literature Symposium, not the talk itself, but a rough outline of it. Maybe after I finish the overdue article I’m writing I’ll replace this text with some explanation of what I actually said, but I know William Wend was looking for these, and since he’s like one of the only people who ever comments on this blog I thought he’d appreciate it. The discussion that followed the panel presentations was very good.

ELO’s Future of Electronic Literature Symposium

Glow in the Dark AudienceThe Electronic Literature Organization’s Future of Electronic Literature Symposium last week at MITH at the University of Maryland, College Park, was a great event, bringing together e-lit writers, scholars, and an interested public together for an open mouse/open mic, a daylong symposium, and an ELO board meeting. Highlights included Katherine Hayle’s keynote (nicely summarized at jilltxt), considering the idea of “literary” vs. “literature” and providing very intelligent close readings of a variety of works of electronic literature, readings from new works by Stephanie Strickland, Rob Kendall, Nick Montfort, Deena Larsen, and others, as well as three very good panel discussions. The process-intensive panel (also very GTxA-intensive) looked at the idea of process from several different angles ranging from process-intensive collaboration, to natural language interface processing, to story generation. The international panel featured demonstrations of electronic literature from around the world, including works in Spanish, French, Catalan, and Nordic languages, and also highlighted the fact that electronic literature is a global movement — ELO isn’t the only organization concerned with this work, but has shared interests and opportunities for collaboration with organizations including nt2, Elinor, Hermeneia, and others. The Future of Electronic Literature panel was also an engaging discussion of how new technologies might effect electronic literature, and how new ways of organizing material and collaborating might effect the way that we shape the field. I hope my compatriots will fill in some of the details at Grand Text Auto. In the meantime, enjoy some photos of the goingson: flickr sets posted by me, Jason deVinney, and Laura Borras.

Conferences and Presentations 2007

I’ve got a busy conference calender this year. If the funding all comes through, this is what my agenda for the year looks like. I’m hoping to get several papers finished in the coming months, and to get my book proposal finished. Hopefully these conferences will both motivate me to finish several works in progress and serve as grist for the mill on the book project. We’re also planning on applying for funding to build a Scandinavian/European research network on electronic literature and to host a couple of conferences at the University of Bergen over the next few years, and I’m hoping that these trips will help to get the ball rolling on that.

April 2-5th — Raine Koskimaa has invited me to Jysvaskyla, Finland, to participate in two events, the “Soul of the Reader” seminar, where I’ll be giving a talk on “Changing Modes of Reading and Collective Authorship” on April 3rd, and a symposium on Digital Literature on April 4th. I’m looking forward to catching up with my Finnish friends and to meeting the other digital authors and scholars from all over Europe who are participating in the seminar. I’ve also been promised/threatened an authentic Finnish sauna experience.

April 25-27th — At the Media in Transition 5 Conference on creativity, ownershp, and collaboration in the digital age at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I’ll be on a panel with Nick Montfort and Jill Walker, and I’ll be presenting a paper on appropriation in electronic literature.

May 2-4th — I’ll be participating in the ELO’s Symposium on the Future of Electronic Literature at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities in College Park, Maryland. I’ll be on a panel on process-intensive literature along with Nick Montfort, Talan Memmott, Stephanie Strickland, Rob Kendall, and Noah Wardrip-Fruin. While it may be difficult to slip a word in edgewise with that crew, my intention is talk briefly about the writing-process side of process-intensivity, and the relationship between electronic literature and constrained writing practices of other kinds. I’ll also be participating the in the ELO board of directors meeting on the 4th.

May 17 — Electronic Literature Collection release event at the Institute of Creative Technologies at De Montfort University in Leicester, England. I’ll be joining Chris Joseph, Kate Pullinger, John Cayley, and John Ingold at an event showcasing and celebrating the Electronic Literature Collection, Volume One.

May 20-23 — I’m planning on attending the E-Poetry 2007 conference in Paris. While I have no plans to present here, I’m looking forward to catching up with e-lit friends, to building relationships with the Parisian e-lit crowd, and to seeing the latest work of the electronic poetry crown. Plus, Paris!

July 4-6 — At the Remediating Literature Conference at the University of Utrecht, Netherlands, I’ll be giving a talk on electronic literature in the context of 20th century avant-garde movements. This conference will include keynotes by Marie Laure Ryan, Samuel Weber, Katherine Hayles, and Jan Baetens.

September 15-18 — I’ll be at the 2007 Digital Arts and Culture Conference in Perth, Australia, presenting a paper titled “Dada Redux: Elements of Dadaist Practice in Contemporary Electronic Literature.”

October 1st? — Though the exact date of the opening isn’t down yet, along with the rest of Grand Text Auto, I’ll be exhibiting in a group show at The Beall Center for Art and Technology the University of California, Irvine. The opening will include a reading by The Unknown and a GTxA panel discussion. The Unknown and Implementation will both be exhibited in the show.

It should be a heck of a year, not even taking into account the main event, the wedding in June. I’m excited about all of it.

Academics Firing Guns

scholars with guns

From November 3rd to 4th, a group of brave academics gathered in Bergen, Norway for the Worlds of Warcraft seminar, a project that will result in a critical anthology of writing about the world’s most popular massively multiplayer online game, World of Warcraft, to be published by MIT Press in 2008. After two days of closely reading and discussing essays on topics ranging from representations of feminism, postcolonialism, and capitalist economies in World of Worldcraft, to character naming conventions, spatial representation, narrative conventions, deviant strategies, and roleplaying in the game, these scholars gathered for a group activity at a shooting range, where they were taught to fire shotguns at clay pigeons by a retired special forces combat sniper. Using the video camera in my N73 cellphone, I tried to document the event in the above short video.

Electronic Literature (a poem for autostart)

you procreate outsit nick you raffle
you boycott you irrigate
explore I befound you layer control
accelerate chuck
you photocopy
you green thought
you green shade you cram
you cram
you you intern
you cigar
you twitch
you liquidate
strangling the wind
I reproduce
I declaim you scribble
mary had to make a phone call
but she left the dogs
I can show a little behind the scenes
of what we did last night
what did I just plug into
computers only go down
as you might expect the first step
can you see it
you’ve seen it three layers
we turned off the lights
I calibrate
one side of my face
the same intrigue
take the resolution
sort of a simmmmmmum
a readin looks for a text file
a particular name
listening to the voice
sound environment
middle layer
anna simple
simple as you might
revision process
launch, choose, layer
I guess
that’s not right
you know why
let’s turn
this off
I can point this
I can run
my hand in front of this
people start sort of
playing pushing
editing the system
quick behind
the scenes
written in feed
nobody gets anything but mead
easier to add in other machines
my site works that way
holds and grabs that
composing poems
technique and algorithms
it posterizes
it is
not really
doing color
light and dark
particularly light
section shows
the lightest text
read through
we worked it down
to three
the darkest could be nothing
a blind screen
a chair
a microphone
a camera
hey try this
the time it
actually takes
it may take you
a while
death is nothing
compared to this
the distribution
this isn’t something
you compose
you can’t distribute this
how many people
would argue
that people read
the reading of
the reading
logos in space
I had to scrape the
the christmas
of the original
the binary
the margins
our interests
the neologisms happen
in the middle
we see the torment
a side (issue)
you create a language
dormant explore huge ambient effective
the disembodied
voices reading
the arm twists
the knees angled
the smell of dessert
apple pastry
naturally speaking
most people never make
a shale of heroes
never worn
shit ASCII statue is a good science
the number of folks is dwindling
I and I
crawled up to you
is there a video game
controller in the house
bring me tron
appropriations weren’t just
awful lot
the shading inbetween
give me you
our EL
blue one
let me
plug you in
acceleration, tron is in tron
not loading
not loading
sorry there’s a big X
plug in lady
em er el slash dee how dot com blue
it takes
a couple
seconds fuck
I can’t really see
the screen
there’s something enfolding
an installation a purple thing
is good
two players playing
a new text book
into vogue
we have
new text
get the entry high
playing reading piece of
footlong physics letters
about thirty recombined
all about issues of
transparency surveillance
how we see squishing bladdery
gravity processing components
softee prose nice stuff contributions
fruits of people
green man physical communication
devices netblessing
googling the eyes
click click prototyping
much nicer qualm model
I fucked this multiplayer shrapnel
you’ve made it
get new text
how do you shower gurglings
onto shadowversions
that don’t exist
gaussian blurge
this is the beginning of the beginning
for me
bizarre lighting underground lockbox
bending the apples
is nearly impossible
they snapped
laborious placing
not the most fun
abstract sound offensive
large structure with every single node
you get the same effect
from walking around it
the user uses program programmatically
a little bit more every time a little bit more
give me just a little more
there is a kind of twitching
around the mouse
skipping frames
the soldiers try desperately
single words flip by
you can read the words

Autostart — Thursday and Friday at Kelly Writers House

I’ll be there in spirit and via videoconference Friday. If you’re in the area, you should definitely attend.

: AUTOSTART – A Festival of Digital Literature
. Kelly Writers House, October 26 & 27
: Celebrating the Electronic Literature Collection, volume 1
: MACHINE series # Electronic Literature Organization
: http://writing.upenn.edu/wh/autostart.html
:=:#=:.#=::==.=….:…> Charles Bernstein
.#.=..=:#.=::===…:.:.> Jim Carpenter
::.=.==…::==:.=#:…#> Mary Flanagan
:#.:…:.:=#..=.=.=:==:> N. Katherine Hayles
:.=#:.===.:.:::.=..#..=> Daniel C. Howe
:=#:::=:.#:=.=.=….=..> Aya Karpinska
..:.==#==::#==:……:.> Aaron Levy
:#=.=..:..=.::=::#..==.> Marjorie Luesebrink
::=:=:…:=..#.==#.=.:.> Nick Montfort
…..:==::.=.#:.=.==#.:> Stuart Moulthrop
:=…=#:…:::=#===..:.> Jason Nelson
:#..=.==..:=.=..:#.=:::> Jena Osman
:..=.=.=.=#:=:#.:…=::> Bob Perelman
:::=..=:.===.:#:.=#….> Aaron A. Reed
:….:.:.===#=.:=:#=..:> Scott Rettberg
.==:.=…:..#.::=:.=.=#> Ron Silliman
.=…:=#.=:..=:..#.==::> Brian Kim Stefans
:#.::…=:.:.==.==:..#=> Stephanie Strickland
…=..=#=::=.=..:.:=:.#> Noah Wardrip-Fruin
: All events except the tour of Slought take place at the
: Kelly Writers House, 3805 Locust Walk, University of Pennsylvania,
. Philadelphia, PA
: 1:00-2:30 pm Discussion (Arts Cafe)
. A conversation about writing and literature in the digital
. age, featuring four prominent poets:
: > Charles Bernstein – University of Pennsylvania
: > Jena Osman – Temple University
: > Bob Perelman – University of Pennsylvania
: > Ron Silliman – Silliman’s Blog
: 2:30-5:30 pm The Open Machine Open House
: Electronic literature available for reading and discussion
: throughout the downstairs area, with guided tours at
. 3:30 pm & 4:30 pm by two Electronic Literature Collection,
: volume 1 edtitors:
: > Stephanie Strickland – New York City
: > Nick Montfort – University of Pennsylvania
: 4:00-5:30 pm Wet Digits Workshop
: An introductory workshop for those new to HTML and digital
: writing, led by the editors of The New Media Reader:
. > Noah Wardrip-Fruin – University of California, San Diego
: > Nick Montfort – University of Pennsylvania
: [[[ RSVP REQUIRED: contact wh@writing.upenn.edu ]]]
: 5:30-7:30 pm Reading (Arts Cafe)
: Presentations of electronic literature by Electronic
: Literature Collection, volume 1 contributors:
: > Mary Flanagan – Hunter College
: > Aya Karpinska – Brown University
: > Stuart Moulthrop – University of Baltimore
: > Aaron A. Reed – Salt Lake City
. > Noah Wardrip-Fruin – University of California, San Diego
: FRIDAY Oct 27
: 10:30-11:30 am Tour of Slought Foundation (4017 Walnut St)
. Slought Foundation broadly encourages new futures for
: contemporary life through public programs featuring
: international artists and theorists.
: > Aaron Levy – Slought Foundation Executive Director
. 1:00-4:00 pm Electronic Writing Jam (Room 202)
: A time to write collaboratively and to discuss forms,
: techniques, and technologies, hosted by:
: > Jim Carpenter – University of Pennsylvania
: Participants include readers and editors from AUTOSTART’s
: Thursday program as well as:
: > Daniel C. Howe – Brown University
: > Brian Kim Stefans – Richard Stockton College of New Jersey
: Participants by videoconference include two editors of
: the Electronic Literature Collection, volume 1:
. > N. Katherine Hayles – University of California, Los Angeles
: > Scott Rettberg – University of Bergen, Norway
: An editor of volume 2 and volume 1 contributor:
: > Marjorie Luesebrink – Irvine Valley College
: And volume 1 contributor:
. > Jason Nelson – Griffith University, Australia
: [[[ RSVP REQUIRED: contact wh@writing.upenn.edu ]]]

CFP for Two Upcoming Electronic Literature Conferences in Europe

Via GTxA, calls for papers and works for two upcoming electronic literature centered conferences in Europe: E-Poetry 2007 will be held from May 20-23 in Paris at the Université Paris VIII. Submissions of both papers and epoetry are being accepted. Full papers must be submitted by December 10, 2006. Re-Mediating Literature will be held July 4-6, 2007 at the University of Utrecht, Netherlands. Keynote speakers for that conference include Katherine Hayles, Marie-Laure Ryan, Samuel Weber, and Jan Baetens. 250 word abstracts for that conference are due November 6, 2006.