Randomness, Chance, & Art
I'm pretty proud of the essay and would love more people to have a chance to read it. The Google view of the chapter is missing a few pages. Please email me if you'd like a summary of the missing pages.
Technology-based Contemporary Art
This essay surveys the development and current state of electronic literature, from the popularity of hypertext fiction in the 1980's to the present, focusing primarily on hypertext fiction, network fiction, interactive fiction, locative narratives, installation pieces, "codework," generative art and the Flash poem. It also discusses the central critical issues raised by electronic literature, pointing out that there is significant overlap with the print tradition. At the same time, the essay argues that the practices, texts, procedures, and processual nature of electronic literature require new critical models and new ways of playing and interpreting the works. A final section discusses the Preservation, Archiving and Dissemination (PAD) initiative of the Electronic Literature Organization, including the Electronic Literature Collection Volume I and the two white papers that are companion pieces to this essay, "Acid Free Bits" and "Born Again Bits." Intended audiences include scholars, administrators, librarians, and funding administrators, respectively, who are new to electronic literature and for whom it is hoped this essay will serve as a useful introduction. Because this essay is the first systematic attempt to survey and summarize the fast-changing field of electronic literature, artists, designers, writers, critics, and other stakeholders may find it useful as an overview, with emphasis on recent creative and critical works.
The "Perpetual Storytelling Apparatus" is a drawing machine illustrating a never-ending story by the use of patent drawings.
The machine translates words of a text into patent drawings. Seven million patents -- linked by over 22 million references -- form the vocabulary. By using references to earlier patents, it is possible to find paths between arbitrary patents. They form a kind of subtext.
New visual connections and narrative layers emerge through the interweaving of the story with the depiction of technical developments.
Yeah, mm-hmm, it's true-- Gary Sullivan
big birds make
big doo! I got fire inside
gonna be agreessive, greasy aw yeah god
wanna DOOT! DOOT!
Their poems evolved from "bad" to "sort of great," Gardner says. "What we were really doing was throwing out rules that were constraining and ridiculous and weren't fitting anymore. Once we did that, we could do whatever we wanted—we weren't trying to ask: Is this magazine going to like this? Is this poet going to like this? Is my teacher going to like this? We just got rid of all of it and went nuts."[via kottke]
I SING the Body electric;And here it is translated into Greek, then Korean, and then back into English:
The armies of those I love engirth me, and I engirth them;
They will not let me off till I go with them, respond to them,
And discorrupt them, and charge them full with the charge of the Soul.
Was it doubted that those who corrupt their own bodies conceal themselves;
And if those who defile the living are as bad as they who defile the dead?
And if the body does not do as much as the Soul?
And if the body were not the Soul, what is the Soul?
I sing the body electric;
Who loved me and that their army engirth engirth;
I could smash them, they do not want to see
And, end with discorrupt and is responsible for the soul.
That's hide the bodies of suspected corruption;
Mutilate the dead and the people who live with a bad case, What is it to clean?
In some cases, the body and the soul does not?
If you do not have the soul and the body, soul What is it?
There is an analogous relationship between technological translations of data from one type to another with synaesthetic responses: the transcoding of electromagnetic telemetry by Dr. Donald Gurnett is one a striking and direct example of this type of sonification of non-sound data; however, it is also, in many ways, a non-significant transfer: the data in question are readings of wave-form encounters. The electromagnetic information produced from the Cassini mission, among others, has a long-recognized analogous relationship to sound, so the transfer from light waves to sound waves should come as no surpriseeach is a physical phenomenon whose transfer is less dramatic than the cross-modal sensory transfers familiar from synaesthesia.Read the rest of the essay...
A year later [in 1997], Mark Amerika's Grammatron transcended the fledgling genre by turning it into a multimedia extravaganza. This, I believe, was a crucial turning point. The brief alliance between literati and digerati was severed: groundbreaking electronic fiction would now be subsumed into the art world or relegated to the academic margins.Read Gallix's entire post (and responding comments).
My contention that e-literature has been gradually sidelined by the rise of the internet as a mass medium proves controversial.
In fact, Dene Grigar - who chaired the Electronic Literature Organization's latest international conference - was alone in thinking that I may have a point. Interestingly enough, she argues that American universities' digital humanities departments are partly to blame because of their emphasis on digitising traditional books at the expense of promoting creative electronic writing: "In reality, unless it is a department where Kate Hayles, Matt Kirschenbaum, and a handful of other scholars reside, Michael Joyce's work will not receive the attention that James Joyce's does". Nevertheless, she is convinced that e-lit remains a "viable art form". That it may be, but is it still writing?
Since its inception, e-lit has been struggling to free itself from its generic limitations and now seems to be on the verge of doing so. At long last. Although interesting, its early manifestations were hardly groundbreaking. Collaborative narratives are as old as literature itself. Generative poetry simply adds a technological twist to Tzara's hat trick, the surrealists' automatic writing or Burroughs' cut-ups. Interactive fiction has its roots in Cervantes and Sterne. Hypertexts seldom improve on gamebooks like the famous Choose Your Own Adventure series, let alone BS Johnson's infamous novel-in-a-box. Besides, if you really want to add sound and pictures to words, why not make a film?
So it seems to me that what some of us are missing, as we're anxiously anticipating the next big thing, is that it's right here, right now, under our noses and that we, in fact, are actually all participating in it. The systematic connecting of the dots across all of history, the uploading and tagging of the videos, the databases we're voluntarily building in social network sites, the knowledge base we're creating and constantly refining in Wikipedia, all of this is a necessary part of building the foundation for the coming new way of seeing and processing the world around us. We're collectively creating a massive content management system, but it is simply a tool, not the product. This multi-dimensional interconnectivity is merely the new "Perspectiva!"
The first lines of Tim Pratt's Tumbarumba story, "A Steadfast Tin Soldier":The first thing the dead man spoke to was big rock. Big rock wasn't so big in absolute terms, but it was the biggest rock in that little copse of pines, and understandably proud of its place. "Hello?" the dead man said, in the soundless way of unliving things. "Hello, hello?"
"Yes, hello," big rock said. "How nice to hear from you! Such a pleasure to have new company!"
Tim writes, "I've always been fascinated by stories where inanimate objects have secret lives, from the Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams to the Steadfast Tin Soldier by Hans Christian Anderson to Thomas Disch's Brave Little Toaster and the painted stick, can of beans, dessert spoon, and dirty sock from Skinny Legs and All by Tom Robbins. But one day it occurred to me: dead bodies are inanimate objects, too, aren't they? What if they had secret lives?"
And here are the first lines of Heather Shaw's story, "Little M@tch Girl":A new shipment of Tweak must have hit the Mission over the weekend. Em kept her eye on the woman in front of her who was shaking and staggering across the sidewalk. At a distance, the woman almost looked as if she were listening to some experimental music, her erratic movements accompanied by unheard notes, brilliantly interpreting the difficult tonalities. But as Em got closer, the absence of headphones and the glazed eyes shattered the illusion.
For those who don't know it, Heather and Tim are co-creators of Flytrap, the illustrious "little zine with teeth". Flytrap, in which Tim and Heather published my story "Night Waking", is issuing its last just in time to advertise Tumbarumba: it has been crowded out of the nest by another of their co-creations (and as much as I loved Flytrap, I am forced to approve).
Tim and Heather claim that it is entirely coincidence that their Tumbarumba stories are both Hans-Christian-Andersen-themed.
Next entry: Tumbarumba!
Hmm, well, I missed yesterday, and also it may be that I cannot exactly count. So: two today, and two tomorrow.
The first lines of John Phillip Olsen's Tumbarumba story, "Birthday":Neil wants to drive faster, but the troop transport truck in front slows him down. In the back of the truck, the young soldiers point and laugh at Neil and his passengers.
And that of Jeff Spock's, "Of Love and Mermaids":In the morning sun coming hard off the sea the two children are profiles, jumping and laughing on the sand. The seagulls circle above the palms, hunting unwary clams or unclaimed French fries.
We sit at a table on the hotel's terrace right by the edge of the sand, sipping coffee. My left hand lies atop her right, holding hands with the practiced indifference of people who have held the same hands for ten years or more. It is a comfort, a reflex; as re-affirming--and exciting--as pulling on an old pair of shoes or re-reading your favorite book.
I snagged these two (along with Stephen Gaskell's) at Villa Diodati 3 in Nice.
Tumbrumba ships tomorrow. I can't wait!
The first lines of David Schwartz's Tumbarumba story, "MonstroCities":SEND ONE
Not the NEEDLEBOARD races on Dillinger Four or the SCISSORBALL playoffs in the Solomon system; not the solar sled slaloms of the Andromeda Games or Cosmos Flanagan's run at the smartdisc passing record. Not even the mag-hot excitement of the Team Orgy Invitational is this week's biggest sporting event. No, MAXFANS, the most-wanted assignment this week here at the mothernet is the BIG BIG BIG BATTLE ROYALE of the Second Moon Fighting League, and who do you suppose is Sending from a Wormcruiser burrowing its way towards the Jocelyn system? Me, GEIGERTRON GOGOMEZ, the most beloved chronicler of sport since Tolkien scrawled The Iliad on a papyrus scroll.
Three more days!
The first lines of Greg van Eekhout's Tumbarumba story, "Temp":On Monday she wears Spandex and black leather. Unfortunately, her mask covers only her eyes, so after the bank robbers use spasm gas, she spends the rest of the morning with facial twitches. Later, her grappling gun comes apart in her hand, and crooks in a helicopter make off with a Michelangelo.
Four more days until your computer is infected with these intrusions.
The first lines of Kiini Ibura Salaam's Tumbarumba story, "Bio-Anger":
rattling. rattling snaking around in my ears. echoes of rattling erupting in my temples. I hear a pop like the little explosions of air that punctuate my ear canals when I'm nearing the ocean floor. reflex. by reflex, I try to turn toward the sound, but my head is tethered in one position. the rattling dies out with a slithering hiss. sharp parallel bands of light cut across the room. my head jerks back when light hits my eyes. behind me, somebody lets loose a low, raspy laugh.
Six more days.
I'm very excited about the upcoming release of Ben Rosenbaum and my Tumbarumba Firefox add-on project.
I really love this project! It's rare for my own work to surprise and delight me (usually that's an experience I try to give the viewer, but have to satisfy myself with just a sense of accomplishment), but this one does. I'm also finding that it effects the way I read text--and not just online.
Another teaser from Ben about our Tumbarumba project (to be released on Dec 1st):
The first lines of David Moles's Tumbarumba story, "Martian Dispatches":There was a map of Mars on the wall of my apartment in Helium, souvenir of a previous tenant. Some nights, coming back late to the city, I'd just lie there staring at it, too tired to do anything but take off my breather and kick the compressor into gear. The map had been printed on Earth, in London; maybe fifty years ago, maybe more, like that first edition of Burroughs I saw an AFP stringer carrying in the rocketport on Phobos. The ink on the map had faded and the paper had gone brittle and shiny after years in the dry Martian air, laying a kind of veil over the cities and canals it depicted. On it Mars was still divided into its old territories, names like Bantoom and Okar and Jahar, and down at the bottom under the word MARS the cartographer had printed BARSOOM.
When he was guest-blogging at Jeff Vandermeer's blog, David explained the trick for generating story ideas out of discrete elements. See if you can guess what X and Y are, such that X po Y = "Martian Dispatches".
Seven more days.
The first lines of Mary Anne Mohanraj's Tumbarumba story, "Sequins":"Sara?" Her husband stuck his head around the door of her studio. "Can you pick up Gaya from dance class this afternoon?"
"What?" Sarala blinked twice from behind her glasses, jarred from the image she'd held in her mind, the image that stubbornly refused to come out into the paint on her canvas. There was a body, she knew -- a body, and wings -- but more than that. Not as trite as a woman turning into a bird, seeking flight, freedom, escape. Along with the wings were powerful haunches, poised to leap, muscles tense and yearning. And claws, sharp and long; teeth, red at the tips. All caught at the moment of shifting, transformation, in that liminal space where every possibility hangs, glorious, waiting.
I asked Mary Anne for something in the spirit of her novel-in-stories, Bodies In Motion, "an interconnected narrative spanning two continents, two families, and four generations." "Sequins" picks up two of its minor characters. Mary Anne writes: "readers may enjoy tracing the sometimes hidden connections from one text to the other."
Eight more days until the intrusions begin frolicking...
The first lines of James Patrick Kelly's Tumbarumba story, "Painting the Air":"I'm sick of dusting her fans!" Jaya stepped out of her pants and tossed them at Hool, her djinn lover. They fluttered across the room and spun to rest under his bed. "Grinding pigment for that old crow's paint. Lugging bolts of silk from the market." She unstrung the laces of her shirt and let it fall from her shoulders. The damp, smoky air of the room seemed to cling to on her skin. It was a relief to be naked.
Nine more days.
I'm busily finishing up the Tumbarumba project, so my blogging may be a bit thin through the end of the month. Benjamin Rosenbaum (my collaborator on the project) is giving teasers about the project on his blog, so I'm going to just shamelessly crib from him:
The first lines of Haddayr Copley-Woods's Tumbarumba story, "Listen to Me":Does it really matter how I got here?
I got shot.
Haddayr writes:Dora Goss told me that her piece The Belt was an ugly story, so she wanted to tell it in the most beautiful way possible. I decided to write a beautiful story in the ugliest way possible.
Ten more days until you can get Tumbarumba'd; and then you'll be able to find Haddayr's story.
(It will help if you're lucky, intrepid, and perceptive....)
Ethan Ham and I have a new art project (cf. Anthroptic, or last one), which we will be rolling out on the first of December. It essentially takes, on one level, the form of an anthology of short stories -- at least, the work I've been doing on it, especially this last month, is essentially the work of editing an original anthology. On another level, it is a conceptual artwork, kind of a ubiquitous web installation... well, you'll see. It is called "Tumbarumba: a frolic of intrusions". More here soon on that topic.
Networked: a (networked_book) about (networked_art)
A Juried International Competition
Call for Proposals
Deadline: December 15, 2008
Five writers will be commissioned to develop chapters for a networked book about networked art. The chapters will be open for revision, commentary, and translation by online collaborators. Each commissioned writer will receive $3,000 (US).
Steve Dietz (Northern Lights, MN) :: Martha CC Gabriel (net artist, Brazil) :: Geert Lovink (Institute for Network Cultures, The Netherlands) :: Nick Montfort (Massachusetts Institute for Technology, MA) :: Anne Bray (LA Freewaves, LA) :: Sean Dockray (Telic Arts Exchange, LA) :: Jo-Anne Green (NRPA, MA) :: Eduardo Navas (newmediaFIX) :: Helen Thorington (NRPA, NY)
New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc. (NRPA) :: newmediaFIX :: LA Freewaves :: Telic Arts Exchange
"A networked book is an open book designed to be written, edited and read in a networked environment." - Institute for the Future of the Book
- To commission five chapters and publish them online using Wiki/blog technology to enable the public to revise, update, debate and translate them
- To present public forums to publicize the online book and solicit participation in its development.
:: To develop and publish an online, trans-disciplinary book that will address recent artistic developments made possible by computers, networks, and mobile connectivity
:::: To present the book in an open, participatory and social form
:::::: To document:
:::::::::: the collapse of the traditional distinction between artist, art work and audience
:::::::::: the shaping of creative practice that is open, contingent and participatory
:::::::::: the building of virtual communities which, in the words of Howard Rheingold, "becomes inevitable wherever computer mediated communications technology becomes available to people anywhere." (The Virtual Community, 1993)
We invite contributions that critically and creatively rethink how networked art is categorized, analyzed, legitimized -- and by whom -- as norms of authority, trust, authenticity and legitimacy evolve.
"Networked" proposes that a history or critique of interactive and/or participatory art must itself be interactive and/or participatory; that the technologies used to create a work suggest new forms a "book" might take.
We hope to spark a conversation between researchers and practitioners, curators, artists, and academics in the fields of art (music, sound, dance, e-lit, visual art), architecture, convergence, mapping, urbanism, games, sociology, visualization, cultural studies, and environmental studies.
In keeping with the transdisciplinary nature of the book, authors may consider, but are by no means limited to, themes such as:
:: cyberspace and identity
:: ubiquitous computing - surveillance, politics, and privacy
:: avatars, wearables, bioart and embodiment
:: collective storytelling, audio narratives and sound art
:: virtual worlds, mixed realities
:: locative media - place, mobility, augmented reality
:: massively multiplayer online games - networked play
:: responsive architecture and relational environments
:: social networks
:: nomadism, psychogeography, and the city
:: tactical media - performance, agency and activism
:: open source and crowdsourcing
:: Originality, copies, remix, mashup
All papers will be reviewed by our international committee.
Commissioned chapters, as well as contributions by collaborators, will be subject to the Creative Commons License Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0/Unported: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/
Once the chapters are published online, registered users will be able to revise, add to, and translate the existing texts. There is no end date for the project. When "Networked" has attracted substantive participation, we will consider publishing a print version of the project, which may itself be updated over time.
Submissions must be based on original, unpublished research. They should include:
1. Name, address, URL, email and one page CV of author.
2. A 1000 word proposal that should be accompanied by an abstract of no more than 250 words and a list of keywords to indicate the subject area of the chapter. [Each of the commissioned chapters will contain text, images, videos, and/or audio.]
3. Three networked writing samples. Samples may include a blog entry, a Wikipedia article the applicant worked on extensively, or samples from any other participatory project (send URLs).
Acceptable Submission Formats: Either a web page (send url in an email) or a single text document (send as an email attachment)
Final chapters must be no less than 5,000 words.
Submissions and Questions should be sent to: jo at turbulence dot org
Deadline for Proposals: December 15, 2008
Notification: January 31, 2009
Deadline for Complete Chapters: April 30, 2009
Online Publication Date: July 1, 2009
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Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.