The End(s) of Electronic Literature:
Hold the Light:
Chercher le texte: the 2013 Conference of the Electronic Literature Organization Brings Electronic Literature to the Public in Paris, September 23-28
E-Poetry 2013, Kingston University, London in June; Program Features Presentations, Exhibitions, Performances, and a Pedagogy Colloquium
With a Theme of "Avenues of Access", MLA2013 Includes an Exhibition of Electronic Literature and over 60 Digital Humanities Panels
Remediating the Social, Edinburgh, November 1-3, 2012
Critical Code Studies
Belgrade Resonate Festival
2012 MLA Convention to Feature Elit Panels and Exhibition
Dene Grigar, Lori Emerson,
Elit Well Represented
A resource for teachers and students, who are exploring the creation of electronic literature; for digital poets and writers, who are interested in how their colleagues approach their work; and for readers, who want to understand how electronic literature is created, the content | code | process project (formerly Authoring Software) is an ongoing collection of statements about how writers and artists create electronic literature.
February Featured Work
W illiam Harris (1926-2009) taught classics at Middlebury College in Vermont for thirty-two years. A sculptor, composer, and poet, when he retired in 1990, he worked with computers -- compiling an electronic Latin dictionary, Humanist's Latin Dictionary, that was published by Centaur, as well as a series of experimental electronic poems and image/text works.
"I want a poem to be meditated, not read through," he writes in his essay for content | code | process. "So by taking it off the page and making it a variable field of words, I think we are trying something new and something possibly very interesting."
"Thus," he observes,
"each poem is continually evolving out of its own internal history, which at times may give a very different appearance to the whole display on the screen. The first appearance will be even like any text. Next some lines will start to go in different directions, and some will have a different programmed speed while others re-speed themselves later. Later, as a surprise, groups of words may possibly arrange themselves to the right and left of the screen leaving the center empty, or they may all congregate centrally before starting to wander sideways. The interesting thing about this variability is that as the poem progresses, more of the text obeys the internal patterning generated by the running program, and less and less the initial pattern which I have set up."
A World War II Veteran, Harris, who had been battling cancer for several years, died at the age of 83 in February 2009.
To read his complete statement, visit William Harris: Hyper Poems
January Featured Work:
"Committed", in her words, "to using and abusing new last technologies", Adriene Jenik is an award-winning media artist, filmmaker, and educator. Currently Professor and Director of the School of Art at the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, part of Arizona State University, she has also been an active member of the Paper Tiger TV collective and Deep Dish TV.
She brings to her work -- which has been at the forefront of exploratory media and new media narrative and of public art using community-based wireless networks -- a knowledge of technology; an interest in creating new forms of literature, cinema, and performance; and a narrative sensibility that is sometimes community-based, sometimes addresses issues of gender and sexuality, and sometimes looks at the human connection in a technology-mediated world.
Adriene Jenik's narrative of the creation of MAUVE DESERT: A CD-ROM Translation, based on Nicole Brossard's le Désert Mauve, is a classic look at the process of creating a new media narrative. And -- because she has continued to update the work, releasing a DVD documentation a few years ago -- is also an example of how writers and artists work to keep their projects current in the face of changing platforms and applications.
"The beauty of words, the power of the desert, and the fears and fantasies of human evolution with technology are all still real -- and present and prescient in the work," she observes in her statement. ....more
January 9, 2016
From the editor:
W hile working on a paper on "Issues in Public Electronic Literature: From Ireland with Letters, issues of how creators in this field approach the audience have emerged -- as evidenced by the following recontextualized passages from the draft paper:
1. Ancient oral epics of sustained adventure, history, legend, and myth -- such as Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, the Ramayana, Beowulf, and The Cattle Raid of Cooley (the Táin Bó Cúailnge) -- were originally told long ago in palaces and at public gatherings. Contemporary electronic literature works potentially in this category include Uncle Roger, (in which it might be said that the fertile bull of the Táin becomes the chip that powers the personal computer revolution); Mark Amerika's Grammatron; Chindu Sreedharan's Epic Retold: Andrew Plotkin's Hoist Sail for the Heliopause and Home; Kate Pullinger and Chris Joseph/Kate Pullinger and Andy Campbell's Inanimate Alice; Joseph DeLappe's Reenactment of Mahatma Gandhi's Salt March to Dandi; and my From Ireland with Letters.
2. In the late middle ages, it is likely that monks carried manuscripts around and read from them in local communities, whose inhabitants could not read. As if they were PowerPoints, these manuscripts, displayed from the laps of prelates or mounted on lecterns, both attracted audiences and illustrated the moral messages that medieval manuscripts promoted -- bestiaries, for instance, with their extraordinary images of animals, whose fantastically illustrated lives promoted virtues.
Indeed, when manuscript-era technologies are documented, the comparison of manuscript readings in a medieval past that was by no means less technical and contemporary public electronic literature does not seem inappropriate. For instance in the opening sections to Introduction to Manuscript Studies  , the documented progressions from papyrus making technologies, to paper making technologies, to the preparation of parchment -- the evolving copying technologies, the changes in instructions for the creation of initials -- are potent ancient echoes of the progression of HTML standards, the emergence of CSS, and evolving image display affordances.
Today, the sharing of the output of developing technologies by the carrying of manuscripts from community to community, is echoed in Nick Montfort's carrying his laptop from poetry space to poetry space to poetry space -- screen-projecting his generative poetry code and reading the results aloud to the assembled code-curious audience.
3. And/or, if we are looking at the community aspects of serialized public literature, we might revisit Charles Olson's "Maximus of Gloucester, to You" (and similarly titled) letters and poems, which were addressed to Gloucester citizens via the editor and pages of the Gloucester Daily Times. 
An analogy is Jeff Nunokawa's continuing series of daily Facebook essays that (written in the early AM hours) appear every morning as public literature on his always welcoming Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/jeff.nunokawa
4. Writing about the structure of Irish Dance music, in Traditional Music in Ireland, Irish musician Tomás O'Canainn observes that there is a tendency to concentrate on a few notes of the available scale "and return to these again and again throughout the tune". But when played by an expert player, the result is "a tune which attains unity of purpose and a build-up of tension eminently satisfying.."  Created in this tradition, in From Ireland with Letters, themes are stated, submerge and return, linking the cantos to each other. Additionally, weaving through the composition process is a quixotic search for the mythical lost Irish sonata called up by Grattan Flood, in A History of Irish Music:  A writer's quest for the lost Irish sonata is not likely to result in the discovery of ancient scores. Rather, in this case, a textual obsession has contributed to the creation (or recreation) of a series of authoring systems.
5.The role of the audience in works based on collaborative and interactive strategies in contemporary computer-media works of art and literature continues important. To conclude an interview about audience participation in her work, I asked interactive art pioneer, Sonya Rapoport: "Lastly, how did audience participation change and enrich the artistic outcome?"
"There would have been no further artistic expression if the audience participation didn't occur," she replied.
1. Haug, H., "Private or Public Reading? The View of Contemporary Historians,"Paper presented at Reading the Middle Ages, UC Berkeley Program in Medieval Studies. March 25, 2011.
2. Hamburger, J.F., "Books in Books: Reflections on Reading and Writing in the Middle Ages," Houghton Library - Harvard College Library. 2010. Available at http://hcl.harvard.edu/ibraries/houghton/exhibits/books_in_books/introduction.cfm
3 Garcia, A., "United Through Time: The Oral Connection of Vernacular Texts in Arundel 292" Paper presented at Reading the Middle Ages, UC Berkeley Program in Medieval Studies. March 25, 2011.
4. Clemens, R and Graham, T., Introduction to Manuscript Studies. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2007.
5. Information about Nick Montfort's work is available from http://nickm.com
6. Olson, C., The Maximus Poems. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1983.
7. Flood, G., A History of Irish Music. Dublin: Browne and Nolan, 1906, 19-20.
8. O'Canainn, T., Traditional Music in Ireland. Cork, Ireland: Ossian Publications, 1978.
9. Malloy, J., The Process of Creating New Media: Interview with Sonya Rapoport. Authoring Software, 2009. Available from http://www.well.com/user/jmalloy/elit/rapoport.html
Emily Short is a freelance consultant in Interactive Fiction, (IF) narrative design, and social interaction modeling. She has worked with Telltale Games, ArenaNet, ngmoco :), and Failbetter Games among others, and -- building interactive iPad stories around AI (Artificial Intelligence) characters -- she was the creative director of the Versu project.
She has written over two dozen works of IF and is part of the design team for Inform 7, a tool for creating parser-based IF. She also has a PhD in Classical Studies, focusing on the role of the god Hermes in Athenian drama, and she writes occasionally on classical reception in video games.
Her works include the award-winning Galatea, a reworking of the Pygmalion myth; the interactive epistolary story First Draft of the Revolution; Counterfeit Monkey, a wordplay puzzle game that addresses issues of language and democracy; and Bronze, an immersive exploration of the relationship between "beauty" and the beast.
Emily Short's work has been included in the Electronic Literature Organization Collection and exhibited at the Library of Congress, among other venues. Her practice, she observes, "explores how systems of play can support rewarding forms of highly personal and human storytelling, how conversation, actions, and social gestures can be made into meaningful game mechanics in place of the mechanics of violence, and how authoring tools can be designed around the requirements of these new forms of art." Her blog can be found at http://emshort.wordpress.com
For content | code | process, she provides a statement about the making of Bronze. Remarkable in its layered, interactive disclosure of narrative, erotic undertones, innovative memory revelation, and immersive narrative build-up. Bronze began as a short work of Interactive Fiction in the "Speed-IF" genre and involved into a memorable reader experience that is approachable for both experienced and new readers of literary IF. Although Short notes that usually she creates diagrams by hand -- in a notebook next to her keyboard, (rather than from a diagramming program) -- in this statement, application-derived flow charts allow the reader to visualize the additive, carefully-reasoned process with which she interfaced Bronze.
Accompanied by 11 diagrams, her statement, a rare glimpse of the Interactive Fiction creative process as disclosed by a master in the field, is what the editor of content | code | process dreams of reading.
The reader of Making of Bronze is advised to play the work itself not only for an understanding of how Emily Short's careful build up of detail creates narrative depth but also for an understanding of the role that her writing plays in immersing the reader in an often solitary environment, where the reader must explore half of the rooms (there are over 50) before the beast appears. The reader's understanding of both the character of the beast and of his/her projection of personal story onto the narrative are integral to the effectiveness of this work. (And perhaps the use of the pronoun "he" in the statement is an invitation to explore gender in this dense retelling of "Beauty" and The Beast)
Bronze, which was created with Inform 7, is available for download at http://inform7.com/learn/eg/bronze/index.html A map of the castle rooms and the source text are also available at this location.
The work begins with these words:
"When the seventh day comes and it is time for you to return to the castle in the forest, your sisters cling to your sleeves.
'Don't go back,' they say, and 'When will we ever see you again?' But you imagine they will find consolation somewhere.
Your father hangs back, silent and moody. He has spent the week as far from you as possible, working until late at night. Now he speaks only to ask whether the Beast treated you 'properly.' Since he obviously has his own ideas about what must have taken place over the past few years, you do not reply beyond a shrug.
You breathe more easily once you're back in the forest, alone.
Even in your short absence, the castle has come to look strange to you again. When you came here first, you stood a long while on the drawbridge, unready to cross the moat, for fear of the spells that might bind you if you did. This time it is too late to worry about such things.
An iron-barred gate leads north."
Visit Emily Short's statement on Making of Bronze to find out more
C irculated in Italy and France, (and beyond) in the middle ages, theory composers' treatises, such as Guido d'Arrezzo's Micrologus, established a enduring framework for the composition of music. Contingently, pre-web composers of literary hypertext, such as Michael Joyce and Stuart Moulthrop, were working in parallel with the work of researchers and theorists, including Mark Bernstein, Jay Bolter, Jane Yellowlees Douglas, George Landow, and Cathy Marshall, some of whom, Jim Rosenberg, for instance, were/are themselves theory composers in that they not only wrote literary hypertext but also codified hypertext theory and practice.
But in the environment of a grand, accessible, ubiquitous hypertext platform, the World Wide Web, creative hypertext writing is increasingly approached intuitively (or with routine applications) without knowledge of hypertext lineage or theory. This is not necessarily problematic given that there are differences in web-based hypertext and classic pre-web literary hypertext. Nevertheless, the publication of Jim Rosenberg's Word Space Multiplicities, Openings, Andings clearly reminds us that there is no reason to assume that our understanding and use of hypertextual systems cannot be enriched.
Furthermore, at a time when in response to fluctuating authoring system availability, writers and students are exploring the creation of personal authoring systems, the papers in Word Space Multiplicities, Openings, Andings -- published in the Computing Literature series under the editorship of Sandy Baldwin, Director of the Center for Literary Computing at West Virginia University -- open new ways of considering both the composition of and the writer/reader experience of hypertext literature.
The opening sections of Word Space Multiplicities -- including Sandy Baldwin's "An Interview on Poetics", "A Conversation with Jim Rosenberg on the Interactive Art Conference on Arts Wire" and Rosenberg's Leonardo-published "Words on Works" riff: "The Word the Play Attaching at a Wide Interval" -- introduce his background, vision and composing process and set the stage for his formal papers. However, rather than review the opening "Essays and Interviews", in light of the mission of content | code | process, this review concentrates on the "Formal Papers" that comprise the second part of this slim but potent compendium.
As we approach the composition of contemporary works that reside on the World Wide Web, the pedestrian use of links becomes a meaning-laden process in the light of Word Space Multiplicities. For instance, in his chapter "Locus Looks at the Turing Play: Hypertextuality vs. Full Programmability", Rosenberg explores algorithmic behavior in hypertext nodes and links including user/algorithm relationships and behavioral versus structural points of view. Along the way, he explores creative practice, such as the use of guard fields to control access to linked contents, and addresses creative writer-specific utilization of algorithmic behavior:
"Classical hypertext algorithms have a clear identity: the user knows what is supposed to happen; indeed it would be taken as a sign of bad design if the user were not to know what is supposed to happen. But in the literary world, incomplete knowledge on the part of the reader has been an age-old artistic variable -- the novel derives much of its power precisely from the fact that the reader doesn't know what is going to happen. In generalized cybertexts it may be artistically important for the author not to spell out the identity of the algorithm. The author may or may not want the algorithm itself (e.g. source code) to be accessible; the author may or may not want the reader to know whether a particular phenomenon occurred as the result of an algorithm."
Interactive poetry pioneer Jim Rosenberg has been working with non-linear poetic forms since 1966. His visually elegant, word-dense, compressed writer/reader-revealed spatial hypertexts -- including Intergrams and The Barrier Frames and Diffractions Through -- were published by Eastgate in the 1990's.
In his words:
"Somewhere along about '86 or so, playing with bit-mapped graphics and a mouse, I realized that software provided me a way of doing something I had wanted to do very much from the very start: word clusters -- putting words literally on top of one another. When words are put on top of one another visually, or aurally, the result often is that they interfere with one another to the point of unintelligibility. With interactive software, the words can be put atop one another and then by using the mouse, the reader can reveal individual layers one at a time, so all the words are intelligible..." 
To completely experience his interactive work, it is important to run it, and much of his work is now available on his website at http://www.inframergence.org/jr/index.shtml
The formal papers that form the body of Word Space Multiplicities, such as "Hypertext in the Open Air" and "Locus Looks at the Turing Play", are core reading for writers of electronic literature. Even for those of us who have been working in the field for years and have read all these papers separately many times, the detail-intensive original thinking in Jim Rosenberg's papers is an extraordinary starting/restarting point for writing and programming with contemporary hypertext systems. For example focusing on the implementation of his Frame Stack Project  as actual working code, in "Hypertext in the Open Air: A Systemless Approach to Spatial Hypertext", Rosenberg deftly combines an exploration of his own authoring process with issues such as run-time behavior in conjunction with authoring, and relatedly, interactive authoring and the affordances of spatial (visually structured) hypertext.
In his primary paper, "The Structure of Hypertext Activity", Rosenberg establishes a vocabulary of acteme/episode/session, and in the process brilliantly clarifies the hypertext experience for both writer and reader. Complete review....
November Featured Statement:
C aitlin Fisher holds a Canada Research Chair in Digital Culture in the Department of Film at York University, Toronto. A co-founder of York's Future Cinema Lab, her research investigates the future of narrative through explorations of interactive storytelling and interactive cinema in Augmented Reality environments.
Her work is poetic, exploratory, interesting, and innovative, currently combining the development of authoring software with evocative literary constructs. She completed one of Canada's first born-digital hypertextual dissertations in 2000, and her hypermedia novella, These Waves of Girls, won the International Electronic Literature Award for Fiction in 2001. Most recently, her augmented reality poem, Andromeda, was co-awarded the 2008 International Cuidad de Vinaròs Prize for Electronic Literature in the digital poetry category.
Caitlin Fischer is the writer/director for Chez Moi, a part of Queerstory, a locative app tour of the political, cultural and social history of Toronto's queer community.
Other projects include:
Wallace Edwards Illustrations - Immersive Worlds. Investiagtions into immersive, creative storyworlds.
Breaking the Chains. AR Experience in partnership with the Harriet Tubman Institute at York University, Toronto, ON, 2012.
In her statement, Caitlin Fisher talks about the development of the Snapdragon authoring environment in her AR Lab at York University, the creation of Andromeda with Snapdragon, and the creation of the subsequent performative version, Andromeda2.
Visit Caitlin Fisher's statement to find out more.
October Featured Statement:
B ill Bly is the author of the ongoing hypertext We Descend. Volume 1 of We Descend was published by Eastgate in 1997. Volume 2 was exhibited at the Convention of the Modern Language Association in January 2013 and 2014. His works also include Wyrmes Mete, a hypertext chapbook of poems, and, with John McDaid, he was awarded the John Culkin Award for Outstanding Praxis in the Field of Media Ecology for their music CD, Media Ecology Unplugged.
As a teacher, a founding member of the Hypertext Writers Workshop, and the recorder for the legendary Cybermountain Colloquium, Bill Bly has also been active in working with colleagues and students in the creation of electronic literature. He taught dramatic literature and theatre history at New York University (NYU) for 20 years, until he became interested in hypertext, which he taught both at NYU and at Fordham University. He also ran the writing program at Wagner College in Staten Island. Currently, he teaches Speech Communication at Northampton Community College in Pennsylvania.
In a content | code | process statement about his densely layered work, We Descend, he sets forth the struggles and pleasures of creating hypertext. Beginning with reading Robert Coover's seminal article in New York Times Book Review, he describes how he ordered every title published by Eastgate; his Eureka moment with Stuart Moulthrop's Victory Garden while participating in Robert Kendall's online Hypertext Poetry & Fiction class at the New School; the creation of We Descend in Storyspace; and the creation of We Descend Volume 2 in Tinderbox.
"What started out in the early 1990s as a simple node-link hypertext has somehow turned into my life's work," Bly observes.
Visit Bill Bly's statement on We Descend to find out more.
"Expressive computing system developers can create digital stories, poems, or games in which aspects of content, such as theme, plot, emotional tone, metaphorical expression, or imagery, can vary improvisationally with user interaction...In addition to the new meanings generated in each new single session, new meanings emerge from the contrast between multiple readings or play sessions. These new meanings can be composed in response (discrete or continuous) to user interaction."" 
The creation of electronic literature, literary games, and content-intense interactive art involves a complex combining of content and code/authoring system, as well as a consideration of user interface and the ability to put it all together -- whether the writer's vision is to emphasize the constraints or to create a work where the constraints are not apparent to the reader. Print poets have thousands of years of lineage of the constraints of writing poetry and thus an inherent heightened ability to compose, whether intuitively or with deliberatively imposed constraints.
In contrast, although there is energy in this seemingly never-ending struggle, creators of new media must constantly rise above evolving technologies and look to the meaning of the work as a whole. To this end, for those who work on the fertile borders of content and code, Fox Harrell's Phantasmal Media is required reading.
In this fascinating book of shifting definitions, that in their very mutability illustrate an elusive concept, Harrell initially explores "phantasm", not only in new media but also in print, film, and music, pointing for instance to Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon, where "Meaning is constructed as a blend of the concrete knowledge that the event did take place and the shifting, conflicting reports given by the characters amid a cinematic forest scene dappled by shadow and light." 
Contingently, he illustrates the use of phantasm in new media with Chameleonia: Shadow Play, created in Harrell's Imagination, Computation, and Expression Laboratory (ICE Lab) at MIT. Inspired by W.E.B. Du Bois's definition of "double consciousness", Chameleonia responds to gestures and environment and in the process transforms a user's avatar, while at the same time the avatar's shadow mutates differently -- confronting the user with a virtual environment where an individual's self-conception is different from the way that individual is viewed by society.
As the book progresses through sections on "Subjective Computing", "Cultural Computing", and "Critical Computing", like the variety of works that are used to illustrate these concepts, the definition of "phantasm" is variable and elusive. But, to a certain extent, that is a point of Phantasmal Media, at least for this reader.
Featured Review from the Archives: Judith Donath, The Social Machine, Designs for Living Online, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2014
J udith Donath's The Social Machine sets forth a clear, elegant, and continually interesting approach to the design, interface, and pleasurable interaction of/with online social environments. With a focus on innovative interface and design, The Social Machine is also of interest to writers and artists, who are interested in issues of design and metaphor in the creation of interfaces for electronic literature and new media art.
In her words:
"The online world may evolve into an extraordinary new form of human society, where people make discoveries collectively, produce important works, and form friendships and other connections at a vastly unprecedented scale. But it is not there yet. Humans are fundamentally sensory and social beings: for the online world to achieve its promise, we need to design interfaces that work with how we see and respond to the world around us."
Judith Donath is a Harvard Berkman Faculty Fellow and former director of the MIT Media Lab's Sociable Media Group. She is also an artist, whose work exploring aspects of social media has been shown internationally. In her Preface to The Social Machine, she credits the MIT Architecture Machine Group, ("ArcMac", the precursor of the Media Lab, where she began her graduate studies) for the genesis of the remarkable approaches to the social media environment that she sets forth in this book. At ArcMac, Donath was "immersed in a culture devoted to inventing technologies to transform how people think, learn and communicate." And many of the ideas in this book, she observes, spring from the ArcMac culture "...that emphasized the sensory experience of the computer interface, that it should not be a cramped read-out, but a fully inhabitable environment"
The Social Machine utilizes Donath's work -- including work created in collaboration with students and colleagues -- to explore creative approaches to contemporary social media. For instance, Visual Who (1995) was inspired by a trip to Japan, where (when feeling isolated) she would run @who to see who was online at the lab back home.
To make @who more interesting, Donath eventually used data from the Lab mailing lists to construct an interactive, beautifully designed graphic interface that overlaps interests and identities and in the process creates a feeling of co-presence and community identity. Visual Who is thus an artist's interface for a community of friends and colleagues, and in this context elegantly mediates the experience: "In the middle of the day, the 'window' shimmered with people coming and going; late at night it was dark, with only the occasional user checking in."
Other works documented in The Social Machine expand the idea of social media and/or ask us to consider social media issues. For instance, in 2000, Donath, Karrie Karahalios, and Fernanda Viégas created the Visiphone, which -- with both abstract and meaningful components -- interfaced conversations among friends who wanted to communicate virtually while cooking and cleaning in the kitchen.
For instance, Christine Liu and Donath's UrbanHermes, (2006) which allowed users in public places to display words or images on Sharp Zaurus PDAs woven into unisex messenger bags -- and encouraged other users with similar gear to respond to or retransmit the images -- blurred the boundaries between the real and the virtual. In the process, UrbanHermes functioned as a performance art work and as a way of looking at the experience of social media in a different context, while at the same time, it asked questions about the dichotomy of expanded community and privacy.
W riter/programmer Andrew Plotkin is the author of a series of award-winning works of Interactive Fiction,(IF) including Shade, Spider and Web, and Hoist Sail for the Heliopause and Home. An integral member of the IF community, he also helps support the software tools that underlie contemporary IF.
Plotkin has worked on game design and game tools his entire life, though mostly outside of the game industry and academic worlds. With his recently released Hadean Lands, a complex Interactive Fiction that was four years in the making, he continues to pursue in his words "a (perhaps chimerical) career as a creator of narrative interaction on mobile platforms."
For content | code | process, he writes about The Dreamhold. A tutorial that is also a work of Interactive Fiction, The Dreamhold offers an excellent introduction to the experience of classic Interactive Fiction
In his words:
"I've tried to create a game which rewards many species of adventurer: the inexperienced newcomer, the puzzle-hurdler, the casual tourist, the meticulous explorer, the wild experimenter, the seeker after nuances and implications."
Winner, of the Best Use of Medium 2004 XYZZY Award, The Dreamhold presents the reader, as do most IFs, with prompts that require input in the form of traditional IF commands. The process -- mediated by software (the parser) that understands and responds to certain natural language instructions -- is continually interactive; the reader navigates the story by entering text phrases at the prompts; the story responds:
Andrew Plotkin: - The Dreamhold
T he Dreamhold was my attempt to address the traditional accessibility problems of parser-based interactive fiction. Its goals were (1) to act as a tutorial for the IF parser; (2) to provide an old-fashioned adventure experience of exploration and puzzle-solving in a broad world; (3) to be narratively interesting. ...In that order.
The first goal conditioned much of the game design. In order to provide a simple starting environment, I had the player begin in an empty white cell with only one object available. The player is cued to read a description of common IF commands, and then try the most common ones -- "LOOK", "EXAMINE", "GO". Once the player manages to leave the cell, they are rewarded with a change from a spare environment to a lavish one; this provides an opportunity to exercise curiosity and delve into details. The player quickly runs into some locked doors, which are the first formal puzzle of the game. (Although newcomers might consider the parser to be the first puzzle of any IF game...) Passing a locked door gives access to the bulk of the map, with a range of challenges.
I wanted to introduce the player to IF conventions, even those that were (even at the time) considered old-fashioned or unnecessarily troublesome. Thus The Dreamhold has darkness, a "SCORE" command, a set of colored tokens to collect, bendy passages, a maze, (of sorts) and the possibility of death. On the other hand, in-game hints are available, and the game cannot be made unwinnable. (allowing for the option of "UNDO" after death). The possibility of irreversible mistakes is demonstrated with a single object -- the apple -- which does not affect any of the game's puzzles or endings.
Visit Andrew Plotkin's content | code | process Statement on The Dreamhold to find out more.
J. R. Carpenter is a Canadian artist, performer, poet, novelist, new media writer and researcher,
based in South Devon, England. She began using the Internet as a medium for the creation and
dissemination of non-linear narratives in 1993.
Since that time, her work has been presented in
journals, festivals, and museums around the world, including the
Electronic Literature Collection, the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art;
Montréal Museum of Fine Arts; Istanbul Contemporary Art Museum; The Art Gallery, Tasmania;
The University of Maryland; Jyväskylä Art Museum, Finland; Palazzo delle arti Napoli in Naples,
Kipp Gallery, Indiana University of Pennsylvania; E-Poetry, Barcelona, Spain;
the Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol, England; and The Banff Centre, Canada.
C ommissioned by ELMCIP for the 2012 Remediating the Social exhibition in Edinburgh, The Broadside of a Yarn is a richly detailed 21st century locative broadside, in which a series of computer-generated narrative dialogues are accessed via QR codes.
One generator "is composed entirely of dialogue from Joseph Conrad's The Secret Sharer. Another contains lines of dialogue from Shakespeare's The Tempest," she explains in her Authoring Software statement. "Details from many a high sea story have been netted by this net-worked work. The combinatorial powers of computer-generated narrative conflate and confabulate characters, facts, and forms of narrative accounts of fantastical islands, impossible pilots, and voyages into the unknown undertaken over the past 2340 years."
Existing not only as a series of gallery mounted "map squares" of images found and/or created, in Edinburgh but also as a live many-voiced performance, The Broadside of a Yarn was/is in her words "a pervasive performative wander through a sea of sailors' yarns".
Visit J. R. Carpenter's statement on The Broadside of a Yarn to find out more.
The End(s) of Electronic Literature:
ELO2015 Hybridity Performances and Screenings: Simon Biggs, Garth Paine, and Sue Hawksley. Software development by Hadi Mehrpouya. Crosstalk, Bundanon Trust, New South Wales, Australia, 2013; Arizona State University, 2014; Bergen Norway, 2015. Crosstalk uses real-time multi-modal sensing and interaction systems to create a mediated social space inhabited by two dancers, whose descriptions of each other are transformed into text objects that both respond to the actions of the dancers and combine, recombine, and interact with other texts.
H osted by the Electronic Literature Research Group at the University of Bergen and addressing issues of the future of electronic literature, The End(s) of Electronic Literature, the 2015 Electronic Literature Organization Conference (ELO2015) will convene in Bergen, Norway from August 4-7.
Among the series of workshops that lead into the conference is Philippe Bootz and Johnathan Baillehace's two-part workshop, which -- in this year that the ELO conference is held in Europe -- will focus on the history and documentation of French Digital Poetry.
On Wednesday, August 5, Conference Chair Scott Rettberg will officially open the conference. Introduced/moderated by Rettberg and Program Chair Jill Walker Rettberg, the opening Keynote, "End over End", will take the form of a debate between Espen Aarseth, principal researcher at the Center for Computer Games Research, IT University of Copenhagen, and Stuart Moulthrop, pioneer electronic literature writer and Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
From an "Archiving Roundtable" to "Feminist Readings / Data Visualisation Poetics", sessions will expand on the conference theme of the "end(s) of electronic literature. "...the field of electronic literature has reached a state of maturity at which it is reasonable to think about our end(s) in a broad and connective sense", Scott Rettberg explains. "It is a useful point to consider our aesthetic purposes, our relations to other disciplines, our relations to social and political reality, our situation within a global networked culture, and what impact our research and practice will have on future generations."
Beginning with Stephanie Strickland's "Six Questions for Born-Digital Archivists", the Archiving Roundtable will also include Marjorie C. Luesebrink, Rui Torres, Leonardo Flores, and the ELC3 Collective -- Flores, Stephanie Boluk, Jacob Garbe, and Anastasia Salter -- in a discussion of issues in archiving electronic literature.
Feminist Readings / Data Visualisation Poetics will focus on memory and female voices with Maria Angel and Anna Gibbs presenting on "Digitising Ariadne's Thread: Feminism, Excryption, and the Unfolding of Memory in Digital spaces" and Maria Goicoechea and Laura Sanchez presenting on "Female voices in Hispanic Digital Literature"
"This is the most international conference we have ever had", Scott Rettberg emphasizes. "There are going to be five focused exhibitions, and a vast array of approaches to the subject in both a scholarly and artistic sense. We encouraged people to push at the edges and they have really responded."
It's hard to choose a highlight, he continues, "It is going to have many. And I hope it will push us all to think beyond the novelty of the device or technique and back into thinking about how these techniques can be usefully applied to vital and challenging subjects." For instance, in his words:
"...having people like Samantha Gorman, who is developing narrative projects that merge hypertext, touch interfaces, and cinematic vernacular, people like José Aburto from Peru, a terrific visually inventive digital poet whom probably many in the field have not yet heard of, a show which examines e-literature in Russia, Poland and Portugal, another focused on digital literature for children, and one which is focused on electronic literature in political contexts. We have works ranging from Sharon Daniel's Inside the Distance, an interactive documentary about mediation between victims and assailants, to Jason Nelson's poetry robot."
"The University of Bergen's Digital Culture Program has been at the forefront of facilitating and promoting electronic literature through projects like Electronic Literature as a Model of Creativity and Innovation in Practice (ELMCIP) and the Anthology of European Electronic Literature," ELO President Dene Grigar observes. "Faculty member Scott Rettberg is one of the founders of the Electronic Literature Organization and continues to serve on its Board; members of the faculty -- Jill Walker Rettberg and Patricia Tomaszek -- are noted scholars of/in the field. The Fulbright Scholarship offered by the program has built the careers of many researchers and artists and has raised the prestige of electronic literature in Europe, the U.S. and beyond. What better reasons can there be for hosting the ELO 2015 in Bergen, besides the fact that it is among the most beautiful cities in the world?"
Under the aegis of Artistic Chair: Roderick Coover, Five exhibitions of electronic literature will be open to the public, beginning on August4. Both Sharon Daniel's and Jason Nelson's work will be in the Interventions exhibition, which in the Conference's words "will feature works that engage with contemporary cultural discourse and political reality, challenging audiences to consider digital artifacts and practices that reflect and intervene in matters of the environment, social justice, and our relation to the habitus." Interventions also includes Donna Leishman's Front, a "fictitious cautionary tale, set within the world of social media", as well as works by David Clark, Andreas Zingerle and Linda Kronman, Chris Rodley and Andrew Burrell, and Damon Baker.
The End(s)of Electronic Literature Festival Exhibition
T he UiB Humanities Library will host the central Festival Exhibition, as well as a small historical exhibition showing the emergence of electronic literature and kiosk computers showing the forthcoming ELC3 collection. The exhibition will be open to the general public from August 4 until August 28 -- with the following works:
Megan Heyward and Michael Finucan:
Festival Exhibition Images: Maria Mencía's Gateway to the World is "an exploration of data visualisation poetics by using open data from the maritime database to visualise the routes of the vessels arriving to and from the Port of Hamburg. As the vessels move they act as writing tools to reveal a string of text creating calligramatic forms of information pulled from Wikipedia entries about the name of the vessels."
Festival Exhibition Images: Kathi Inman Berens, Eva Pfitzenmaier, Kerstin Juhlin and Alicia Cohen: Dark Restoration: Kalfarlien 18
"...RestOration: Kalfarlien 18 is an e-lit ecopoem. Whether it's the faint singing of a woman in the shower, or the functional e-waste, or the satisfying click of an actual Kalfarlien 18 doorknob unlocking pieces of the tablet game -- RestOration juxtaposes the care economy of a home with the dizzying pace and alarming toxicity of technologic obsolescence."
Paper Sessions and Roundtables
S peakers (not listed elsewhere in this section) in a wide variety of panels and artists' talks, including Research and Practice in Electronic Poetry in Ireland, Narrative Theory, and Interventions: Resistance and Protest are -- among many others -- Sandy Baldwin, Katarzyna Bazar, Ranjit Bhatnagar, Sandra Bettencourt, Serge Bouchardon, Mez Breeze, John Cayley, Jeremy Douglass, Markku Eskelinen, Xiana Sotelo Garcia, Aud Gjersdal, Jhave, Laura Sánchez Gómez, Nicola Harwood, Davin Heckman, Jon Hoem, Zuzana Husarova, Bimbola Idowu-Faith, Anne Karhio, Linda Kronman, Jason Edward Lewis, Michael J. Maguire, Piotr Marecki, Judy Malloy, Mark Marino, Lello Masucci, Talan Memmott, María José Sánchez Montes, Nick Montfort, Jeneen Naji, Kwabena Opoku-Agyemang, Mariusz Pisarski, Agnieszka Przybyszewska, Kate Pullinger, Eric Dean Rasmussen, Mark Sample, Patricia Tomaszek, Eman Younis, Christine Wilks, Rob Wittig, and Mia Zamora.
A complete list of speakers is on the Schedule at http://elo2015.sched.org/directory/speakers
And a brief sampling of Paper Sessions and Roundtables appears below.
Veli-Matti Karhulahti: Rhematics and the Literariness of Electronic Literature
H ybrid Books: Augmented Artist's Books, Touch Literature and Interactivity
Lucile Haute, Alexandra Saemmer, Aurelie Herbet, Emeline Brulé and Nolwen Trehondart: Digital artists books and augmented fictions: a new field in digital literature?
I ntermediality and Electronic Literature
"This roundtable discussion, led by both established and emerging e-lit scholars and artists, will explore the idea of electronic literature as an intermedial practice, looking at the topic from a wide range of forms including literature, performance, sound, computation, visual art, and physical computing. Drawing upon artistic work they have produced or studied, each panelist will provide a five-minute statement that touches on qualities related to intermediality like hybridity, syncretism, and collaboration. Following this series of brief presentations, the panelists, then, encourage engagement in a wider conversation with the audience."
John Barber, Faculty, CMDC | Washington State University Vancouver
Performances, Readings, and Screenings
A series of performances, readings, performative readings, and screenings will punctuate the conference. They include: Judd Morrissey's Augmented Reality poem Kjell Theøry, John Cayley: To be with you, Donna Leishman and Steve Gibson: Borderline, Judy Malloy's generative reading from The Not Yet Named Jig and Chris Funkhouser and Louis Wells presenting Funkhouser and Sonny Rae Tempest's code opera Shy Nag.
Performances and Readings: Dene Grigar and Greg Philbrook, Curlew; (Shown in image: Dene Grigar and Gianluigi Maria Masucci, OLE .01 International Festival of Electronic Literature, Naples, 2014)
Curlew is "a spoken word performance augmented with video, music, and sound triggered by gestures made by the artist". The narrative centers on an isolated fisherman on an island off the Gulf Coast and his actions to save the island's shoreland in the face of a destructive storm.
Performances and Readings: Judy Malloy: The Not Yet Named Jig
Performances and Readings: Libretto: Chris Funkhouser and Sonny Rae Tempest; Director: Louis Wells: Shy nag, A Digital Opera
While co-teaching an online course at UnderAcademy College, Chris Funkhouser and Sonny Rae Tempest co-authored Shy nag by "applying a series of intensive digital processes to a piece of hexadecimal code (derived from a .jpg image)."
"...In Shy nag, Microsoft Word and numerous other programs and processing techniques have a non-trivial presence in the composition. Software serves as a type of interlocutor that sustains the writers' experimental objective -- a time-consuming process blends creative and uncreative. The exercise also contains destructive qualities as the code migrates to language, image, and sound -- although the authors prefer foregrounding its multi-level transformative properties."
Shy nag premiere, Rutgers-Newark, February 2015. Photo: Rodney Reyes
In Bergen, Shy nag will be presented as a staged reading, directed by Louis Wells, Faculty, Theatre Arts and Technology, the New Jersey Institute of Technology.(NJIT) The cast will consist of Maria Aladren, Sandy Baldwin, Kathi Inman Berens, Natalia Fedorova, Aleatory Funkhouser, Chris Funkhouser, Fluorish Klink, Jeneen Naji, Álvaro Seiça, and Louis Wells.
The Electronic Literature Research Group at the University of Bergen
ELO2015 is hosted by the Electronic Literature Research Group at the University of Bergen in Norway. In answer to the question -- What is the significance for ELO2015 of this meeting place? -- Conference Chair Scott Rettberg responded:
S cott Rettberg: "Many in our field know that from the University of Bergen we led the HERA-funded ELMCIP project and developed the ELMCIP Electronic Literature Knowledge Base, but the history of electronic literature in Bergen stretches back far further than that. One of the foundational research monographs in the field, Espen Aarseth's Cybertext: Perspectives in Ergodic Literature, was written here in 1995 as Aarseth's Ph.D. dissertation, and during the late 1990s and early 2000s, the series of Digital Arts and Culture conferences including the 1998 and 2000 iterations were essential to launching international research communities in electronic literature, games studies, and digital culture. After he left for Denmark, Jill Walker Rettberg succeeded Aarseth as a leading electronic literature and digital textuality researcher, both in her research and through initiatives such as ELINOR (Electronic Literature in the Nordic Coun-tries), and many of us have followed since. Electronic literature has been a part of the curriculum of our program in digital culture continuously since the 1990s, and our students continue to both research and to create works of electronic literature. In the past decade, we have hosted a number of international research seminars on specific aspects of electronic literature and digital art, and we have worked with the Bergen Public Library and other local cultural institutions to organize public readings, performances, and exhibitions dedicated to the subject -- making ours a lively scene that extends beyond the confines of the university on the hill into the cultural life of the city."
Authoring Software: You have both been involved with electronic literature for many years, can you summarize your work in this field and its relevance to ELO2015?
Scott Rettberg: We are both deeply committed to this field. Jill and I have both been involved since the late 1990s. As a graduate student, I proposed the ELO and served as its first executive director and have been involved in the organization ever since. I write and research electronic literature. Jill started out in electronic literature and has revisited the topic even as she has moved more expansively into many areas of digital textuality.
Authoring Software: As we look to the future of electronic literature, do you have any further thoughts about the place of electronic literature in contemporary creative endeavor?
Scott Rettberg: I have always been pretty comfortable with conceiving of electronic literature as an avant-garde experimental literature practice. I've never really expected it to become a mass-culture phenomena. The Dada weren't. The Surrealists weren't. Postmodern American literature wasn't. Poetry really isn't. And I think that's fine. But now we have this strange moment, when the practices of electronic literature may actually be pairing well with practices in mainstream culture. More than ever before in my experience. So that is a time to take stock and really consider and reflect. What happens to electronic literature after it is avant-garde? That's what this conference is about.
Hybridity, Decentering, and Kid E-lit
In addition to the Festival Exhibition and the Interventions exhibition, three other exhibitions will be staged at EL02015. They are Hybridity, Kids E-Lit, and Decentering.
Hybridity features works "that push at the edges of literature and other forms, and that appeal to other aspects of the sensorium than those we typically associate with reading", such as John Murray and Anastasia Salter's From Beyond Hybridity - Ouija Board Project, Mez Breeze and Andy Campbell's #Carnivast; and works by Philippe Bootz and Nicolas Bauffe; Angus Forbes; Joellyn Rock and Alison Aune; Caitlin Fisher and Tony Vieira; Julie Vulcan and Ashley Scott; and Claire Donato, Álvaro Seiça, and Luc Dall'Armellina.
Decentering highlights innovations in digital textuality in Eastern Europe and in the Southern hemisphere -- with work and research by Nicola Harwood, Fred Wah, Jin Zhang, Bessie Wapp, Simon Lysander Overstall, Tomoyo Ihaya, Phillip Djwa, Thomas Loh, Hiromoto Ida and Patrice Leung; José Aburto; Francisco Marinho and Alckmar Santos; Jakub Jagiello and Laura Lech; Natalia Fedorova; and Álvaro Seiça, and Piotr Marecki.
Organized in collaboration with Bergen Public Library and funded by Nordic Cultural Point, the Kid E-Lit exhibition showcases experimental electronic literature for children and teenagers in conjunction with Nordic children's and young adult's book apps for tablets. Works of electronic literature for children include Mark Marino and The Marino Family: Mrs. Wobbles and The Tangerine House; and Aleatory Funkhouser's My Own Alphabet, plus works by Emilie Barbier; Ana Abril Hernández; Leja Hocevar; Luis Javier Pisonero and Mario Azna; Pierre Fourny, Guillaume Jacquemin, Serge Bouchardon, Luc Dall'Armellina and Hélène Caubel; Jorge Andrés Gómez, Baptiste Ingrand, Florine Morestin; and LeAnn Erickson's They were asked to serve, and math was their secret weapon. The Computer Wore Heels iPad app.
And -- from Åshild Kanstad Johnsen's Kubbe lager skyggeteater to Timo Parvela & Jussi Kaakinen's Taro at the Center of the Earth -- works from the Nordic countries illustrate how iPads and other tablet platforms are housing multimodal and interactive stories for children and teenagers.
Awards and a Banquet
ELO President Dene Grigar reports that:
"This is the second year for the ELO to give out The Robert Coover Award for a Work of Electronic Literature and The N. Katherine Hayles Award for Criticism of Electronic Literature. The Coover Award drew 17 submissions from the U.S., the UK, Taiwan, Canada, Ireland, Australia, and Korea. The Jury consisted of Brian Kim Stefans. Jason Edward Lewis, and Jim Andrews. The Hayles Award drew 11 submissions from the U.S., the UK, Italy, and Portugal. The Jury consisted of Maria Mencia, Manuel Portela, and Will Luers. Rob Wittig directed both Juries. Each 1st place award comes with a $1000 cash prize, membership for one year at the Associate Level to the ELO, and a plaque commemorating the award; 2nd place comes with membership for one year at the Associate Level to the ELO and a plaque commemorating the award. A total of five works were short-listed."
n Friday evening, August 7,
Complete information about ELO2015 is available in the resources listed below.
Megan Heyward is an Australian digital media writer, artist and educator, whose media practice operates at the intersection of storytelling and new technologies. She works across multiple media and formats, using video, audio, text and image elements to shape innovative projects for electronic hypertext, interactive media, mobile, locative media, augmented reality, eliterature and other emerging digital media forms.
Her interactive narrative work of day, of night (2002) published by Eastgate Systems, has been widely exhibited, including Australia, Europe, Japan, Canada and the US. Her locative narrative and AR app Notes for Walking (2013) was exhibited in the Sydney Festival 2013, attracting audiences of over 5,000 people to Middle Head National Park, Sydney to explore the site mediated by their mobile phones. Her latest work, The Secret Language of Desire, was supported by the Australia Council for the Arts.
For Authoring Software, she describes the creation of The Secret Language of Desire, an interactive narrative app for iPads, which ultimately grew to include not only text but also images, animation, and sound.
"As a text-foregrounded work, The Secret Language of Desire draws deliberately on the history and interface of the codex whilst experimenting with its disruption via haptic interactions which interrupt, surprise and, ideally, extend and transform the reading experience," she observes.
Megan Heyward teaches media arts at the University of Technology, Sydney. Her statement not only describes the process and software that she used to create The Secret Language of Desire but also suggests reasons to create work for the iPad.
Megan Heyward: The Joy of Text: Writing and Developing The Secret Language of Desire
The Secret Language of Desire is an interactive narrative app designed specifically to take advantage of the haptic and multimodal capacities of iPads. An interactive erotica app / digital pillow book, it that traces a woman's journey from everyday life into a landscape of sensuality and desire. The Secret Language of Desire merges 27 ultra-short chapters with interactive elements; in an environment where objects can be touched, triggering animations and sound, and images can be rubbed off, revealing hidden contents. The Secret Language of Desire will be exhibited at ELO2015: The End(s) of Electronic Literature, August 4-8 in Bergen Norway and is also available for iPads directly from the AppStore. This article discusses the genesis and development of the project.
Colorado native Deena Larsen has been a central voice in the writing and understanding of new media literature.
Her seminal hypertext, Marble Springs, about the lives of women in a Colorado mining town, was published by Eastgate Systems in 1993. Her work has also been published by the Iowa Review Web; Drunken Boat; Cauldron and Net; Riding the Meridian; Poems that Go; The Blue Moon Review; New River. and The Electronic Literature Collection. Her current work is the Rose Project which in her words "ascribes meaning to letters, adding nuances to language."
For many years, Deena Larsen hosted forums and workshops for the eliterature community. She currently hosts the website Fundamentals : Rhetorical Devices for Electronic Literature, and her archives, The Deena Larsen Collection, are housed at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities at the University of Maryland.
Authoring Software encourages writers to document different approaches to choices and to the utilization of authoring systems and platforms. In her statement about Marble Springs 3.0, Deena Larsen presents a glimpse into the process she utilized to migrate the narrative framework for the hyperfictional Gold rush town, Marble Springs -- from HyperCard to the 2011- Wikidot version, Marble Springs 3.0. ......more about Marble Springs 3.0
May 2015: Featured Work:
Writer and code artist Judd Morrissey is an Assistant Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Writing, Art and Technology Studies, and Performance, where he creates electronic literature, performance art, and site-specific installations.
Morrissey's work -- which includes My Name Is Captain, Captain (in collaboration with Lori Talley, Eastgate Systems, 2002) has been exhibited and published Internationally including Visionary Landscapes: the 2008 Electronic Literature Organization Conference, Vancouver, WA; The Iowa Review Web; Eastgate; E-Poetry 2005, London; Cerisy 2004, Normandy, France; Computers and Writing 2004; Language and Encoding, University of Buffalo; p0es1s: International Exhibition of Digital Poetry, Germany; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Rockford Art Museum; Chicago Cultural Center; Mobius, Boston, MA; and the DeCordova Museum. In 2006, Morrissey was a recipient of a Creative Capital/Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers' Grant.
For Authoring Software, Judd Morrissey writes about the creation of The Last Performance [dot org], a poetic "evolving collaborative space" in which an array of generative text -- collaboratively composed in thousands of "lenses" -- assembles and reassembles in an elegant dome architecture structure. In his words:
"The Last Performance is a constraint-based collaborative writing, archiving and text-visualization project responding to the theme of lastness in relation to architectural forms, acts of building, a final performance, and the interruption (that becomes the promise) of community."
April 2015 Featured Work:
365 instances of the letter "A"
A pril, 2015 begins with a replay of South American artist Regina Pinto's AlphaAlpha, for which she uses a variety of graphic art, animation, video, website design, and sound software applications to create a dynamic work of computer-mediated visual poetry. In this screen-viewed medium, where text can be encountered in a visual manner, AlphaAlpha focuses attention on the representation of the first letter of the alphabet, resulting in a work of collaborative literary art that, with its evocative connotations of "first letter", also imagines and illustrates how words and text can be represented on the Internet.
The AlphaAlpha project is a classic collaborative work in that participants were invited to create within the context of an interesting idea, and the producer incorporated their work in a social media-redolent framework, that, in this case, includes texts and visual implementations of the letter "A". The project both alludes to the vibrant South American tradition of visual poetry and calls attention to how text can be represented on the World wide Web. Participants were from all over the world including Joesér Alvarez; (Brazil) Isabel Aranda; (Chile) Muriel Frega; (Argentina) Satu Kaikkonen; (Finland) Maja Kalogera (Croatia) Yuko Otomo; (USA) Isabel Saij; (France) Reiner Strasser (Germany) and Araceli Zúñiga. (Mexico) among many others.... ......more about AlphaAlpha
Featured Authoring Software Statement
R esearcher, writer and artist, D. Fox Harrell is Associate Professor of Digital Media in the Comparative Media Studies Program and Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT. Exploring the relationship between imaginative cognition and computation, Harrell's work focuses on the development of computer-media-narrative and authoring software that use elements of interactivity, social critique, cross-cultural narrative; cognitive semantics; gaming; and the social aspects of user-interface design.
His seminal GRIOT System utilizes code to create/generate interactive and significant "polymorphic" poems -- such as The Girl with Skin of Haints and Seraphs and Walking Blues Changes Undersea. GRIOT (named for West African storytellers who often incorporate improvisation in their performances) uses a combination of knowledge engineering, interactivity, cultural identity, and Joseph Goguen's mathematical approach to meaning representation called algebraic semiotics. Harrell has also worked with Kenny Chow to create a "new form of concrete polymorphic poetry inspired by Japanese renku poetry, iconicity of Chinese character forms, and generative models from contemporary art."
Visit Fox Harrell's statement on the Griot System to find out more.
Featured Authoring Software Statement
A pioneer of net-linked performance, Antoinette LaFarge is the founder of the seminal online performance group The Plaintext Players. Her work -- which encompasses virtual and mixed realities, computer-mediated performance, net-based improvisation, online role-playing games, avatar performance, nonlinear narrative, fictive art, and geofiction -- has been exhibited at the Beall Center for Art + Technology; the Laguna Art Museum; Location One; the Sandra Gering Gallery; Xavier Lopez Gallery, London; Side Street Live, the New York International Fringe Festival; the Venice Biennale; and the European Media Arts Festival, among many others.
She is the creator/co-creator of a continuing series of mixed-reality performance works, and her works in collaboration with Robert Allen include The Roman Forum; Playing the Rapture; Galileo in America; and Demotic, the work described in this Authoring Software statement.
Antoinette LaFarge is Professor of Digital Media at the University of California, Irvine. She is also an Associate of the Institute of Cultural Inquiry, where she has worked on projects including The AIDS Bottle Project and The AIDS Chronicles.
In her statement for Authoring Software, she observes that "All of my mixed-reality performance works use different authoring strategies and tools. In general, however, all share a focus on multi-authoring, on improvisation in various forms, and on a fluid relationship between creation of text and creation of other forms, including software, vocals, sound, video, and movement. Perhaps the best introduction to my authorial practices is a 2004/2006 mixed-reality performance work entitled Demotic".
Visit Antoinette LaFarge 's Authoring Software page to find out more.
Featured Authoring Software Statement, January, 2015
M ark C. Marino is a new media writer whose work has appeared in the James Joyce Quarterly, volume 2 of the Electronic Literature Collection, The Iowa Review Web, Hypperhiz, The New River Journal, and SpringGun Press. Marino's current work also includes netprovs (often with Rob Wittig) and electronic literature for children, created with his family.
A noted collaborative scholar in the digital humanities, he teaches writing at the University of Southern California, where he directs the Humanities and Critical Code Studies Lab, including the Critical Code Studies Working Groups. Additionally, in 2011, he taught Game Studies and Critical Code Studies as a Fulbright Specialist at the University of Bergen. He is also Director of Communication for the Electronic Literature Organization.
Marino contributes two commentaries to Authoring Software. The first is Marginalia in the Library of Babel, which uses Diigo to create a fascinating work of literary information art. "It starts with Borges. It always starts with Borges, the god of our hyperlinked souls," Marginalia begins. "I fight the solitude of the vertigo he has imagined for me, and yet I may have finally found a way out of the labyrinth."
T he second is a show of hands, a work of electronic literature that Marino has also adapted into a stage production. a show of hands, is written with the adaptive hypertext system Literatronica, (aka Literatronic) created by Juan B. Guiterrez. In Marino's words, a show of hands "takes advantage of the system by offering the re-shuffleable lives of a Mexican American family, with storylines chopped up telenovela-style. Yet, their fates pull them inevitably toward the May 1 Immigration Reform marches.". Visit Mark Marino's Authoring Software page to find out more.
Pinkerton Road Studio Creates 20th Anniversary Edition of Jane Jensen's Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers
In 1993, Sierra On-Line published the graphic interactive fiction Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers, written, designed, and directed by Jane Jensen and named 1994 Adventure Game of the Year by Computer Gaming World. Against a backdrop of New Orleans, that was inspired by the novels of Anne Rice, Jensen's narrative of voodoo culture and bookstore owner/writer Gabriel Knight's quest to uncover his family's past became a classic in the creation of well-developed narrative in games and introduced users to a cast of characters that included memorable women, such Gabriel's grandmother and the Japanese American, Grace Nakimura. In the original version, Gabriel Knight was voiced by actor Tim Curry.
This year, recreating a classic of graphic interactive fiction, Pinkerton Road Studio and Phoenix Online Studios have released a 20th anniversary edition of Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers. The October 2014 version utilizes high-res 3D graphics, new puzzles and scenes, and a remastered soundtrack by composer Robert Holmes, as well as behind-the-scenes information and interviews that detail the creation of the visuals and storyboards.
Jane Jensen, who went to work for Sierra Online in the early 1990's, has a degree in Computer Science from Anderson University in Indiana and worked as a systems programmer for Hewlett-Packard before she followed her vision of creating games at Sierra Online. She is the author of the adventure game Gray Matter, (2010) as well as the Gabriel Knight Series and the Philip K. Dick Award-nominated print book, Dante's Equation.
In 2012 -- with a vision of creating community supported narrative games for tablet and desktop computers -- she and her husband, musician and composer Robert Holmes, founded Pinkerton Road Studio in a Pennsylvania farmhouse. Among the studio's first projects was Moebius: Empire Rising, a Kickstarted adventure game released for PC and Mac in April 2014.
Founded by Ken Williams, an IBM programmer and by his wife, game designer Roberta Williams (one of the first, if not the first women to co-head a computer gaming company), the original publisher of Gabriel Knight, California-based Sierra Online, began in 1979 as On-Line Systems. With titles including King's Quest, Sierra Online (now owned by Activision Publishing) was an influential pioneer in the creation of graphic adventure games -- replacing text commands with a tool bar of clickable icons that allowed walking, getting, examining and other traditional Interactive Fiction actions.
Phoenix Online Studios is an award-winning game development studio with a mission of creating compelling games in which narrative and character development are primary.
For more information visit Pinkerton Road's Web page at http://pinkertonroad.com
Information about Phoenix Online Studios is available at http://www.POStudios.com
Featured Authoring Software Statement, November, 2014
Megan Heyward is a digital media artist who works at the intersection of narrative and new technologies. Her electronic literature projects -- I Am A Singer, of day, of night -- have been widely exhibited in Australia and internationally, including the Sydney Opera House; the Adelaide Festival; the Centre Pompidou; ISEA02; (Japan) Festival of Cinema and New Media; (Canada) Electrofringe; (Australia) Contact Zones; (USA) Videobrasil; Viper; (Switzerland), Stuttgarter Filmwinter; and ELO2012. Of day, of night was published by Eastgate Systems in 2005.
A Senior Lecturer in Media Arts and Production at the University of Technology, Sydney, Australia, Megan Heyward is currently working with narrative and locative technologies and the development of electronic literature for tablet devices.
For Authoring Software she describes the creation of her evocative new media narrative of day, of night.
"Conceived as an experimental digital narrative, of day, of night interweaves video, text, graphic and audio elements in a hybrid storytelling environment that moves between literary, cinematic and game-like approaches," she writes to begin her statement.
And she notes that "The work sought to be an enveloping, responsive, multimodal narrative -- one which responded to touch, made sounds, one where text would shimmer and undulate; as well as a work that made space, from a narrative perspective, for ideas of uncertainty, indecision, wandering and chance."
Visit Megan Heyward's statement on of day, of night to find out more.
Featured Authoring Software Statement:
Dan Waber is a poet, playwright, publisher, and multimedia artist, whose work is predominantly language-based.
Waber's works of electronic literature include Strings, presented in Flash and published in the Electronic Literature Collection v. 1; the collaborative hypertext, that reminds me; and the brief, dense, fluxuating poems in his elegant collection cantoos.
a kiss, an innovative use of the freeware hypertext application Twine, was published in 2013 in Drunken Boat 17.
In his statement for Authoring Software, Waber explains that "You begin at the center of all things, the moment of a kiss and are able to move outward from that moment in several directions. Each choice leads to more choices, the further away you move, until at the outermost limit all possible choices lead back to the moment of a kiss."
Visit Dan Waber's Authoring Software statement on a kiss to find out more.
Silvia Stoyanova and Ben Johnston
Figure 1.Paragraph View from the Zibaldone Hypertext Research Platform Website
S ilvia Stoyanova holds a PhD in Italian literature from Columbia University with a dissertation on Giacomo Leopardi. She has taught Italian language, culture, cinema and literature at Columbia University and at Princeton University, and is presently a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Digital Humanities at Universität Trier in Germany.
She is interested in exploiting the relational dimension offered by digital technologies for the dynamic mediation of modern fragmentary narratives, such as the intellectual notebook, and for the construction of knowledge sites. Since 2004 Silvia Stoyanova has been experimenting in private with hypertextual argumentative writing within the limits of Microsoft Word, i.e. with fonts, colors, diagrams, WordArt animations, hyperlinks, etc. She is optimistic that the current academic interest in technological approaches to the humanities will cultivate a fertile environment for scholarly hypertext.
B en Johnston is manager of Princeton University's Humanities Resource Center, founding member of the University's Digital Humanities Initiative, and Senior Instructional Technologist at Princeton's Educational Technologies Center. Johnston has worked with faculty from across the University to develop and maintain technology projects for teaching and research, and has taken a lead role in the development of several projects focusing on electronic databases for textual analysis and transcription such as the Princeton University Sefer Hasidim Database, (PUSHD) the Nationalism, Ethnicity and Self-Determination Index, (NESDi) and the Princeton University Geniza Project.
F or Authoring Software, Silvia Stoyanova and Ben Johnston discuss the creation of their Zibaldone Hypertext Research Platform, which migrates Italian poet and scholar Giacomo Leopardi's extraordinary hypertext precursor, the Zibaldone -- created in the 19th century over the course of 15 years -- to a web-based platform.
"In its larger scope", Stoyanova notes, "the project studies the structure of this fragmentary text and its author's techniques for its semantic organization as a model for adopting hypertext to mediate the phenomenological method and relativistic thought procedure at work in migrating similar research note collections into argumentative narrative."
Based on Leopardi's hypertextual organization of his notebook, Stoyanova and Johnston's innovative project also serves as a resource for potential uses of large databases to create hypertext literature.
Silvia Stoyanova and Ben Johnston: The Zibaldone Hypertext Research Platform
T he Zibaldone Hypertext Research Platform (which will be implemented in the summer of 2014 at http://zibaldone.princeton.edu ) is a digital reconstruction of the hypertextual design inherent in the research notebook (Zibaldone) of the acclaimed nineteenth century Italian poet and scholar Giacomo Leopardi. The project was undertaken at Princeton University in the Fall of 2010 by Dr. Silvia Stoyanova (French and Italian) and Ben Johnston. (Humanities Resource Center) Consultant: Dr. Clifford Wulfman, Coordinator of Library Digital Initiatives. The Zibaldone Hypertext Research Platform is currently being developed in collaboration with the Trier Center for Digital Humanities in Germany.
In its larger scope, the project studies the structure of this fragmentary text and its author's techniques for its semantic organization as a model for adopting hypertext to mediate the phenomenological method and relativistic thought procedure at work in migrating similar research note collections into argumentative narrative. This objective indeed recalls the original conception of hypertext by Ted Nelson as a medium for capturing the many possible trajectories in the course of developing an argument, instead of sacrificing them because of the limitations of the two-dimensional space of paper. It was precisely in an attempt to overcome the same limitations that Leopardi interspersed his notebook with thousands of cross-references, linking its apparently fragmented passages, creating the blueprint of a virtual hypertext.  [Figure 1]
Although its title and to some extent its contents reflect the humanist compiling of commonplace books, (in which readers and scholars extracted quotations from their readings) the Zibaldone is more akin to the modern intellectual diary and further exhibits features of the present-day academic blog, such as a date stamp and thematic tags for each entry. While Leopardi was noting down observations and commenting on books without an immediate objective in mind, at the same time he was also recording their connections to previous reflections and intended to eventually rework his material into formally cohesive discourses on a great variety of subjects -- from linguistics, to social mores, to aesthetic theory. For this purpose, he indexed his material thematically and added more cross-references between passages while re-reading.
Figure 2. 1827 Index is a detail of the beginning of the index Giacomo Leopardi wrote in 1827 for his Zibaldone. (as implemented on the Zibaldone Hypertext Research Platform) "1827 index" has about 800 themes and subthemes........................complete story
Hold the Light:
W ith panels on "Models of Narrative", "Troubadours of Information", "Writing and Riding the Net", "Philosophical Approaches", and "Literary Games"; a "Developing for New Platforms" Roundtable; fifty new works responding to the question: "What distinguishes Electronic Literature?"; and much more, the 2014 Electronic Literature Organization Conference will convene in Milwaukee from June 19-21. ELO2014, Hold the Light, is hosted at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee by electronic literature pioneer and Professor in the UWM Department of English, Stuart Moulthrop. Featured works of electronic literature will be exhibited at the Digital Humanities Lab and the Conference Room, both in the UWM Golda Meir Library.
"In addition to the conference's continuing concern with particular arts and ideas, Hold the Light invites thinking about what electronic literature can mean at a moment when all communications are touched by computation and digital networks," Moulthrop notes.
"It is a watershed moment in that the organization is giving out the first of two annual prizes, The N. Katherine Hayles Award for Criticism of Electronic Literature and The Robert Coover Award for a Work of Electronic Literature", ELO President Dene Grigar writes in a statement that accompanies Authoring Software's coverage of ELO2014. "Hayles will be present to give a keynote address and announce the recipient of Hayles award."
Keynote talks will also be given by Jill Walker Rettberg, University of Bergen, writer Illya Szilak, and Lane Hall, and co-founder of the Overpass Light Brigade. . "...Neither preserving nor directly opposing the conventions of print-lit, e-lit functions as a reflecting apparatus that unmasks language and meaning-making as machines through the revelation of its own machine-works," Illya Selzki notes in the abstract for her keynote. "Using multifarious examples from the work of Alan Bigelow, Mez Breeze, Emily Short, Jason Nelson, and others, I will show how these re-inscribe obstruction, glitch, error, randomness and obsolescence as potentiality... "
The Conference name "Hold the Light," was inspired by the Milwaukee-based collective Overpass Light Brigade, who use LED signboards to convey activist/community messages. such as the message PRACTICE PEACE at a vigil for Sikhs killed in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
Presenters in sessions that range from "A Feel for Algorithms" to "Children's Elit" include Sandy Baldwin, Kathi Inman Berens, Serge Bouchardon, Giovanna di Rosario, Carolyn Guertin, Lori Emerson, Dene Grigar, Leonardo Flores, D. Fox Harrell, Dominic Kao and Chong-U Lim, Marjorie Luesebrink, Mark Marino and Rob Wittig, Talan Memmott, Nick Montfort, Judd Morrissey, Kwabena Opoku-Agyemang, Jessica Pressman, Mariusz Pisarski, Aaron Reed, Scott Rettberg, and Anastasia Salter among many others.
Curated by Kathi Inman Berens, the exhibition Hold the Light includes artists from France, Poland, Australia, Denmark, Norway, Canada, Ireland, Slovakia, Hong Kong, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In addition to evenings of performance, artists will also present their work in demo sessions, where they'll talk informally with guests who traverse their works. "It's a rare convergence for so many elit artists to be in one place at one time", Kathi Inman Berens notes in her statement about the exhibition. "The point of gathering live when often we can access each other's work online is to curate not just works but also conditions for artistic and intellectual surprises."
"...what makes the work that the ELO does absolutely imperative in this 'Digital Information Age', as scholar Paul Ceruzzi calls it, is its leadership in developing methods for evaluating quality of 'digital' creative and critical works and its insights into cataloging a growing body of 'digital' fiction, poetry, and other literary forms..., President Dene Grigar writes in a statement for Authoring Software's coverage of ELO2014. "ELO 2014 Hold the Light provides us the opportunity to continue this important work together for three magical days. I hope to see you there."
EL02014 Media Arts Show:
Pathfinders: Documenting Curation as Critical Practice
P athfinders: 25 Years of Experimental Literary Art, the exhibit that opens on January 9 at the Modern Language Association 2014 Convention, begins with the premise that curation is a critical practice born out of research and, so, constitutes a scholarly activity. While this sentiment is not a controversial one in fields like Fine Art, where curating works of art relies on deep knowledge of art, history, and culture; highly honed interpretative and evaluative skills; and a great deal of creativity, it is relatively new idea for the Humanities. The recent book, Digital_Humanities, however, makes a strong case for curation as a "fundamental activit[y] at the core of Digital Humanities. Just as in Fine Art, curation in Digital Humanities involves "the selection and organization of materials in an interpretative framework, argument, or exhibit" that "brings humanistic values into play in ways that [are] difficult to achieve in traditional museum or library settings" 
To make the connection between scholarship and curating absolutely clear, this exhibit is built directly out of Pathfinders: Documenting the Experience of Early Digital Literature, a digital preservation project led by Stuart Moulthrop and me and sponsored by a National Endowment for the Humanities Level II Start Up grant.
Pathfinders, the project, is an unusual digital preservation scholarly activity in that its intent is to capture not just the work of art but also the user's experience with the work. In that regard, we have videotaped each of four electronic literature artists reading through their work. This reading we call a "traversal" because it leads a viewer through a work that is both interactive and multi-linear, from its beginning to some level of closure. We add to the artists' traversals, those by readers, some of whom have never experienced electronic literature before or who may not be familiar with early digital literature. Interviews with the artists and readers augment the information, which will be edited, collected, and eventually disseminated in a multimedia book. So, the first order of selection for Pathfinders came out of an overarching conceptual framework focusing on a particular artifact -- early digital literature --- and particular seminal works constituting experiments with digital texts that can no longer be experienced on current computing devices: Stuart Moulthrop's Victory Garden; John McDaid's Uncle Buddy's Phantom Funhouse; Judy Malloy's Uncle Roger; and Shelley Jackson's Patchwork Gir. In essence, they all comprise works that are quickly becoming lost works of literary art.
P athfinders, the exhibit, showcases the work that Stuart Moulthrop and I have, heretofore, completed on the project -- that is, all of the videotaping of the traversals and interviews for each of the four artists -- and extends it into current experimental work. In that vein, the exhibit is divided into two sections, with early experimental works organized at the front of the space and current work, beyond.
Thus, the exhibit opens with Station 1, entitled "Paths to Digital Literature", featuring four vintage Macintoshes from my lab (The Electronic Literature Lab, or ELL). Here visitors find an Apple IIe displaying Uncle Roger; the Mac Classic featuring Victory Garden; the Mac LC 575, Patchwork Girl; and the LC 580, Uncle Buddy's Phantom Funhouse. The addition of Bill Bly's We Descend to the exhibit, showcased alongside McDaid's work, hints to the next phase of Pathfinders-- a partnership with the University of Maryland's Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities, where Bly's work has been collected. Plans also include the collaboration with the University of Colorado Boulder's Media Archaeology Lab, led by Lori Emerson. As mentioned previously, these five works represent early experiments with digital literature, pioneering efforts by artists that are part and parcel of high art that parallel the impetus to experiment that also occurs in print literature. This particular argument lies at the heart of the exhibit, Electronic Literature & Its Emerging Forms, that Kathi Inman Berens and I curated at the Library of Congress in April 2013, where we showed, for example, the connection between concrete and kinetic poetry, cut up poetry and hypertext, among other ideas.
A t Pathfinders, accompanying each computer in Station 1 will also be an iPad displaying raw video footage from the traversals and interviews taken during the Pathfinders project data collection. This additional material will make it possible for visitors to experience the works, first hand, on the computer on which readers would have originally experienced the work when it was first released and, then, see and hear the artists traverse the work themselves and talk about the production of the work. Culturally and intellectually situating the works in this way aims to provide an enriched intellectual experience for exhibit visitors.
Past this section of the exhibit visitors find "Current Directions" where they discover contemporary experiments with digital literature. As Stuart and I point out at the exhibit website, it is our contention that just as hypertext authoring systems like Storyspace and HyperCard were seen as new technologies that allowed for highly experimental writing in the 1980s and 1990s. [Bolter,2] contemporary technologies like Leap Motion, augmented reality software, and other technologies also lend themselves for compelling experimental literary work.
The process of selection of this section of the exhibit centers on large categories of works and employs terminology that may be familiar to Digital Humanists visiting the exhibit. So, here we find stations entitled "Multimedia Books and Apps", "Immersive Environments", "Participatory Media", "Augmented Reality", "Physical Computing", and "Mixed Mediums". In all cases, we selected only one or a couple of works to highlight, aiming for a small amount of art to exhibit so that visitors can, ostensibly, experience all of the art during the convention. We also feature some new and upcoming artists, who may not yet be well known among those working in electronic literature as well include artists from outside of the U.S. to offer a global perspective. And finally, we have chosen some works that are so new, like Amaranth Borsuk, Kate Durbin, and Ian Hatcher's Abra, that they have come to us in beta versions.
A t Station 2 "Multimedia Books and Apps", visitors find Samantha Gorman & Danny Cannizzaro's PRY, Amaranth Borsuk, Kate Durbin, & Ian Hatcher's Abra, and Andreas Muller's "For All Seasons". Displayed on iPads, these works represent new forms of digital publication. While multimedia books can have close resemblances to websites, apps represent the first born-digital object with no corresponding print cognate. From this perspective, they constitute compelling objects of critical study, particularly as an environment for literary production. Station 3 "Immersive Environments" offers Christine Wilks and Andy Campbell's Inkubus, an interactive playable narrative that utilizes both 2 and 3D technologies for immersing readers in the work. Station 4 "Participatory Media" highlights Jay Bushman's tweeting of Mike Daisey's performance piece, The @gony @nd the Ecst@sy of Steve Jobs, and, so, represents a work of twitterature, the first featured at a MLA exhibit. At Station 5 "Augmented Reality", visitors will find Jacob Garbe's Closed Rooms, Soft Whispers, a work that brings together analog and digital into a haunting virtual experience. Station 6 "Physical Computing" hosts Josh Tanenbaum and Karen Tanenbaum's The Reading Glove. I experienced a version of this work at the International Digital Media and Arts Association conference in Vancouver, Canada in 2011, where, at the time, both artists were graduate students studying at Simon Fraser University. While the original offered a tabletop interface with which to interact with the objects, this portable version, created especially for the Pathfinders exhibit, utilizes a computer screen. Finally, Station 7 "Mixed Mediums" offers both Erik Loyer's Leap Motion experiment with physical gestures and digital narrative, "Breathing Room", and Jason Nelson's experiment with speech and text, Speech/Media_To_Text_Poetry_Translation.
W hile critical work in the Humanities has traditionally occurred in the context of an essay aimed at a print publication, the critical work represented by the Pathfinders exhibit is centrally situated in the context of an activity. In this regard, it is both showing and telling about one's research. In so doing, it places a heavy emphasis on empirical, direct experience with objects as they combine with other objects in the exhibit space, with other human observers experiencing the objects, and with objects' and observers' relationship with the physical environment in which they are found; writing that generates from this activity serves as documentation of that primary intellectual activity and articulates, scriptually, the theoretical underpinnings and methodologies used to produce and execute the activity that is implicit in the act of curation. In essence, what Pathfinders seeks to demonstrate is an important concept in Digital Humanities -- that doing is not separate from thinking.
Stuart and I hope if you are planning to attend the MLA 2014 Convention in Chicago that you will visit our Pathfinders exhibit and experience, firsthand, our research into past and present experimental digital literature.
1. Burdick, Anne, Johanna Drucker, Peter Lunenfeld, Todd Presner and Jeffrey Schnapp, Digital_Humanities. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2012. p. 17 (my emphasis)
2. Bolter, Jay, Writing Space: Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print, Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1991. p. 23
Pathfinders: Documenting the Experience of Early Digital Literature
129th MLA Annual Convention
Digital Humanities at MLA 2014
Chercher le texte:
S et in Paris, Cherchez le texte, the 2013 Conference of the Electronic Literature Organization, (ELO) will bring to the public and the International digital literature community a multitude of forms of digital literature presented in exhibitions, performances, documentation, and panels/critical discussion -- beginning with a session on French digital poetry and also including two sessions on "Electronic Literature as World Literature".
Dominant themes at the heart of the Conference are:
A desire to present to a large public the many forms of electronic literature that have developed internationally
The presentation of historic genres of electronic literature, such as hyperfiction and generative poetry, in conjunction with contemporary genres and platforms of contemporary electronic literature, for example, the touch pad works by Collectif i-Trace, Caitlin Fisher, and Erik Loyer that are included in the exhibition
And the lineage of electronic literature in relationship to the work of younger practitioners
Cherchez le texte, the first ELO Conference to be held in Europe, is hosted by the Laboratoire Paragraphe and the EnsAD. (Ecole nationale suprieure des Arts Décoratifs) The organizing committee is chaired by Professor Philippe Bootz, (Paris 8) who is the co-founder of L.A.I.R.E, a French collective in digital literature and Transitoire Observable, an international collective in programmed poetry.
T he official languages of the conference will be French and English. In their words:
"Au cours d'une semaine intense de débats, performances, conférences et expositions, la littérature numérique s'offre à lire, à voir, à entendre, à jouer et à toucher en divers lieux culturels parisiens."
"The ELO is a family made up of hundreds of people distributed around the world but united by a love of electronic literature and experimental writing," observes incoming ELO President Dene Grigar, Director and Associate Professor of the Creative Media & Digital Culture Program at Washington State University Vancouver. "And so what I like about ELO 2013 Cherchez le texte is that it introduces the idea of an annual conference. We can now come together more frequently to reconnect and to share our ideas and work. It is a celebration of our family in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, one with a rich tradition of experimental literature, where electronic literature will be completely at home."
ELO Vice President and Director of West Virginia University's Center for Literary Computing, Sandy Baldwin points out that the conference will also be an excellent showcase for French electronic literature, as well as for emerging writers and scholars.
There is a long tradition of e-lit, particularly generative and algorithmic poetry and narrative in France, with its own unique characteristics, he explains. "As to young scholars and artists: many of the presenters are new faces, doing brilliant work, and looking at e-lit in new ways. In the end, this is the most important thing a conference can do -- keep the field fresh."
Launched under the leadership of the Laboratoire Paragraphe, (Universitè Paris 8) the Excellence Arts-H2H Lab, and Laboratory Music and Computer Marseille, Cherchez le texte is one of the most important international events of digital literature ever to have been organized in France.
"A lot of the credit goes to Professor Philippe Bootz of the University of Paris 8. (Saint Denis) Bootz and his colleagues worked hard to schedule events at tremendous venues, and of course Paris is full of amazing locations," Sandy Baldwin emphasizes. "We're starting with performances at the Pompidou Museum, followed by a day of presentations at the Bibliothè que Nationale de France. (BNF) The main conference events are at EnsAD, with additional performances at Le Cube. In all, these are tremendous showcases for e-lit, and the organization is honored to be featured in these venues."
E LO 2013 will be followed by ELO 2014 in Milwaukee, and then the conference will return to Europe for ELO 2015 in Bergen Norway. "And hopefully we'll eventually hold conferences in Australia, South American, and elsewhere," Badwin notes.
Exhibitions and a Series of Performances Present Electronic Literature Throughout Paris
Les littèratures numèriques d'hier á demain
O rganized by le laboratoire Musique et Informatique de Marseille (MIM) in collaboration with le Labo BnF, (Bibliothèque Nationale de France François-Mitterand) and le labex ARTS-H2H de l'universitè Paris 8, among others, the exhibition Les littèratures numèriques d'hier á demain will open on September 24 at le Labo BnF and run until December 1, 2013.
The gallery will feature digital poetry created for the exhibition by Brian Barrachina, Douglas Duteil, Cassandra Ribotti, as well as Amaranth Borsuk and Brad Bouse's Between Page and Screen.
The concurrent virtual gallery includes an international selection of web-based works of electronic literature.
Illya Szilak: title page from Queerskins. The title page includes images by Illya Szilak and Pelin Kirca; graphic design by Cyril Tsiboulski who also created the interactive experience for Queerskins. Queerskins will be on exhibition in the Virtual Gallery, le Labo BnF, through December 1, 2013.
Among many other works, the web-based exhibition at le Labo BnF includes:
M.D. Coverley (USA) Tarim Tapestries
plus works by Mez Breeze and Andy Campbell, J.R. Carpenter, Loss Pequeño Glazier. Jean-François Gleyze, Mark Marino, Mark Sample, Illya Szilak and many others.
Festival Evenings of Performances
D uring Cherchez le texte, a series of elit-based performances will take place at venues including Petite salle du centre Pompidou; BnF François-Mitterand Grand Auditorium; Le Cube, Centre de crèation numèrique; and EnsAD.
Hortense Gauthier and Phillipe Boisnard will perform
Contact / HP Process at Le Cube:
Philippe Bootz will perform his Pong ping poème, a work which is part of his "little poems which are uncomfortable to read" series. In Pong ping poème, 50 texts are read in a random order. But the audio is controlled by a ping pong game, and the performer must win in order to be heard.
E-Poetry 2013 to be Held at Kingston University, London in June;
F ollowing Festivals in Buffalo, West Virginia, London, Paris, and Barcelona, E-Poetry, a seminal International Festival of digital literature and scholarship, returns to London. Presented by the Buffalo-NY based Electronic Poetry Center, with the support of Kingston University London and the Watermans Art Centre, E-Poetry 2013 will take place from June 17-20 at Kingston University.
"This Festival is intended as a worldwide gathering, different perspectives convening at one time," the Festival notes. "We hope to build connections that are sustainable, energizing, and that reach across disciplines. More importantly, the 'poetry' in 'E-Poetry' does not signal a genre preference but an ORIGIN -- MAKING as a means of realizing art, a delight in digital literary invention. Our emphasis is on the multiple literary and artistic ramifications of digital media writing and its critical reception through extending modes and practices that transcend limits of genre or specific technologies. We celebrate new voices, emergent thoughtful articulation, performance, and cultural breadth in expression."
"every presenter is a keynote"
Poets, scholars and researchers who will present at E-Poetry 2013 include Amaranth Borsuk, Serge Bouchardon, Andy Campbell, John Cayley, Giovanna Di Rosario, Natalia Fedorova, Penny Florence, Leonardo Flores, María Mencía, Nick Montfort, Jason Nelson, Sarah Tremlett, Talon Memmott, Christine Wilks, and Jody Zellen, among many others. Conference presentations also include a pre-festival Pedagogic Colloquium hosted by María Mencía, artist-researcher and Senior Lecturer in New Media Theory and Digital Media Practice in the School of Performance and Screen Studies at Kingston University.
"Every presenter fits nicely and, as always, at E-Poetry -- every presenter is a keynote!" Loss Pequeño Glazier, Director of the Electronic Poetry Center and the E-Poetry festivals, emphasizes.
"Where else do you get so many keynotes, one after another?!"
"....twists and turns with dazzling treats at the end of gorgeously honed paths"
Poet Loss Pequeño Glazier, who is a professor in the Department of Media Study, SUNY Buffalo, is also enthusiastic about the breadth and the open format of the program. "It's got range, style, diverse conversations, threads, themes, motifs; a stunning range of innovative performances; ...it presents twists and turns with dazzling treats at the end of gorgeously honed paths; it's rich with UK presenters; it includes special panels from Russia, on Latin American digital poetry, presentations from Slovenia, Poland, Romania, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Australia, a special guest winging it from Hong Kong, plus we also include Western Europe and North America. Lots of newcomers all around!"
The program also includes presenters from Peru, Iran, Mexico, Greece, Puerto Rico, Latvia, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Norway, Sweden, France, Australia, Canada, and the US. "I am especially excited about the number of women artists and scholars and younger participants, who appear in the program in highly visible places," Glazier notes.
A Pre-Festival Pedagogic Colloquium
E-Poetry 2013 will begin with a pre-festival Pedagogic Colloquium, produced by poet and Kingston University Professor, María Mencía.
Among the professors, poets, and researchers in electronic literature, who will address the practice and theory of electronic literature in the classroom, are:
Serge Bouchardon, University of Technology of Compiègne, France
Other presenters include Amaranth Borsuk, University of Washington, Bothell; Antonella Castelvedere, University Campus Suffolk; Maria Engberg, Blekinge Institute of Technology, Sweden; Zuzana Husárová, Comenius University and Masaryk University, Slovakia; and Talan Memmott, Blekinge Institute of Technology, Sweden.
Words Unstable on the Table
In her words from the catalogue:
"The works in the exhibition touch upon a variety of themes, literary, cultural, social and historical aspects such as; nature, identity, gender, multilingualism, reading, remixing, translation, evanescence, online-communication and digital culture. And they do so by combining different software, programming languages, mobile technology, network possibilities and new media tools, to produce a wide spectrum of creative practice in the form of game like structures, videos, digital-poems, net.art and language new media art." ........ complete story
Looking at e-poetry through the lens of 27 years of creating electronic literature, I would like to celebrate the role of authoring systems as core components in the expression of individual vision -- not only for experienced practitioners but also for students. .......complete text
Taroko Gorge by Nick Montfort
Detail: Nick Montfort: Taroko Gorge
It wasn't too long afterwards that Scott Rettberg appropriated Nick's authoring system and created the urban intervention "Tokyo Garage". Scott was followed by J.R. Carpenter, whose "Whisper Wire" transported the landscape to the age of technology.
And an electronic literature community tradition had begun.
There were subsequently a series of works that in response, Nick lined through. (although they were still visible)
They included, among others:
Offering the potential for student exploration of the uses of an elegant authoring system,Taroko Gorge -- rooted in landscape description, constantly changing -- succeeds because Montfort carefully planned the flow of the work and created meaningful data sets (allowing, for instance, for transitive verbs and imperfect verbs) and in the process created a resonant, contemporary poetry array that inspired collaborative response.
The resultant eliterature community works have been reviewed by Leonardo Flores at http://academic.uprm.edu/flores/transmogrify.html, accompanied by his own remix of the poets and the process.
And/or, visit Taroko Gorge by Nick Montfort et. al.
Detail: Judy Malloy:
Scholars Contemplate the Irish Beer
Below are archived statements create during the 2008 Electronic Literature Organization Conference and during the 2008 Seminar on Electronic Literature in Europe Many of these statements will be retooled with separate pages in 2014.
Swiss new media artist/researcher Stefan Müller Arisona works with real-time multimedia systems and live multimedia composition and performance software. His audio-visual performance narratives have been shown and performed internationally. Currently a post-doctoral researcher at the Chair for Information Architecture of ETH Zurich, Switzerland, his research includes the development of the Soundium multimedia performance platform; (with Steve Gibson) as well as mathematical modeling for the performance of musical gestures and interactive software systems for urban design and simulation. He is co-editor, with Randy Adams and Steve Gibson, of Transdisciplinary Digital Art - Sound, Vision and the New Screen
The work he performed at the 2008 Electronic Literature Organization Conference in Vancouver, WA is a 21st Century reenactment of The Exploding Plastic Inevitable a seminal multimedia work that was originally created and performed by Andy Warhol with Lou Reed's The Velvet Underground and Nico in the 1960's.
More information: San Francisco Performance of Exploding, Plastic & Inevitable at Swissnex
Exploding, Plastic & Inevitable
Since Steve Gibson and I are going to present the Exploding, Plastic & Inevitable show (also accompanied by a live audio and visuals workshop) during the conference, it might be best to give some background for the software used there.
Authoring tools we're using
audio: Ableton Live
Steve may have to add a few things, he did a lot of custom stuff for other projects, such as Virtual DJ.
At this point I can give more information about the custom software Soundium:
Soundium is a research multimedia authoring and processing framework. It has been used for many live visuals performances and several digital art installations. However, it is not really an "end user product" and requires a quite a bit of multimedia processing knowledge in order to use it.
written in java and c++, and based on open source software: linux, gcc, x11, ffmpeg, etc.
available for free download
Alan Bigelow combines images, text, audio and video to create interactive web-based digital fictions that address contemporary issues including philosophy, religion and the uses of mass media.
His work has been published and/or exhibited at Turbulence.org; Los Angeles Center for Digital Arts; Freewaves; Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center; The New River; and E-Poetry 2007.
A Professor in the Humanities Department at Medaille College in upstate NY, he was recently a visiting online lecturer in Creative Writing and New Media at De Montfort University, UK
What They Said
What They Said (2008) is an online work which is a commentary on mass media and its use of authoritarian messages, both outright and subliminal, to influence culture and political will. The work is created in Flash and uses a synthesized combination of text, images, video, and audio; its interface is a hybrid of television and radio visual elements intended to enhance the user experience and require their participation in the viewing of the work.
What They Said is meant not just as a commentary on mass media, and how it is used, both intentionally and by media programmers' blind acquiescence to current political paradigms, to distort meaning and manipulate citizens worldwide. It also suggests our own culpability, as the ones who turn on the media devices and listen to the messages. We bear some responsibility for the perpetuation of these messages, and we are the ones, if we have the will, to turn them off.
To progress through What They Said, the viewer must first turn on the media "device." They then use a slider, reminiscent of an old-style radio channel indicator, to "read" the various messages. These messages--instructions for work, family life, cultural beliefs, and aesthetics--are archetypal in nature and use a linguistic double-speak favored by many governments, present and past. The viewer's choice of messages is random, snatched, using the slider, from the static ether visually (and auditorially) presented in the piece. When the last message is read, the piece automatically generates a short closing visual followed by a subtitle. Total viewing time is approximately five minutes.
This work, like all my other work, was created in Flash, with imported files that were edited in Sound Studio and Photoshop. Flash is a very resilient and robust application that is relatively easy to learn and remarkably obedient to the unusual demands of digital storytelling.
Right now, the most interesting challenge to me (other than creating new work!) is how to move online Flash works into the mainstream of gallery shows. In the United States, at least, it appears that many galleries are not used to considering online works as representative material for exhibitions; when asked, though, many are intrigued and ask to see the work, even when it is not within their usual call for submissions.
Part of their reluctance to accept web works/Net Art is the difficulty of pricing such work for sale. Rhizome.org has a revealing interview with Aron Namenwirth of artMovingProjects on this topic
Steve Ersinghaus is a digital artist, fiction writer, and poet. He is the author with of 100 Days: 100 drawings 100 poems; (with Carianne Mack) Stoning Field; The Life of Geronimo Sandoval; and the hypertext poem That Night. (Drunken Boat, Spring 2009)
Steve Ersinghaus earned his Masters in Fine Arts from the University of Texas-El Paso. He teaches writing, literature, and new media at Tunxis Community College in Farmington, Connecticut.
The Life of Geronimo Sandoval
The Life of Geronimo Sandoval, a novel in hypertext, took approximately four years to complete. I had originally begun the work with a fairly conventional plan: to write a book-based novel. I began with an image, two people talking by a river in southern New Mexico, and quickly realized that the novel and its characters wanted a differentform: the novel needed a form appropriate and implicit to the voice of its first person narrator/hero, Ham Sandoval.
I found the form with the help of Eastgate Systems' Storyspace. The initial image of The Life of Geronimo Sandoval became not merely a place to begin writing the novel but an episode within a larger narrative that could appear at any appropriate time given Ham Sandoval's method of storytelling. Storyspace because the appropriate tool to explore Ham Sandoval.
Storyspace is hypertext authoring software. I would also call it an authoring framework. It provides not just the requirements of a word processor or a means of reading and presenting hypertext, but an environment for creating, organizing, revising, visualizing, and distributing hyperlinked works. I could also write the previous sentence this way: Storyspace can be the proper tool for works of art that demand hypertext as an implicit form. What Storyspace provided for Sandoval was a means of finding the voice and logic of the narrative.
In Storyspace's work environment I could find sequences and sections swiftly and accurately and work with multiple writing spaces simultaneously. With Storyspace, the writer may employ a variety of link types to the text as well as control how links behave under certain conditions. Storyspace provides map, chart, and outline views that provide flexible means of examining narrative space. Keyword assignment, search facility, and the ability to import other digital media into the environment make Storyspace a powerful creative tool with ample aesthetic possibilities not just for the study of technology but of the human lifeworld.
Susan M. Gibb holds an A.S. degree in English from Tunxis Community College and is currently supplementing with courses based in Creative Writing, and New Media. She is a writer of fiction as well as non fiction and poetry, has served as editor of otto, the Tunxis literary journal, and has produced and edited a traditional archery magazine sold in the U.S. and abroad. Her workshop session on "The Hypertext Effect: The Transfiguration of Writing and The Writer" was presented at Hypertext 2008 in Pittsburgh, PA.
She is always working on hypertext projects using Storyspace and Tinderbox software and exporting for presentation online, has published some work on her website, Hypercompendia, and is currently participating in 100 Days: Summer 2009, a collaboration of individual artists producing a work each day for 100 days. Susan Gibb also writes online on her websites dedicated to Literature, Writing, Hypertext, New Media forms, and life's "story moments."
My introduction to hypertext was in a contemporary fiction course, and there was a bit of resistance to what appeared to be a jungle of story. However, it intrigued me enough as a writer to want to master not only the reading but the writing of narrative into the hypertext environment.
With the Storyspace program offered by Eastgate Systems in mind, I prepared by planning out what I felt was the perfect story to be told in hypertext. Paths is a story of a couple who fell in love in college and who may or may not have ended up together. What other medium could so entwine the coulda's, woulda's, and shoulda's of such a basic choice in life?
Once I got the Storyspace software, it was a matter of transferring what were basically four paths of stories into the format. Very, very easy to do. Even though the manual is one of the best I'd ever encountered in its pointed instructions and illustrations, the software was so well arranged that it wasn't necessary to consult except for specific maneuvers.
I soon realized that the structure I had envisioned for the story was not using Storyspace to its optimum performance capabilities with its opportunities for exploration into time and character. The excellent Map View was the best to work into as it enabled the placement of the parts within the whole. All the originally planned links were severed and I let the stories flow into each other from more natural intersecting points. Past and present have no certainty in this narrative and the interplay of memory and perspective opened a playground for true character development. 75 writing spaces -- or text boxes -- stretched into 300, all because the event of hypertext invites the author to tarry in an area of the mind that might otherwise be kept from the reader.
I am working on more in the Storyspace software and find that as with the first effort, the format focuses on what is vital to a very small portion of story without hindering the creative flow. Particularly in editing, I've found that the writing improves as it seeks the most concise yet imaginative manner of telling a tale; each box of words being self-contained and asking the writer, as much as the reader, to linger a bit, just as does the form of a poem.
The full journey of writing in Storyspace has been documented in my Hypercompendia weblog and can be read at Storyspace Index
I'll write a poem using pen, paper and beer. I'll use Sound Forge, Soundtracker Pro or Audacity, depending on reverb, to make an MP3 recital. I'll assemble a videocast using the recital, photos processed in Studio Artist (I like it), text in Paint Shop Pro (windows fonts) or the Gimp (unix fonts), in GarageBand (simple) or Final Cut Express (complex). The videocast is posted using iWeb.
Except for videocasts, I prepare web pages using Windows Notepad, because it doesn't exclude things its designers didn't expect.
Ian Hatcher is a writer, musician, and programmer from Seattle. His work has been presented at the 2008 Electronic Literature Organization and Electronic Literature in Europe conferences and published by Counterpath Press.
He is the primary composer for the Chicago-based contemporary dance ensemble The Moving Architects, with whom he performs live.
As of 2009, he is a graduate student in Literary Arts at Brown University.
Signal to Noise, Opening Sources
Some software I've found useful:
Aptana, a free and open-source development suite.
MAMP/LAMP/WAMP, free virtual server software. Indispensable when coding in PHP.
TextMate , unfortunately not free, but the best text editor available for OSX.
Inanimate Alice by Kate Pullinger and Chris Joseph
Photoshop, Premiere, Sound Forge, Acid, Flash
Digital writer Chris Joseph, aka babel, creates electronic literature, multimedia, and interactive art.
Flash; XML, X-Lit
Software: Flash, Sound Forge
Poetic Game Interventions [V.1] [from the Twittermixed Litterature Series]
Twitter and World of Warcraft
Ethan MillerAustralian-based net.artist, Mez Breeze has been creating of Internet-based code poetry and poetic game interventions for fifteen years.
Narrative Units -- http://ethanmiller.name/projects/narrativeunits/:
Code based, networked data visualization
Software tools used: Written in the Python programming language,
Nick Montfort -- http://nickm.com
Lost One: Curveship, Python
Alexander MoutonOne of the first creators of new media literature and a distinguished new media writer, digital artist, and scholar, Baltimore, Maryland native Stuart Moulthrop is the author of the seminal hyperfiction Victory Garden, (Eastgate, 1992), a work that Robert Coover included in the "golden age" of electronic literature.
Flash, HTML, Java Script, Photoshop, Final Cut, Logic, QuickTime
Working with photography, video, bookmaking, sequenced images, and sound, Alexander Mouton creates artists books and electronic works online and in performance and installation situations.
Flight Paths by Kate Pullinger and Chris Joseph
Jim RosenbergBorn in British Columbia and based in London, Kate Pullinger writes for print, digital media, radio, and film. Her recent work includes the multimedia graphic novel Inanimate Alice and the networked narrative Flight Paths.
Stephanie Strickland and Cynthia Lawson JaramilloInteractive poetry pioneer Jim Rosenberg has been working with with non-linear poetic forms since 1966, and his Diagrams Series 4 was published on the seminal Art Com Electronic Network on the WELL. His visually elegant, word-dense, spatial hypertexts -- including Intergrams and The Barrier Frames and Diffractions Through -- are published by Eastgate.
Vniverse - http://vniverse.com/
slippingglimpse - http://slippingglimpse.org/
Hello World: travels in virtuality
Print book: http://www.rawnervebooks.co.uk/helloworld.html
Free download: http://www.rawnervebooks.co.uk/helloworlddownload.html
LamdaMoo: telnet://lambda.moo.mud.org:8888 type 'co guest' to connect
Born and based in England, writer/new media writer Sue ThomasEugenio Tisselli
Screen: Cave Writing;
Role Playing Games
Joel WeishausNewmedia writer and scholar Noah Wardrip-Fruin is a co-creator of Screen, a virtual reality narrative on the walls of a room-sized space. "Memory texts appear on the Cave's walls, surrounding the reader. Then words begin to come loose. The reader finds she can knock them back with her hand, and the experience becomes a kind of play - as well-known game mechanics are given new form through bodily interaction with text." he writes to describe this work in Screen (2002-present).
The Way North: Dreamweaver; Photoshop
Mirror site: http://www.cddc.vt.edu/host/weishaus/North/Intro.htm
Nanette WyldeBorn in New York City, writer, critic, digital artist Joel Weishaus has lived and worked in the West -- the San Francisco Bay Area, Taos, Albuquerque -- for many years. He now makes his home in Portland, Oregon.
The Qi Project, 2008
Flash, Final Cut, Perl, CGI
Born in California, Nanette Wylde lives in Redwood City and Chico, California. Her language-centered work includes artists books, interactive net art, and audio-visual textual narrative.
writers and artists
Silvia Stoyanova and Ben Johnston