1/30/07

Electronic Literature Collection

The Electronic Literature Collection features Alan Sondheim, Kenneth Goldsmith, Brian Kim Stefans, Loss Pequeño Glazier and Bill Marsh, among others. “Electronic literature” refers to works with important literary aspects that take advantage of the capabilities and contexts provided by the stand-alone or networked computer. Within the broad category of electronic literature are several forms and threads of practice, some of which are:

  • Hypertext fiction and poetry, on and off the Web
  • Kinetic poetry presented in Flash and using other platforms
  • Computer art installations which ask viewers to read them or otherwise have literary aspects
  • Conversational characters, also known as chatterbots
  • Interactive fiction
  • Novels that take the form of emails, SMS messages, or blogs
  • Poems and stories that are generated by computers, either interactively or based on parameters given at the beginning
  • Collaborative writing projects that allow readers to contribute to the text of a work
  • Literary performances online that develop new ways of writing

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm curious as to why Flarf poets would not be included here?

As well, the most prominent poetic example ever of computer-aided composition (though electronic input has not been acknowledged by the author, so far as I can see) would probably be Christian Bok's Eunoia, where the vowel-constrained lexical base has likely been robotically culled from on-line dictionaries, then arranged by parts of speech (also via program), and finally cobbled, by the writer's hand, into an eccentric, vaguely meaningful, but entertaining prose.

I *hope* this is how the material was facilitated, anyway, since a lot of time would've been wasted otherwise, the author monkishly slaving away on his own, turning every single dictionary page and tediously listing out words, when a "Find" program could have done it for him in minutes!

The whole product is quite impressive, no question, but once one senses the trick, the magic is not so stunning. In my opinion, anyway... (But kudos to he or she who carries out the trick first!)

So I would say that Bok should probably be included here, as well?

Kent

Murat said...

Kent,

Do you think the quality of a work changes if one assumes it is computer-generated or not? (I just noticed you used "computer-aided," which may not be the same thing.)

Ciao,

Murat

Anonymous said...

Hi Murat,

Yes, I think a different kind of "quality" is created by computer-generated works (the pure sort, I mean, where the poet's function is to create program). How could it not be, being of different kind and concept altogether--though by that I don't mean that quality--in the axiological sense--is necessarily lesser. It's apples and oranges, I'd say.

The problem is that the aesthetics of computer-based works haven't yet caught up with the practices. It's like an esoteric community of iconographers who make sacred images of saints as they wait for the theology these will represent to reveal itself. And so the new-fangled images get talked about in the value-criteria of another, long-standing faith... Syncretist, transient sub-groups, like Flarf or Conceptual writing, for example, pop-up and complicate things, offering fruit salads whose tastes are novel, but whose substance is ultimately unfulfilling.

In the meantime, I'm all for the new Poet-Programmers and their ascetic labors. I hope they find their still-absent God, if He or She exists.

Kent

Murat said...

Kent,

I love the "ascetic iconographer." It surely describes Alan's work.

I suppose the weaker creatures like you and me are excluded.

Murat

scott rettberg said...

Speaking as one of the editors of volume one, if some Flarf work was submitted in contextualized way, I wouldn't have been opposed to including it, and the web version of Eunoia certainly would have fit as well. We didn't see any Flarf in the submissions. Eunoia, by the way, wasn't computer facilitated, at least I heard Christian Bok say so in person. He spent several years with a dictionary, making lists. Insane, in an insanely great kind of way. Anyway, there will be future editions of the ELC. We're just putting together the editorial board for the next one.