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Lit Mods

A lesson in sabotage Modifying a machine Alter the machine so that it won’t work without you So far improve it that you alone are good enough for it Give it a secret fault that you alone can repair Yes, alter it so that any other man will destroy it If he works it without you That’s what we call: modifying a machine. Modify your machine, saboteur! —Brecht, The Collected Poems of Bertolt Brecht (435) Introduction This essay traces different genealogies of “modification” and “modding” in art, games, and literature in pre-digital and digital contexts. Though it departs from “art […]

Appealing to Your Better Judgement: A Call for Database Criticism

Like so many in comparative literature, I knew exactly two works of electronic literature as a BA student: Dakota by Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries and Shelley Jackson’s My Body — a Wunderkammer. I loved both of these works, but was skeptical about the future of digital literature considering we only encountered it in classes, never in daily life. Imagine my delight when I found out about public electronic literature databases! It felt like entering a candy shop, filled with so many works I could browse through endlessly. Works that I liked, works I did not like, and works that I […]
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Digital Creativity as Critical Material Thinking: The Disruptive Potential of Electronic Literature

This article has greatly benefited from the research group “Exocanónicos: márgenes y descentramiento en la literatura en español del siglo XXI” (PID2019-104957GA-I00), part of the Spanish Programa Estatal de Generación de Conocimiento y Fortalecimiento Científico y Tecnológico de I+D+i funded by the Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades. Creative Making as Critical Thinking: A New Framework for the Digital Humanities At the turn of the 21st century, literary critics like Johanna Drucker (2002), Jerome McGann (2001) or even digital poet Loss Pequeño Glazier (2002) wrote about the importance of “making things” as a way of doing theoretical work. The benefits […]
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Embraceable Joe: Notes on Joe Brainard’s Art

Joe Brainard (1942-1994) is an artist recognized by a relatively narrow circle of devotees, far less famous than some of his friends and collaborators – Andy Warhol, Frank O’Hara, and John Ashbery, though his prodigious artistic output encompasses over a thousand visual works – collages, assemblages, oil paintings, gouaches, and drawings – showing some affinity with Pop Art, Minimalism and camp, as well as more than a dozen literary volumes of what might be termed experimental life writing. Today, his best-remembered works are a series of images of Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy cast in unlikely, humorous contexts and his 1975 book […]
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In Defense of the Difficult

A cosmological perspective on the numerization of human languages Contemporary western and westernized cultures have fully embraced Technic, an accomplished reality system that, as we hope to briefly show, is all-encompassing and deeply troubling. Reciprocally, the embrace has enabled Technic to bring forth a specific kind of culture that can be understood as a device whose primary aim is to perpetrate, expand and infuse its world-making powers into every realm of human existence. The embrace is a techno-serpent that bites its own tail. But what sort of techno-poison does the serpent’s bite instill? Federico Campagna (2018) has proposed to think […]

Re:traced Threads: Generating Feminist Textile Art with Tracery

Introduction “Re:traced Threads” is a hybrid physical-digital work inspired by the discourse of computational craft. It is an installation piece that includes both procedurally-generated, ephemeral, digital artifacts of poetry (displayed on a computer monitor) and the physicality of handmade quilts (displayed on the wall). The project builds on the traditions of quilted poetry, which combines methods of applique and piecing with both written language and representative or abstract imagery, but using a digital, procedural source to guide the making. The project consists of two elements: a Twitter bot producing hypothetical works of quilted textual art, and a set of 9 […]
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