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Tech-TOC: Complex Temporalities in Living and Technical Beings

At least since Henri Bergson’s (2005, 1913) concept of Duration, a strong distinction has been drawn between temporality as process (according to Bergson, unextended, heterogeneous time at once multiplicitous and unified, graspable only through intuition and human experience) and temporality as measured (homogenous, spatialized, objective and “scientific” time).  Its contributions to the history of philosophy notwithstanding, the distinction has a serious disadvantage:  although objects, like living beings, exist within Duration, there remains a qualitative distinction between the human capacity to grasp Duration and the relations of objects to it. Indeed, there can be no account of how Duration is experienced […]
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Pierre Menard with a Pipette: VAS and the Body of Text

Steve Tomasula’s VAS: An Opera in Flatland (2002) tells a simple story. Square considers having a vasectomy as his wife, Circle, has asked him to. When I tell others this, I usually have to pause at this point in my summary to allow the nervous titters to subside. In a sense, this laughter—whether at the mundane subject matter or at the mere mention of the penis outside of a strictly clinical or politicized context—is very much to the point. It is the fact that a vasectomy could ever be considered so commonplace, “that many people wouldn’t even consider it a […]
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The Importance of Being Earnest in Flatland

In earnest, I should flatly admit—and this is important—that my field of research is dandyism in nineteenth-century British fiction, which makes my contribution a somewhat wild(ean) one. Fortunately, it is not without its own logic, and can therefore embrace the fact that although VAS, Steve Tomasula’s embedded “Pedestrian Story” (149), is set in a complex semiotic system, his “simple story/With a plot as conventional as a museum’s base boards” (38), is found to stage in a rather geometrical way the reluctance of a would-be writer, Square, to undergo vasectomy, as agreed with his wife, Circle. This plot introduces a character […]

An Emerging Canon? A Preliminary Analysis of All References to Creative Works in Critical Writing Documented in the ELMCIP Electronic Literature Knowledge Base

Introduction Every time contributors add a record to the ELMCIP Electronic Literature Knowledge Base, they have the opportunity to add references to creative works of other articles of critical writing referenced. This enables the formation of a network of critical relations, what we have described in the ELMCIP Knowledge Base project report as a “literary ecology.” Using node references and attached views in the databases, these cross-references automatically display on both the record for critical writing and creative work it refers to. Over time, this develops into documentation of the critical reception of any given work documented in the Knowledge […]
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Gathering Critical Code Studies Working Group 2020

This special gathering collects reflections of the Critical Code Studies Working Group 2020 (CCSWG ‘20), a biannual meeting to explore the intersections of humanistic inquiry and computer code studies. Coordinated by Mark Marino (USC), Jeremy Douglass (UCSB), and Zach Mann (USC), the 2020 Working Group was held online from January 20 to February 3. It brought together more than 150 participants from around the world to share ideas, populating dozens of discussion threads with hundreds of comments, critiques, and critical readings. The need to attend to code could not be more urgent. Code exerts a regulatory effect over society and […]
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New ebr Interface

Joe, (I’ve copied this to Mark and Steve who might be interested in listening in on the discussion – Hi Mark! Hi Steve!) I had a fruitful and interesting discussion with Ewan yesterday. He’s going to pull together some time estimates and costs for re-working the interface and building the database. You know, he’s the perfect collaborative partner for this – he not only knows how to build the stuff, he thinks the dynamic activities through from a conceptual standpoint, and he’s familiar with the issues involved with scholarly publishing. He’s also attempting to create a hybrid practice that includes […]

New ebr Interface (2)

Hi All, I just had to jump in here. What a courageous document / email “essay” this is. These issues of database construction, interface design and context, publication as active event, navigational cues, visual metaphors, environmental logic, reader-response “picture theory” etc., are crucial. So my first suggestion is that we archive these group emails as they evolve. We’re definitely onto something here. A lot of these issues are coming up in the net/web art scene too. Calling into question how an online publication presents itself is similar to calling into question how an exhibition context emerges for net-specific works of […]

Merely Extraordinary Beings

An “eighteenth-century” novel, Ingenious Pain seamlessly combines various cultures of eighteenth-century England: it features the medical world, with its progress in surgical and other techniques (not to mention some entertaining in-fighting among schools of both physicians and “psychologists”), but it also offers a background and foreground peopled with less “officially” recognized members of the cultural terrain – a mermaid, a cabinet of wonders, table-top-sized automata, and a hermaphrodite doctor who collects human oddities for medical experiment. With its combination of high and low culture, the novel presents a full and rounded eighteenth century, but does so with a wit and […]

A Somewhat Legal Look at the Dawn and Dusk of the Napster Controversy

What follows is a transcript of a talk I gave on April 4, 2000 at a symposium held by the Science and Technology Law Center at Albany Law School. The symposium was called “Internet Crimes and Civil Violations”; I was asked to talk about music and the Internet in that context. I had been excitedly following the growth of the Internet, and particularly the implications for music and art. The invitation to speak gave me an opportunity to try to put a bunch of disparate ideas together. I’m pretty sure I failed in doing that (and I sure didn’t talk […]
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The Language of Music and Sound

Editor’s Note: Olivia Block and Seth Nehil are two sound artists who create music by integrating sounds from electronic sources, traditional instruments, field recordings and found objects such as old tape recordings or leaves, rocks, and pieces of glass. Collaborating together and at times with others, they are part of a world-wide community of composer/performers who are developing a new lingua franca of sound that puts the natural and the artificial into play with one another: composer/performers that blur genres of sound and music, as well as sound and silence. They extend the tradition of John Cage through their use […]