Nacher, Rettberg, and Pold offer a curatorial statement about the COVID E-Lit Exhibition--one of the many exhibitions held at the ELO 2021 conference. This Exhibition in particular, they explain, focused on reactionary, reflexive, and recovery-based art in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This except from Twining: Critical and Creative Approaches to Hypertext Narratives explores the popular and open-source digital storytelling platform Twine. Authors Anastasia Salter and Stuart Moulthrop discuss the history of Twine as well as existing works and possible projects.
Stanfill and Salter reflect on conferencing amidst their organization of the 2020 ELO Conference in Orlando, Florida that had to change to due a global pandemic. Sharing their experiences and wisdom, they discuss the strengths and weaknesses of various virtual platforms for conferencing, coupled with the contexts of concurrent politics, co-location, and lessons for the future.
Nick Montfort discusses two of his computer-generated texts that manifest as print-on-demand books, websites and gallery installations. Though distinct in form and content, Autopia and The Truelist were guided by the author's self-imposed constraints and programmed with minimal code to produce predetermined, "novel-size" outputs. Montfort intends these texts to engage the imaginations of readers with the combinatory aspects of language in culture as well as invite them to a deeper reading of the generating code.
Leah Henrickson explores the contexts surrounding the publication of The Policeman's Beard is Half Constructed, advertised as “the first book ever written by a computer” at the time of its release in 1984. Drawing from contemporary reviews, personal correspondence with the book’s creators, and analysis of the book itself, Henrickson offers insight into precisely how this book was produced, and by whom. Although a computer program called Racter is listed as the author of The Policeman’s Beard, this attribution does not accurately reflect the human labor driving the book’s development and dissemination. This essay illuminates these networks of human labour that ultimately led to Racter and The Policeman's Beard.
The lively dialogue among the contributing authors, ebr’s longest-serving and newly appointed editors, and the engaged and interested audience, which accompanied the Post-Digital / Dialogues and Debates book launch in September 2020, is an interesting insight into the recent debates on the multifaceted ramifications of digital disruption and the ways in which it has transformed our society, culture, and aesthetics. The discussion throws some light as well on the always fascinating history of the early electronic literature initiatives which had laid the groundwork for what eventually turned out to become the whole new field of intermedia literary practice and the sub-discipline of trans- and interdisciplinary academic inquiry. The authors of the mammoth 2-volume anthology recruit from the variety of contexts and offer diverse looks at the post-digital condition of our contemporaneity.
Renren Yang insightfully reveals the rarely (if ever) explored domain of cover designs for Chinese Web novels. Tracing their evolution from a print format that enables the tactile and sensual pleasures of opening the actual book to its supposedly more immaterial digital incarnation, Yang reimagines the very idea of a book cover in the digital age. This closer look reveals how serialized novels’ cover design frames the reader's experience, demonstrating as well the fact that the already well established periodization of the First, Second, and Third Generation e-literature are culturally and geographically specific, and dependent on the local histories of computing technology beyond Euro-American context. Analyzing the conceptual tension and fusion between book cover as a “mixed medium” and digital cover as “intermedium,” and drawing upon Chinese pictorial tradition, Yang defines the ontology of the digital book cover as an attempt at reconfiguring “flatness” on the digital screen.
In this conversation with ebr Editor Lai-Tze Fan, internationally acclaimed artist Caitlin Fisher talks through her origins, inspirations, and processes with a clear message: things can always be unlocked with more than one key and stories can always be told with more than one method. Fan asks Fisher about the 20th anniversary of These Waves of Girls at the end of Flash, the archival impulse of her stories from doll collections to hand-held museums, and the importance of creating tiny stories out of high technologies and giant institutional labs. Of the many lives Fisher has already lived and of her works to come, this conversation gives only a glimpse—a snap of the universe.
MLA Chernoff closely examines Rachel Zolf's intentionally unreadable suite of transmedial poetry, Human Resources (2007), in order to discern a digital poetics of appropriation that carefully grapples with the problematics of historically exclusionary institutions like conceptual poetry and CanLit. They argue that behind the constraint-based, numerological practices used to create these strange poems lies a pragmatic – yet metaphysically-grounded – method of reframing the professionalization of creative writing and upending the neoliberal conventions of governmental grants.