Literary forms seen as tools of mind transgressing the field of the literary and repurposing digital media so that they are capable of refocusing cognition in beneficial ways – these are the lines of thought shaping Kyle Booten’s analysis of algorithmic co-writers. To be able to respond to both challenges, it is proposed that researchers rigorously and systemically study how digital tools are being creatively used and repurposed, learning from models that have emerged within the mainstream Human-Computer Interaction research.
Speculative Interfaces: How Electronic Literature Uses the Interface to Make Us Think about Technology
In a study that traverses more than half a century – going from e-lit precursor Christopher Strachey’s M.U.C. Love Letter Generator (1952) to Michael Joyce’s experimental hypertext afternoon: a story (1990) to Kate Pullinger’s data-driven touchscreen work Breathe (2018) – Rettberg situates experimentation with digital interfaces in a longer tradition of innovation in literary and scholarly production. She also argues for the central importance of such experimentation in the ongoing development of both electronic literature and the digital humanities, suggesting that speculation in the design of digital interfaces can help preserve and extend the interpretative and intuitive aspects of Western literary and scholarly traditions, while also bringing the limitations and exclusions of such knowledge systems into focus.
Jin Sol Kim and Lulu Liu interview the Decameron 2.0, a Canadian collaborative made up of professors and artists who are inspired by Giovanni Boccaccio’s plague narrative The Decameron (1348-1353) to develop creative works during and in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
River: Forking Paths, Monsters, Simultaneous Timelines and Continuity over 25 Years of Creative Practice
FEATURED ARTIST: In this essay, Caitlin Fisher reflects on the ideas, processes, and approaches that have shaped and influenced her work in digital storytelling and electronic literature for over 25 years. She invokes theorists like Borges, Haraway, and Aristotle and critical concepts of hybridity, string theory, hypermedia, and spatial narratives to illuminate readers about the simultaneous timelines, continuity, and forking paths that run through the river of her work.
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.
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.
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.