As a follow up to the series of interviews with Ben Grosser in February and March 2021 (published later that year in ebr), we include here a more settled, post-pandemic set of reflections. In the interviews, Grosser noted how "the realities of the pandemic necessitated back then," and maybe still does, "a degree of vigilance about new information": is there anything new that we need to know? The flood of information, however, has been less about knowing and acting on that knowledge than it is about keeping us engaged, and returning us daily, hourly, and minute by minute to our digital doomscrolls. For this newly produced populace that is largely stuck online, Grosser here discusses a net art / e-lit project of his own, an alternative software interface called The Endless Doomscroller.
A critical encounter with one of alt-lit (alternative literature) movement’s most renowned contributors, whose moment (like many in this scene) has passed. Citing Christian Howard, Leah Henrickson advances the argument that “[w]e’re at a turning point in literary studies, and we need to confront how the changes in mode are affecting – and are affected by – the alternative networks of circulation within these digital spaces.”
In a series of interviews led in February and March 2021, Nacher, Pold and Rettberg examined how contemporary digital art and electronic literature responded to the pandemic. Their project on COVID and electronic literature was funded by DARIAH-EU and resulted in the exhibition prepared for the ELO 2021 Conference & Festival and the documentary film that premiered in June 2021 at the Oslo Poesiefilm Festival. Ben Grosser is one of the creators of 13 works that were interviewed for the project. He generously shares his thoughts on life and creative practice during the pandemic, the impact of platforms on the digital culture and creativity and platform culture in general.
To browse the internet is to subject oneself to sophisticated and unceasing techniques of attention-capture, of which the pop-up advertisement is only the most crass and vexatious example. This paper describes the development of Nightingale, a web browser extension that fights distraction with distraction. It does this by injecting the web with pop-up ads consisting of semantically-relevant fragments of the poetry of Keats. Nightingale represents an attempt to engage in “noöhacking”—that is, repurposing the cognitively-destructive aspects of contemporary digital media in order to care for one’s own mind.’
Critical Attention and Figures of Control: On Reading Networked, Software-based Social Systems with a Protective Eye
Søren Pold takes up the task to deconstruct the present cultural moment when the effects and ways of operating of social systems, as discussed by Johanna Drucker in her recent book, are becoming central interfaces to a broad range of lived reality. Pold’s offers a valuable effort at understanding the complex mechanisms of production of such systems via investigation of rhetorical and software aspects of networked media. With the focus on artistic research installation, The Oracle of Selphie by Jakob Fredslund and Malthe Stauning Erslev in collaboration with Pold and coupled with his own installation platform The Poetry Machine, Pold interrogates to what extent Drucker’s arguments allows for a critical approach to reading patterns in social media. Doing so, he simultaneously offers models of distracted reading grounded in the propositions by Michel de Certeau, Siegfried Kracauer, Walter Benjamin, and Olga Goriunova, demonstrating that “lurking” and other forms of inattentive reading can be exploited and turned into profit in the age of the platform capitalism. Such an observation calls for further research that would better grasp the nature of networked reading practices enabled (and more often forced) by our contemporary social media platforms.
A post-humanist critique of Rockwell and Berendt's all too Humanist essay, in the vein of Donna Haraway’s “Keeping with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Cthulucene” (2016) and Patricia MacCormack’s “Posthuman Ethics” (2012).