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January 28, 2007

[Re: magAzine] | #004 Curating Ambiguity


Interview with Scott Rettberg

One of the main common characteristics of all Web-based literary products is that they often can be read (or viewed, listened, played with, used) in multifaceted ways. Accordingly the curation of Electronic Literature is challenged by ambiguity and heterogeneity on different levels. As broadly termed by the Electronic Literature Organization itself, „Electronic Literature“ describes a form of cultural and artistic production on the Internet with important literary aspects that takes advantage of the contexts provided by the stand-alone or networked computer. Similar to what is not yet consistently defined as Digital Art, Netart, net.art, Internet Art, New Media Art, etc. the production of literary works on the Internet or by other digital means ranges from terms like Computer Literature, New Media Poetry to Codework and Hyperfiction, mixing up genres with subgenres and single descriptions. In this context the methods of classical literature studies are frequently transferred to a networked and online surrounding without creating innovative categories.

Florian Cramer (3), a Germany based literature scientist and co-founder of the curatorial platform runme.org - say it with software art!, outlines in a very general way that the Internet is based upon a code which acts on the logic of the alphabet and therefore is finally based upon text. The Internet, for the author, is literature in its original meaning, a system of letters whose poetry can only be found by the reader.

Despite this very general point of view Cramer also describes various levels of production and dissemination of literary texts: on the one hand the Internet can purely work as a medium of distribution for literature, on the other hand it operates as a platform for collaborative writing or as a literary database. Not until text needs a software interface, is generated automatically or randomly programmed by rules, it is genuine Computer-Literature. Furthermore he locates literature on the Web to be understood on various levels: poems, written in programming languages like for example Perl are readable in three ways. At first as a poem in a natural language, then as a sequence of machine commands and finally -- once executed -- as a poem in natural language again." Continue reading Curating Ambiguity [PDF] [Other interviews]

Posted by jo at January 28, 2007 06:54 PM