The End(s) of Electronic Literature:
The 2015 Electronic Literature Organization Conference,
Bergen, Norway, August 4-7, 2015

ELO2015 Hybridity Performances and Screenings: Simon Biggs, Garth Paine, and Sue Hawksley. Software development by Hadi Mehrpouya. Crosstalk, Bundanon Trust, New South Wales, Australia, 2013; Arizona State University, 2014; Bergen Norway, 2015. Crosstalk uses real-time multi-modal sensing and interaction systems to create a mediated social space inhabited by two dancers, whose descriptions of each other are transformed into text objects that both respond to the actions of the dancers and combine, recombine, and interact with other texts.

H osted by the Electronic Literature Research Group at the University of Bergen and addressing issues of the future of electronic literature, The End(s) of Electronic Literature, the 2015 Electronic Literature Organization Conference (ELO2015) will convene in Bergen, Norway from August 4-7.

Among the series of workshops that lead into the conference is Philippe Bootz and Johnathan Baillehace's two-part workshop, which -- in this year that the ELO conference is held in Europe -- will focus on the history and documentation of French Digital Poetry.

On Wednesday, August 5, Conference Chair Scott Rettberg will officially open the conference. Introduced/moderated by Rettberg and Program Chair Jill Walker Rettberg, the opening Keynote, "End over End", will take the form of a debate between Espen Aarseth, principal researcher at the Center for Computer Games Research, IT University of Copenhagen, and Stuart Moulthrop, pioneer electronic literature writer and Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

From an "Archiving Roundtable" to "Feminist Readings / Data Visualisation Poetics", sessions will expand on the conference theme of the "end(s) of electronic literature. "...the field of electronic literature has reached a state of maturity at which it is reasonable to think about our end(s) in a broad and connective sense", Scott Rettberg explains. "It is a useful point to consider our aesthetic purposes, our relations to other disciplines, our relations to social and political reality, our situation within a global networked culture, and what impact our research and practice will have on future generations."

Beginning with Stephanie Strickland's "Six Questions for Born-Digital Archivists", the Archiving Roundtable will also include Marjorie C. Luesebrink, Rui Torres, Leonardo Flores, and the ELC3 Collective -- Flores, Stephanie Boluk, Jacob Garbe, and Anastasia Salter -- in a discussion of issues in archiving electronic literature.

Feminist Readings / Data Visualisation Poetics will focus on memory and female voices with Maria Angel and Anna Gibbs presenting on "Digitising Ariadne's Thread: Feminism, Excryption, and the Unfolding of Memory in Digital spaces" and Maria Goicoechea and Laura Sanchez presenting on "Female voices in Hispanic Digital Literature"

"This is the most international conference we have ever had", Scott Rettberg emphasizes. "There are going to be five focused exhibitions, and a vast array of approaches to the subject in both a scholarly and artistic sense. We encouraged people to push at the edges and they have really responded."

It's hard to choose a highlight, he continues, "It is going to have many. And I hope it will push us all to think beyond the novelty of the device or technique and back into thinking about how these techniques can be usefully applied to vital and challenging subjects." For instance, in his words:

"...having people like Samantha Gorman, who is developing narrative projects that merge hypertext, touch interfaces, and cinematic vernacular, people like José Aburto from Peru, a terrific visually inventive digital poet whom probably many in the field have not yet heard of, a show which examines e-literature in Russia, Poland and Portugal, another focused on digital literature for children, and one which is focused on electronic literature in political contexts. We have works ranging from Sharon Daniel's Inside the Distance, an interactive documentary about mediation between victims and assailants, to Jason Nelson's poetry robot."

"The University of Bergen's Digital Culture Program has been at the forefront of facilitating and promoting electronic literature through projects like Electronic Literature as a Model of Creativity and Innovation in Practice (ELMCIP) and the Anthology of European Electronic Literature," ELO President Dene Grigar observes. "Faculty member Scott Rettberg is one of the founders of the Electronic Literature Organization and continues to serve on its Board; members of the faculty -- Jill Walker Rettberg and Patricia Tomaszek -- are noted scholars of/in the field. The Fulbright Scholarship offered by the program has built the careers of many researchers and artists and has raised the prestige of electronic literature in Europe, the U.S. and beyond. What better reasons can there be for hosting the ELO 2015 in Bergen, besides the fact that it is among the most beautiful cities in the world?"

U nder the aegis of Artistic Chair: Roderick Coover, Five exhibitions of electronic literature will be open to the public, beginning on August 4. Both Sharon Daniel's and Jason Nelson's work will be in the Interventions exhibition, which in the Conference's words "will feature works that engage with contemporary cultural discourse and political reality, challenging audiences to consider digital artifacts and practices that reflect and intervene in matters of the environment, social justice, and our relation to the habitus." Interventions also includes Donna Leishman's Front, a "fictitious cautionary tale, set within the world of social media", as well as works by David Clark, Andreas Zingerle and Linda Kronman, Chris Rodley and Andrew Burrell, and Damon Baker.

The End(s)of Electronic Literature Festival Exhibition

T he UiB Humanities Library will host the central Festival Exhibition, as well as a small historical exhibition showing the emergence of electronic literature and kiosk computers showing the forthcoming ELC3 collection. The exhibition will be open to the general public from August 4 until August 28 -- with the following works:

Megan Heyward and Michael Finucan:
The Secret Language of Desire
Ian Hatcher and Stephanie Strickland:
House of Trust
Will Luers:
Phantom Agents
Eugene Garber and Lynn Hassan:
Eroica: a hypermedia fiction
Jason Nelson:
A Nervous System
Samantha Gorman and Danny Cannizzaro:
Maria Mencía:
Gateway to the World
Abraham Avnisan:
Stuart Moulthrop:
If You Please
Alinta Krauth:
if-notNow, if-then-when-else
Aaron Tucker:
The Chessbard Plays
Deanne Achong:
Lusca Mourns The Telegraph | In Search of Lost Messages
Johannes Heldén and Håkan Jonson:
Kathi Inman Berens, Eva Pfitzenmaier, Kerstin Juhlin and Alicia Cohen:
Dark Restoration: Kalfarlien 18

Festival Exhibition Images: Maria Mencía's Gateway to the World is "an exploration of data visualisation poetics by using open data from the maritime database to visualise the routes of the vessels arriving to and from the Port of Hamburg. As the vessels move they act as writing tools to reveal a string of text creating calligramatic forms of information pulled from Wikipedia entries about the name of the vessels."

Festival Exhibition Images: Kathi Inman Berens, Eva Pfitzenmaier, Kerstin Juhlin and Alicia Cohen: Dark Restoration: Kalfarlien 18

"...RestOration: Kalfarlien 18 is an e-lit ecopoem. Whether it's the faint singing of a woman in the shower, or the functional e-waste, or the satisfying click of an actual Kalfarlien 18 doorknob unlocking pieces of the tablet game -- RestOration juxtaposes the care economy of a home with the dizzying pace and alarming toxicity of technologic obsolescence."

Paper Sessions and Roundtables

S peakers (not listed elsewhere in this section) in a wide variety of panels and artists' talks, including Research and Practice in Electronic Poetry in Ireland, Narrative Theory, and Interventions: Resistance and Protest are -- among many others -- Sandy Baldwin, Katarzyna Bazar, Ranjit Bhatnagar, Sandra Bettencourt, Serge Bouchardon, Mez Breeze, John Cayley, Jeremy Douglass, Markku Eskelinen, Xiana Sotelo Garcia, Aud Gjersdal, Jhave, Laura Sánchez Gómez, Nicola Harwood, Davin Heckman, Jon Hoem, Zuzana Husarova, Bimbola Idowu-Faith, Anne Karhio, Linda Kronman, Jason Edward Lewis, Michael J. Maguire, Piotr Marecki, Judy Malloy, Mark Marino, Lello Masucci, Talan Memmott, María José Sánchez Montes, Nick Montfort, Jeneen Naji, Kwabena Opoku-Agyemang, Mariusz Pisarski, Agnieszka Przybyszewska, Kate Pullinger, Eric Dean Rasmussen, Mark Sample, Patricia Tomaszek, Eman Younis, Christine Wilks, Rob Wittig, and Mia Zamora.

A complete list of speakers is on the Schedule at

And a brief sampling of Paper Sessions and Roundtables appears below.

G ames

Veli-Matti Karhulahti: Rhematics and the Literariness of Electronic Literature
Anastasia Salter: Ephemeral Words, Ephemeral People: Suicide and Choice in Twine Games
Fox Harrell: Dominic Kao and Chong-U Lim: Toward Understanding Real-World Social Impacts of Avatars
Clara Fernandez-Vara: Digital Games: the New Frontier of Postmodern Detective Fiction

H ybrid Books: Augmented Artist's Books, Touch Literature and Interactivity

Lucile Haute, Alexandra Saemmer, Aurelie Herbet, Emeline Brulé and Nolwen Trehondart: Digital artists books and augmented fictions: a new field in digital literature?
Søren Bro Pold, Christian Ulrik Andersen and Jonas Fritsch: Literary Interaction In The Age Of The Post-Digital
Kathleen Berens: Touch and Decay: Tomasula's _TOC_ on iOS

I ntermediality and Electronic Literature

"This roundtable discussion, led by both established and emerging e-lit scholars and artists, will explore the idea of electronic literature as an intermedial practice, looking at the topic from a wide range of forms including literature, performance, sound, computation, visual art, and physical computing. Drawing upon artistic work they have produced or studied, each panelist will provide a five-minute statement that touches on qualities related to intermediality like hybridity, syncretism, and collaboration. Following this series of brief presentations, the panelists, then, encourage engagement in a wider conversation with the audience."

John Barber, Faculty, CMDC | Washington State University Vancouver
Caitlin Fisher, Director, Augmented Reality Lab, York University
Samantha Gorman Student/, USC
Dene Grigar, Director and Professor, WSUV
James O'Sullivan, Digital Humanities Research Designer, Penn State University


Performances, Readings, and Screenings

A series of performances, readings, performative readings, and screenings will punctuate the conference. They include: Judd Morrissey's Augmented Reality poem Kjell Theøry, John Cayley: To be with you, Donna Leishman and Steve Gibson: Borderline, Judy Malloy's generative reading from The Not Yet Named Jig and Chris Funkhouser and Louis Wells presenting Funkhouser and Sonny Rae Tempest's code opera Shy Nag.

Performances and Readings: Dene Grigar and Greg Philbrook, Curlew; (Shown in image: Dene Grigar and Gianluigi Maria Masucci, OLE .01 International Festival of Electronic Literature, Naples, 2014)

Curlew is "a spoken word performance augmented with video, music, and sound triggered by gestures made by the artist". The narrative centers on an isolated fisherman on an island off the Gulf Coast and his actions to save the island's shoreland in the face of a destructive storm.

Performances and Readings: Judy Malloy: The Not Yet Named Jig
The Not Yet Named Jig utilizes generative hyperfiction to build a world model of a real but sparsely documented time and place. The time is the morning of April 24, 1660. The place is "Mystick Side" in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, in the area incorporated as Malden in 1649. As the reading proceeds, video and audio lexias appear, disappear, and return again at random. Only 28 lexias are included in this small sample from the work; the result is a song of repeated lexias.

Performances and Readings: Libretto: Chris Funkhouser and Sonny Rae Tempest; Director: Louis Wells: Shy nag, A Digital Opera

While co-teaching an online course at UnderAcademy College, Chris Funkhouser and Sonny Rae Tempest co-authored Shy nag by "applying a series of intensive digital processes to a piece of hexadecimal code (derived from a .jpg image)."

"...In Shy nag, Microsoft Word and numerous other programs and processing techniques have a non-trivial presence in the composition. Software serves as a type of interlocutor that sustains the writers' experimental objective -- a time-consuming process blends creative and uncreative. The exercise also contains destructive qualities as the code migrates to language, image, and sound -- although the authors prefer foregrounding its multi-level transformative properties."

Shy nag premiere, Rutgers-Newark, February 2015. Photo: Rodney Reyes

In Bergen, Shy nag will be presented as a staged reading, directed by Louis Wells, Faculty, Theatre Arts and Technology, the New Jersey Institute of Technology.(NJIT) The cast will consist of Maria Aladren, Sandy Baldwin, Kathi Inman Berens, Natalia Fedorova, Aleatory Funkhouser, Chris Funkhouser, Fluorish Klink, Jeneen Naji, Álvaro Seiça, and Louis Wells.

The Electronic Literature Research Group at the University of Bergen

ELO2015 is hosted by the Electronic Literature Research Group at the University of Bergen in Norway. In answer to the question -- What is the significance for ELO2015 of this meeting place? -- Conference Chair Scott Rettberg responded:

S cott Rettberg: "Many in our field know that from the University of Bergen we led the HERA-funded ELMCIP project and developed the ELMCIP Electronic Literature Knowledge Base, but the history of electronic literature in Bergen stretches back far further than that. One of the foundational research monographs in the field, Espen Aarseth's Cybertext: Perspectives in Ergodic Literature, was written here in 1995 as Aarseth's Ph.D. dissertation, and during the late 1990s and early 2000s, the series of Digital Arts and Culture conferences including the 1998 and 2000 iterations were essential to launching international research communities in electronic literature, games studies, and digital culture. After he left for Denmark, Jill Walker Rettberg succeeded Aarseth as a leading electronic literature and digital textuality researcher, both in her research and through initiatives such as ELINOR (Electronic Literature in the Nordic Coun-tries), and many of us have followed since. Electronic literature has been a part of the curriculum of our program in digital culture continuously since the 1990s, and our students continue to both research and to create works of electronic literature. In the past decade, we have hosted a number of international research seminars on specific aspects of electronic literature and digital art, and we have worked with the Bergen Public Library and other local cultural institutions to organize public readings, performances, and exhibitions dedicated to the subject -- making ours a lively scene that extends beyond the confines of the university on the hill into the cultural life of the city."

Authoring Software: You have both been involved with electronic literature for many years, can you summarize your work in this field and its relevance to ELO2015?

Scott Rettberg: We are both deeply committed to this field. Jill and I have both been involved since the late 1990s. As a graduate student, I proposed the ELO and served as its first executive director and have been involved in the organization ever since. I write and research electronic literature. Jill started out in electronic literature and has revisited the topic even as she has moved more expansively into many areas of digital textuality.

Authoring Software: As we look to the future of electronic literature, do you have any further thoughts about the place of electronic literature in contemporary creative endeavor?

Scott Rettberg: I have always been pretty comfortable with conceiving of electronic literature as an avant-garde experimental literature practice. I've never really expected it to become a mass-culture phenomena. The Dada weren't. The Surrealists weren't. Postmodern American literature wasn't. Poetry really isn't. And I think that's fine. But now we have this strange moment, when the practices of electronic literature may actually be pairing well with practices in mainstream culture. More than ever before in my experience. So that is a time to take stock and really consider and reflect. What happens to electronic literature after it is avant-garde? That's what this conference is about.

Hybridity, Decentering, and Kid E-lit

In addition to the Festival Exhibition and the Interventions exhibition, three other exhibitions will be staged at EL02015. They are Hybridity, Kids E-Lit, and Decentering.

Hybridity features works "that push at the edges of literature and other forms, and that appeal to other aspects of the sensorium than those we typically associate with reading", such as John Murray and Anastasia Salter's From Beyond Hybridity - Ouija Board Project, Mez Breeze and Andy Campbell's #Carnivast; and works by Philippe Bootz and Nicolas Bauffe; Angus Forbes; Joellyn Rock and Alison Aune; Caitlin Fisher and Tony Vieira; Julie Vulcan and Ashley Scott; and Claire Donato, Álvaro Seiça, and Luc Dall'Armellina.

Decentering highlights innovations in digital textuality in Eastern Europe and in the Southern hemisphere -- with work and research by Nicola Harwood, Fred Wah, Jin Zhang, Bessie Wapp, Simon Lysander Overstall, Tomoyo Ihaya, Phillip Djwa, Thomas Loh, Hiromoto Ida and Patrice Leung; José Aburto; Francisco Marinho and Alckmar Santos; Jakub Jagiello and Laura Lech; Natalia Fedorova; and Álvaro Seiça, and Piotr Marecki.

Organized in collaboration with Bergen Public Library and funded by Nordic Cultural Point, the Kid E-Lit exhibition showcases experimental electronic literature for children and teenagers in conjunction with Nordic children's and young adult's book apps for tablets. Works of electronic literature for children include Mark Marino and The Marino Family: Mrs. Wobbles and The Tangerine House; and Aleatory Funkhouser's My Own Alphabet, plus works by Emilie Barbier; Ana Abril Hernández; Leja Hocevar; Luis Javier Pisonero and Mario Azna; Pierre Fourny, Guillaume Jacquemin, Serge Bouchardon, Luc Dall'Armellina and Hélène Caubel; Jorge Andrés Gómez, Baptiste Ingrand, Florine Morestin; and LeAnn Erickson's They were asked to serve, and math was their secret weapon. The Computer Wore Heels iPad app.

And -- from Åshild Kanstad Johnsen's Kubbe lager skyggeteater to Timo Parvela & Jussi Kaakinen's Taro at the Center of the Earth -- works from the Nordic countries illustrate how iPads and other tablet platforms are housing multimodal and interactive stories for children and teenagers.

Awards and a Banquet

ELO President Dene Grigar reports that:

"This is the second year for the ELO to give out The Robert Coover Award for a Work of Electronic Literature and The N. Katherine Hayles Award for Criticism of Electronic Literature. The Coover Award drew 17 submissions from the U.S., the UK, Taiwan, Canada, Ireland, Australia, and Korea. The Jury consisted of Brian Kim Stefans. Jason Edward Lewis, and Jim Andrews. The Hayles Award drew 11 submissions from the U.S., the UK, Italy, and Portugal. The Jury consisted of Maria Mencia, Manuel Portela, and Will Luers. Rob Wittig directed both Juries. Each 1st place award comes with a $1000 cash prize, membership for one year at the Associate Level to the ELO, and a plaque commemorating the award; 2nd place comes with membership for one year at the Associate Level to the ELO and a plaque commemorating the award. A total of five works were short-listed."

O n Friday evening, August 7,
Dene Grigar
will host the final banquet.
There will be food, drink,
an announcement of the
2015 Electronic Literature Awards,
an announcement of the
2016 Conference location and theme,
final speeches,
and dancing!

Complete information about ELO2015 is available in the resources listed below.

EL02015: Electronic Literature Conference

ELO2015: Schedule

Electronic Literature Organization

Judy Malloy