Judy Malloy

Classic Authoring

Book Reviews
Authoring Systems and Interfaces

Featured Sections:

The Electronic Manuscript

Social Media Narrative:
Issues in Contemporary Practice

Conferences and

Next Horizons::
The 2016 Electronic Literature Organization Conference, Victoria, BC, June 10 - 12, 2016

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

Hold the Light:
The 2014 Electronic Literature Organization Conference,
Milwaukee, WI, June 2014

Dene Grigar
Documenting Curation
as Critical Practice

Pathfinders: 25 Years
of Experimental Literary Art, MLA2014 Convention, Chicago

Chercher le texte: the 2013 Conference of the Electronic Literature Organization Brings Electronic Literature to the Public in Paris, September 23-28

E-Poetry 2013, Kingston University, London in June; Program Features Presentations, Exhibitions, Performances, and a Pedagogy Colloquium

With a Theme of "Avenues of Access", MLA2013 Includes an Exhibition of Electronic Literature and over 60 Digital Humanities Panels

Remediating the Social, Edinburgh, November 1-3, 2012

Media Art
Exhibition to be Held
at WVU, June 20-23

Critical Code Studies
Working Group 2012
Reading Code in Context

Belgrade Resonate Festival
March 16-17, 2012

2012 MLA Convention to Feature Elit Panels and Exhibition

Dene Grigar, Lori Emerson,
and Kathi Inman Berens Impact Report for the
Electronic Literature Exhibit at MLA2012

Dangerous Readings
Explores Frontiers
of New Narrative

Elit Well Represented
at ISEA2011

Electronic Literature Organization Moves to MIT

October 2019
Featured Statement:

J.R. Carpenter
The Broadside of a Yarn

Software: QR code, JavaScript,
jQuery, CSS, HTML, Photoshop, Gimp

detail from the work J. R. Carpenter is a Canadian-born UK-based artist, writer, performer, postdoctoral researcher, and maker of maps, zines, books, poetry, short fiction, long fiction, non-fiction, and non-linear, intertextual, hypermedia, and computer-generated narratives. She began using the Internet as a medium for the creation and dissemination of non-linear narratives in 1993.

Since that time, her work has been presented in journals, festivals, and museums around the world, including, among many others, the Electronic Literature Collection, the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art; Montréal Museum of Fine Arts; Istanbul Contemporary Art Museum; The Art Gallery, Tasmania; The University of Maryland; Jyväskylä Art Museum, Finland; Palazzo delle arti Napoli in Naples, Kipp Gallery, Indiana University of Pennsylvania; E-Poetry, Barcelona, Spain; the Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol, England; and The Banff Centre, Canada.

Carpenter is the recipient of grants in literature and new media from the Conseil des Arts de Montreal, Conseil des arts et des lettres du Quebec, and Canada Council for the Arts. She served as the Digital Literature and Performance Writing faculty mentor for the In(ter)ventions: Literary Practice at the Edge Literary Arts residency program at The Banff Centre form its inception in 2010 to its closure in 2014. She was a Visiting Fellow at the Eccles Centre For North American Studies at the British Library in 2015 and is an Associate of the Informatics Lab at the Met Office.

Commissioned by ELMCIP for the 2012 Remediating the Social exhibition in Edinburgh, The Broadside of a Yarn is a richly detailed 21st century locative broadside, in which a series of computer-generated narrative dialogues are accessed via QR codes.

One generator "is composed entirely of dialogue from Joseph Conrad's The Secret Sharer. Another contains lines of dialogue from Shakespeare's The Tempest," she explains in her Authoring Software statement. "Details from many a high sea story have been netted by this net-worked work. The combinatorial powers of computer-generated narrative conflate and confabulate characters, facts, and forms of narrative accounts of fantastical islands, impossible pilots, and voyages into the unknown undertaken over the past 2340 years."

Existing not only as a series of gallery mounted "map squares" of images found and/or created, in Edinburgh but also as a live many-voiced performance, The Broadside of a Yarn was/is in her words "a pervasive performative wander through a sea of sailors' yarns".

For J. R. Carpenter's complete statement, visit http://www.narrabase.net/jr_carpenter_yarn.html

July 2019

Nancy Paterson

This month's words are in remembrance of Nancy Paterson, who died of cancer late last year. It is not content | code | process practice to change "is" to "was" in the published introductions to statements. Instead -- because its changing of seasons seems appropriate, and because it is a work that I have remembered for many years -- I'd like to highlight her co-active video installation The Meadow. Here are a few words from Nancy's SIGGRAPH Art Show Archives description of The Meadow.

"...the visitor is surrounded by four large color monitors, each displaying real-time, full­-motion video of a different view of a meadow as seen from a central vantage point. It is winter in the meadow, then suddenly the season shifts. The views remain the same, but a certain motion or sequence of movements has triggered a transformation. Suddenly, it is spring. The visitor discovers, moving within the installation space, how to trigger these seasonal changes and finds it is possible to move backward in time, from winter to fall, or across seasons, from fall to spring."

Viewer actions also trigger sounds: a flock of geese flying overhead, children laughing, playing, whispering to each other. "As in real life, the relationship between cause and effect is sometimes blurred," she observes.

In this Infosphere-encircled world, there are many people whom we call friends but have never met. Nancy Paterson and I had been in contact since she curated the 1989 exhibition ARTWARE at A Space, in Toronto. In addition to my Uncle Roger, among other works, ARTWARE included David Rokeby's 1989 Hypertext stack, Liquid Language.

But the closest Nancy and I came to meeting was in "MetaNetworks/MetaCulture", a 1992 wild, free-for-all A-Space-hosted telephone conference with Robert Adrian, Hank Bull, Kit Galloway, Heidi Grundmann, Carl Loeffler, Judy Malloy, Jeff Mann, Arthur Mattock, Nancy Paterson, Sheri Rabinowitz, and Peter Sepp.

In our last correspondence, which was about publishing her work in Networked Art Works and took place the year before she died, she wrote: "Judy I was thinking it would be great to meet you."

"...yes it *would* be great to meet! Something to think about....", I responded.

Rest in peace, Nancy. I wish we had found time to meet.

Please visit Nancy Paterson's bio and her Networked Art Works words about Stock Market Skirt.

May 2019 Featured Statement:

Emily Short
Making of Bronze
Authoring System: Inform 7

Emily Short is a freelance consultant in Interactive Fiction, (IF) narrative design, and social interaction modeling. She has worked with Telltale Games, ArenaNet, ngmoco :), and Failbetter Games among others, and -- building interactive iPad stories around AI (Artificial Intelligence) characters -- she was the creative director of the Versu project.

She has written over two dozen works of IF and is part of the design team for Inform 7, a tool for creating parser-based IF. She also has a PhD in Classical Studies, focusing on the role of the god Hermes in Athenian drama, and she writes occasionally on classical reception in video games.

Her works include the award-winning Galatea, a reworking of the Pygmalion myth; the interactive epistolary story First Draft of the Revolution; Counterfeit Monkey, a wordplay puzzle game that addresses issues of language and democracy; and Bronze, an immersive exploration of the relationship between "beauty" and the beast.

Emily Short's work has been included in the Electronic Literature Organization Collection and exhibited at the Library of Congress, among other venues. Her practice, she observes, "explores how systems of play can support rewarding forms of highly personal and human storytelling, how conversation, actions, and social gestures can be made into meaningful game mechanics in place of the mechanics of violence, and how authoring tools can be designed around the requirements of these new forms of art." Her blog can be found at http://emshort.wordpress.com

For content | code | process, she provides a statement about the making of Bronze. Remarkable in its layered, interactive disclosure of narrative, erotic undertones, innovative memory revelation, and immersive narrative build-up. Bronze began as a short work of Interactive Fiction in the "Speed-IF" genre and involved into a memorable reader experience that is approachable for both experienced and new readers of literary IF. Although Short notes that usually she creates diagrams by hand -- in a notebook next to her keyboard, (rather than from a diagramming program) -- in this statement, application-derived flow charts allow the reader to visualize the additive, carefully-reasoned process with which she interfaced Bronze.

Accompanied by 11 diagrams, her statement, a rare glimpse of the Interactive Fiction creative process as disclosed by a master in the field, is what the editor of content | code | process dreams of reading.

The reader of Making of Bronze is advised to play the work itself not only for an understanding of how Emily Short's careful build up of detail creates narrative depth but also for an understanding of the role that her writing plays in immersing the reader in an often solitary environment, where the reader must explore half of the rooms (there are over 50) before the beast appears. The reader's understanding of both the character of the beast and of his/her projection of personal story onto the narrative are integral to the effectiveness of this work. (And perhaps the use of the pronoun "he" in the statement is an invitation to explore gender in this dense retelling of "Beauty" and The Beast)

Bronze, which was created with Inform 7, is available for download at http://inform7.com/learn/eg/bronze/index.html A map of the castle rooms and the source text are also available at this location.

The work begins with these words:

"When the seventh day comes and it is time for you to return to the castle in the forest, your sisters cling to your sleeves.

'Don't go back,' they say,secondelob and 'When will we ever see you again?' But you imagine they will find consolation somewhere.

Your father hangs back, silent and moody. He has spent the week as far from you as possible, working until late at night. Now he speaks only to ask whether the Beast treated you 'properly.' Since he obviously has his own ideas about what must have taken place over the past few years, you do not reply beyond a shrug.

You breathe more easily once you're back in the forest, alone.


Even in your short absence, the castle has come to look strange to you again. When you came here first, you stood a long while on the drawbridge, unready to cross the moat, for fear of the spells that might bind you if you did. This time it is too late to worry about such things.

An iron-barred gate leads north."

Visit Emily Short's statement on Making of Bronze to find out more

Emily Short: Revised "Puzzle Chart" for Bronze

April, 2019

Featured Statement:
Andrew Plotkin
The Dreamhold
Software: Inform;
web version is powered by Parchment, a JavaScript Z-code interpreter

W riter/programmer Andrew Plotkin is the author of a series of award-winning works of Interactive Fiction,(IF) including Shade, Spider and Web, and Hoist Sail for the Heliopause and Home. An integral member of the IF community, he also helps support the software tools that underlie contemporary IF.

Plotkin has worked on game design and game tools his entire life, though mostly outside of the game industry and academic worlds. With his recently released Hadean Lands, a complex Interactive Fiction that was four years in the making, he continues to pursue in his words "a (perhaps chimerical) career as a creator of narrative interaction on mobile platforms."

For content | code | process, he writes about The Dreamhold. A tutorial that is also a work of Interactive Fiction, The Dreamhold offers an excellent introduction to the experience of classic Interactive Fiction

In his words:

"I've tried to create a game which rewards many species of adventurer: the inexperienced newcomer, the puzzle-hurdler, the casual tourist, the meticulous explorer, the wild experimenter, the seeker after nuances and implications."

Winner, of the Best Use of Medium 2004 XYZZY Award, The Dreamhold presents the reader, as do most IFs, with prompts that require input in the form of traditional IF commands. The process -- mediated by software (the parser) that understands and responds to certain natural language instructions -- is continually interactive; the reader navigates the story by entering text phrases at the prompts; the story responds:

Andrew Plotkin: - The Dreamhold

T he Dreamhold was my attempt to address the traditional accessibility problems of parser-based interactive fiction. Its goals were (1) to act as a tutorial for the IF parser; (2) to provide an old-fashioned adventure experience of exploration and puzzle-solving in a broad world; (3) to be narratively interesting. ...In that order.

The first goal conditioned much of the game design. In order to provide a simple starting environment, I had the player begin in an empty white cell with only one object available. The player is cued to read a description of common IF commands, and then try the most common ones -- "LOOK", "EXAMINE", "GO". Once the player manages to leave the cell, they are rewarded with a change from a spare environment to a lavish one; this provides an opportunity to exercise curiosity and delve into details. The player quickly runs into some locked doors, which are the first formal puzzle of the game. (Although newcomers might consider the parser to be the first puzzle of any IF game...) Passing a locked door gives access to the bulk of the map, with a range of challenges.

I wanted to introduce the player to IF conventions, even those that were (even at the time) considered old-fashioned or unnecessarily troublesome. Thus The Dreamhold has darkness, a "SCORE" command, a set of colored tokens to collect, bendy passages, a maze, (of sorts) and the possibility of death. On the other hand, in-game hints are available, and the game cannot be made unwinnable. (allowing for the option of "UNDO" after death). The possibility of irreversible mistakes is demonstrated with a single object -- the apple -- which does not affect any of the game's puzzles or endings.

Visit Andrew Plotkin's
content | code | process Statement on The Dreamhold
to find out more.

February - March, 2019

Special issue of content | code | practice:
Contemporary Social Media Platforms
and Creative Practice

panel logo F rom November 1-6, 2018, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago Art and Technology Studies (SAIC ATS) Social Media Narratives online panel on Contemporary Social Media Platforms and Creative Practice took place with parallel conversations on Facebook and Twitter.

In an environment of ethics crises on commercial social media platforms, the panelists confronted issues with contemporary social media platforms in various, sometimes conflicting ways. Importantly -- not only was the panel a part of the class syllabus but also because art community usage of social media does not necessarily reflect uses of social media by other groups -- the panel served to highlight issues for artists and the arts community.

Contemporary Social Media Platforms and Creative Practice was hosted by the SAIC ATS Social Media Narratives class, who during the Fall 2018 semester created a body of remarkable work using platforms including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Second Life, and eBay. Fittingly, SAIC ATS is currently chaired by Eduard Kac, whose pioneering work in social media includes a 7-feet tall telematic robot, which in the 1986 "Brasil High Tech exhibition", conversed with exhibition visitors in real time.

P anelists were:

Gary O. Larson - Opening Statement: the State of Artmaking on Social Media

Kathi Inman Berens - Instagram Poetry
Joy Garnett - Art Censorship on Social Media Platforms
Robert Gehl - Facebook Algorithms & Alternative Social Media
Ben Grosser - Facebook and Twitter Demetricators
Juana Guzman - Issues in Social Media for Arts Organizations

Social Media Narrative Students were Maca Burbano, Sora Candelario, Jessica Darnell, Nichole Therese Fowler, Amanda Jean Heldenbrand, Bao Thoa Luong, Jose Carlos Pena, Kate Pritchard, Matt Ryerse, Dexter Colin David Stokes-Mellor, Samantha Jordyn Travis, and Chris Tsai. Their work is partially documented in Exploring The Potential Of Social Media-Based Creative Practice.

Documentation of Contemporary Social Media Platforms and Creative Practice was published on February 10, 2019 on content | code | process. In addition to the panelists' biographies, statements, and transcripts of the Facebook and Twitter discussions, Judy Malloy's Introduction to the Contemporary Social Media Platforms and Creative Practice panel provides background on 2018 ethical issues in social media narrative, information about 2018 exhibitions on social media-based art, and a brief review of issues in using Facebook and Twitter -- and then focuses on the work of the panelists in addressing five core issues regarding creative practice on or about Social Media.

panel logo 1. The State of Artmaking on Social Media
2. Confronting Ethical Issues with Commercial Social Media Platforms
3. Censorship on Social Media Platforms
4. Critical Art Practice: Ben Grosser's Facebook and Twitter Demetricators
5. Instapoetry?

This is the second online panel in a series that began at the Rutgers Camden Digital Studies Center in November 2016 with an online panel on Social Media Narrative: Issues in Contemporary Practice.

For complete information, visit the content | code | process
Contemporary Social Media Platforms and Creative Practice pages.

December, 2018

Networked Projects in the Formative Years of the Internet:
Nina Sobell
Work: 1977-1997

Videophone Voyeur

A s a digital artist, who focuses on experimental forms of interaction and performance, in her words, Nina Sobell "investigates the extent to which video enables her to manipulate the relation between time and space, and to create a vortex for human experience, in which the mediated event coincides with public experience, memory and relationships."

Her pioneering work in publicly-situated interactive video began in 1969 when, while she was a student at Cornell, she used video to document interaction with her sculptures. Subsequently, in 1977, Sobell's performative communication-based installation, Videophone Voyeur, was installed in a storefront window at the Acme Gallery in London. Works such as In and Out the Window, which was installed in a store on Main Street in Ocean Park, California as part of a feminist performance event organized and curated by Suzanne Lacy and Leslie Labowitz in 1979 -- were situated not only in communications theory and community-based telematics but also in the 1970s feminist video performance movement. Collaborations with other artists -- including the Web-based ParkBench and ArTisTheater with Emily Hartzell -- have been important in her work.

In her words, she is "inspired by the collaborative process that evolves from crossing the lines of music, art and technology, and opening up these channels to the public, through interactive video and web based performance and installation."

Nina Sobell's work has been exhibited/performed extensively, including at the Getty Museum The Whitney Museum of American Art, the Hammer Museum, Franklin Furnace, Otis Art Institute Gallery, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE), Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, and Kunstforum, Austria. Her awards include grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and The New York State Council on the Arts, and among other places she has taught at UCLA, School of Visual Arts (SVA), and Goldsmiths College, University of London. Visit her website at http://www.ninasobell.com for more information.

Nina Sobell: Work

M y work over the past 40 years engages both the technology and sociology of surveillance.  I have used technology as a prop to give participants permission to overcome various types of boundaries --- physical and social -- to communicate with one another. I have deployed existing tools in unintended applications, as well as created purpose-built tools. The works Videophone Voyeur (1977), In and Out The Window (1979), Six Moving Cameras / Three Converging Views (1981-82), and Alice Sat Here (1995) are representative of a unitary exploration of altering perception, interaction, and agency that embraces my analog and digital/Web projects utilizing storefront windows. Much of my work is discussed in Emily Hartzell and Nina Sobell, "Sculpting in Time and Space" Leonardo 34:2 (2001), pp. 101-107, available at https://www.jstor.org/stable/1577010. Here, I will highlight specific concepts in my use of the street-level glass window as a medium and space for interaction that unifies these key early works.  

Videophone Voyeur, London and Manchester, 1977

In 1977, I installed Videophone Voyeur at the Acme Gallery, London. Having a large storefront window, it became a perfect open stage for engaging the public interactively.  The general public isn't always predisposed to entering an art gallery, and this was a way of engaging with the public. A meter maid passed by, stopped and looked in the window at the split-screen monitor;  on the left was the image of her, and on the right was the image of me. She picked up the handset to speak to me, and we conversed about the piece and her dreams of becoming a TV weather reporter.

This performative installation, consisted of two split-screen closed-circuit monitors, one facing the street and another adjacently placed at a forty-five degree angle inside the window. A telephone was placed on the sill for participants, and a speaker with a microphone was provided for me to converse. I sat facing the monitor just inside the window, not seeing participants peripherally. We spoke to each other through this videophone matrix. There was a partition separating the activity in the front window from the interior of the gallery, with another split-screen closed-circuit monitor on a stand at eye-level, displaying the image of me and whomever I was talking with. Visitors could enter the gallery, without being seen by me, observe the front window activity, and decide to engage with me or not. Videophone Voyeur formed a medium for interactions that would never have occurred otherwise. When the meter maid saw herself on the screen, she became part of the piece, and the interaction. Toward the end of the work's second installation in Manchester, I stepped out of the window, as the participants took over the piece. In a subsequent performance, I played back the video dialogues from both installations on two monitors. Participants seemed to be asking and answering each other's questions, while a camera was focused on cards as I played solitaire, seen on a third monitor. I was no longer needed as a catalyst. I ported the whole performative installation over to the public as a communicative tool.

Joseph Beuys appreciated the work, especially the meter maids, and invited me to talk about it as part of his Free International University, presented at Documenta 6, Kassel 1977.

In and Out the Window, Ocean Park, California, 1979

Sobell: In and Out the Window

In and Out the Window was installed in Colors of the Wind, a store on Main Street in Ocean Park, California as part of Making It Safe, a feminist performance event organized and curated by Suzanne Lacy and Leslie Labowitz in 1979.  In the performative installation, In and Out the Window, multiples pairs of artists interviewed one another through a closed-circuit video loop on either side of a storefront window, providing a matrix for building community through mediated communication. This work consisted of two parallel video cameras, microphones, and monitors on each side of the window. The participants switched roles between being inside and outside the storefront. Even though they could have talked to each other directly through the window, their inclination was to communicate through the media matrix. Although participants knew their interviews were not being broadcast, this knowledge was overwhelmed by their perception of the power of the technology. The presence of the cameras and monitors affected their behavior, causing participants to adopt the formality and seriousness of someone actually on the air. Later in the performance, I myself sat inside the installation while passersby interviewed me through media matrix. As in Videophone Voyeur in London and Manchester and in Alice Sat Here, the public interacted with the technology. The presence of 'tele-video', dictated a formal behavioral mode of communication between the participants, imagining that the work might be broadcast.

Visit Nina Sobell's complete statement to find out more.

November, 2018

Featured Authoring Software Reviews:
Jim Rosenberg
Word Space Multiplicities, Openings, Andings

C irculated in Italy and France, (and beyond) in the middle ages, theory composers' treatises, such as Guido d'Arrezzo's Micrologus, established a enduring framework for the composition of music. Contingently, pre-web composers of literary hypertext, such as Michael Joyce and Stuart Moulthrop, were working in parallel with the work of researchers and theorists, including Mark Bernstein, Jay Bolter, Jane Yellowlees Douglas, George Landow, and Cathy Marshall,[1] some of whom, Jim Rosenberg, for instance, were/are themselves theory composers in that they not only wrote literary hypertext but also codified hypertext theory and practice.

But in the environment of a grand, accessible, ubiquitous hypertext platform, the World Wide Web, creative hypertext writing is increasingly approached intuitively (or with routine applications) without knowledge of hypertext lineage or theory. This is not necessarily problematic given that there are differences in web-based hypertext and classic pre-web literary hypertext. Nevertheless, the publication of Jim Rosenberg's Word Space Multiplicities, Openings, Andings (WV Center for Literary Computing, 2015) clearly reminds us that there is no reason to assume that our understanding and use of hypertextual systems cannot be enriched.

Furthermore, at a time when in response to fluctuating authoring system availability, writers and students are exploring the creation of personal authoring systems, the papers in Word Space Multiplicities, Openings, Andings -- published in the Computing Literature series under the editorship of Sandy Baldwin, Director of the Center for Literary Computing at West Virginia University -- open new ways of considering both the composition of and the writer/reader experience of hypertext literature.

The opening sections of Word Space Multiplicities -- including Sandy Baldwin's "An Interview on Poetics", "A Conversation with Jim Rosenberg on the Interactive Art Conference on Arts Wire" and Rosenberg's Leonardo-published "Words on Works" riff: "The Word the Play Attaching at a Wide Interval" -- introduce his background, vision and composing process and set the stage for his formal papers. However, rather than review the opening "Essays and Interviews", in light of the mission of content | code | process, this review concentrates on the "Formal Papers" that comprise the second part of this slim but potent compendium.

As we approach the composition of contemporary works that reside on the World Wide Web, the pedestrian use of links becomes a meaning-laden process in the light of Word Space Multiplicities. For instance, in his chapter "Locus Looks at the Turing Play: Hypertextuality vs. Full Programmability", Rosenberg explores algorithmic behavior in hypertext nodes and links including user/algorithm relationships and behavioral versus structural points of view. Along the way, he explores creative practice, such as the use of guard fields to control access to linked contents, and addresses creative writer-specific utilization of algorithmic behavior:

"Classical hypertext algorithms have a clear identity: the user knows what is supposed to happen; indeed it would be taken as a sign of bad design if the user were not to know what is supposed to happen. But in the literary world, incomplete knowledge on the part of the reader has been an age-old artistic variable -- the novel derives much of its power precisely from the fact that the reader doesn't know what is going to happen. In generalized cybertexts it may be artistically important for the author not to spell out the identity of the algorithm. The author may or may not want the algorithm itself (e.g. source code) to be accessible; the author may or may not want the reader to know whether a particular phenomenon occurred as the result of an algorithm."[2]

Jim Rosenberg, screen shot from Diagrams Series 6

Interactive poetry pioneer Jim Rosenberg has been working with non-linear poetic forms since 1966. His visually elegant, word-dense, compressed writer/reader-revealed spatial hypertexts -- including Intergrams and The Barrier Frames and Diffractions Through -- were published by Eastgate in the 1990's.

In his words:

"Somewhere along about '86 or so, playing with bit-mapped graphics and a mouse, I realized that software provided me a way of doing something I had wanted to do very much from the very start: word clusters -- putting words literally on top of one another. When words are put on top of one another visually, or aurally, the result often is that they interfere with one another to the point of unintelligibility. With interactive software, the words can be put atop one another and then by using the mouse, the reader can reveal individual layers one at a time, so all the words are intelligible..." [3]

To completely experience his interactive work, it is important to run it, and much of his work is now available on his website at http://www.inframergence.org/jr/index.shtml

The formal papers that form the body of Word Space Multiplicities, such as "Hypertext in the Open Air" and "Locus Looks at the Turing Play", are core reading for writers of electronic literature. Even for those of us who have been working in the field for years and have read all these papers separately many times, the detail-intensive original thinking in Jim Rosenberg's papers is an extraordinary starting/restarting point for writing and programming with contemporary hypertext systems. For example focusing on the implementation of his Frame Stack Project [4] as actual working code, in "Hypertext in the Open Air: A Systemless Approach to Spatial Hypertext", Rosenberg deftly combines an exploration of his own authoring process with issues such as run-time behavior in conjunction with authoring, and relatedly, interactive authoring and the affordances of spatial (visually structured) hypertext.

In his primary paper, "The Structure of Hypertext Activity", Rosenberg establishes a vocabulary of acteme/episode/session, and in the process brilliantly clarifies the hypertext experience for both writer and reader. Complete review....

October, 2018

content | code | process revisits:
Brenda Laurel
The Art of Human-Computer Interface Design

The Art of Human-Computer Interface Design is a classic work of Macintosh Interface design. Edited by theater and computers scholar and researcher Brenda Laurel, who was at the time a consultant to Apple Computer and later created Purple Moon software for girls, the book is a formative documentation of the time in history when personal computers were beginning to make new ways of reading and writing possible. Although the focus is early Macintosh interface, the book is of interest, not only from the perspective of classic interface design but also in the exploration of the evolving concept of "interface".

...In "Guides: Characterizing the Interface", Tim Oren, Gitta Salomon, Kristie Kreitman, and Abbe Don discuss designing an interface for Grolier Electronic Publishing's The Americana Series: America 1800-1850. Fictional characters, represented by graphic images, were used to help young readers select the material most appropriate to their interests. "We are finding out as much about the way people want to receive content as we are about navigation," the authors note. "We have uncovered a lot about what engages in the interface, but we have also discovered that the interface is deeply intermeshed with the content."

..."If it is to be like magical paper, then it is the magical part that is all important and that must be most strongly attended to in the user interface design," Alan Kay writes about the computer screen in his chapter "User Interface: A Personal View".

...Complete review

September, 2018

Featured Authoring Software Statement:
Dan Waber
a kiss
Software: Twine

Dan Waber is a poet, playwright, publisher, and multimedia artist, whose work is predominantly language-based.

Waber's works of electronic literature include Strings, presented in Flash and published in the Electronic Literature Collection v. 1; the collaborative hypertext, that reminds me; and the brief, dense, fluxuating poems in his elegant collection cantoos.

a kiss, an innovative use of the freeware hypertext application Twine, was published in 2013 in Drunken Boat 17.

In his statement for Authoring Software, Waber explains that "You begin at the center of all things, the moment of a kiss and are able to move outward from that moment in several directions. Each choice leads to more choices, the further away you move, until at the outermost limit all possible choices lead back to the moment of a kiss."

Visit Dan Waber's Authoring Software statement on a kiss to find out more.

August, 2018

Networked Projects
in the Formative Years of the Internet

Judy Malloy: Working Report No. 1

".. new communication platforms do not determine some inevitable 'end,' whether that be democratization or destabilization. What people collectively and individually decide to do with those technologies as professionals and as audiences, and what kinds of culture people produce and spread in and around these tools, is still being determined. Those media scholars, industry practitioners, and active media participants who care about seeking an inclusive, equitable, and robust media landscape cannot accept the evolution of media platforms and content creation as if it were the unalterable consequence of technological developments... -- Henry Jenkins, Sam Ford, and Joshua Green, Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture. New York University Press, 2013. pp. xiii-xiv

aitiani E xpressed when the project was launched in April 2017, the mission of the Networked Projects in the Formative Years of the Internet project is:

"As social media platforms become a core part of -- some would say dominate -- the contemporary Internet environment, a focus on enabling creative voices in social media is an important component of Internet policies that seek to enrich the Infosphere. In this respect, narratives of pre-web social media projects created by artists, arts organizations, researchers, and community networkers not only contribute to the archeology of social media but also nurture innovation in contemporary social media."

Networked Projects in the Formative Years of the Internet is a web archive created to accompany the book Social Media Archeology and Poetics MIT Press, 2016 (SMAP). In the book, the words and work of creative computer scientists writers, artists, musicians, historians, and digital humanists -- from engineer Lee Felsenstein in Northern California (Community Memory), to critic Annick Bureaud (Minitel) in Paris, to digital humanists Alan Liu in Santa Barbara and Julianne Nyhan in London; from artists Hank Bull in Vancouver, B.C. and Wolfgang Staehle (THE THING) in New York City to Community Networkers Randy Ross (Ponca Tribe of Nebraska and Otoe Missouria) and Madeline Gonzalez Allen in Colorado; to researcher/artist Judith Donath in Massachusetts -- bring different histories and perspectives. Their chapters not only demonstrate how social media evolved from both individual and collaborative efforts but also document the affordances for creative work that these platforms pioneered. And, in narratives, such as Arts Wire's odyssey from a text-based conferencing system to a GUI (graphical user interface) system, this book also documents how some artist-centered social media platforms adapted to the World Wide Web.

The papers in SMAP have a primary focus on platforms. Now, realistically conceived as a five-year project, Networked Projects in the Formative Years of the Internet will compliment SMAP, both by highlighting artists projects implemented on these platforms and by documenting artists projects and small platforms that existed independently of the platforms documented in SMAP.

Concentrating on vision and mission, as expressed in individual and small collaborative projects, Networked Projects in the Formative Years of the Internet is researching and documenting pre-web telematic projects. With research and documentation, Networked Projects will add significantly to the study of early projects in the cultural sphere. In addition to artist-created work and projects (such as Joe Davis, Dana Moser, and Charles Kelley's Nicaraguan Interactions, Artur Matuck's Reflux, Karen O'Rourke's City Projects, DAX Dakar d'Accord, and Wendel White's Small Towns, Black Lives), Networked Projects also seeks to include projects created/facilitated by ARPANET-era researchers (such as Yumyum and SF-Lovers); projects created on arts-centered platforms (such as NewMusNet on Arts Wire and Manifesto on THE THING); projects created/facilitated by humanities scholars (such as NINCH-Announce and Postmodern Culture); alternative approaches (such as Peter D'Agostino's Proposal for Qube); as well as contributions from arts writers, curators, critics, and innovators. It will also review other core sources of documentation, for instance Heidi Grundmann's Art Telecommunication, Roy Ascott's Telematic Embrace: Visionary Theories of Art, Technology, and Consciousness, and Lynn Cherny and Elizabeth Reba Weise’s Wired Women.

With sadness and respect for his work, Networked Projects notes the July 2018 death of black cyberactivist Art McGee, who was to document early Black BBS platforms for this project.

Eventually, Networked Projects in the Formative Years of the Internet will be compiled in a dynamic web-based archive of approximately 40 works. Since the project began last year, nine works have been documented. Many more statements are forthcoming. Meanwhile, in this interim report -- available here -- documentation for the first nine projects is summarized/excerpted/linked to. Although it is only a beginning, the cumulative impact of Networked Projects in the Formative Years of the Internet both augments the known history of pre-web creative work on the Internet and strongly suggests the potential for new creative projects to enrich the contemporary social media infosphere.

July, 2018

July Featured Work:
María Mencía
Birds Singing Other Birds Songs
Software: Flash, Illustrator, Audacity


María Mencía is an artist-researcher and Senior Lecturer in New Media Theory and Digital Media Practice in the School of Performance and Screen Studies at Kingston University, London. Encompassing language, visual art, data, and sound, her work in digital poetics is experimental, textual, and generative. It has been presented, exhibited, and published internationally, including the International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA); onedotzero; Electronic Language International Festival (FILE); International Contemporary Art Fair, Madrid (ARCO); Computers in Art and Design Education (CADE); Caixaforum; E-Poetry 2013; Cherchez le Texte, the 2013 Conference of the Electronic Literature Organization, Paris; the TATE Modern; the Electronic Literature Collection; and the Anthology of European Electronic Literature. She is the editor of #WomenTechLit (West Virginia University Press).

María Mencía's recent work includes the Gateway to the World data visualization series (programmer: Pascal Auberson), originally developed for an exhibition in Hamburg, Germany. Utilizing an open access maritime database, Mencía's Gateway to the World visualizes ships arriving at and departing from the Port of Hamburg. As they move, the vessels write their histories and the histories of their names on a screen-displayed map, creating a visual and poetic record of the maritime traffic between Hamburg and the world. Other works in this series include Gateway to the World: Ireland presented at the Moore Institute, Galway, Ireland, in 2017 and Gateway to the Mediterranean, presented at the exhibition Paraules Pixelades La literatura en l’era digital in Barcelona in 2016.

In Birds Singing Other Birds Songs, she explores a translation process in which the songs of birds are translated into language and then translated back to bird songs via the human voice. In the resultant work, the viewer interactively sets animated bird shapes in motion. Creating an innovative user-controlled experience, they sing the sound of their own text, while flying across the blue-sky screen.

In her words:

"It draws from avant-garde poetics remediating concepts of reading and writing, exploring new literacies through the production of creative projects and digital media grammars (voice activation, use of webcam, use of mouse, acts of revealing, triggering, cut and paste, dragging) for interactivity, aesthetics, engagement and meaning production. It is trans-disciplinary, bringing together different cultural, artistic and literary traditions such as: linguistics, fine art, visual, concrete, and sound poetry, with digital poetics, electronic writing, and new media art theories and practices."

Visit María Mencía's
content | code | process statement
to find out more

June, 2018

Serge Guilbaut, Joni Low, and Pan Wendt
Hank Bull: Connexion
Confederation Centre Art Gallery/Musée d'art du Centre de la Confédération, 2015

Reading Hank Bull: Connextion

"What this midden offers is an analogue of our networked presence -- and its fragmented, irregular social formations and communications, which we are only beginning to understand. Immersed in a cacophony of information, media, and interactions daily, we must intuit what to focus on, derive meaning from, and connect with -- and engage with the world on that basis" -Joni Low in Hank Bull: Connexion

The exhibition, Hank Bull: Connexion was based on Vancouver-situated artist Hank Bull's archives, collected beginning in the early 1970's and displayed by the artist himself in 2012 at the artist-run center for contemporary art and new music, Western Front. In 2015, curated by Joni Low and Pan Wendt, Hank Bull: Connexion was installed at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada. From January 20 to April 6, 2017, Hank Bull: Connexion returned to Vancouver, BC, Canada, where it was installed at the Burnaby Art Gallery.

Hank Bull's work resides at the intersection of painting, sculpture, music, performance art, video, sound, radio, and telematic art. Beginning in the 1970's, he was associated with Western Front, and in 1999, he was a co-founder of the Vancouver-based International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art (Centre A). In the second decade of the 21st century, where the darker sides of global contemporary social media dominate discourse, the catalog for Hank Bull: Connexion -- infused with images and texts from his work and philosophies, as well as containing primary essays in both French and English by Serge Guilbaut, professor of art emeritus at the University of British Columbia; independent curator and writer Joni Low; and Pan Wendt, curator at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery -- provides an entry way for revisiting artists' projects in the formative years of social networking.

"Networking as a mode of being manifests itself throughout Bull's practice, through collaboration, telecommunications art, and Filliou's idea of the Eternal Network, which Bull's material history so vividly expresses." -- Joni Low in Hank Bull: Connexion

Interactive approaches to radio were a starting point for Bull's work with communications, but from a Networked Projects in the Formative Years of the Internet point of view, the story begins when he began working on artist-centered telecommunication projects in the 1970's, utilizing slowscan, electronic text, and fax. In the 1980's, using Canadian carrier I.P. Sharp's ARTEX platform, he was a core participant in projects such as Roy Ascott's La plissure du texte (1983), a collaborative fairy tale written in English and French by nodes including Vancouver, Sydney, Vienna, Amsterdam, Bristol, Boston, Pittsburgh, New York, San Francisco, and Honolulu, among others. "The Magician," British artist Roy Ascott, was at that time based in Paris. As the narrative progressed from node to node, an improvised, collaboratively-created text emerged. La plissure du texte was documented in the exhibition Hank Bull: Connexion with a printout bound in string.

The catalog situates material from the exhibition in a click-bait-reminiscent array of entryways to Bull's work that suggests multiple interpretations and in the process, explores the roots of social networking in artist-centered communication circles. Beginning with the HP Dinner Show, (radio, with Patrick Ready, 1976-1984), in the catalog, an "Illustrated Chronology" by Bull himself sets forth projects such as Telephone Portraits (Taki Sekiguchi and others, 1977); Canada Africa 1.1 (conceived by Robert Filliou,1983); and Weincouver IV (Robert Adrian, Hank Bull, and others, 1983).

"...a collapse of the proscenium arch separating actor from audience..." - Hank Bull in Social Media Archeology and Poetics

Along the way, Hank Bull himself was a core creator of global projects, such as Shanghai Fax (1996), which he, Shi Yong, Shen Fan, and Ding Yi organized at the gallery of the Hua Shan College of Art. In his chapter in Social Media Archeology, Bull addresses the nature of the "audience" in telematic art projects. "As we see in the Internet today," he observes, "there was a collapse of the proscenium arch separating actor from audience, producer from consumer. Access to the tools of telecommunication, like the access to video that preceded it, enurtured hopes for democracy, a sense of being able to 'talk back to the media' and spawned an alternative economy of symbolic exchange outside the market." [1]

Additionally, foreshadowing the role of social media in global politics -- such as the 2008 Facebook Group Un Millon de Voces Contra Las FARC or the Iranian voices on Twitter in protest of the 2009 Iranian presidential election -- in his chapter in Social Media Archeology and Poetics Bull describes how an "Art's Birthday" celebration evolved into networked protest.

"In 1991, we faced the imminent possibility of war in Iraq. Karel Dudasek, of Ponton Media, had stationed himself in a hotel room in Amman, Jordan, equipped with a videophone. By a tragic twist of fate, just as everything was ready for our January 17th transmission, the bombing of Baghdad started. While millions sat stunned before their TVs, mesmerized by the spectacular and highly theatricalized representation of horrific events, the Art's Birthday network was immediately transformed from party to war protest. We found ourselves -- some twenty nodes, from Tucson to Tokyo -- operating our own independent global media network, with live reporting from Amman relayed and a street protest in Pittsburgh beaming back." - Hank Bull, Social Media Archeology and Poetics. [2]

"The role Hank Bull often played within this milieu was that of a host, a person who produces a setting, a loose structure for the exchange of ideas, and who acts as a mediator or conduit between personalities." -- Pan Wendt in Hank Bull: Connexion

The role of "host" in early nonprofit social media was, in many cases, conceived differently from the role of "moderator" in that there was no censorship or hierarchical consideration of participation in the idea of host. Ideally, a host welcomed and facilitated democratic discourse. However, varied interpretations of the-role-of or the-need-for "hosts", were, are, and will continue to be areas to review and discuss as we look to the future of social media.

For instance, in a larger sense of "host", in many of the projects initiated by the Electronic Cafe -- such as at the 1984 Olympics, where diverse communities were linked in cafes across Los Angeles -- Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz could be considered the hosts, in that they provided the technology and created the environment. The same could be said of contemporary social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter. However, they are large commercial entities, whereas The Electronic Cafe was an artist-run project.

For ARTEX, the Canadian time-sharing telecommunications carrier I.P. Sharp (IPSA) provided the technology, but projects were initiated by the artists themselves who served as host for various projects. A model was Bill Bartlett's 1979 Interplay, carried by IPSA, as a part of the Computer Culture Exposition at the 1979 Toronto Super8 Film Festival. During Interplay, from node to node, artists in Canberra, Edmonton, Houston, New York, Toronto, Sydney, Vancouver, and Vienna discoursed on future roles of computer culture, and, as the discussion progressed, computer printouts of their dialogue appeared in the participating cities. Other artist-hosted projects hosted by IPSA included Robert Adrian X's The World in 24 Hours (1982); and Norman White's hearsay, a tribute to Hungarian-born poet Robert Zend, in which, following the sun, a text was sent around the world in a 24-hour time-based event (1985). Hank Bull not only was a core participant in many of these projects but also served as a host/catalyst to inspire and provide platforms for projects on other systems.

Beginning in 1985, on The WELL, there were various levels of overall management, but conferences were hosted by individuals (or, in the case of Art Com Electronic Network, an organization). For instance, techno-journalist Howard Rheingold developed and hosted The Mind Conference. SRI International futurist Tom Mandel developed and hosted the Future Conference. As the WELL notes on its website:

"Hosting in the conversational sense is online innkeeping — a large part of what makes a sense of context and "place" worth coming back to again and again in the glistening, fragmented wasteland of the Web. Designating an informed, opinionated and outgoing conference host who is focused on encouraging interaction with a light touch, without censorship of ideas or language, is part of the magic of The WELL." [3]

In the 1990's, on Arts Wire there was also an overall management that provided the technology and the environment, and, in an overall sense, hosted "interest groups" that were proposed, developed, and hosted in different ways by different individuals or organizations. For instance, AIDS and LGBT activist Michael Tidmus developed and maintained AIDSwire. Composers Pauline Oliveros, Douglas Cohen, and David Mahler hosted NEWMUSNET, a virtual space that centered on issues about/for composers, performers and presenters of experimental music and served as an incubator for new ensembles and new works. Anna Couey and I developed and hosted INTERACTIVE, an online laboratory for focused discussion and production of interactive art. Funded by the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the NATIVE ARTS NETWORK ASSOCIATION (NANA), a group of Native Arts Organizations, had core involvement from Atlatl in Phoenix. PROJECTARTNET -- created in 1993 by Aida Mancillas and Lynn Susholtz -- was a San Diego-based community arts networking project that brought children from schools in immigrant neighborhoods online to create a community history.

In the same era, Wolfgang Staehle served as the catalyst, as provider of technology, and as the overall manager for THE THING. THE THING began in New York City. Nodes followed in Cologne, Berlin, Vienna, London, Stockholm. Under THE THING's umbrella, an amazing array of projects that ranged from 9 Sculptures, New York, an online art project by Helene von Oldenburg with "floor maps of nine New York Museums and a legend indicating dimensions and location of nine imaginative sculptures in these spaces"; to Felix Huber and Philip Pocock's Arctic Circle, in which performance videos and sound loops were produced in the Arctic Circle; to the postcolonial BindiGirl web project by Prema Murthy, in which Murthy's avatar juxtaposed her own images with images from ancient Indian texts. [4]

On contemporary commercial social media, the richness of content and dialogue that existed on early social media systems is there, but it is often diluted and difficult to find. Additionally, in defense of contemporary social media platforms, it should be noted that we don't see many big media outlets in other broadcasting systems (television, for instance) offering free platforms with a potential for equality to everyone in the world. Nevertheless, not only should the issues of Big Social Media as monopoly hosts in the provide-the-technology-and-the-environment/interface sense be debated, but also there is a need to incubate nonprofit alternatives where management does not own or misuse content -- particularly in the arts, where censorship is seldom appropriate, and unseen algorithmic censorship is insidious.

Reading Hank Bull: Connextion

If this were an in-depth essay on the roles of hosting/moderation/management in profit as opposed to nonprofit social media platforms, this would be the time to examine this issue from the point of view of (for instance) Facebook groups, Twitter hashtags, and management's algorithic control of content. Meanwhile, what is core in this review is that publications such as the catalog for Hank Bull: Connexion, as well as Bull's extraordinary archives themselves, are vitally important in such discussions because they allow us to look not only at art history per se but also at the models that both individuals and organizations developed in the nonprofit era of social networking.

"Follow the clues..."

In "Style de vie", the concluding section of Hank Bull: Connexion, Joni Low, Alex Muir, and Pan Wendt arrange a series of images and lexias (in both English and French) that ground the exhibition and catalog in conversations in Hank Bull's apartment at Western Front during the years that led up to these events.

The wind dislodges and breaks Yuxweluptun Lawrence Paul's wooden sculpture (made for the roof of Western Front at Hank Bull's request), and the sculptor’s surprising reaction is remembered; noise makers of all kinds are strewn on top of a piano, eliciting discussions of noise, music, and telematic communication; "Stories intermix and misunderstandings become openings for reinterpretation. Humans, like vessels, hold and spill stories along the way, sometimes accidently, other times deliberately. Follow the clues..."

For the complete Hank Bull: Connexion, review, including the Notes section, visit the content | code | process
reviews page.

May, 2018

Featured Resource:
Social Media Narrative:
Issues in Contemporary Practice

Mill City

I nnovative, interesting, and surprising creative work threads through the vibrant chaos of the social media infosphere, and there are indications that this work is filtering into contemporary art practice. Exhibitions, such as 1stfans: Twitter Art Feed Archive at the Brooklyn Museum, reviews, such as Barbara Pollack's "The Social Revolution," have critically covered social media-based creative work. And there are also indications that social media narrative is receiving mainstream publication and support. For instance, The New Yorker published Jennifer Egan's "Black Box"; Harper Collins India published a print version of Chindu Sreedharan's Epic Retold; and The Lizzie Bennet Diaries was the first YouTube-distributed series to win a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Original Interactive Content.

Nevertheless, the rich diversity of social media-based narrative - from #24hOpen, Man Bartlett's real-time tweet-documented 24 hour pop-endurance/duration Best Buy store performance; to Sandra Cisneros' Instagram page, that with images and words explores her community-centered life; to Marco Williams' interactive, transmedia graphic narrative, The Migrant trail -- is not as well-documented as it should be.

Begun in 2017, during my term as a Digital Studies Fellow at the Rutgers Camden Digital Studies Center, this annotated resource, that augments the Rutgers Camden DSC panel on Social Media Narrative: Issues in Contemporary Practice, provides resources on contemporary social media-based narrative in genres including creative writing, graphic narrative, visual art, video and film, and performance -- with a focus on syllabus-relevant works and books.

Additionally, because increasing concerns, about issues -- such as corporate hosts and algorithmic control of content, racism, gender discrimination, diversity, copyright, privacy, censorship, and harassment -- necessitate a critical examination of the social media infosphere, this resource not only includes books that approach social media creatively, such as Judith Donath's The Social Machine, Designs for Living Online, but also includes books and papers that identify issues such as how Facebook's interface and algorithms result in loss of control over user content (Eisenlauer, A Critical Hypertext Analysis of Social Media; van Dijck, The Culture of Connectivity); and the importance of both modifying social media software and augmenting content." (Gehl, Reverse Engineering Social Media; Jenkins et al. Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture.)

Mill City

Visit Social Media Narrative: Issues in Contemporary Practice for the complete Resource.
An entry page links not only to the resources
but also to documentation of the Rutgers DSC panel.

April, 2018

Networked Projects in the Formative Years of the Internet:
Anna Couey and Judy Malloy
The Arts Wire Interactive Art Conference

Arts Wire Interactive

Anna Couey

From: "Anna Couey" <couey@well.com>
To: "Judy Malloy" <jmalloy@well.com>
Subject: A conversation on the Arts Wire Interactive Art Conference

Hi Judy,

T hanks for your invitation to have this conversation about the Interactive Art Conference, which you and I co-founded in 1993 "to engage artists and cultural workers particularly in the investigation of contemporary art and new communication technologies."

As it turns out, 1993 was also the year Mosaic was created, the graphical web browser that was to propel the World Wide Web and the Internet into the cultural mainstream.  

Interactivity was an important concept for artists working with computer-based media and telecommunications at that time. It signified an active relationship between an art work and the people experiencing it, and was used to describe a range of strategies. Works that employed a narrative branching structure to allow for multiple story paths, such as Lynn Hershman Leeson’s Lorna videodisc (1983) were considered interactive, as were works such as your Bad Information project (1986), for which you invited online participants to contribute content based on a set of instructions and coded a database to contain their responses, and Roy Ascott's Planetary Network (1986), in which participants at 24 designated sites in Europe, North America, and Australia, contributed "news" to a feed exhibited at the Venice Biennale. The degree to which producing artists guided participants’ engagement with an interactive work varied significantly: people encountered Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz's Hole in Space (1980) without any contextualizing introduction or invitation to participate; the human interactions through the telecommunications portal were entirely self-directed. 

To me, interactivity was not only an artistic practice, but a political one. It blurred boundaries between artist and audience, creating space for multiple voices, including people who didn’t consider themselves artists, to make meaning. It opened up questions related to the power of voice: who is allowed to speak and who must listen. I saw interactivity as a strategy for advancing a paradigm shift from a mass communications model in which content was created by a few and broadcast to many, to a horizontal communications structure in which many voices shaped our culture.

I had recently organized the telecommunications project Cultures in Cyberspace (1992) in collaboration with you, George Baldwin (Osage/Kaw), Phillip Bannigan, Anne Fallis (now Anne Fines), Susan Harris, Joe Matuzak, John Quarterman, Randy Ross (Ponca/Otoe), and Eric Theise, as a vehicle to engage a diversity of communities in envisioning the Internet-connected world we wanted to create. The exper ience left me with ethical questions about how to make interactive art in social space, including how to meaningfully and appropriately work with existing communities I was not a member of in the creation of interactive art. I was eager to explore these and other questions with other artists exploring interactivity. 

You and I chose to locate the Interactive Art Conference on Arts Wire, an online home for artists and arts organizations, institutions, advocates and funders primarily in the U.S., initially directed by Anne Focke, and launched in 1992. I believe you and I were both working for Arts Wire when we began conceptualizing Interactive. We had also both been active in and influenced by the Art Com Electronic Network established by Carl Loeffler and Fred Truck in 1986, which became an online artists space for the production and dissemination of art works and information on the creative use of new communication technologies. By placing Interactive on Arts Wire, I believe we were seeking to create a place for artists to explore “interactive art, electronic and otherwise” across a diversity of disciplines and cultures, and also to move digital interactive art out of the margins of the art world. 

I also hoped that Interactive would help strengthen artists’ voices in shaping the development of the Internet. 

What is your story about the founding of Interactive? 

Judy Malloy

From: "Judy Malloy" <jmalloy@well.com>
To: "Anna Couey" <couey@well.com>

Hi Anna,

Yes! We were looking at the growing role of interactivity in digital media, and we were interested in focusing on that aspect. As you point out, we wanted to "strengthen artists' voices in shaping the development of the Internet". And the public advent of the Mosaic browser in 1993 was an auspicious start for an interactive art conference that began in the same year.

In my own work, at Xerox PARC, on LambdaMoo, in 1993, I began creating Brown House Kitchen, which used virtual objects to interactively disclose text in an environment where groups of users collaboratively unfolded the story. Also in 1993, Its name was Penelope, which integrated reader choice into generative hypertext, was published by Eastgate, and my The Yellow Bowl, which hinged on continuous reader choice between sequential narrative and generative narrative, was exhibited at FISEA, in Minneapolis. In the summer of 1993, at Deep Creek School in Telluride, I worked with MFA students to document their interactive works of environmental issue-based art. So, in 1993, I was very interested in talking with artists about how they were using interactivity in their work.

For the complete conversation about the Interactive Art Conference on Arts Wire click here

March, 2018

Networked Projects in the Formative Years of the Internet:
Poietic Generator
Interview with Olivier Auber

Poetique Generator 2017 In 1987, when he was working with Tod Machover and Catherine Ikam in the staging of VALIS -- Machover's opera which premiered at the Pompidou Center in 1987 and was based on Philip K. Dick's work of the same name -- French Engineer Olivier Auber conceived and designed the Poietic Generator. First implemented on the Minitel, in Auber's words Poietic Generator (PG) is:

"...a social network game which may be envisioned as a 100% human « Game of Life« , that is to say a cellular automata where every single cell is manipulated by a single human being. It allows everybody (10, 100, and one day 1000 or more people), all together regardless of his/her language, culture and educational background, to participate in real time (with a PC or mobile device) in the process of self-organization at work in the continuous emergence of a global picture." [1]

Olivier Auber holds an engineering degree and a Master of Design from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts et Métiers, where his work centered on nonlinear optical elements (holograms) for avionics head-up display. As a research engineer, he worked initially in the avionics division of Thomson Csf (now Thales Group) and at CERN in Geneva. He has also worked as an independent consulting engineer, exhibit designer, and project manager for the Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie (Paris), and he has developed exhibition projects for other cultural institutions, including the Centre Georges Pompidou, the Institut du Monde Arabe, and the Palais de la Dcouverte. In 1997, he co-founded the A+H Culture Laboratory in order to develop interdisciplinary projects.

The Poietic Generator is a canonic work that is of both historic and contemporary interest. Following its debut on the Minitel, PG has been installed at venues that include the Centre Georges Pompidou; Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie; Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Télécommunications (now Télécom ParisTech); a campground in the South of France during the summer of 1990; an urban display on the Rue du Chien Marin, Brussels, 2013; a large installation at Shanghai Institute of Visual Art (SIVA), 2015; and many other places.


In "Art and Minitel in France in the 1980S", her chapter in Social Media Archeology and Poetics, Annick Bureaud writes that:

"Olivier Auber's Poetic Generator is a fully immaterial work that exists in cyberspace during the time of the interaction among the connected audience members. Dealing with issues of self organization and crowd behavior, it is the collective creation of a global image for which each person has available a square of 20x20 pixels, the size of the drawing automatically adjusted itself to the number of participants. Created on the Minitel, and then upgraded and remediated from platforms to platforms and in this era to smart phones, it is one of the very few still existing works from the Minitel era." [2]

Since it appeared on the Minitel in 1987, your Poietic Generator (PG) has had a continuing place in networked communication and the media arts. In this conversation for Networked Projects in the Formative Years of the Internet, I'd like to focus on the initial Minitel implementation of PG.

In a recent interview with the 2017 Pixelache Festival, [3] you cite Philip K. Dick's VALIS (Vast Active Living Intelligent System). Are there other philosophical, theoretical, research, or aesthetic ideas that influenced the creation of Poietic Generator?

Olivier Auber

Poietic Generator 2017 VALIS is a kind of autobiography, orbited around a short moment of enlightenment that Philip K. Dick felt in his life. This experience gave him an accelerated overview on the global cycle of the Universe.

Philip K. Dick envisioned VALIS as the point where time ends and starts a new cycle. VALIS also has the power to enlighten some people at some points. By reading his book, I myself had the impression of being touched by VALIS. This is how I suddenly got the idea of the Poietic Generator, although Philip K. Dick didn't mention any game or work of art. I envisioned the PG as a small prototype of VALIS which would be able in its turn to touch other people; something like an automatic theophanic machine.

Compared to this feeling, all the influences I had prior to this experience were minor. Later other influences helped me refine the conceptualization of the PG, such as the work of many scientists (Varela, Conway, Turing, Von Neumann...), artists (Duchamp, Mondrian, Klee, Schöffer...), writers (Hesse, Borges, Eco...), many philosophers, and so on.

Above all, the main reference that came immediately after my "wow" event was Brunelleschi, the Italian artist, architect, and polymath, who near the beginning of the Renaissance discovered the optical perspective. It seemed obvious to me that in networks there are some kinks of perspectives, which I later called "anoptical perspectives". More recently, I combined all this with Jean-Louis Dessalles' theory of language as a social signaling device, which I consider a true breakthrough. [4]

For the complete Interview with Olivier Auber
about his Poietic Generator,
click here

the PG in different comtexts

February, 2018
Featured February Work:

Dene Grigar
Reflecting on Fallow Field

In her content | code | process statement on Fallow Field, Grigar documents the scholar's journey that led to a classic narrative, in which the archetypal Texas Gulf Coast landscape is implied in text, image and sound. Cornfields and farm earth shape the disintegration of a relationship; text is slowly revealed in brief, numbered lexias; images compliment words with artists book clarity. Resonant of Greek tragedy, with mythic characters and situation, Fallow Field leads the reader into a relentless, immersive drama.

Fallow Field cover page Dene Grigar, is Professor and Director of The Creative Media & Digital Culture Program at Washington State University Vancouver; President of The Electronic Literature Organization; and, among many other publications, editor (with Stuart Moulthrop) of Traversals The Use of Preservation for Early Electronic Writing (MIT Press, 2017). Her work focuses on the creation, curation, preservation, and criticism of electronic literature -- on platforms from desktop computers to mobile media devices, but also including virtual reality, multimedial environments and experiences for live performance, installations, and curated spaces.

Created with compelling narrative constructs that poetically address place, community, and community issues, her works explore telematic storytelling, collaboration, and performance, using multimedia and/or social media.

In addition to Fallow Field: A Story in Two Parts, she is the author of The Jungfrau Tapes: A Conversation with Diana Slattery about The Glide Project, also published by The Iowa Review Web, and When Ghosts Will Die, (with Canadian multimedia artist Steve Gibson) a work that experiments with motion tracking technology to produce networked narratives. Her projects also include the Fort Vancouver Mobile Project, a locative / mixed media effort that brought together a core team of 23 scholars, digital storytellers, new media producers, historians, and archaeologists to create location-aware nonfiction content for mobile phones to be used at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.

Her work as a distinguished curator of electronic literature has included exhibitions at the British Computer Society, September 14-15, 2017; at the 128th Modern Language Association Convention, Boston, MA, January 2013; and at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC, April 2-5, 2013 (both with Kathi Inman Berens). In 2012, she co-curated the Electronic Literature Exhibit at the 2012 Modern Language Association Convention (with Lori Emerson, and Kathi Inman Berens) and Electrifying Literature: Affordances and Constraints, the Electronic Literature Organization's 2012 Media Art Show (with Sandy Baldwin). She is currently documenting electronic literature on the public access Born Digital Preservation Series.

Dene Grigar: Reflecting on Fallow Field: An Artist's Paper

Fallow Field is a short work of fiction, published in 2004 in The Iowa Review Web, that chronicles the breakdown of a marriage.

C omposed in 30 segments of text that we used to refer to regularly in the pre-mobile era (when the affordances of screen space made chunked text an authorial decision instead of a necessity) as "lexias," it was originally penned in May 1993 as I puddle-jumped up the continent on four different legs of a Southwest Airlines flight from Dallas to Detroit to attend my first academic conference at the University of Michigan. Once the words were recorded on paper, I changed little -- they flowed so easily from my head to hand.

As repugnant as the two main characters are, they exist as envisioned -- hard as dried earth and passionate to the point of folly -- because they remediate characters of great Western myths. I had just completed my PhD exams and was preparing to write a dissertation on Homer's Penelope when I wrote Fallow Field. The previous two years were spent learning ancient Greek and beginning my translations of Homer, Antigone, The Bacchae, parts of the Oresteia, and other Greek texts. The archetypal power struggle between women and men (e.g. Hera and Zeus, Helen of Troy and Menelaus, and Klytemnestra and Agamemnon) was an idea swarming in my head like the Furies themselves. I had to release it (and, so, them) and make sense of it for a contemporary culture in a way that did not merely attempt to tell the same stories.

For that reason, Fallow Field is set in no particular place or time and reflects no one culture, and the protagonist remains nameless throughout. Certainly those who know me may recognize, however, the strong Texas Gulf Coast influence, particularly its people, terrain, and sensibilities that inflect most of my literary work.

Dene Grigar's complete statement on Fallow Field, is available here.

January, 2018

Networked Projects in the Formative Years of the Internet:
Robert Edgar:
Memory Theatre One

detail from Presenting Memory Theatre One R obert Edgar is a pioneer in creating computer-mediated works of art that with aesthetic graphic interfaces explore philosophical contexts, and issues of memory, information, and avatar. His work includes Memory Theatre One (1985), Living Cinema (1988), Sand, or How Computers Imagine Truth in Cinema (1994), and Simultaneous Opposites (2008 - present).

In the mid 1980's on Art Com Electronic Network (ACEN) on The WELL, Edgar's Memory Theatre One was a central work in online discussions exploring "Software as Art". Additionally, Memory Theatre One was included in ACEN exhibitions of artists software, such as Art Com Software: Digital Concepts and Expressions, which premiered at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at the Tisch School of the Arts, at New York University, on November 4-22, 1988.

With reference to 16th century Giulio Camillo's Theatre of Memory, in Memory Theatre One, which Edgar discusses in his statement for Networked Projects in the Formative Years of the Internet, the user explores a series of 27 architectural spaces and metaphors. The work was created for Apple 48 and 64K systems and programmed in Paul Lutus' GraFORTH.

Robert Edgar:
Memory Theatre One

detail from Presenting Memory Theatre One B ack in 1985, just after completing Memory Theatre One, and as The WELL was just getting started. I had moved from San Francisco to Atlanta to start a company producing video disc-based marketing systems, and found The WELL a perfect (although at the time, expensive due to the cost of long-distance connections) way to connect with the area I’d just left. As it turned out, it connected me with many people around the world.

Memory Theatre One (MT1) was a 20th-century cosmology on two floppy disks. With its limited graffiti-like graphics, I realized that it had to refer rather than contain. Its predecessor -- the small one-person theatre by the sixteenth-century Giulio Camillo -- contained heavily symbolic paintings paired with drawers containing explicative texts. The pairs were architecturally arranged both horizontally and vertically around the seated viewer, who was both the audience and the player of the theatre’s content. This was perfect: The Large Glass and The Green Box. And so I created a virtual ring of 12 pairs of rooms (high and low) that rotated around a central atrium, with a library of texts on one side, and a room with a two-dimensional depiction of the ring on the other.

Robert Edgar's complete statement, is available here.

December, 2017

In Retrospect:
Heidi Grundmann, Art Telecommunication.
Vancouver: Western Front; Vienna: BLIX, 1984.

P ublished in 1984, long before the social-media infused infosphere became a part of everyday life, Art Telecommunication, with its multi-lingual text, conceptual black and white and shades of gray images, and its combination of artist's statements, original documentation, and the words of critics, is an iconic work that --- with seminal theory, futurist prediction, and the lineage of networked art practice -- supplements immersion in contemporary social media.

Robert Adrian X at La Mamelle/Art Com Edited by cultural critic Heidi Grundmann, producer of KUNSTRADIO-RADIOKUNST, and published by Western Front in Vancouver, B.C. and BLIX in Vienna, Art Telecommunication (also known as Art + Telecommunication) epitomizes the aesthetic of late 1970's and early 1980s networked projects. Primary essays in this book are by Eric Gidney, Roy Ascott, Tom Sherman, and Robert Adrian X. In addition to their own work, their statements describe works by other artists, including the SEND/RECEIVE Project, Tom Klinkowstein's Levittown, and Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz' Hole in Space.

Heidi Grundmann wrote the introduction and created an information-dense concluding "Projects" section. "Projects" includes documentation of I.P. Sharp's ARTEX (Artists' Electronic Exchange); documentation of the 1980 Artists Use of Telecommunications Conference, which was organized by La Mamelle/Art Com at the San Francisco Museum of Museum of Modern Art and produced by Bill Bartlett; and documentation of Robert Adrian X's The World in 24 Hours, which connected artists in 16 cities on 3 continents for 24 hours; as well as Hank Bull's notes on telefonmusik and other projects by WIENCOUVER, "an imaginary city hanging invisible in the space between its two poles: Vienna and Vancouver." [1]

In answer to a question from content | code | process about the book's contemporary relevance, pioneer telematic artist Hank Bull noted that:

"We have difficulty imagining the world before the Internet. It takes a material object, like this book, to remind us that there once was a time when unmediated physical contact between humans was the norm, when long distance travel was expensive, and when a conversation in text and image over distance felt like science fiction. Art + Telecommunication is such an object. Since its publication, this book has functioned as a benchmark against which to measure, not only the rapid evolution of media, but also the critical understanding of its impacts and implications for artists and for the world. The idealistic notions expressed here, of 'dispersed authorship,' the 'noosphere,' and 'Indra’s Net' were tempered by the suspicion that contained within the technological acceleration of globalization lay the threats of surveillance, cultural homogenization, exclusion and social control. The authors were acutely aware that their book was being published in 1984. These texts are not only a fixed document of their time, like a fossil, but continue to resonate now, as alive (or not) as the network itself.

Multi-Language Participation on the Global Internet

"LexsSor System überträgt Bücher von Künstlern, Seite nach Seite und in Farbe. Genau wie beim Telefonieren konnten die LexsSor Teilnehmer irgendeines von 9.500 Künstlerbüchern in dem Archiv einfach anwahlen. "

"The LexsSor system transmits artists' books, page by page in colour. As easily as telephoning, LexsSor owners could dial any of the 9500 artists' books in the archive."

"LexsSor transmet les livres des artistes, page par page et en couleurs. Les usagers du système peuvent ainsi consulter les quelque 9 500 ouvrages des archives." - Eric Gidney in Art Telecommunication [2]

Hank Bull reading output frm La Plissure du Texte Concerns about English language domination of global networks were present from the early years of telematic art. [3] In response, many of Art Telecommunication's pages are composed in lexia-sized translations of the same text in German, English, and French. These are the languages that best represent the artists documented in the book. For example, British artist Roy Ascott's ARTEX-based collaborative fairy tale, La Plissure du Texte originated from Paris, where Ascott played the Magician; the story was augmented at nodes which included, among others, Quebec, which played the Beast, Vienna, San Francisco, Sydney, Toronto, and Vancouver, which played the Sorcerer's Apprentice. The Prince was played by Bruce Breland, who observed as the text passed through his node in Pittsburgh at 17.04 15/12/1983 that "THE PRINCE REALIZED THIS WAS NO ORDINARY REALITY AND THE PRINCESS WAS NO ORDINARY PRINCESS. THE SKY STARTED TO QUICKEN IN ITS COLOR CHANGES. A SEA OF WORDS BEGAN TO TIUMBLE ON THE SKY... [4]

Setting the stage for a diverse networked culture of the future, 30 years ago, Art Telecommunication used an innovative approach to publishing in multiple languages. Today, the increasing number of languages represented on the Internet could auger a widening of filter bubbles to include International content -- I now have French, German, Spanish and Catalan in my Twitter stream -- and subsequently a greater need for the study of languages.

In 2017, although English is still the dominant language on the Internet -- with 985 million users, according to Internet World Stats -- that represents only 25.3% of Internet users. English is followed by Chinese, with 771 million users (19.8%); Spanish is third, with 312 million users (8%); and Arabic is fourth, with 185 million users (4.8%). [5]

Documenting Networked-Situated Projects

"It is physically impossible to experience networked projects that are simultaneously produced in separate locations other than as versions: The project as a whole eludes human perception. This aggravates the already serious problems of documentation and interpretation common to all fugitive, process- or time-based art projects, with the unfortunate result that many distributed telematic projects have been insufficiently documented and hardly interpreted at all. -- Heidi Grundmann, in At a Distance: Precursors to Art and Activism on the Internet" [6]

Art Telecommunication A printout from La Plissure du Texte could be displayed unfolded in a museum case or pinned to a museum wall. However, the human connection and the performative energy, that occurred when this work was created, would be difficult to convey in this context. This is the case not only of other early telematic works, such as Bill Bartlett's 1979 Interplay, in which a dialogue on computer culture emerged from terminals in every participating city, but also of many 1990's networked projects, including Carolyn Guyer's collaborative, women-centered hypertext, Hi-Pitched Voices, and Brian Andreas' collaboratively-created Hall of Whispers:

"Hall of Whispers takes its name from an ancient Babylonian myth of a specially constructed room in one of the ziggurats where a whisper would stay alive forever. I have an image of the electronic networks whispering ceaselessly with the voices of these times." [7]

For the complete "in Retrospect" review of Heidi Grundmann's Art Telecommunication, visit the content | code | process reviews page.

November, 2017

November Featured Work:
Adriene Jenik

"Committed", in her words, "to using and abusing new technologies", Adriene Jenik is an award-winning media artist, filmmaker, and educator. From 2009-2016, she served as the Katherine K. Herberger endowed chair of Fine Arts and Director of the School of Art at Arizona State University (ASU), and she is currently a professor of intermedia at ASU.

Jenik brings to her work -- which has been at the forefront of exploratory media, new media narrative, and community-based networked public art using wireless networks -- a knowledge of technology; an interest in creating new forms of literature, cinema, and performance; and a narrative sensibility that is sometimes community-based, sometimes addresses issues of gender and sexuality, and sometimes looks at the human connection in a technology-mediated world.

Her narrative of the creation of MAUVE DESERT: A CD-ROM Translation, based on Nicole Brossard's le Désert Mauve, is a classic look at the process of creating a new media narrative. And, because she subsequently released DVD documentation of MAUVE DESERT: A CD-ROM Translation, this work is also an example of how writers and artists work to keep their projects current in the face of changing platforms and applications.

"The beauty of words, the power of the desert, and the fears and fantasies of human evolution with technology are all still real -- and present and prescient in the work," she observes in her statement. ....more

October, 2017

Networked Projects in the Formative Years of the Internet:
Interview with Tom Klinkowstein

Tom Klinkowstein Tom Klinkowstein was already communicating with email, when he began creating Telecommunications Performance via Facsimile, a 1981 networked performance with Robert Adrian that linked the Mazzo Club in Amsterdam and the Blitz Bar in Vienna. Klinkowstein's telematic projects have also included Levittown at the 't Hoogt Cultural Center in Utrecht; the Fast-Food installation, Breda, 1983 and More Service for More People, San Francisco State University and Ars Electronica, 1982. He is currently President of Media A, a design and consulting group, as well as a Full Professor with tenure at Hofstra University on Long Island, NY, and an Adjunct Professor with part-time tenure at Pratt Institute in New York City.

Tom Klinkowstein's work has been shown in art centers, museums and galleries throughout the world, including the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Venice Biennale in Venice, Italy. His work for TapIt – a free water bottle refilling network in New York City and Washington, won a Communicator award in the Green-Eco category. His 10-meter long digital artwork, A Networked Designer’s Critical Path: 1990-2090, was shown at the Fifth Avenue (New York City) Gallery of the American Institute of Graphic Design. A city-block sized version of the follow-up project in the same series about design and the future, A Day in The Life of a Networked Designer's Smart Things or A Day in A Designer's Networked Smart Things, 2030, was shown at DesignCenter Winkelhaak in Antwerp. Belgium, and at the Proteus Gowanus Gallery in Brooklyn, New York. It was also featured in Data Flow: Visualising Information in Graphic Design, published by Die Gestalten Verlag.

The Museum of Modern Art in New York recently acquired a poster, designed by Klinkowstein for the artist Laurie Anderson, as a part of its permanent collection and of the Designing Modern Women exhibition. His latest work, The Universe Emerges from Information: 10-43 Seconds in the State of Awareness of an Exo-Designer, 2055, was shown this past year at Columbia University's Studio-X in Istanbul and at the Museum of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.

Tom Klinkowstein

For an in depth Interview with Tom Klinkowstein
about his early telematic work, visit http://narrabase.net/Tom_Klinkowstein.html

September, 2017

the Rubayaat in the Cave

F or the September 2017 reweaving of the content | code | practice electronic manuscript pages, four new works were inserted into the whole. Like a bestiary of dragons, in generated phrases, the names of American cars move across the screen in Nick Montfort's Autopia; 17th century and earlier "posies" are emitted from a miniature thermal printer, when the viewer touches rings and other objects in Helen Burgess and Margaret Simon's installation, Intimate Fields; In Jeneen Naji's The Rubayaat, created in the Cave at Brown University, a 3-D digitally mediated environment is composed with multiple translations, and visual/poetic text.

In Deanne Achong and Faith Moosang's Lulu Suite, against a backdrop of the Fraser River, on a river-situated walking tour, the life of Gold Rush actress Lulu Sweet is reimagined in a mobile App. As David Woodward observes in his chapter in Cartography in Prehistoric, Ancient, and Medieval Europe and the Mediterranean: "The factual information on medieval world maps is a blending of historical events and geographical places, a projection of history onto a geographical framework." [3]

The content | code | process The Electronic Manuscript pages were begun in 2011 and have since been updated every few years. September, 2017 additions continue an exploration of different approaches to the electronic manuscript. They can be found directly by clicking on the names of the works above, or by perusing The Electronic Manuscript as a whole.

complete visual essay...

July, 2017

Networked Projects in the Formative Years of the Internet:
Fred Truck
Independent Work: 1985 to 1995

I owa-based artist Fred Truck works in digital, animated 3-D photography and computer arts, as well sculpture, artists books, and graphics designed on a computer. His works range from the 1980 Performance Bank -- created on an Osborne I computer with dBase II and graphics and animations software -- to the animated character Mr. Milk Bottle. They also include the artist's software, ArtEngine. In his words:

"Given two visual objects, and words describing them, the Engine will compare the objects, determine what congruencies there are between them, and then make a new list that creates a new, third visual object..."

In 1986, with Carl Loeffler and San Francisco-based Art Com, Truck was instrumental in the founding of Art Com Electronic Network (ACEN), a pioneering artist's computer network, which ran 24/7 for 13 years. 1 Truck implemented ACEN on The WELL, integrated The WELL's PicoSpan-based conferencing system into ACEN, programmed and implemented the interactive ACEN DataNet Artworks online publishing platform, and formatted John Cage's The First Meeting of the Satie Society for publication on DataNet.

Although much of Fred Truck's work as an individual artist is not precisely networked, its inclusion in Networked Projects in the Formative Years of the Internet is important because of its parallel with his core role in ACEN and relatedly, the importance of arts-centered networks in the creation of the digital arts. For instance, Fred was a central participant in the ACEN "Software as Art" topic, where in addition to his ArtEngine, discussions centered on other works by individual artists, such as Robert Edgar's Memory Theatre, Judy Malloy's generative hypertext its name was Penelope, Jim Rosenberg's spatial hypertext, Joe Rosen's physical computing works, and Abbe Don's HyperCard-based We Make Memories.

In his essay for Networked Projects in the Formative Years of the Internet, Truck sets forth his independent artwork from approximately 1985 to 1995, including how his work with artificial intelligence software led to 3D graphics, his VR work with Leonardo da Vinci's Flying Machine, the Analog Engine, which evolved from the ArtEngine, and Bottega, a digital realization of an artist’s workshop. Then, in two attached essays, he documents Arts Engine, Memory Device, and the Analog Engine sculpture.

complete essay...

July Featured Statement:
Emily Short
Making of Bronze
Authoring System: Inform 7

Emily Short is a freelance consultant in Interactive Fiction, (IF) narrative design, and social interaction modeling. She has worked with Telltale Games, ArenaNet, ngmoco :), and Failbetter Games among others, and -- building interactive iPad stories around AI (Artificial Intelligence) characters -- she was the creative director of the Versu project.

She has written over two dozen works of IF and is part of the design team for Inform 7, a tool for creating parser-based IF. She also has a PhD in Classical Studies, focusing on the role of the god Hermes in Athenian drama, and she writes occasionally on classical reception in video games.

Her works include the award-winning Galatea, a reworking of the Pygmalion myth; the interactive epistolary story First Draft of the Revolution; Counterfeit Monkey, a wordplay puzzle game that addresses issues of language and democracy; and Bronze, an immersive exploration of the relationship between "beauty" and the beast.

Emily Short's work has been included in the Electronic Literature Organization Collection and exhibited at the Library of Congress, among other venues. Her practice, she observes, "explores how systems of play can support rewarding forms of highly personal and human storytelling, how conversation, actions, and social gestures can be made into meaningful game mechanics in place of the mechanics of violence, and how authoring tools can be designed around the requirements of these new forms of art." Her blog can be found at http://emshort.wordpress.com

For content | code | process, she provides a statement about the making of Bronze. Remarkable in its layered, interactive disclosure of narrative, erotic undertones, innovative memory revelation, and immersive narrative build-up. Bronze began as a short work of Interactive Fiction in the "Speed-IF" genre and involved into a memorable reader experience that is approachable for both experienced and new readers of literary IF. Although Short notes that usually she creates diagrams by hand -- in a notebook next to her keyboard, (rather than from a diagramming program) -- in this statement, application-derived flow charts allow the reader to visualize the additive, carefully-reasoned process with which she interfaced Bronze.

Accompanied by 11 diagrams, her statement, a rare glimpse of the Interactive Fiction creative process as disclosed by a master in the field, is what the editor of content | code | process dreams of reading.

The reader of Making of Bronze is advised to play the work itself not only for an understanding of how Emily Short's careful build up of detail creates narrative depth but also for an understanding of the role that her writing plays in immersing the reader in an often solitary environment, where the reader must explore half of the rooms (there are over 50) before the beast appears. The reader's understanding of both the character of the beast and of his/her projection of personal story onto the narrative are integral to the effectiveness of this work. (And perhaps the use of the pronoun "he" in the statement is an invitation to explore gender in this dense retelling of "Beauty" and The Beast)

Bronze, which was created with Inform 7, is available for download at http://inform7.com/learn/eg/bronze/index.html A map of the castle rooms and the source text are also available at this location.

The work begins with these words:

"When the seventh day comes and it is time for you to return to the castle in the forest, your sisters cling to your sleeves.

'Don't go back,' they say, and 'When will we ever see you again?' But you imagine they will find consolation somewhere.

Your father hangs back, silent and moody. He has spent the week as far from you as possible, working until late at night. Now he speaks only to ask whether the Beast treated you 'properly.' Since he obviously has his own ideas about what must have taken place over the past few years, you do not reply beyond a shrug.

You breathe more easily once you're back in the forest, alone.


Even in your short absence, the castle has come to look strange to you again. When you came here first, you stood a long while on the drawbridge, unready to cross the moat, for fear of the spells that might bind you if you did. This time it is too late to worry about such things.

An iron-barred gate leads north."

Visit Emily Short's statement on Making of Bronze to find out more

Emily Short: Revised "Puzzle Chart" for Bronze

June, 2017

Networked Projects in the Formative Years of the Internet:
Marcello Aitiani
Nave di Luce (Ship of Light)

F or three decades, Marcello Aitiani's work has explored the relationships between computer mediated art and music, Italian culture, and telematic communication.

With a background in painting, musicology, and classics, and a graduate degree in law, his work has focused on intersections between real and virtual localities and on their changing roles in our lives -- including the interaction of real and virtual with objects and with the environment. His vision has, in his words, "been expressed in permanent works for urban places and, in some cases, in the 'orchestrations' of complex, real-physical and telematic-digital environments (by music, performances, visual works), using both traditional means, such as painting on wood or on canvas, and technologies and digital processes."

Marcelo Aitiani's telematic installations, that have explored the convergence of traditional media and new technologies, include Nave di luce. Arte, musica, telematica (Ship of Light. Art, Music, Telematics), Siena, Florence, Genova, 1990 and 1991 (profiled in this Networked Projects essay); Spirale di vita vermiglia. Immateriale sulla Piazza (Spiral of Vermilion Life. Immateriality in the Piazza)1, which created a poetic triangle with vertices in Naples, Milan, and Florence; and Esse/Sibilla (in collaboration with Francesco Giomi; event by the Giuseppe Morra Foundation). For Esse/Sibilla, with continuously changing content alluding to the Cumaean Sibyl's prophesies, in 1988, inside the Sibyl's Cave in the acropolis in Cumae, Aitiani positioned twelve computers to form an "S", the first letter of the word "Sibyl".

For his Networked Projects essay, Aitiani reflects on his telematic artwork Nave di Luce, (Ship of Light), that -- documented in a 1991 Leonardo paper (by Aitiani and the work's composer, Francesco Giomi)2 -- was created/composed using audio, video, visual art, and networked data to simultaneously connect and perform music with related installations in Florence and Siena. For instance, a digitally coded score, based on Gregorian chant, was transmitted via computer from the Consevatorio di Musica in Florence to Santa Maria della Scala in Siena and then was played/interpreted by an organist. "The process, the authors observed, "was based on structures that allowed varied possibilities and produced different and unpredictable formal results". 3

The work, he observes in his essay, "is a non-linear unitas multiplex (multiple unit) composed with visual and musical notation (for choir and organ, in styles ranging from Gregorian to electronic); musical arrangements by means of computers and computer-mediated remote transmission in real time; computerized installations and intangible digital sequences that dynamize analogous sculptural and pictorial forms."

Marcello Aitiani's reflections on Nave di Luce (Ship of Light) begin a series of essays and papers written for Networked Projects in the Formative Years of the Internet, a web archive created in conjunction with the MIT Press book, Social Media Archeology and Poetics.

Visit Marcello Aitiani's complete essay on Ship of Light to read his words.

April, 2017

A s Social media platforms become a core part --or some would say dominate -- the contemporary Internet environment, a focus on enabling creative voices in social media is an important component of enriching the Internet environment. Studying, conceiving, creating, and nurturing social media-based works is crucial for creative writers and artists; as well as for students, who will graduate into a world where social media is likely to remain a central part of their environment; and for people from all walks of life, who desire social media environments that foster learning, collaborative learning, activism, intelligent discourse, and the opportunity to experience contemporary scholarship and creative work.

In service of these communities of interest, it is a pleasure to announce that Networked Projects in the Formative Years of the Internet, a web archive created in conjunction with my MIT Press book, Social Media Archeology and Poetics, will be initiated in June -- here on content | code | process!

Calling for "equal capacity to receive and transmit" and a decentralized architecture, in Reverse Engineering Social Media, Robert W. Gehl stresses the need for users to collectively modify social media platforms to meet their own needs. "...if social media protocols provide us with a common language, we can use that language to discuss our common problems and find ways to modify social media software," he observes. [1]

Contingently, in The Social Machine, [2] Judith Donath reminds us of the time we spend online and asks us to consider existing social media system interfaces and to explore how we design and use them.

In service of all these goals, it is productive to study and analyze how contemporary social media not only empowers but also channels content. Additionally, because the predominantly non-profit preweb social media platforms built working systems that were run with communities in mind and in the process empowered a plethora of creative projects, it is apparent that not only was the publication of Social Media Archeology and Poetics important but also -- because the book is platform oriented -- comprehensive documentation of early social media-based creative projects will be useful to contemporary writers, artists, scholars and researchers.

That early social media platforms provided welcoming discussion and artmaking-conducive online environments is well documented in Social Media Archeology and Poetics, which provides a foundation for future study by historians, critics, and theorists. Details will be further set forth and explored in Networked Projects in the Formative Years of the Internet. For instance, how did the Electronic Café predict and inform 21st century social media when they linked the Korean, Chicano/a, African American, museum, and beach communities of Los Angeles to exchange video images and work together on an electronic writing tablet during the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics? What works did artists and writers such as John Cage, Judy Malloy, Jim Rosenberg, Fred Truck, and Anna Couey produce in the environment of Art Com Electronic Network (ACEN) on The WELL? For instance, how did artists -- such as Coco Fusco, Antonio Muntadas, Prema Murthy, Aki Fujiyoshi, Felix Huber, Philip Pocock, Rainer Ganahl, John Baldessari, and VNS Matrix -- work in the environment of THE THING?

How did Arts Wire's conferences -- such as NewMusNet, coordinated by composers Pauline Oliveros, Douglas Cohen, and David Mahler; Interactive Art, hosted by Anna Couey and myself (Judy Malloy); and the Native Arts Network Association, with core involvement from Atatl in Phoenix, AZ and funding from the Nathan Cummings Foundation -- incubate focused discussion and the making and distribution of art ? How did Arts Wire's creation of online components for the Fourth National Black Writers Conference work to create a hybrid experience on the theme of "Black Literature in the 90's: a Renaissance to End all Renaissances" ? What was the role of Arts Wire's diverse Steering Committee -- such as Jane Bello, Association of Hispanic Arts; Randy Ross, American Indian Telecommunications; Louis LeRoy, Association of American Cultures and Dan Martin, Director of the Master of Arts Management Program at Carnegie Mellon University -- in fostering diversity and nurturing the arts? What was the role of Anne Focke's extraordinary vision in the Arts Wire project as a whole?

What was the role of Artur Matuck's Reflux project in International cooperation and art making?

What is the access to the archiving of Leonardo's early online publications, which played a core role in the development of art and technology?


1. Robert W. Gehl, Reverse Engineering Social Media: Software, Culture, and Political Economy in New Media Capitalism, Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2014. p.115
2. Judith Donath, The Social Machine, Designs for Living Online, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2014.

In the cover image, the computer room is a detail of a photo by Carol M. Highsmith. Courtesy the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The rich underlying environment of research and development in communications technologies in the late 1970's, the 1980's, and the early 1990's not only produced ground breaking arts and humanities-focused virtual communities, such as the Electronic Café, ACEN, Arts Wire, and THE THING, but also was paralleled by a plethora of individual and collaborative telematic projects, such as Bill Bartlett's I.P. Sharp (IPSA)-carried 1979 Interplay, in which, from terminals in every city that participated, artists dialogued on the subject of computer culture; Roy Ascott's networked fairy tale, La Plissure du Texte; Karen O'Rourke's Paris-based City Projects, that connected artists, students and teachers in eleven Universities on three continents; and the Digital Art Exchange Group (DAX), which connected performing artists in Pittsburgh and Dakar in DAX Dakar d'Accord.

In Boston, Do while Studio, was founded by Jennifer Hall in 1985. Directed by Hall and her partner Blyth Hazen, over the years, Do While Studio has fostered innovative and collaborative projects, such as World Wide Simultaneous Dance, produced by Laura Knott, in which live dance and digital connectivity combined to connect people dancing at the same time-- all around the world. [3]

In Italy, inside a cave outside the "Antro della Sibilla" in the acropolis in Cuma (Naples), in 1988, Marcello Aitaini positioned twelve computers to form an "S", the first letter of the word "Sibyl". In his description of this project (which will be included in Networked Projects in the Formative Years of the Internet), he writes:

"The visual components are not videotaped, but produced by digital programs on the basis of Scritture p/neumatiche; shapes and colors are developed ad libitum in ever new dynamic configurations. People can stop, walk around, listen to it, go away and come back; they will always discover new acoustic and visual situations."

In Northern California, in the early 1990's Brian Andreas produced Hall of Whispers:

"HALL OF WHISPERS takes its name from an ancient Babylonian myth of a specially constructed room in one of the ziggurats where a whisper would stay alive forever. I have an image of the electronic networks whispering ceaselessly with the voices of these times. The form of the project is deceptively simple: I wanted to create a situation where a group of people could share the experience of living, where we could join each other around a technological campfire, for the profoundly human act of storytelling." [4]

Networked Projects in the Formative Years of the Internet will document individual and collective pre-web projects by researchers, artists, writers, and scholars, including in addition to those listed above, many others, such as the early work of Eduardo Kac; AFRONET, an echomail backbone supported by African and African-American BBS Sysops across North America; Bonnie Sherk's Living Library; and Lori Ann Two Bulls' (Ogala Lakota) NAPLPS graphics.


3 Jennifer Hall and Blyth Hazen: "Do While Studio", in Judy Malloy, ed. Women, Art & Technology. Cambridge, MA, 2003. pp. 290-301.
4. Brian Andreas, HALL OF WHISPERS Leonardo. 3:1, 1993.

With a focus on platforms and communities, in Social Media Archeology and Poetics (MIT Press, August 2016), the words and work of creative computer scientists writers, artists, musicians, historians, and digital humanists -- from Lee Felsenstein in Northern California to Madeline Gonzalez Allen in Colorado; from Annick Bureaud in Paris to Geert Lovink in Amsterdam -- not only demonstrate how social media evolved from both individual and collaborative efforts but also document the lineage of a wide range of social media affordances.

Concentrating on vision and mission as expressed in individual and small collaborative projects, Networked Projects in the Formative Years of the Internet will build on and supplement Social Media Archeology and Poetics.

A resource that as a whole will add significantly to the study of proto-and early Internet usage in the cultural sphere, Networked Projects in the Formative Years of the Internet will also seek to include projects created/facilitated by ARPANET-era researchers, such as Yumyum and SF-Lovers; projects created/facilitated by humanities scholars, such as NINCH-Announce and Postmodern Culture; alternative approaches, such as Peter D'Agostino's Proposal for Qube; and contributions from arts writers, curators, and innovators, including among many others, Anne Focke, Darlene Tong, Art McGee, Omar Wasow, Richard Lowenberg, and Eric Theise. It will also reference other core sources of documentation, such as Heidi Grundmann's seminal Art Telecommunication and Roy Ascott's Telematic Embrace: Visionary Theories of Art, Technology, and Consciousness (ed./intro: Edward A. Shanken).

March, 2017

Featured Paper:

Interview with Sonya Rapoport

I n November, 2009, content | code | process interviewed artist Sonya Rapoport (1923-2015) about her work that used drawing, painting, text and cross-cultural imagery to create audience participatory interactive installations, as well as web works and artists books.

Sonya's works included Shoe-Field, an interactive installation that created computer plots of people's responses to their shoes; Objects on My Dresser, an interactive installation in which she worked with a psychiatric social worker to correlate the meaning of personal objects, creating a "netweb" of responses; The Animated Soul, an interactive computer-assisted installation based on The Egyptian Book of the Dead; and Biorhythm, where artwork about biorhythm was correlated with participant's responses about "how they were feeling". For this interview she chose to focus on Biorhythm, and in the course of the Interview, she talked in detail about the process she used to create this complex audience participatory work.

Towards the end of the interview I asked: "So what was the final form of Biorhythm? How did you incorporate the responses into the work?"

Sonya Rapoport:

I produced two "hand" books, triggered by this event, one for each artwork. But let us now return to my questions about audience participation that I introduced at the beginning of this interview:

Why was I propelled to invite an audience to share my personal experience?

I wondered about the validity of a self-evaluation of my emotional condition. Could it be overridden by the computer's biorhythm analysis. I wanted to test this on other people's experience. After the participation only a few participants could guess their emotional condition that matched the computer analysis. We had many blue ribbons left over.

What would the artistic outcome be as a result of applying other people's input into my scheme?

I was stimulated to create artwork from the results of the Biorhythm production. The long vellum sheet became a work of art in itself after I pasted the portrait photos on another vellum sheet beside the participants' identity numbers. A stern "computer" voice over declared the correct condition of the individual as judged by the computer. An accompanying book in the form of a hand hung on the wall. The palm reader's remarks, written on index cards, were included in the book. "The Computer says I feel", was exhibited in the group show S/F San Francisco/Science Fiction. It traveled from the San Francisco Art Commission Gallery to the Clock Tower, New York City, and the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles.

In a future elaborate interactive installation, Digital Mudra, I compared the photographs of the biorhythm gestures with their East Indian counterparts in the Mudra Gesture language library and matched their assigned meanings with the verbal expressions of the Biorhythm participants. They correlated almost 100 per cent.

In preparation for the Digital Mudra installation I sent out a list of these Mudra word meanings to artists. They were to compose a poem using three of the listed Mudra Words. You were among those who received the list. I recall that one word that you selected was "rice" because you used it in a unique way. I invited a Kathakali dancer to "dance" these poems for a videotape as part of the installation. This aspect of the installation was to illustrate the concept of going from images to words and from words to back to images.

Lastly, how did audience participation change and enrich the artistic outcome?

There would have been no further artistic expression if the audience participation didn't occur.

Editor's note: It is with much sadness that I write that Sonya Rapaport died in June 2015. The primary source for information on her work is now The Sonya Rapoport Legacy Trust

The complete content | code | process interview with Sonya Rapaport is available here

February, 2017

This issue of content | code | process introduces a new section on Social Media Narrative: Issues in Contemporary Practice.

Hosted by Judy Malloy and the Rutgers Camden Digital Studies Center (DSC) Class in Social Media Narrative, from November 16 - 21, 2016, a Social Media Narrative: Issues in Contemporary Practice Facebook-based panel brought together a distinguished group of innovative creators, theorists, and researchers in the field of contemporary social media-based creative practice.

Thanks to DSC Director, Jim Brown, and DSC Associate Director, Robert Emmons, the DSC Facebook group, offered an informal meeting place that allowed students and panelists to come together in a familiar environment that everyone was comfortable with negotiating. There was an audience of other DSC group members; some of whom participated in the discussion from time to time. And while the panel was taking place, interwoven posts of events by other DSC group members enriched the information stream.

In real-time, a Facebook-based panel is lively and stimulating, changeable, and live-jazz-unpredictable. And it should be noted that Jay Bushman's (on the panel) observations regarding the difficulties of creating audience-useable archives of social media-based works are applicable also to a Facebook panel -- where no conversation is going on in isolation, and when it is in progress, readers simultaneously experience and/or participate in different conversations.

This does not mean that a Facebook-based panel cannot be differently archived. The special section of content | code | process on Social Media Narrative: Issues in Contemporary Practice includes pages for all 17 of the panelists with their bios and their opening statement to the panel. Additionally, pdf's of the entire conversations are attached as transcripts to each panelist's page.

In reviewing the panel transcripts, two areas of study came to the forefront. One was the diverse interesting approaches of creators to their social media-based creative work, including their relationships with their audiences and communities; the other was concerns about the hazards of the social media environment.

An introduction, an informal creative practice tour through the transcripts, begins with the former and concludes with the later.

Addressed are: issues in writing on social media as creative practice (Rob Wittig, Dene Grigar, Deena Larsen, Jay Bushman); the role of audience and community (Chindu Sreedharan, Marco Williams, Alice Wong, Judith Adele); approaches to code and technology (Chris Rodley, Robert Emmons); mixed social media environments: performance, painting, photography (Joy Garnett, Matt Held, Katrin Tiidenberg); the social media environment: trolls and harassment (Jim Brown, Antoinette LaFarge, Mark Marino); and content ownership (Cathy Marshall).

There is a large body of criticism, theory, and practice on electronic literature as a whole, but the approaches of social media narrators to their work are sparsely documented. On the Social Media Narrative panel, statements and responses to questions provided initial insight into the varieties of creative authoring practice of artists, writers, producers, and performers who work in contemporary social media-based narrative -- contributing to an understanding of the potential for creative work on social media platforms.

Social Media Narrative: Panelists' Pages

Social Media Narrative: Complete Introduction

January, 2017

Featured Paper:

Interview with Stuart Moulthrop

Stuart Moulthrop: detail from Under Language, Iowa Review Web, 2008.

O ne of the first creators of new media literature and a distinguished new media writer, digital artist, and scholar, Baltimore, Maryland native Stuart Moulthrop is the author of the seminal hyperfiction Victory Garden, (Eastgate, 1991) a work that Robert Coover included in the "golden age" of electronic literature.

His works -- that include Hegirascope, (1995) Reagan Library, (1999) Pax, (2003) Under Language, (2007) and Deep Surface (2007) -- have been exhibited and or published by Eastgate, The Iowa Web Review, the ELO Electronic Literature Collection; New River; Media Ecology; The New Media Reader; Washington State University Vancouver; and the Digital Arts and Culture Conference. Two of his works have won prizes in the Ciutat de Vinaros international competition.

Stuart Moulthrop has served as a Professor in the School of Information Arts and Technologies at the University of Baltimore where he was the Director of the undergraduate Simulation and Digital Entertainment program. He is currently a Professor in the Department of English University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

He has also served as co-editor for Postmodern Culture, was co-founder of the TINAC electronic arts collective, and was a founding director of the Electronic Literature Organization. He is co-author (with Dene Grigar) of the forthcoming MIT Press book, Traversals - The Use of Preservation for Early Electronic Writing.

In this literate and cyber-literate interview, where, as in the reading of poetry, the reader must occasionally interpret the allusions to other works -- from contemporary literature to philosophy to computer manuals -- Moulthrop recounts the founding of TINAC, the writing of Victory Garden, the founding (with Nancy Kaplan) of a department of Information Arts and Technologies at the University of Baltimore, and the creation with Flash ActionScript of his textual instrument Under Language. And he looks to the future of electronic literature.

Visit stuart-moulthrop.html to read the interview.

October, 2016

Figure 1. Paragraph View from the Zibaldone Hypertext Research Platform Website

October Featured Paper

Silvia Stoyanova and Ben Johnston
The Zibaldone Hypertext Research Platform

Software: HTML,TEI and associated XML technologies

T he Zibaldone Hypertext Research Platform (currently available at http://digitalzibaldone.net) is a digital reconstruction of the hypertextual design inherent in the research notebook (Zibaldone) of the acclaimed nineteenth century Italian poet and scholar Giacomo Leopardi. The project was undertaken at Princeton University in the Fall of 2010 by Dr. Silvia Stoyanova (French and Italian) and Ben Johnston. (Humanities Resource Center) Consultant: Dr. Clifford Wulfman, Coordinator of Library Digital Initiatives.

In its larger scope, the project studies the structure of this fragmentary text and its author's techniques for its semantic organization as a model for adopting hypertext to mediate the phenomenological method and relativistic thought procedure at work in migrating similar research note collections into argumentative narrative. This objective indeed recalls the original conception of hypertext by Ted Nelson as a medium for capturing the many possible trajectories in the course of developing an argument, instead of sacrificing them because of the limitations of the two-dimensional space of paper. It was precisely in an attempt to overcome the same limitations that Leopardi interspersed his notebook with thousands of cross-references, linking its apparently fragmented passages, creating the blueprint of a virtual hypertext. [1] [Figure 1]

Although its title and to some extent its contents reflect the humanist compiling of commonplace books, (in which readers and scholars extracted quotations from their readings) the Zibaldone is more akin to the modern intellectual diary and further exhibits features of the present-day academic blog, such as a date stamp and thematic tags for each entry. While Leopardi was noting down observations and commenting on books without an immediate objective in mind, at the same time he was also recording their connections to previous reflections and intended to eventually rework his material into formally cohesive discourses on a great variety of subjects -- from linguistics, to social mores, to aesthetic theory. For this purpose, he indexed his material thematically and added more cross-references between passages while re-reading.

Figure 2. 1827 Index is a detail of the beginning of the index Giacomo Leopardi wrote in 1827 for his Zibaldone. (as implemented on the Zibaldone Hypertext Research Platform) "1827 index" has about 800 themes and subthemes.

For the complete paper on The Zibaldone Hypertext Research Platform, visit zibaldone_htplatform.html

September, 2016

In a parallel era of changing approaches to reading and writing, the analogy of computer-mediated literature as electronic manuscript emphasizes the written word in a visual context. Contingently, there are works of electronic literature that incorporate elements of medieval manuscripts -- innovatively bringing an earlier age's emphasis on the visual presentation of words into the present.

Detail from Rob Kendall's The Soothcircuit, an electronic forecasting manuscript, created anew by each user. When s/he selects from the components of Battery, Lamp, Sky, Antenna, Resistor, Transistor, Speaker, Capacitor, and Ground, in response, The Soothcircuit builds intricate structures of visual text in an interactive generative structure. In Kendall's words:

"As the text moves down the screen, it emerges from darkness and grows more prominent, paralleling the dynamics of its content. The text in the North (top) position represents something hidden, vague, or obscure -- perhaps a distant source or goal. The text in the East (right) position represents something emergent. The text in the South position represents the element that dominates the reading. The text in the West represents something waning or receding." [1]

W ith their visual impact and their surprisingly beautiful emphasis on words, medieval manuscripts, are a cogent field of study and inspiration for the creation of electronic text. Additionally, the phrase "electronic manuscript" is increasingly apt in describing works -- such as Matt Huynh's vertical scrolling The Boat, (adapted from Nam Le's The Boat) in which a harrowing narrative of Vietnamese "boat people" refugees unfolds amidst animated falling rain, storm-rocking graphics, voiced laments, light and dark, moving text, and floating images. Rather than clearly fitting an established category (generative literature, hypertext literature, or interactive fiction, for instance) electronic manuscripts explore innovative ways of combining words and images on the computer screen.

"...until the new age and science of composition had been in existence some little time we could hardly expect to find that the contemporary writers possessed a vocabulary of agreed technical terms by which they could explain exactly what they were discussing," Dom Anselm Hughes writes in Early Medieval Music up to 1300. [2] Today, we are in a similar era of developing vocabularies to describe works of electronic literary art. Hughes' suggestion (in Early Medieval Music) to look at the works themselves is a useful approach.

A comparison of electronic literature with manuscript creation in a medieval past that was surprisingly technical in its practice is of contingent interest. For instance, in the opening sections to Introduction to Manuscript Studies [3] the documented progressions from papyrus making technologies, to paper making technologies, to the preparation of parchment -- the evolving copying technologies, the changes in instructions for the creation of initials -- are potent ancient echoes of the progression of HTML standards, the emergence of CSS, and evolving image display affordances.

Focusing on manuscript-like uses of dense and/or visual text and/or text and images, and/or horizontal or vertical scrolling, among other manuscript attributes, an exploration of different approaches to the electronic manuscript will continue to be presented in this content | code | process exhibition, which was begun in 2011 and has since been updated every few years.

Medieval manuscripts are not a source or inspiration for all of the works presented here. Nevertheless, in a similar era of changing ways of reading and writing, each work in this exhibition is of interest as regards creative practice in electronic literature. It should, however, be noted that this exploratory content | code | process website does not at this point intend to definitively categorize contemporary creative practice; rather it presents a diverse selection of examples for continuing study.

First presented at the 2002 Electronic Literature Organization Conference at UCLA, Talking Cure is a collaborative work by Noah Wardrip-Fruin, with Camille Utterback, Clilly Castiglia, and Nathan Wardrip-Fruin. Central to this interactive installation are intense portraits of the seated-in-a-chair viewer, created with three color-coded layers of text from sources such as Joseph Breuer's case study of Anna O. As the viewer participates/is immersed in a history of the "talking cure" in psychoanalysis, the hand written texts created during the Middle Ages to be read orally to the laity, [4] are echoed in the interaction of psychiatrist and patient and viewer -- in a contemporary three-dimensional text/image/audio dominated environment.

Detailed on Noah Wardrip-Fruin's website at http://www.hyperfiction.org/talkingcure/index.html, Talking Cure is a starting place for a look at contemporary electronic manuscripts. Information about how it was created is available in Roberto Simanowski's interview with Noah Wardrip-Fruin on artificial.dk at http://www.artificial.dk/articles/wardripfruin.htm

"The story is set just before the French Revolution in an alternate, magical universe."

In Emily Short's First Draft of the Revolution, (prototyped and produced by Liza Daly; final development and visual design: inkle) the narrative unfolds on letters which appear magically to hundreds-of-miles away recipients -- as if they were electronic mail. But immersed in the illusion of the ancient substrate of paper, our perception of the process is altered.

Warning that "It is dangerous to deceive a husband of magic-using rank..." the narrative opens with a letter to her husband from the primary correspondent, Juliette, who in Short's words "has been banished for the summer to a village above Grenoble: a few Alpine houses, a deep lake, blue sky, and no society." As the reader joins Juliette and her correspondents in the letter writing process, the necessity to work with the composition of the letters (they cannot be sent without interactive editing) involves the reader in an increasingly potent exchange of letters, one that parallels the power of ubicomp surveillance in our own world, while with the illusion of "linking paper" at the same time it conveys the past.

For the complete content | code | process exhibition on The Electronic Manuscript, visit elec_manuscript.html

August, 2016

40 Phone Lines, 10 Minitels, and Assorted Answering Machines at the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
and Other Museum-Situated Early Telematic Artists' Projects

Running parallel to ARPANET research and development, artists' initial telematic authoring strategies, from the late 1970's to the early 1980's, had at their core the creation of systems that explored the idea of interactive communication. At a time when "social sculpture" and the idea of communication itself were predominant -- the situating of telematic art projects in a museum context seems unexpected. However, in hindsight, museum installations not only forced a view of telematic art in the context of artwork but also explored mixed virtual and reality authoring systems, as well as artist-imagined interfaces to such systems.

Indeed, museum-connected projects such as Roy Ascott's La Plissure du Texte, initiated in July 1983 as a part of the Electra exhibition at Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, and the Electronic Café, commissioned as a 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Arts Festival Project by the Museum of Contemporary Art, were core in the development of the field.

L'Espace Communicant

In her paper "Art and Minitel in France in the '80s" (forthcoming in Social Media Archeology and Poetics), French critic and curator Annick Bureaud documents L'Espace Communicant, for which artist Fred Forest installed 40 phone lines, 10 minitels, and assorted answering machines at the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris as a part of the Electra exhibition, curated by Frank Popper.

Forest advertised the phone numbers and Minitel access information in newspapers and on the radio. Visitors entering L'Espace Communicant were immersed in a communications environment, where they were confronted with the real-life interface possibilities of answering or using the phones, responding to posts, or sending email on the minitels. Many of these communications were audible in the museum.

La Plissure du Texte

Under the auspices of the same Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris exhibition, in contrast to Fred Forest's place-situated information environment, in 1983 on the I.P. Sharp ARTEX Network -- with participant characters in 11 cities including . Pittsburgh, Vancouver, Vienna, San Francisco, and Toronto -- British artist and telematics theorist Roy Ascott produced the collaboratively-created fairy tale, La Plissure du Texte.

In general, this work has stood outside of the history of electronic literature, perhaps because for the era the distributed authoring system so radically ceded authorial control, perhaps because of the print-based nature of the output, which was mostly realized on continuous feed paper. (although reportedly, Norman White did make a disc copy) Nevertheless, in the lineage of social media narrative, La Plissure du Texte is a landmark work.

Ascott, who was at the time in Paris, initiated the project as the "Magician", and each node participated as a character -- for instance in Pittsburgh, Bruce Breland and the DAX group as the "Prince" and in Vienna, Helmut Mark and Robert Adrian X as the "Sorcerer's Apprentice".

In his initial July 18 "call", the authoring system is described by Ascott in this way:


He specified the role of the nodes as follows:


In Heidi Grundmann's seminal Art Telecommunication, Ascott notes that "The title of the project alludes, of course, to Roland Barthes' book 'Le Plaisir du Texte' but pleating (plissure) is not intended to replace pleasure (plaisir) only to amplify and enhance it."[2]


The idea of museum venues for early telematic art probably began at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, in February 1980, a few years earlier than the Paris-based Electra exhibition. Produced by telematics pioneer Bill Bartlett, and under the direction of Carl Loeffler, the director of La Mamelle/Art Com, the SFMOMA-hosted exhibition, ARTISTS USE OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS, had -- placing two-way slow-scanned video transmission side by side with text-based telematic communication -- presciently explored the affordances of telecommunication systems for artists.

The system -- as described by Hank Bull in his paper "Dictati)on: A Canadian Perspective on the History of Telematic Art" (forthcoming in Social Media Archeology and Poetics)-- was as follows:

"Nine cities were connected on two parallel telephone conferences. Each took turns transmitting images while the other nodes received. At the same time, a text-based conference took place via the I.P. Sharp network. The network nodes were San Francisco (SFMOMA, Art Com), Vancouver (Western Front), Toronto (Norman White, Trinity Square Video), Boston (Aldo Tembellini, MIT), New York (Willoughby Sharp), Bristol (Roy Ascott), Vienna (Robert Adrian), Honolulu (John Southworth), Sydney (Eric Gidney) and Tokyo (Michael Goldberg, Tsukuba University)."

Installed 36 years ago, networked parallel streams of image and text remain of interest in the context of mixed authoring systems. Additionally, the museum venue was important in defining how telematic art was situated in this era. As, with his usual enthusiasm, Loeffler noted in an interview on Art Com Electronic Network (ACEN): "The event is major in the history of art, because it was the 'first' time this activity found its way to a museum. We interacted with these locations from SF MOMA, and it was great." [3]

The Electronic Café

In 1984 at the Los Angeles Olympic Arts Festival, Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz began a long-running project that focused on the community aspects of computer communications. At the Olympics, their project -- The Electronic Café -- was officially commissioned by the Los Angeles, Museum of Contemporary Art. (MOCA) As documented in Steve Durland's High Performance interview, "Defining the Image as Place, A conversation with Kit Galloway, Sherrie Rabinowitz, and Gene Youngblood":

The Electronic Café linked MOCA and five ethnically diverse communities of Los Angeles through a state-of-the-art telecommunications computer database and dial-up image bank designed as a cross-cultural, multi-lingual network of "creative conversation." From MOCA downtown, and the real cafes located in the Korean community, Hispanic community, black community and beach communities of Los Angeles, people separated by distance could send and receive slow-scan video images, draw or write together with an electronic writing tablet, print hard-copy pictures with the video printer, enter information or ideas in the computer database and retrieve it with Community Memory(TM) keyword search, and store or retrieve images on a videodisc recorder which held 20,000 images. Electronic Cafe ran six hours a day, six days a week for seven weeks.[4]

Thus, radiating from a Museum commission at the Olympics, artists' use of telecommunications had begun to more solidly connect diverse communities.[5]


1.Documentation of ARTEX Projects, including those by Robert Adrian X and Norman White, is available in Telematic Connections: The Virtual Embrace, Walker Art Center, 2001. Curated by Steve Dietz. This exhibition (both travelling and web-based) includes the text of La Plissure du Texte.
Ascott's "call" for the project is available on the "ARTEX - ARTISTS' ELECTRONIC EXCHANGE SYSTEM, 1980 - 1990: A Short History" website.

2. Roy Ascott, "Art and Telematics," in Heidi Grundmann, ed.,Art Telecommunication, Vancouver: Western Front; Vienna: BLIX, 1984, p. 35.

3. Judy Malloy, "Keeping the Art Faith, Interview with Carl Loeffler", Art Com Electronic Network, on The WELL, January 11-20, 1988.

4. Steven Durland, "Defining the Image as Place, A conversation with Kit Galloway, Sherrie Rabinowitz, and Gene Youngblood" [Social Media Archeology and Poetics] First published in High Performance #37 (1987): 52-59.

5. As documented by Lee Felsenstein, in "Community Memory -- The First Public-Access Social Media System" (forthcoming in Social Media Archeology and Poetics) Community Memory begun in Berkeley, was primary in setting the stage for community networking.

July, 2016

Featured Authoring Software Statement:
Dan Waber
a kiss
Software: Twine

Dan Waber is a poet, playwright, publisher, and multimedia artist, whose work is predominantly language-based.

Waber's works of electronic literature include Strings, presented in Flash and published in the Electronic Literature Collection v. 1; the collaborative hypertext, that reminds me; and the brief, dense, fluxuating poems in his elegant collection cantoos.

a kiss, an innovative use of the freeware hypertext application Twine, was published in 2013 in Drunken Boat 17.

In his statement for Authoring Software, Waber explains that "You begin at the center of all things, the moment of a kiss and are able to move outward from that moment in several directions. Each choice leads to more choices, the further away you move, until at the outermost limit all possible choices lead back to the moment of a kiss."

Visit Dan Waber's Authoring Software statement on a kiss to find out more.

June, 2016

Next Horizons:
The 2016 Electronic Literature Organization Conference,
Victoria, BC, June 10 - 12, 2016

Detail from Barbara Bridger and J.R. Carpenter, Notes Very Necessary 2015. Notes Very Necessary, which will be on exhibit in the ELO2016 Festival exhibition, is a collaboratively authored, horizontally scrolling electronic manuscript. In their words, the work "aims to address climate change by remixing images, text, and data generated by centuries of imperialist, colonialist, capitalist, and scientific exploration in the Arctic."

Looking to the future of electronic literature, in sessions such as "Emergent Media", Next Horizons, the 2016 Electronic Literature Organization Conference, (ELO2016) explores new possibilities for the evolving field of electronic literature, while in sessions such as "Historical and Critical Perspectives" contingently highlighting its rich lineage.

ELO2016 will convene at the University of Victoria in Victoria, British Columbia from June 10-12, 2016 and this year is hosted through a partnership between the Electronic Literature Organization (ELO) and the Digital Humanities Summer Institute. (DHSI) Co-Chairs: are Dene Grigar (Washington State University Vancouver) and Ray Siemens. (University of Victoria) The Artistic Director is Caitlin Fisher. (York University)

"We are siblings, ELO and DHSI," ELO President Dene Grigar emphasizes in a statement that concludes this article. "Both organizations were founded in the same year and both work at the intersection of digital technologies and the Humanities with interests in scholarship and creative practice."

The conference will bring together scholarship and practice in the field with papers representing many points of view, by Philippe Bootz; (Université Paris 8) John Cayley; (Brown University) Leonardo Flores; (University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez Campus); Aynur Kadir; (Simon Fraser University) Deena Larsen; (Independent Artist) Mark Marino;(USC) James O'Sullivan; (University of Sheffield) Kate Pullinger; (Bath Spa University) and Jody Zellen, (Independent Artist) among many others.

Next Horizons opens with two featured papers: electronic literature pioneer Stuart Moulthrop's "Intimate Mechanics: Play and Meaning in the Middle of Electronic Literature" and Assistant Professor of Digital Media at the University of Central Florida Anastasia Salter's "Code before Content? Brogrammer Culture in Games and Electronic Literature" -- followed by a Festival Gallery opening and a lunch reception.

Setting the stage for three days of scholars' and artists' papers on contemporary electronic literature and future directions -- from "Medium and Meaning A Critical Look at E-Lit Literary Games"; to "Subversive Texts"; to "Beyond Collaborative Horizons" -- a Keynote Session will address "Prototyping Resistance: Wargame Narrative and Inclusive Feminist Discourse."

The role of labs is of increasing interest in electronic literature research and pedagogy. A panel on "E-Lit Labs" will include Jim Brown, Rutgers University Camden; Robert Emmons, Rutgers University Camden; Brian Greenspan, Carleton University; Stephanie Boluk, UC Davis; and Patrick LeMieux, UC Davis.

Contingently, as the archive becomes a core source not only for critics and curators but also in pedagogical practice, chaired by Dene Grigar, "Best Practices for Archiving E-Lit" will feature, in addition to Grigar, Stuart Moulthrop, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee; Matthew Kirschenbaum, University of Maryland College Park; and Judy Malloy, Digital Studies Fellow, Rutgers University Camden.

"Feminist Horizons" will be explored by Kathi Inman Berens, Portland State University; Jessica Pressman, San Diego State University; and Caitlin Fisher. A session on "Narratives and Narrativity" will feature Illya Szilak, Independent Scholar: "Narrativity in Virtual Reality;" David Ciccoricco, University of Otago: "Simulation Studies;" and Caitlin Fisher: "Future Fiction Storytelling Machines."

Other speakers in a wide variety of panels, roundtables, poster sessions and artists talks are Sandy Baldwin, Rochester Institute of Technology; Alice Bell, Sheffield Hallam University; Jim Bizzocchi, Simon Fraser University; Serge Bouchardon, Sorbonne Universités, Université de Technologie de Compiègne; Lauren Burr, University of Waterloo; Shane Denson, Duke University; Jeremy Douglass, UC Santa Barbara; Astrid Ensslin, University of Alberta; Samantha Gorman, USC; Ian Hatcher, Independent Artist; Davin Heckman, Winona State University; Riham Hosny, Rochester Institute of Technology/Minia University; Andrew Koblucar, New Jersey Institute of Technology; Kari Kraus, University of Maryland; Will Luers, Washington State University Vancouver; Marjorie Luesebrink, Independent Artist; Liz Losh, College of William and Mary; Piotr Marecki, Jagiellonian University; Mark Marino, USC; Èlika Ortega, University of Kansas; Allison Parrish, Fordham University; Scott Rettberg, University of Bergen; Chris Rodley, University of Sydney; Mark Sample, Davidson College; Rui Torres, University Fernando Pessoa; Zach Whalen, University of Mary Washington; Rob Wittig, Meanwhile...Netprov Studio; and Mia Zamora, Kean University, among many others. A complete list is on the Schedule at http://elo2016.com

On Saturday, British digital writer, artist, and developer of playable stories, Christine Wilks, will deliver a keynote on "Interactive Narrative and the Art of Steering Through Possible Worlds." Saturday night at ELO2016 is a banquet and a dance at the University of Victoria Faculty Club.

"It is heartening to bring the tribe back together every year for this event and to continue to expand its ranks," Dene Grigar observes. "Old friends, new friends -- we all converge to celebrate the art and scholarship of electronic literature."

"We are siblings, ELO and DHSI," ELO President Dene Grigar emphasizes in a statement that concludes this article. "Both organizations were founded in the same year and both work at the intersection of digital technologies and the Humanities with interests in scholarship and creative practice."

Complete Story.....

April, 2016

April Featured Work:
Andrew Plotkin
Hoist Sail for the Heliopause and Home
Software: Inform7

W riter/programmer Andrew Plotkin is the author of a series of award-winning works of Interactive Fiction, (IF) including Shade, Spider and Web, and The Dreamhold. An integral member of the IF community, he also helps support the software systems with which contemporary IF is created.

Plotkin has worked on game design and game tools his entire life, though mostly outside of the game industry and academic worlds. With his recently released Hadean Lands, a complex Interactive Fiction that was four years in the making, he continues to pursue in his words "a (perhaps chimerical) career as a creator of narrative interaction on mobile platforms."

For content | code | process, he writes about his IF Hoist Sail for the Heliopause and Home. (2010) Created with Inform 7, Heliopause, winner of the 2010 XYZZY Awards for Best Writing, presents the reader, as do most IFs, with narrative descriptions and prompts, but the language -- based on classic science fiction -- is different/evocative, and the forward motion of The Horizon of Night drives a continually interactive process, as the reader enters phrases at the prompts, and the story responds.

Andrew Plotkin: Hoist Sail for the Heliopause and Home

H eliopause is primarily concerned with tone. Its language is drawn from the lyrical science fiction of the early 1970s (which was itself concerned with evoking high fantasy and fable into the science-fictional mode). I obliquely reference Jack Williamson and George R. R. Martin; Vance and Zelazny lurk inescapably behind them.

The language distances the story, already made distant in time and space, and so does the SFnal scene-setting. The form of space travel, the level of technology, even the species of the protagonist -- all are presented allusively, as fabulous imagery rather than speculative fact. The game then marks this distance to the IF player in two ways: First, the scale of presentation: a game location is not the breadth of one room or hallway, as in traditional IF, but one planet, then one solar system, then one nebula or cluster of stars.......complete statement

March, 2016

February, 2016

February Featured Work
William Harris
Hyper Poems
Software: Microsoft marquee

W illiam Harris (1926-2009) taught classics at Middlebury College in Vermont for thirty-two years. A sculptor, composer, and poet, when he retired in 1990, he worked with computers -- compiling an electronic Latin dictionary, Humanist's Latin Dictionary, that was published by Centaur, as well as a series of experimental electronic poems and image/text works.

"I want a poem to be meditated, not read through," he writes in his essay for content | code | process. "So by taking it off the page and making it a variable field of words, I think we are trying something new and something possibly very interesting."

"Thus," he observes,

"each poem is continually evolving out of its own internal history, which at times may give a very different appearance to the whole display on the screen. The first appearance will be even like any text. Next some lines will start to go in different directions, and some will have a different programmed speed while others re-speed themselves later. Later, as a surprise, groups of words may possibly arrange themselves to the right and left of the screen leaving the center empty, or they may all congregate centrally before starting to wander sideways. The interesting thing about this variability is that as the poem progresses, more of the text obeys the internal patterning generated by the running program, and less and less the initial pattern which I have set up."

A World War II Veteran, Harris, who had been battling cancer for several years, died at the age of 83 in February 2009.

To read his complete statement, visit William Harris: Hyper Poems

January 9, 2016

From the editor:
Birthday Passages
on Public Electronic Literature

W hile working on a paper on "Issues in Public Electronic Literature: From Ireland with Letters, issues of how creators in this field approach the audience have emerged -- as evidenced by the following recontextualized passages from the draft paper:

1. Ancient oral epics of sustained adventure, history, legend, and myth -- such as Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, the Ramayana, Beowulf, and The Cattle Raid of Cooley (the Táin Bó Cúailnge) -- were originally told long ago in palaces and at public gatherings. Contemporary electronic literature works potentially in this category include Uncle Roger, (in which it might be said that the fertile bull of the Táin becomes the chip that powers the personal computer revolution); Mark Amerika's Grammatron; Chindu Sreedharan's Epic Retold: Andrew Plotkin's Hoist Sail for the Heliopause and Home; Kate Pullinger and Chris Joseph/Kate Pullinger and Andy Campbell's Inanimate Alice; Joseph DeLappe's Reenactment of Mahatma Gandhi's Salt March to Dandi; and my From Ireland with Letters.

2. In the late middle ages, it is likely that monks carried manuscripts around and read from them in local communities, whose inhabitants could not read.[1] As if they were PowerPoints, these manuscripts, displayed from the laps of prelates or mounted on lecterns,[2] both attracted audiences and illustrated the moral messages that medieval manuscripts promoted -- bestiaries, for instance, with their extraordinary images of animals, whose fantastically illustrated lives promoted virtues.[3]

Indeed, when manuscript-era technologies are documented, the comparison of manuscript readings in a medieval past that was by no means less technical and contemporary public electronic literature does not seem inappropriate. For instance in the opening sections to Introduction to Manuscript Studies [4] , the documented progressions from papyrus making technologies, to paper making technologies, to the preparation of parchment -- the evolving copying technologies, the changes in instructions for the creation of initials -- are potent ancient echoes of the progression of HTML standards, the emergence of CSS, and evolving image display affordances.

Today, the sharing of the output of developing technologies by the carrying of manuscripts from community to community, is echoed in Nick Montfort's carrying his laptop from poetry space to poetry space to poetry space -- screen-projecting his generative poetry code and reading the results aloud to the assembled code-curious audience.[5]

3. And/or, if we are looking at the community aspects of serialized public literature, we might revisit Charles Olson's "Maximus of Gloucester, to You" (and similarly titled) letters and poems, which were addressed to Gloucester citizens via the editor and pages of the Gloucester Daily Times. [6]

An analogy is Jeff Nunokawa's continuing series of daily Facebook essays that (written in the early AM hours) appear every morning as public literature on his always welcoming Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/jeff.nunokawa

4. Writing about the structure of Irish Dance music, in Traditional Music in Ireland, Irish musician Tomás O'Canainn observes that there is a tendency to concentrate on a few notes of the available scale "and return to these again and again throughout the tune". But when played by an expert player, the result is "a tune which attains unity of purpose and a build-up of tension eminently satisfying.." [7] Created in this tradition, in From Ireland with Letters, themes are stated, submerge and return, linking the cantos to each other. Additionally, weaving through the composition process is a quixotic search for the mythical lost Irish sonata called up by Grattan Flood, in A History of Irish Music: [8] A writer's quest for the lost Irish sonata is not likely to result in the discovery of ancient scores. Rather, in this case, a textual obsession has contributed to the creation (or recreation) of a series of authoring systems.

5.The role of the audience in works based on collaborative and interactive strategies in contemporary computer-media works of art and literature continues important. To conclude an interview about audience participation in her work, I asked interactive art pioneer, Sonya Rapoport: "Lastly, how did audience participation change and enrich the artistic outcome?"

"There would have been no further artistic expression if the audience participation didn't occur," she replied.[9]


1. Haug, H., "Private or Public Reading? The View of Contemporary Historians,"Paper presented at Reading the Middle Ages, UC Berkeley Program in Medieval Studies. March 25, 2011.

2. Hamburger, J.F., "Books in Books: Reflections on Reading and Writing in the Middle Ages," Houghton Library - Harvard College Library. 2010. Available at http://hcl.harvard.edu/ibraries/houghton/exhibits/books_in_books/introduction.cfm

3 Garcia, A., "United Through Time: The Oral Connection of Vernacular Texts in Arundel 292" Paper presented at Reading the Middle Ages, UC Berkeley Program in Medieval Studies. March 25, 2011.

4. Clemens, R and Graham, T., Introduction to Manuscript Studies. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2007.

5. Information about Nick Montfort's work is available from http://nickm.com

6. Olson, C., The Maximus Poems. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1983.

7. Flood, G., A History of Irish Music. Dublin: Browne and Nolan, 1906, 19-20.

8. O'Canainn, T., Traditional Music in Ireland. Cork, Ireland: Ossian Publications, 1978.

9. Malloy, J., The Process of Creating New Media: Interview with Sonya Rapoport. Authoring Software, 2009. Available from http://www.well.com/user/jmalloy/elit/rapoport.html

November Featured Statement:
Caitlin Fisher
Andromeda: augmented reality poem
Authoring System: SnapDragonAR

C aitlin Fisher holds a Canada Research Chair in Digital Culture in the Department of Film at York University, Toronto. A co-founder of York's Future Cinema Lab, her research investigates the future of narrative through explorations of interactive storytelling and interactive cinema in Augmented Reality environments.

Her work is poetic, exploratory, interesting, and innovative, currently combining the development of authoring software with evocative literary constructs. She completed one of Canada's first born-digital hypertextual dissertations in 2000, and her hypermedia novella, These Waves of Girls, won the International Electronic Literature Award for Fiction in 2001. Most recently, her augmented reality poem, Andromeda, was co-awarded the 2008 International Cuidad de Vinaròs Prize for Electronic Literature in the digital poetry category.

Caitlin Fischer is the writer/director for Chez Moi, a part of Queerstory, a locative app tour of the political, cultural and social history of Toronto's queer community.

Other projects include:

Wallace Edwards Illustrations - Immersive Worlds. Investiagtions into immersive, creative storyworlds.


Breaking the Chains. AR Experience in partnership with the Harriet Tubman Institute at York University, Toronto, ON, 2012.

In her statement, Caitlin Fisher talks about the development of the Snapdragon authoring environment in her AR Lab at York University, the creation of Andromeda with Snapdragon, and the creation of the subsequent performative version, Andromeda2.

Visit Caitlin Fisher's statement to find out more.

Review: D. Fox Harrell, Phantasmal Media, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2013

"Expressive computing system developers can create digital stories, poems, or games in which aspects of content, such as theme, plot, emotional tone, metaphorical expression, or imagery, can vary improvisationally with user interaction...In addition to the new meanings generated in each new single session, new meanings emerge from the contrast between multiple readings or play sessions. These new meanings can be composed in response (discrete or continuous) to user interaction."" [1]

The creation of electronic literature, literary games, and content-intense interactive art involves a complex combining of content and code/authoring system, as well as a consideration of user interface and the ability to put it all together -- whether the writer's vision is to emphasize the constraints or to create a work where the constraints are not apparent to the reader. Print poets have thousands of years of lineage of the constraints of writing poetry and thus an inherent heightened ability to compose, whether intuitively or with deliberatively imposed constraints.

In contrast, although there is energy in this seemingly never-ending struggle, creators of new media must constantly rise above evolving technologies and look to the meaning of the work as a whole. To this end, for those who work on the fertile borders of content and code, Fox Harrell's Phantasmal Media is required reading.

In this fascinating book of shifting definitions, that in their very mutability illustrate an elusive concept, Harrell initially explores "phantasm", not only in new media but also in print, film, and music, pointing for instance to Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon, where "Meaning is constructed as a blend of the concrete knowledge that the event did take place and the shifting, conflicting reports given by the characters amid a cinematic forest scene dappled by shadow and light." [2]

Contingently, he illustrates the use of phantasm in new media with Chameleonia: Shadow Play, created in Harrell's Imagination, Computation, and Expression Laboratory (ICE Lab) at MIT. Inspired by W.E.B. Du Bois's definition of "double consciousness", Chameleonia responds to gestures and environment and in the process transforms a user's avatar, while at the same time the avatar's shadow mutates differently -- confronting the user with a virtual environment where an individual's self-conception is different from the way that individual is viewed by society.

As the book progresses through sections on "Subjective Computing", "Cultural Computing", and "Critical Computing", like the variety of works that are used to illustrate these concepts, the definition of "phantasm" is variable and elusive. But, to a certain extent, that is a point of Phantasmal Media, at least for this reader.

Complete review....

December, 2014

Pinkerton Road Studio Creates 20th Anniversary Edition of Jane Jensen's Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers

In 1993, Sierra On-Line published the graphic interactive fiction Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers, written, designed, and directed by Jane Jensen and named 1994 Adventure Game of the Year by Computer Gaming World. Against a backdrop of New Orleans, that was inspired by the novels of Anne Rice, Jensen's narrative of voodoo culture and bookstore owner/writer Gabriel Knight's quest to uncover his family's past became a classic in the creation of well-developed narrative in games and introduced users to a cast of characters that included memorable women, such Gabriel's grandmother and the Japanese American, Grace Nakimura. In the original version, Gabriel Knight was voiced by actor Tim Curry.

This year, recreating a classic of graphic interactive fiction, Pinkerton Road Studio and Phoenix Online Studios have released a 20th anniversary edition of Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers. The October 2014 version utilizes high-res 3D graphics, new puzzles and scenes, and a remastered soundtrack by composer Robert Holmes, as well as behind-the-scenes information and interviews that detail the creation of the visuals and storyboards.

Jane Jensen, who went to work for Sierra Online in the early 1990's, has a degree in Computer Science from Anderson University in Indiana and worked as a systems programmer for Hewlett-Packard before she followed her vision of creating games at Sierra Online. She is the author of the adventure game Gray Matter, (2010) as well as the Gabriel Knight Series and the Philip K. Dick Award-nominated print book, Dante's Equation.

In 2012 -- with a vision of creating community supported narrative games for tablet and desktop computers -- she and her husband, musician and composer Robert Holmes, founded Pinkerton Road Studio in a Pennsylvania farmhouse. Among the studio's first projects was Moebius: Empire Rising, a Kickstarted adventure game released for PC and Mac in April 2014.

Founded by Ken Williams, an IBM programmer and by his wife, game designer Roberta Williams (one of the first, if not the first women to co-head a computer gaming company), the original publisher of Gabriel Knight, California-based Sierra Online, began in 1979 as On-Line Systems. With titles including King's Quest, Sierra Online (now owned by Activision Publishing) was an influential pioneer in the creation of graphic adventure games -- replacing text commands with a tool bar of clickable icons that allowed walking, getting, examining and other traditional Interactive Fiction actions.

Phoenix Online Studios is an award-winning game development studio with a mission of creating compelling games in which narrative and character development are primary.

For more information visit Pinkerton Road's Web page at http://pinkertonroad.com

Information about Phoenix Online Studios is available at http://www.POStudios.com


Below are archived statements create during the 2008 Electronic Literature Organization Conference and during the 2008 Seminar on Electronic Literature in Europe Many of these statements will be retooled with separate pages in 2014.

Stefan Müller Arisona
Exploding, Plastic & Inevitable
Soundium, Ableton Live, Modul 8

Swiss new media artist/researcher Stefan Müller Arisona works with real-time multimedia systems and live multimedia composition and performance software. His audio-visual performance narratives have been shown and performed internationally. Currently a post-doctoral researcher at the Chair for Information Architecture of ETH Zurich, Switzerland, his research includes the development of the Soundium multimedia performance platform; (with Steve Gibson) as well as mathematical modeling for the performance of musical gestures and interactive software systems for urban design and simulation. He is co-editor, with Randy Adams and Steve Gibson, of Transdisciplinary Digital Art - Sound, Vision and the New Screen

The work he performed at the 2008 Electronic Literature Organization Conference in Vancouver, WA is a 21st Century reenactment of The Exploding Plastic Inevitable a seminal multimedia work that was originally created and performed by Andy Warhol with Lou Reed's The Velvet Underground and Nico in the 1960's.

More information: San Francisco Performance of Exploding, Plastic & Inevitable at Swissnex

Exploding, Plastic & Inevitable

Since Steve Gibson and I are going to present the Exploding, Plastic & Inevitable show (also accompanied by a live audio and visuals workshop) during the conference, it might be best to give some background for the software used there.

Authoring tools we're using

audio: Ableton Live
visuals (Steve): Modul 8
visuals (Stefan): Soundium, see below.

Steve may have to add a few things, he did a lot of custom stuff for other projects, such as Virtual DJ.

At this point I can give more information about the custom software Soundium:

Soundium is a research multimedia authoring and processing framework. It has been used for many live visuals performances and several digital art installations. However, it is not really an "end user product" and requires a quite a bit of multimedia processing knowledge in order to use it.

written in java and c++, and based on open source software: linux, gcc, x11, ffmpeg, etc.

available for free download
further infos are at: http://www.corebounce.org/wiki/Main/Publications

Alan Bigelow
What They Said
Flash, Sound Studio, Photoshop

Alan Bigelow combines images, text, audio and video to create interactive web-based digital fictions that address contemporary issues including philosophy, religion and the uses of mass media.

His work has been published and/or exhibited at Turbulence.org; Los Angeles Center for Digital Arts; Freewaves; Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center; The New River; and E-Poetry 2007.

A Professor in the Humanities Department at Medaille College in upstate NY, he was recently a visiting online lecturer in Creative Writing and New Media at De Montfort University, UK

What They Said

Work Description:

What They Said (2008) is an online work which is a commentary on mass media and its use of authoritarian messages, both outright and subliminal, to influence culture and political will. The work is created in Flash and uses a synthesized combination of text, images, video, and audio; its interface is a hybrid of television and radio visual elements intended to enhance the user experience and require their participation in the viewing of the work.

What They Said is meant not just as a commentary on mass media, and how it is used, both intentionally and by media programmers' blind acquiescence to current political paradigms, to distort meaning and manipulate citizens worldwide. It also suggests our own culpability, as the ones who turn on the media devices and listen to the messages. We bear some responsibility for the perpetuation of these messages, and we are the ones, if we have the will, to turn them off.

To progress through What They Said, the viewer must first turn on the media "device." They then use a slider, reminiscent of an old-style radio channel indicator, to "read" the various messages. These messages--instructions for work, family life, cultural beliefs, and aesthetics--are archetypal in nature and use a linguistic double-speak favored by many governments, present and past. The viewer's choice of messages is random, snatched, using the slider, from the static ether visually (and auditorially) presented in the piece. When the last message is read, the piece automatically generates a short closing visual followed by a subtitle. Total viewing time is approximately five minutes.


This work, like all my other work, was created in Flash, with imported files that were edited in Sound Studio and Photoshop. Flash is a very resilient and robust application that is relatively easy to learn and remarkably obedient to the unusual demands of digital storytelling.

Right now, the most interesting challenge to me (other than creating new work!) is how to move online Flash works into the mainstream of gallery shows. In the United States, at least, it appears that many galleries are not used to considering online works as representative material for exhibitions; when asked, though, many are intrigued and ask to see the work, even when it is not within their usual call for submissions.

Part of their reluctance to accept web works/Net Art is the difficulty of pricing such work for sale. Rhizome.org has a revealing interview with Aron Namenwirth of artMovingProjects on this topic
( Interview with Aron Namenwirth of artMovingProjects)

Steve Ersinghaus
The Life of Geronimo Sandoval

Steve Ersinghaus is a digital artist, fiction writer, and poet. He is the author with of 100 Days: 100 drawings 100 poems; (with Carianne Mack) Stoning Field; The Life of Geronimo Sandoval; and the hypertext poem That Night. (Drunken Boat, Spring 2009)

Steve Ersinghaus earned his Masters in Fine Arts from the University of Texas-El Paso. He teaches writing, literature, and new media at Tunxis Community College in Farmington, Connecticut.

The Life of Geronimo Sandoval

The Life of Geronimo Sandoval, a novel in hypertext, took approximately four years to complete. I had originally begun the work with a fairly conventional plan: to write a book-based novel. I began with an image, two people talking by a river in southern New Mexico, and quickly realized that the novel and its characters wanted a differentform: the novel needed a form appropriate and implicit to the voice of its first person narrator/hero, Ham Sandoval.

I found the form with the help of Eastgate Systems' Storyspace. The initial image of The Life of Geronimo Sandoval became not merely a place to begin writing the novel but an episode within a larger narrative that could appear at any appropriate time given Ham Sandoval's method of storytelling. Storyspace because the appropriate tool to explore Ham Sandoval.

Storyspace is hypertext authoring software. I would also call it an authoring framework. It provides not just the requirements of a word processor or a means of reading and presenting hypertext, but an environment for creating, organizing, revising, visualizing, and distributing hyperlinked works. I could also write the previous sentence this way: Storyspace can be the proper tool for works of art that demand hypertext as an implicit form. What Storyspace provided for Sandoval was a means of finding the voice and logic of the narrative.

In Storyspace's work environment I could find sequences and sections swiftly and accurately and work with multiple writing spaces simultaneously. With Storyspace, the writer may employ a variety of link types to the text as well as control how links behave under certain conditions. Storyspace provides map, chart, and outline views that provide flexible means of examining narrative space. Keyword assignment, search facility, and the ability to import other digital media into the environment make Storyspace a powerful creative tool with ample aesthetic possibilities not just for the study of technology but of the human lifeworld.

Susan M. Gibb
Flash, Tinderbox, Storyspace

Susan M. Gibb holds an A.S. degree in English from Tunxis Community College and is currently supplementing with courses based in Creative Writing, and New Media. She is a writer of fiction as well as non fiction and poetry, has served as editor of otto, the Tunxis literary journal, and has produced and edited a traditional archery magazine sold in the U.S. and abroad. Her workshop session on "The Hypertext Effect: The Transfiguration of Writing and The Writer" was presented at Hypertext 2008 in Pittsburgh, PA.

She is always working on hypertext projects using Storyspace and Tinderbox software and exporting for presentation online, has published some work on her website, Hypercompendia, and is currently participating in 100 Days: Summer 2009, a collaboration of individual artists producing a work each day for 100 days. Susan Gibb also writes online on her websites dedicated to Literature, Writing, Hypertext, New Media forms, and life's "story moments."

My introduction to hypertext was in a contemporary fiction course, and there was a bit of resistance to what appeared to be a jungle of story. However, it intrigued me enough as a writer to want to master not only the reading but the writing of narrative into the hypertext environment.

With the Storyspace program offered by Eastgate Systems in mind, I prepared by planning out what I felt was the perfect story to be told in hypertext. Paths is a story of a couple who fell in love in college and who may or may not have ended up together. What other medium could so entwine the coulda's, woulda's, and shoulda's of such a basic choice in life?

Once I got the Storyspace software, it was a matter of transferring what were basically four paths of stories into the format. Very, very easy to do. Even though the manual is one of the best I'd ever encountered in its pointed instructions and illustrations, the software was so well arranged that it wasn't necessary to consult except for specific maneuvers.

I soon realized that the structure I had envisioned for the story was not using Storyspace to its optimum performance capabilities with its opportunities for exploration into time and character. The excellent Map View was the best to work into as it enabled the placement of the parts within the whole. All the originally planned links were severed and I let the stories flow into each other from more natural intersecting points. Past and present have no certainty in this narrative and the interplay of memory and perspective opened a playground for true character development. 75 writing spaces -- or text boxes -- stretched into 300, all because the event of hypertext invites the author to tarry in an area of the mind that might otherwise be kept from the reader.

I am working on more in the Storyspace software and find that as with the first effort, the format focuses on what is vital to a very small portion of story without hindering the creative flow. Particularly in editing, I've found that the writing improves as it seeks the most concise yet imaginative manner of telling a tale; each box of words being self-contained and asking the writer, as much as the reader, to linger a bit, just as does the form of a poem.

The full journey of writing in Storyspace has been documented in my Hypercompendia weblog and can be read at Storyspace Index

Dylan Harris
All Hands
Sound Forge, Soundtracker Pro, Audacity, Studio Artist, Paint Shop
Pro, the Gimp, GarageBand, Final Cut Express, Windows Notepad

Originally from England, now living in Dublin, "arts explorer" Dylan Harris is a poet and software engineer whose print and multimedia poetry has appeared in print and online.

I'll write a poem using pen, paper and beer. I'll use Sound Forge, Soundtracker Pro or Audacity, depending on reverb, to make an MP3 recital. I'll assemble a videocast using the recital, photos processed in Studio Artist (I like it), text in Paint Shop Pro (windows fonts) or the Gimp (unix fonts), in GarageBand (simple) or Final Cut Express (complex). The videocast is posted using iWeb.

Except for videocasts, I prepare web pages using Windows Notepad, because it doesn't exclude things its designers didn't expect.

Ian Hatcher
Signal to Noise, Opening Sources

Ian Hatcher is a writer, musician, and programmer from Seattle. His work has been presented at the 2008 Electronic Literature Organization and Electronic Literature in Europe conferences and published by Counterpath Press.

He is the primary composer for the Chicago-based contemporary dance ensemble The Moving Architects, with whom he performs live.

As of 2009, he is a graduate student in Literary Arts at Brown University.

Signal to Noise, Opening Sources

All my work in elecronic writing has been created for (and often in response to) the architecture of the web. My primary interest for some time now has been the development of adaptive multi-reader texts -- works which track multiple simultaneous readings and navigations and use this data to influence and evolve content in realtime. No authoring software yet exists with this kind of functionality, at least not for my purposes, so I've been writing the engines myself using a combination of programming languages and libraries. The method I'm using to continuously pass data between a reader's browser and my PHP code is AJAX, which is remarkably easy to learn and implement if you go through a Javascript library such as JQuery, Mootools or Prototype. Anyone interested in authoring web-based work (AJAX aside) should definitely spend some time experimenting with these libraries, which provide excellent sets of tools to make Javascript far easier and more intuitive to write. As a bonus, they let you safely ignore a lot of the pitfalls of making one's code compatible with Internet Explorer.

I like HTML, Javascript, and PHP because they are all free and, in the first two cases, produce inherently open-source work. You can go to almost any page with Javascript, view the source, find the linked .js file, and check out exactly how it operates. There is a certain nifty elegance to this kind of transparency.

Some software I've found useful:

Aptana, a free and open-source development suite.

MAMP/LAMP/WAMP, free virtual server software. Indispensable when coding in PHP.

JQuery and Prototype, my two favorite Javascript libraries. Also free.

TextMate , unfortunately not free, but the best text editor available for OSX.

Chris Joseph
Inanimate Alice by Kate Pullinger and Chris Joseph
___ http://www.chrisjoseph.org/
Photoshop, Premiere, Sound Forge, Acid, Flash

Digital writer Chris Joseph, aka babel, creates electronic literature, multimedia, and interactive art.

His work has been exhibited internationally, including among many others, the 2008 Biennale of Sydney; Visionary Landscapes, Electronic Literature Organization Conference 2008; Digital Media Valencia 2008; Boston Cyberarts, E-Poetry, and SIGGRAPH.

His current work includes Flight Paths, a "networked novel" funded by the Arts Council England; Inanimate Alice, a series of interactive multimedia stories; and remixworx, a collaborative digital remixing community.

From September 2006 until September 2008, he was the first Digital Writer in Residence at the Institute of Creative Technologies in De Montfort University, Leicester, UK.

Chris Joseph is editor of the post-dada magazine and network 391.org.

Inanimate Alice

Inanimate Alice is a series of multimedia short stories depicting the life of a girl growing up in the early years of the 21st century. Across ten episodes, the story of Alice, games animator, and her one true friend in life, Brad, the game character she has created, is told using a combination of text, sound, and images. "Episode 1: China" begins with Alice aged eight and subsequent episodes track her through adulthood until her mid-twenties. Each episode becomes increasingly interactive and more game-like, reflecting Alice's own developing skills as a game designer and animator.

Inanimate Alice represents a project that could not have been created or distributed without the software developments of the past decade. The series uses manipulated photographic images, illustrations, video, sound, and text to tell the story. These elements were created using a PC and various softwares: Photoshop (graphics), Premiere (video), Sound Forge and Acid (sound effects and music).

Finally Flash is used to combine these elements and create the final work. Flash offers a method for creative artists to produce high-quality multimedia at a relatively low cost, and even more importantly, it allows a cost-effective and simple method for distributing the piece to a worldwide audience.

More specifically, Flash was chosen for the following reasons:

1. It has a very wide user base, so represents a great way to distribute work online without putting off those users who are unfamiliar with installing software plugins;

2. It allows the relatively simple creation of randomized, non-linear and interactive elements. For example, in each episode there are elements that are generated at random from a set of pre-defined possibilities (such as Ming's paintings, and the motion of the texts) -- possibilities that can be explored with this kind of digital animation, as opposed to a linear (filmed) animation;

3. It offers an extremely wide range of animation styles. Movement between scenes in Inanimate Alice is generally very dynamic, employing slides, pans and zooms to suggest an animated graphic novel, in a style that blends comic, animation and film. But techniques and elements of classical animation can also be found throughout, for example Alice's hand-drawn animations of Brad, or the looping desert backgrounds in Episode 1 that are reminiscent of early Disney cartoons. All these styles can be easily explored within the Flash authoring environment.

Rob Kendall
Flash; XML, X-Lit

Born and raised in Canada and currently living in Menlo Park, California, Robert Kendall is an e-poetry pioneer, who has been creating interactive multimedia poetry since 1990.

His book-length hypertext poem, A Life Set for Two, was published by Eastgate Systems in 1996, and his hypertext poetry has also been published and exhibited Internationally including The Little Magazine; Iowa Review Web; BBC Online; Cauldron & Net; Dodge Poetry Festival; the Second Annual Poetry Video Festival, Chicago; Manhattan Cable TV; and the Painted Bride Art Center, Philadelphia.

Kendall's printed poetry has appeared in Rattapallax, Contact II, River Styx, New York Quarterly, Barrow Street, and Indiana Review. His print work, A Wandering City, (Cleveland State University Poetry Center) won the CSU Poetry Center Prize.

He is co-developer of Connection Muse, an adaptive hypertext authoring system for Web poetry and fiction, and his articles and essays about computer technology and computers in the arts have been widely published including in PC Magazine, PC Computing, Poets & Writers Magazine, Leonardo, Electronic Book Review, Cortland Review, Kairos, and Purdue University Press.

Robert Kendall is the host of the website Word Circuits

Since 1995, he has taught hypertext poetry and fiction through the online program of the New School University in New York.


I created this work in Flash. It makes use of drag-and-drop functions and transitional fades that very few other delivery systems can create. The method I use for text-handling is not the one normally employed by Flash authors. All the text is stored in an XML file, which is read by the work's SWF file at runtime. This means that I can edit or expand the text of this work freely without having to recompile the SWF file. I can also easily organize it into paths and sections/lexias. It's very difficult to work with large quantities of text in Flash, unless you put the text into external XML files in this manner.

Pieces is the first step in a large-scale project from which I hope will eventually emerge an X-Literature XML specification--an XML format that will allow me and other authors to create complex Flash works solely by creating content in XML that will be rendered by a Flash-based X-Lit Player. I will be working in conjunction with the ELO to work out the details of the X-Lit spec itself. In conjunction with developing a preliminary version of the spec, I am also building an authoring tool in AIR (a new programming IDE recently released by Adobe) that will let people create Flash works without having to use or even own Flash. My XML format currently handles only text, but ultimately it will also handle graphics, video, and audio, and will store elements defining animation, interaction, styles, and interface elements. Preliminary details about the project, which is in its very early stages, are available at http://www.wordcircuits.com/xlit

Prior to working in Flash, I used the Connection Muse to help create most of my Web work. This is a JavaScript-based authoring system for adaptive hypertext, which I codeveloped with the French computer scientist, Jean-Hugues Réty ( http://wordcircuits.com/connect). This system allows the components of a hypertext to respond dynamically to a reader's progress through the work, changing links and content to suit the current reading situation. Many of the features of Connection Muse have already been incorporated into my XML format, and I hope eventually to port all the system's features to the X-Lit authoring system.

When the X-Lit spec, player, and authoring tool are fully developed they will allow an author to store in a single XML file all the text and pointers to external media content for complex hypertexts, interactive pieces, and animated works. Features not supported by X-Lit can still be implemented directly in Flash, so an author won't lose any functionality by using the system, even if it doesn't directly support all desired functions. I'm excited by the prospects of this system and its new approach, and I hope it will someday see wide use.

Donna Leishman
Software: Flash, Sound Forge

Donna Leishman's work is a combination of critical writing and practice-led research in digital art with a particular interest in the intersection of narrative with Internet based interactivity. Her practice has been exhibited internationally both in art and design contexts. Themes in the research include the aesthetics of dissonance, visual digital literature and the psychology of literary characterization.

Donna Leishman is currently an academic specializing in digital media design at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in the University of Dundee, Scotland. She was an Emmy award nominee for her work on The Rosie O'Donnell Show, and her responsive animations have been showcased in The New York Times and The Guardian Online, as well as exhibited at The Lighthouse, Glasgow, Scotland; Alt-w: New Directions in Scottish Digital Culture; Studio Zeta, Milan; the Boston Cyberarts Festival; the DeCordova Museum; Technopoetry Festival, Georgia Tech; UKinNY Festival, Parsons School of Design, New York; and Visionary Landscapes, Electronic Literature Organization Conference, Vancouver, WA.

With background as a visual artist and web designer, she has created a series of visually-rich narratives and fairytales that combine elements of magic realism and pop culture with animation and interactivity. In her statement for Authoring Software, she talks about the creation of her classic (launched in 2000) animated and interactive version of "Little Red Riding Hood", and in particular about her use of Flash.

"All works are seeded and born within traditional sketchbooks, so I draw everything first but they grow and become real within the Flash environment," she observes.

More information about Donna Leishman's work can be found on her website at http://www.6amhoover.com

Donna Leishman: RedRidingHood

The interface, interactivity and animation within RedRidingHood, like subsequent projects: The Bloody Chamber, Deviant: The Possession Of Christian Shaw and Contemplating Flight, was entirely produced using Abobe Flash. Simple sound editing software such as Soundforge or Audacity was used to create and or edit the sound content. Given my background as a visual artist and web designer the quality of the graphics were of key importance, Flash offered (and still offers) a robust yet simple drawing toolbox -- a small sister to professional vector art packages such as Illustrator and Freehand. In 2000, it was important to consider the streaming and filesize of the animation (Broadband wasn't a common luxury), so Flash allowed bigger bang for your buck in terms of both graphic and animation/movement complexity given its excellent streaming compression. I had previously written about the problematic aesthetics of early Elit works which tended to be of poor visual / typographic quality, I argued that the audience scope was thus limited and rarefied and unlikely to reach broader public audiences.

I still work entirely within vectors rather than bitmaps, vector animation rather than video or film. My PhD thesis touched upon the value or interest in establishing a sense of digital crafting or the *fragital* -- a hybrid of detailed line art and a sense of handcrafting, a holographic touch from the author yet within digital media. All works are seeded and born within traditional sketchbooks, so I draw everything first but they grow and become real within the Flash environment.

Flash also allowed me to program and develop actionscript generated random sequences (within the Dream Sequence in RedRidingHood) and manage the non-linear narrative structuring. The Flash Player is also very pervasive and has penetrated the majority of web users. Sound editing and syncing sound to action and motion remains a fascinating process and one that, time permitting, I would like to develop so the total media crafting, image, movement, interaction and audio is completely complimentary.

Poetic Game Interventions [V.1] [from the Twittermixed Litterature Series]
Twitter and World of Warcraft

Australian-based net.artist, Mez Breeze has been creating of Internet-based code poetry and poetic game interventions for fifteen years.

Her work has been exhibited widely, including ISEA; ARS Electronica; The Metropolitan Museum Tokyo; SIGGRAPH; The Brooklyn Academy of Music; New Media Scotland; Laguna Art Museum; Alternator Gallery, Canada; HTTP Gallery, London; and Postmaster Gallery, New York.

She was JavaArtist of the Year 2001 and in 2002, she was the winner of the Newcastle Digital Poetry Prize.

Poetic Game Interventions [V.1]

I began my MMOG interventions in the 90's using the _Everquest_ game interface 2 project/interject in2 the conventional game-chat stream by riffing off other players chatlines and reworking chat sections via poetic manipulations. I'd also mangle logs of these chats and project them into a wider networked sphere by reposting them to various email list forums.

I'm currently extending this type of poetic intervention/textual reworking of game_text during my time playing World of Warcraft. My latest intervention is titled "Twittermixed Litterature" and involves WoW characters ["toons"] on the Bloodscalp Server standing in Ironforge [an in-game location] + live remixing [in_game] chat that occurs between players and guild/character names that rotate past. I then remash these lines [+ any feedback I receive in-game from the players themselves] into a live Twitter stream, making a multi-access channelling or [as I labelled it in the press releases]: "Twittermixing prefound identity marker texts from live-time character actions in World of Warcraft" and "MMO Voyeur Aggregationistic Rem(H)ashing."

Ethan Miller
Narrative Units -- http://ethanmiller.name/projects/narrativeunits/:
Code based, networked data visualization

Software tools used: Written in the Python programming language,
and depends on the Python libraries PyGame (for rendering graphics)
and BeautifulSoup (for reading HTML).

Narrative Units

Interface/authoring tools are an interesting question to me... For the last three years or so I've worked almost exclusively within a command-line interface. My code editor is Vim. Like many CLI users, I find it efficient and simple - it allows me to think through the keyboard without a lot of hunting and clicking with the mouse to interfere.

From the perspective of media practice, I see the interfaces I use while working as very much a part of the work. Here is a screenshot of Narrative Units: http://ethanmiller.name/media/images/uploaded/narrunits_.png which may explain more visually than I can articulate verbally. I think the relationship, on the one hand, may have to do with the parameters/biases imposed by software: Programming languages and plain-text/code editors offer relatively more freedom of movement than 'wizards' and options panels (more possibilities for errors isn't a bad thing either).

Beyond that though I think a plain text interface in the context of a visual/auditory/networked practice speaks to the soft borders between those forms and the codes that run through them. The relationship, say between code that creates an image, the image file, and how it's represented on a screen, is complex and fascinating. The transformations all happen through 'languages' which are comfortably represented in plain text. I guess, for me, keeping my working interface within the confines of plain text, while creating visual/auditory work, keeps me situated within that "boundary" area that I find so interesting.

Nick Montfort -- http://nickm.com
Lost One: Curveship, Python

New media writer and scholar Nick Montfort is the author of the MIT Press books Twisty Little Passages: An Approach to Interactive Fiction (2003) and Racing the Beam: The Atari Video Computer System (2009, with Ian Bogost) and co-editor of The New Media Reader. (2003, with Noah Wardrip-Fruin) He founded and blogged at Grand Text Auto, a group blog about computer narrative, games, poetry, and art, and now blogs about interactive narrative, poetic digital writing, and new media history at Post Position.

Montfort is a leading writer and programmer, whose interactive fiction authoring system, Curveship, was released in 2011. His work includes The Purpling; (published in The Iowa Review Web) Ten Mobile Texts; ("five stories, an aubade, an epic, a sestina, a lipogram, and a ballad for Short Message Service", published in The New River) and Fields of Dream. (with Rachel Stevens, published in Poems that Go) Additionally, his work has been exhibited at or published in FILE, Sao Paulo, Brazil; bleuOrange, Montréal, Canada; the Carmen Conde Centenary, Spain; Cauldron & Net; the Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; the Beall Center for Art + Technology, U.C. Irvine and the Digital Arts and Culture Conference.

An Associate Professor of Digital Media in the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Nick Montfort currently serves as the President of the Electronic Literature Organization.

Lost One

An interesting recent piece for me to mention is Lost One, which has not been released but was first publicly read at the Open Mic & Mouse, The Future of Electronic Literature Symposium, (sponsored by the Electronic Literature Organization and Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities) University of Maryland, May 2, 2007.

This piece was written to demonstrate my interactive fiction system Curveship, (formerly called nn) which is also unreleased. I began work on this system as part of my dissertation work at the University of Pennsylvania. Curveship is written in Python. It is is currently a research system -- good enough to prove some points that I have been trying to prove. I am finishing a more stable and comprehensible version of the system and working on some longer-form interactive fiction in the system. I hope to release Curveship around the end of this summer. (2009)

I'm particularly interested in writing e-lit in programming languages that are capable of general computation. Curveship falls into this category, while also providing specific facilities for varying the narration of a story independent of what the underlying events are. I'm also currently working on a series of very small Perl poetry generators and on some story generators in Perl. I have also written electronic literature in Inform 6, Processing, HTML, Java, the Windows 95 help system, and plain text.

Stuart Moulthrop
Recent Projects

One of the first creators of new media literature and a distinguished new media writer, digital artist, and scholar, Baltimore, Maryland native Stuart Moulthrop is the author of the seminal hyperfiction Victory Garden, (Eastgate, 1992), a work that Robert Coover included in the "golden age" of electronic literature.

His works -- that include Hegirascope, (1995) Reagan Library, (1999) Pax, (2003) Under Language, (2007) and Deep Surface (2007) -- have been exhibited and or published by Eastgate, The Iowa Web Review, the ELO Electronic Literature Collection; New River; Media Ecology; The New Media Reader; Washington State University Vancouver; and the Digital Arts and Culture Conference. Two of his works have won prizes in the Ciutat de Vinaros international competition.

Stuart Moulthrop is a Professor in the School of Information Arts and Technologies at the University of Baltimore where he is the Director of the undergraduate Simulation and Digital Entertainment program.

He has served as co-editor for Postmodern Culture, was co-founder of the TINAC electronic arts collective, and was a founding director of the Electronic Literature Organization.

Under Language and Deep Surface

Since the turn of the century, I've been working exclusively in Flash, with an increasing emphasis on code-intensive, object-oriented projects.

Also important are various tools for generating 3-D images and animations, including 3DStudio Max and Poser, tools for converting text to artificial speech, such as TextAloud, and the sound library at Freesound.org

My most recent projects are:

"Deep Surface" http://www.hermeneia.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1871&Itemid=654

"Under Language" http://iat.ubalt.edu/moulthrop/hypertexts/ul/

My headlong dive into ever more elaborate code structures has brought my work closer to the thermocline between e-lit and computer games. Both the most recent pieces have explicit game features, such as end-of-play conditions (game over), and scoring systems. You can probably tell that I spend much time in my day job (which, oddly enough, happens mainly at night) teaching aspiring game designers how to think with code.

Withal, I remain a compulsively verbal artist, and can't shake the type off my boot blocks, even as I seem compelled to invent "new disorders" of writing (as I recently heard John Cayley quote Derrida).

Flash remains a convenient choice for many things -- though it bears noting that ActionScript 3 demands significantly more patience and attention than its precursors, and turns casual scripting into something much more like industrial-strength programming. Adobe seem to assume that graphic designers and application developers will be happier if their tools clearly delineate their job functions (i.e., the designers are discouraged from touching code). I think that's a terrible development for ARTISTS.

In the future, I'd like to build with materials that aren't Adobe -- using things like Processing, especially the excellent RiTa system from Daniel Howe at Brown, or a fascinating utility called Dasher, which is a gestural substitute for keyboard input. Also on my do-list are Inform, the venerable authoring system for traditional interactive fiction, and of course, HTML-JavaScript, where I still have deep roots.

Alexander Mouton
Flash, HTML, Java Script, Photoshop, Final Cut, Logic, QuickTime

Working with photography, video, bookmaking, sequenced images, and sound, Alexander Mouton creates artists books and electronic works online and in performance and installation situations.

Produced by Unseen Press, his artists books are in collections Internationally including the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and the Kunst Bibliothek in Berlin, Germany

He is Assistant Professor of Digital Art & Design at Seattle University in Washington, where he also teaches artists' book structures.


As a visual and sound artist working also within the form of the artists' book, I understand net art as a virtual extension of a much older physical tradition of self-published artists' books. I began working with narrative/poetic artists' books in the early 90's and began experimenting with Director in 2001 as I was able to incorporate motion and sound into the mix. I moved thereafter to the Flash programming environment because it affords a better possibility for compressing video, still images, and sounds to sufficiently small sizes for web publishing without sacrificing the aesthetic integrity of the media.

I work with Final Cut and Quicktime Pro for video editing, Adobe Photoshop for image editing, and Logic and Audacity for sound editing. Currently, I combine the raw materials from these programs using Flash, and with javaScript and actionScript I can customize the users viewing environment, incorporate interactivity, and program randomization features to break from traditional linear narrativity

For the piece Velvet specifically, my goal was to produce a highly interactive environment which was very personal in nature and which immerses a user inside the mind and identity of the artist for the exploration of states of mind, dreams, and memory. I was also interested in incorporating as many media as possible - text, still images, sounds, & video - and to do so using a diverse body of work from over the past 15 years of my active art-making. The interactivity plays a significant role, not only for navigation, but for the generation of meaning. Velvet was designed with a non-linear narrative in mind, with an overarching structure in place that allows for a degree of authorial direction amidst the user-determined sequencing.

Kate Pullinger
Flight Paths by Kate Pullinger and Chris Joseph
CommentPress, Netvibes

Born in British Columbia and based in London, Kate Pullinger writes for print, digital media, radio, and film. Her recent work includes the multimedia graphic novel Inanimate Alice and the networked narrative Flight Paths.

Her works of fiction have been published by Phoenix House, Bloomsbury, Cape/Picador, Five Star, and Serpent's Tail. She co-wrote the novel of the film The Piano with director Jane Campion, and from 2001-2007 she was a Royal Literary Fund Fellow. Her new novel, The Mistress of Nothing, is in press in the UK by Serpent's Tail and in Canada by McArthur & Co.

Kate Pullinger currently teaches on the MA in Creative Writing and New Media at De Montfort University, Leicester, UK.

Flight Paths

We've been working on Flight Paths for around five months now, and a lot of that time has been taken up trying to figure out how to make it work. Despite massive advances and changes on the web over the past few years, it still remains fairly complicated to create an open access site that can include multimedia.

The first version of Flight Paths went up in a WordPress blog, with the add-on of CommentPress, the widget created by the Institute of the Future of the Book that allows us to foreground comments on the right-hand side of the page, instead of buried beneath each post. While this seemed like a good idea at the time, this widget was actually created for people to comment on works that were already written; CommentPress works best when you've got a draft of a text that you want to allow people to comment on paragraph by paragraph. It doesn't work so well when the project, like Flight Paths, is being created afresh.

At the same time as working on the public face of the project, Chris and I have been busy in the background making links with other organisations, collecting submissions from interested people, creating our own submissions, visiting the supermarket in Richmond to make recordings and take photos and videos, interviewing the journalists behind the original project, etc etc.

After a few months, it began to become clear to us that the wordpress blog wasn't really the right venue for this project - a blog is a blog, even with the fab CommentPress widget - and what we are trying to do is not create a blog. Neither of us are natural-born bloggers, and this project isn't about writing a blog. Around this time, Netvibes, a homepage application that we had both been using, launched Netvibes Universes, and this seemed like the ideal platform to move 'Flight Paths' to - we'd always wanted to be able to curate the web for this project, to be able to collect things from all over the web, as well as collecting submissions. The Universe does in fact work well as a curatorial platform, although, inevitably, we've had mails from some of our contributors saying they can't get the Universe boxes to open.

However, quite apart from whether or not the Universe works across various browsers and operating systems, another issue for us is where to house the discussions that arise out of the submissions and from the various issues and themes behind the project. With the CommentPress widget the blog was almost okay for discussions, though we have never used the blog as a blog and have always manipulated the posts, using the Table of Contents the CommentPress widget created, trying to keep numbers of posts to a mininum in order to stop entries from being buried in the blog archive. This was quite labour intensive, and also counter-intuitive -- again, trying to make a blog resemble something that isn't a blog -- so recently we've decided that, for discussions, we should use a forum. We've put a forum up in the Flight Paths universe, and are currently pondering how best to organise it.

All of this has been slow and time-consuming; I've found I've needed ages to ponder it all and get my head round how best to make this project work online. Doubtless we will continue to tweak it as it grows.

Jim Rosenberg

Interactive poetry pioneer Jim Rosenberg has been working with with non-linear poetic forms since 1966, and his Diagrams Series 4 was published on the seminal Art Com Electronic Network on the WELL. His visually elegant, word-dense, spatial hypertexts -- including Intergrams and The Barrier Frames and Diffractions Through -- are published by Eastgate.

His work has also been performed, published and/or exhibited at The San Francisco Poetry Center; Intersection, San Francisco; Cody's, Berkeley; St. Mark's Church in the Bowery, New York; The Kitchen, New York; Harvard University sponsored by The Grolier Poetry Bookstore; Leonardo; E-Poetry; and the Electronic Literature Organizaton Conference.

Rosenberg is an influential hypertext and new media poetics critic and researcher, whose writing has been published in the ACM Hypertext Conferences and the Electronic Book Review, among others.

He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, painter Mary Jean Kenton.

I have come to believe that authoring systems are the problem, not the solution; the short answer to what authoring system I use is: I don't. The authoring system should be smashed -- to smithereens. Let the smithereens loose. What I use is not an authoring system but an ecosystem for nurturing feral smithereens.

This means: the object of attention is (surprise): the object. Authoring is not something you "do" in an "authoring system" -- as opposed to some other habitat of the object as encountered by the reader; authoring is just something naturally there, as a normal function of what an object does. It is not something you turn "on" but something you might decide to turn "off". "Playing" is not something that you do in some separate jail called a "player" or something you do inside that prison otherwise known as "web browser window", it is something the object naturally does. In place. Feral. Loose on the desktop, perhaps. Or if it's in a specific place, a place that you made -- the place is itself an object. Everything is an object. Including zero.

In this environment there is no boundary between "playing" and "authoring". There are only objects that behave. Some behaviors modify the object, some don't. Some behaviors modify other behaviors, some don't. Some behaviors I had to code myself, most I didn't. The concern is not authoring, but doing: What does the word object do, what can you do to it, with it, for it (or even against it.)

An object space. An open object space. Generic enough that I don't have to write all the code, but open meaning I can write my own code and insert it into the space so there is no boundary.

So, of course there is "a system"; I'm not supporting my poetry in an environment I programmed 100% myself in machine language from bare metal -- no one would do that. The object system I use is called Squeak. You could argue, I suppose, that there is no real difference between Squeak and an authoring system, but most authoring systems are not so generic. The list of packages which have been produced in Squeak is quite broad, resembling a scaled-down list of packages available for a generic operating system. The Squeak "World" could easily serve as the main GUI desktop for an operating system, as Gnome or KDE does for Linux.

This is just a snapshot. For a more serious write-up, I still stand by "Questions about the Second Move", which appeared in Cybertext Yearbook 2002-2003, and for the technicalities, "Hypertext in the Open Air: A Systemless Approach to Spatial Hypertext", (pdf) from the Third Workshop on Spatial Hypertext at Hypertext '03.

Stephanie Strickland and Cynthia Lawson Jaramillo
Vniverse - http://vniverse.com/
slippingglimpse - http://slippingglimpse.org/
Director; Flash

Stephanie Strickland is the author of V, which was one of the first works of literature to appear simultaneously both in print, V: WaveSon.nets/Losing L'una, Penguin, 2002, and on the Web, V: Vniverse. Her cyberpoem True North was published in print by the University of Notre Dame Press and as a work of literature on disk by Eastgate. True North was awarded the Ernest Sandeen Poetry Prize, the Alice Fay di Castagnola Award from the Poetry Society of America, and the Salt Hill hypertext prize. V: WaveSon.nets/Losing L'una also received the Alice Fay di Castagnola Award.

Strickland's digital works include V: Vniverse, with Cynthia Lawson Jaramillo; Errand Upon Which We Came, with M.D. Coverley; Ballad of Sand and Harry Soot; and slippingglimpse, with Cynthia Lawson Jaramillo and Paul Ryan. Print scores for the Ballad and slippingglimpse appear in her book, Zone : Zero, which was published by Ahsahta in 2008. slippingglimpse was introduced at E-Poetry in Paris and featured at E-poetry in Barcelona. Her poetry has also been published/exhibited by The Paris Review, Grand Street, New American Writing, Fence, Black Clock, Zoland Poetry, Vlak, The Poetry Foundation, The Iowa Review Web, Cauldron & Net, Drunken Boat, Hyperrhiz: New Media Cultures, Word Circuits Gallery, Blue Moon, The New River, Furtherfield, and Poets for Living Waters.

Her essays about electronic literature appear in Leonardo Electronic Almanac, ebr, Isotope, and volumes from MIT Press and Intellect Press Ltd.

A member of the Board of Directors of the Electronic Literature Organization, she edited the first volume of the Electronic Literature Collection with Kate Hayles, Nick Montfort, and Scott Rettberg. She also co-edited an issue of The Iowa Review Web.

Stephanie Strickland has taught hypermedia literature as part of experimental poetry at many colleges and universities, most recently in the PhD poetry program at the University of Utah. She lives in New York City.

Cynthia Lawson Jaramillo is a New York City-based digital artist and educator, whose innovative work utilizes incremental streams of words and/or photographs to create new media art and literature.

Her work has been exhibited and/or performed at the Modern Museum of Art; (Bogota) Hammer Museum; (UCLA) Exit Art Gallery, NY; CalArts; Rhode Island School of Design; Net Art Columbia; E-Poetry; and the 2008 Electronic Literature Organization Conference, among others. She an active member of Madarts, an arts collective based in Brooklyn, NY.

Cynthia Lawson Jaramillo has taught art and design courses in Colombia, South America; New York; Guatemala; Dominican Republic; and Japan.

She is currently Assistant Professor of Integrated Design in the School of Design Strategies at Parsons The New School for Design in New York City.

Vniverse and slippingglimpse

1-Why did we use Director for Vniverse and Flash for slippingglimpse; or, what is the relationship of interface/content to the tools we used?

V: VNIVERSE: Our original thought was to use VRML, or to make an installation, to actually seem to move in a three-dimensional star space-to turn to look at different texts as you turn in space and trigger the stars. Perhaps, today, were we at Brown or someplace with a CAVE, it would be possible to work out such a piece for a CAVE.

But in fact in 2000, we used Macromedia Director because it was the most widely used multimedia authoring tool at the time, and it was what Cynthia was using in graduate school. The biggest problem was drawing the constellations, getting the lines/diagrams to be dynamically generated whenever anyone rolled over or clicked a star.

The biggest ongoing challenge is to make sure our projects are up-to-date and viewable as hardware and software changes at such a fast pace.

SLIPPINGGLIMPSE: The main reason for using Flash for slippingglimpse was so that we could dynamically animate and visually layer text on top of videos. Director can't do it. You can track motion and layer text on video in Processing, but Processing requires a Java applet on the viewer's machine that is not as widely adopted as the Flash player, and we wanted the project as accessible online as possible.

As well, Cynthia was interested in learning Flash. However we wished to do things that Flash barely supports, certainly not Flash 7. Fortunately Flash 8 came out just in time to do our project. There is a new bitmap API in version 8 that facilitated the motion capture script. We continued to have problems with how many pieces of text we can use at once. Doing multiple things at once and drawing them is something Flash 8 is still pretty clunky at. Therefore we had to break down the poem text and select something like 10 to 15 phrases ranging in length from 1 to 7 words to be dynamically chosen and drawn in the full-screen (water as reader) mode of the piece.

2-How has our use expanded new media practice?

V: VNIVERSE: To our knowledge it hasn't, but we believe the Vniverse interface is capable of being generalized. At a reading at U. California Santa Barbara, an audience member felt it was a widely usable data visualization. It combines diagrammatic structures with text in a pleasing way.

We feel the most interesting aspect of the programming is that the whole program happens in one frame, and therefore time is generated via coding and not a timeline. Sticking to one frame allowed us to dynamically generate the animations of text and of constellations, as opposing to predetermining and then animating them. We wanted to create a space that would allow infinite possibilities for interaction and not one where we had to predict how users would interact.

SLIPPINGGLIMPSE: We haven't seen any other video-based Flash pieces with dynamic layering of text elements. We have seen motion capture programming in performance and installation work, but not much online and rarely with text.

3-What is the relationship between the print work and e-work; or, what is the relationship of interface and content?

SLIPPINGGLIMPSE: There is an ecologic-philosophic practice of threeing (described in Paul Ryan's book, Video Mind, Earth Mind) that is related to the three-mode structure of slippingglimpse. In this digital poem, we aim to give equal weight to two kinds of language: to weight natural languages and human readers equally with non-human languages-and non-human readers. The computer is, of course, a non-human reader; but, in this piece, so is the water-and the water, as well, is a non-human text, a text affected by gravity, by chaotic attractors and catastrophic changes in state, patterning itself, resolving its interior motions into forms that continuously renew. These forms are called chreods.

In slippingglimpse, water (in the 10 ocean videos) is the first reader. We track the water reading by using motion capture coding that assigns the text to locations of movement in the water. The metaphor is that the water's motions provide a scanning, as our eyes scan text. This aspect is best read in the full-screen mode.

In turn, in the scroll-text mode, the poem-text tracks, or reads, image/capture technologies by sampling and recombining the words of visual artists who use digital techniques. It combines their words with Strickland's own-and with words from an old folktale, The Passion of the Flax, which explores the very oldest capture technologies, such as harvesting plants for food and flax for paper.

Completing this "round-robin" of reading, image-capture videography-and-video-editing read the water's flow pattern, reading for and enhancing these patterns to which dynamical systems return even as they continuously change. The high-resolution mode shows the chreod patterns best.

With respect to V: Vniverse and True North, versions of question 3 were posed in Jaishree K. Odin's Iowa Review Online interview http://www.uiowa.edu/~iareview/tirweb/feature/strickland/stricklandinterview.pdf

Sue Thomas
Hello World: travels in virtuality
Print book: http://www.rawnervebooks.co.uk/helloworld.html
Free download: http://www.rawnervebooks.co.uk/helloworlddownload.html
Blog/webview: http://travelsinvirtuality.typepad.com/helloworld/
LamdaMoo: telnet://lambda.moo.mud.org:8888 type 'co guest' to connect

Born and based in England, writer/new media writer Sue Thomas
founded the seminal trAce Online Writing Centre in 1995. Her online
writing projects include the The Noon Quilt, a collaboratively-created
new media "quilt" of art and writing and the online forum Writing and the
Digital Life
that explores digital technologies, writing, and lived

Published by Raw Nerve Books, Overlook, The Women's Press and Five
Leaves, among others, her print works include the cyberspace travelogue
Hello World: travels in virtuality; Correspondence; (short-listed
for the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Science Fiction Novel) Water;
and Wild Women: Contemporary Short Stories By Women Celebrating Women.
She is currently writing The Wild Surmise, about relationships between
cyberspace and the natural world.

Sue Thomas is Professor of New Media in the Institute of Creative
Technologies and the Faculty of Humanities at De Montfort University.

Hello World: travels in virtuality

I fell into LambdaMOO in 1995 and knew immediately that it would change
my creative life for ever. Until then I had written text, but at Lambda
I could actually live in it, be made of it, and travel along it. I had no
idea what would happen as I began to learn how to be an artist of the MOO,
but I hung out in The Living Room ( @go #17 ) making a nuisance of myself
with Francesca da Rimini (Gashgirl) and other members of the Australian
feminist performance group VNS Matrix, and experimented with virtual presence
at a number of online events which exhorted participants to be ready to sit
by their computers for hours at a time ("Bring sandwiches" said an invitation
email) and playing around with our identities until everyone's heads were
spinning. I was writing all the time, but it wasn't a book, it was a life.
Entire days were spent typing, and I often turned on a capture file to log
every interaction, every conversation, every line of code. I built rooms,
emotions, and people. I morphed from one persona to another and swam around
in a mess of ego, mine and others, learning not just who I really was but
also who I really might be.

I wanted to write about LambdaMOO but I didn't know how. For several years
I tried to write a novel set there, but it was banal and embarrassing,
demanding enormous footnotes explaining to the reader exactly how it
really is possible to sit in a virtual hot-tub ( @go #388 ), have virtual
sex, or communicate telepathically. In the end I gave up - indeed, I gave
up writing altogether in despair at what seemed to be the limitations of
words. But it was only temporary. About a year later I had a revelation
when I realised there was no need to wrap the whole experience up into
fiction. What I needed to do was write about it as nonfiction. After all,
it was indeed very real, not just to me but to hundreds of others who
spent part of every day in text-based virtuality. Those imaginative
people at Raw Nerve Books picked it up and were enthusiastic about
providing a webview as well where I could add on all those extra
elements that only come to you after a book has gone to print, and
so in 2004, nine years after my first visit to LambdaMOO, Hello World:
travels in virtuality
was published in hard copy and I, at last,
felt I had got to grips with my virtual life and could finally relax.

@go #388
The Hot Tub
The hot tub is made of molded fiberglass: on three sides a bench will
seat five comfortably (and ten who are friendly), and on the fourth
side there is contoured couch for one luxurious soak. There are two
rubber mounted buttons here. You may push either the right or left
button. The rising sun puts a rosy glow on everything. The
underwater light is on. The bubbling jets are on.
You see thermometer and Hot Tub Bar here.
Aaaahhhh! The water is at that perfect
temperature where you can just lie in here forever.

Hello World: travels in virtuality is made with object oriented
programming via the LambdaMOO Core; lots of post-its and small notebooks;
manuscripts created with A4 paper and inscribed by nice black pens
(medium tip) then typed up in Microsoft Word; ink, print and paper via
Raw Nerve Books; PDF downloads; Typepad blogging software, and the user's

I am now working on The Wild Surmise, a study of nature and
cyberspace which aims to bring the virtual and the material even closer
together -- http://www.thewildsurmise.com

Eugenio Tisselli

Born in Mexico City, Eugenio Tisselli is a writer and programmer, whose work includes artists software, social technologies, and digital narratives. His installations, performances, software and text works have been featured in publications, festivals and exhibitions around the world, and he collaborates regularly with artist Antoni Abad at the mobile phone networking site http://megafone.net

Since 1999, when he wrote the first version of his MIDIPoet software, he has created a series of visual poetry performance works composed with sound, projected words, and visual images. Sometimes starting with a few words and building -- in conjunction with sound -- to the incllusion of graphic images, photographs, and arranged words; sometimes combining still phrases with moving words and performer actions, his work highlights the relationship of letters to words and groups of words, as well as the relationship of the performer to the words in ways that are important to an exploration of reading/viewing text in the development of new media literature.

Tisselli has been an associate researcher at Sony Computer Science Lab in Paris. He currently teaches at and is co-director of the Master in Digital Arts at the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona.

For his contribution to Authoring Software, he writes about the creation and uses of MIDIPoet software.

More information about Eugenio Tisselli's work can be found at http://www.motorhueso.net


Back in 1999, when I wrote the first version of MIDIPoet, software for the real-time manipulation of texts and images via MIDI was either expensive or very difficult to use. (and in some cases, both) So, my aim was to develop a software tool that would be powerful, easy to use, and that would allow me (and others) to compose and perform interactive pieces of visual poetry.

In its current version, (which was released in 2002) MIDIPoet consists of two applications: MIDIPoet Composer and MIDIPoet Player. As their names suggest, Composer contains a set of tools for creating MIDIPoet pieces, and Player performs them. The MIDIPoet environment has its own programming language, made up from relatively complex text commands. In order to make things easier, (and allow other people to approach the tool with realtively little pain) MIDIPoet Composer offers a visual way of creating MIDIPoet pieces, so there is no need to write code. MIDIPoet itself was written in a combination of C++ and Visual Basic, and only runs under Windows. It is available for free download at http://motorhueso.net/midipeng/index.htm

MIDIPoet has been used in different contexts: digital poetry performances, interactive installations and even VJ sessions. Of course, it offers very limited possibilities when compared to other current electronic literature authoring software; yet I find that MIDIPoet is interesting precisely because of its limitations. I believe that every tool potentially pre-determines the results of its usage, imprinting its recognizable marks onto the pieces created with it. I also find that there are very few tools oriented towards performative electronic literature. The fact that MIDIPoet can be controlled either by the computer's keyboard or almost any MIDI instrument makes it a very adequate tool for live presentations.

MIDIPoet performances

Here are some of my videos of my MIDIPoet performances:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhGHN3pnvps (Barcelona, 2008)

http://vimeo.com/8278370 (E-Poetry, Barcelona, 2009)

And finally, a poetry performance / concert by Christopher Funkhouser using MIDIPoet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9PkkqOzCf4 (ELO-AI, Brown University, 2010)

Noah Wardrip-Fruin
Screen: Cave Writing;
Role Playing Games

Newmedia writer and scholar Noah Wardrip-Fruin is a co-creator of Screen, a virtual reality narrative on the walls of a room-sized space. "Memory texts appear on the Cave's walls, surrounding the reader. Then words begin to come loose. The reader finds she can knock them back with her hand, and the experience becomes a kind of play - as well-known game mechanics are given new form through bodily interaction with text." he writes to describe this work in Screen (2002-present).

The author of four MIT Press books, including The New Media Reader; (2003 with Nick Montfort) and Third Person: Authoring and Exploring Vast Narratives; (2009, with Pat Harrigan) he is also a co-host of Grand Text Auto, a group blog about computer narrative, games, poetry, and art.

His work has been exhiited and/or publshed by the Guggenheim Museum; Sandra Gering Gallery; SIGGRAPH; Whitney Artport; Hypertext 2004; Boston Cyberarts Festival; Beall Center for Art + Technology, UC Irvine; Leonardo; and the Iowa Review Web among others.

Noah Wardrip-Fruin is Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of California, Santa Cruz.


Probably my most interesting work, from this perspective, is Screen.

When we were moving the Brown Cave from the SGI/Irix machines to IBM/Linux machines, we knew we had to do major work to translate the piece. So we decided to start over from scratch, creating an approach to literary work in the Cave that became the basis for the Cave Writing software project that continues today.

Here's a SIGGRAPH sketch on the initial work: http://www.noahwf.com/texts/nwf-caveWriting.pdf

Here's the website with some information on the current effort: https://wiki.brown.edu/confluence/display/wdm/cave+writing+resources

And, in terms of my writing, you might be interested in these sections from my forthcoming book that talk about the platforms used for story/game RPGs and how they shape the experience: http://grandtextauto.org/2008/02/05/ep-32-role-playing-games/


Finally, yes, the Software Studies initiative is quite connected to these questions. We're hoping to have a meeting next year to discuss the platforms/software used by elit authors. I'm really looking forward to hearing more of what you find.

Joel Weishaus
The Way North: Dreamweaver; Photoshop
Mirror site: http://www.cddc.vt.edu/host/weishaus/North/Intro.htm

Born in New York City, writer, critic, digital artist Joel Weishaus has lived and worked in the West -- the San Francisco Bay Area, Taos, Albuquerque -- for many years. He now makes his home in Portland, Oregon.

His writing and digital literary art have been exhibited and/or published by City Lights Books; North Atlantic Books; Albuquerque Museum; Stanford University Museum of Art; Adleburg Poetry Festival, Adleburg, England; Electronic Language International Festival, San Paulo, Brazil; and The 2008 Electronic Literature Organization Conference; among others.

Joel Weishaus has been a photography critic for Artspace: A Magazine of Contemporary Southwest Art, and an Adjunct Curator (Video Art) at the University of New Mexico Art Museum.

He is presently writing and distributing an online journal, The Gateless Gate, which is "a walk for the sake of walking about the rugged trails of existence-non-existence, switchbacking the sacred and profane."

The Way North

Dreamweaver is the central program I use for digital projects, an apt name for work that goes a-dreaming, and everything seems to end up there. I also use an old version of Photoshop, mainly for sizing photographs, and an array of smaller programs. It's not the technology that interests me, and certainly not the interrogation of code, but how language finds itself somewhere else, and sheds its limitations.

The Way North was originally titled "The Idea of North," as homage to an old CBC radio broadcast by a genius named Glenn Gould. I chose "The Way" over "The Idea" to indicate movement that's not only in the head, but kinesthetic too, actual walking.

The project's theme is climate change, the importance of which I suggest visual artists and poets haven't touched yet in any meaningful way. Focused on the folkways of the Inuit People, whose culture has been the hardest hit, their experience is one indicator of the future distress this planet is facing. A northerner by temperament, who exiled himself in a southwestern desert for 23 years, The Way North is also a celebration of finding my way home.

I call the genre of my digital work, Digital Literary Art, which is the dream of combining text and image begun during the Upper Paleolithic on cave walls and itinerant rocks, and realized here primarily with text: how to write it across and down a monitor; how to work it into a larger vision of itself. There are also photographs, some sound, and animations, with text boxes triggered by hidden links. In fact, all the links are hidden, my request being that the reader caress the page to see what opens up.

I am a first-generation digital literary artist. Having grown up in front of a typewriter, I was dragged to the computer, where I now comfortably live. For now at least, what holds the two paradigms together is the keyboard, whose basic layout remains the same. Like the land bridge that once spanned the Bering Strait, we have something solid over which fingers walk and minds leap, so far.

Nanette Wylde
The Qi Project, 2008
Flash, Final Cut, Perl, CGI

Born in California, Nanette Wylde lives in Redwood City and Chico, California. Her language-centered work includes artists books, interactive net art, and audio-visual textual narrative.

Her work has been exhibited widely including Computers and Writing 2009, UC Davis; Olive Hyde Art Gallery, Fremont, CA; Purdue University; Los Angeles Center for Digital Art; The Portland Art Center; The Krause Center for Innovation Art Gallery; Euphrat Museum, Cupertino; The Lab, San Francisco; Rhonda Schaller Studio, New York; Telemar Cultural Center, Rio de Janeiro; Merced College Art Gallery; Works, San Jose; University of British Columbia, Canada; Diablo Valley College, Pleasant Hill; International Meeting of Experimental, Sound and Visual Poetry, Buenos Aires, Argentina; and SIGGRAPH.

Nanette Wylde is an Associate Professor, California State University, Chico, Department of Art and Art History.

The Qi Project

When I began working with interactive technologies in 1994 my software of choice was Director. Changes in both the software and OS X have made Director less workable for me. Some of my early projects created in Director became inoperable in OS X or technical changes were too big to remake them and maintain the original aesthetic of the project. This has made me a bit wary of overly specialized and system dependent software. Currently for interactive projects I primarily use Flash. I respond to its flexibility and stability (for now).

However, the technology I use is very dependent on the needs of the project. I still find myself working in web-based programming languages: HTML, Perl CGI scripts, and JavaScript. Although I am using Director to revive some of my earlier OS9 projects, I haven't begun a new project in Director for at least five years.

About The Qi Project

The Qi Project is an inquiry into the nature of humanity and what it means to be human at this moment in time. Qi is a Chinese word which literally means 'air' or 'breath.' It is considered to be the circulating life force. The Qi Project exists as (1) a gallery installation (2) a website (3) a process-based intervention. The gallery installation includes: two channel video, text and audience participation. The website: represents the interventions; includes elements in exhibition; and invites participation. The intervention is the process and residue of questioning: What does it mean to be human? What is humanity? This was done via postcards, email, telephone, website, and in front of a camcorder. The Project was launched at The Krause Center for Innovation Art Gallery in Los Altos Hills, California in February 2008. Continuing is the companion website.

Index to
content | code | process:

Judith Adele
Social Media Narrative:
Avatar Repertory Theater

Marcello Aitiani
Networked Projects
Ship of Light

Mark Amerika

Bill Bly

James J. Brown, Jr.
Social Media Narrative:
Social Media Harassment

Jay Bushman
Social Media Narrative:
The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

J. R. Carpenter
__ The Broadside of a Yarn
; __ Entre Ville
__ Chronicles of Pookie and JR

M.D. Coverley
__ Egypt: The Book of
Going Forth by Day

__ Tin Towns

Robert Edgar
Memory Theatre One

Robert Emmons
Social Media Narrative:

Caitlin Fisher

Chris Funkhouser

Joy Garnett
___Social Media Narrative:

Dene Grigar
__ 24-Hr. Micro-Elit
__ Social Media Narrative
__ Fallow Field

Fox Harrell

William Harris

Matt Held
___Social Media Narrative:
Facebook Paintings

Megan Heyward
__of day, of night
__The Secret Language of Desire

Adriene Jenik

Antoinette LaFarge
__ Demotic
Social Media Narrative

Deena Larsen
__ Marble Springs wiki
__Social Media Narrative
__ The Pines at Walden Pond

Judy Malloy

Mark C. Marino
Marginalia in the Library of Babel
and a show of hands

__Social Media Narrative:

Cathy Marshall
__Social Media Narrative
Who owns social media content?

María Mencía

Nick Montfort
__Nick Montfort and
Stephanie Strickland
Sea and Spar Between

Judd Morrissey

Karen O'Rourke

Nancy Paterson

Regina Pinto

Andrew Plotkin
__ Hoist Sail for the Heliopause and Home
__ The Dreamhold

Aaron Reed

Scott Rettberg

Chris Rodley
__Social Media Narrative
The Magic Realism Bot

Emily Short
__ Bronze

Nina Sobell
__ Work: 1977-1997

Chindu Sreedharan
__Social Media Narrative

Silvia Stoyanova and Ben Johnston
The Zibaldone Hypertext Research Platform

Stephanie Strickland
__Nick Montfort and Stephanie Strickland
Sea and Spar Between

Katrin Tiidenberg
__Social Media Narrative
Identity on Tumblr

Fred Truck

Eugenio Tisselli

Dan Waber

Marco Williams
The Migrant Trail

__Social Media Narrative
Rob Wittig - Netprov

Alice Wong
__Social Media Narrative


Mark Bernstein
__Interview with Mark Bernstein

Anna Couey and Judy Malloy
__Conversation about the Arts Wire Interactive Art Conference

Tom Klinkowstein
__Interview with Tom Klinkowstein

Stuart Moulthrop
__ Interview with
Stuart Moulthrop

Sonya Rapoport:
__Interview with
Sonya Rapoport