Scott Rettberg’s piece on the Electronic Literature in Europe Conference is so thorough and informative that reading it must be very close to attending the conference in person, shedding light on the variety of projects taking place around the world that push the boundaries of literature. (And it was great to have the videos embedded right there in the text so that I could see exactly what he was writing about as I read it.) It also got me thinking about how projects like Christine Wilks’s The Dressmaker’s Daughter, in which “the reader needs to operate ‘digital dressmaking tools’ such as scissors and a sewing machine… the reader then becomes physically active in unfolding the story,” and Robert Coover’s CaveWriting Workshops, “wherein students create literature for an immersive 3-D environment,” are using technology that has mainly been restricted to video games thus far, and taking it in new directions as works of art. I also zeroed in on Christoph Benda’s novel Senghor on the Rocks, of which Rettberg wrote, “As readers follow the protagonists of a road novel, we follow the characters from an overhead birds-eye view on a Google map on the facing page. This work is one example of the ways that authors are utilizing various locational technologies, ranging from Google maps to RFID and Geotagging, to re-conceptualize the role of place and setting in narrative and poetic works.” This reminded me of a novel I recently read, Spook County by William Gibson, set in 2006, in which some of the characters work with locative art–virtual 3-D models that exist in only one place using GPS technology and can only be seen with a special visor. One of the artists uses this to recreate famous death scenes of celebrities. This also made me think of Getting Inside Kerouac’s Head, included in DB10 by Simon Morris, and how an On the Road project similar to his could be combined with GPS technology.
While I am fascinated by the different technologies that can be used to create art, I think the piece I found most moving was Angels, Avatars, and Virtual Ashes by Renée Turner, which emphasized how strangely death is handled online. Turner’s piece features a female voice narrating the comments left on a Youtube video tribute to a murdered teenage girl. As Rettberg writes, “The piece is both surprisingly amusing and demonstrative of how bizarre the distinctly contemporary phenomena of death online is, as the central event itself becomes trivialized, subsumed under a mindless stream of online banter.”
Joseph Pascale’s short fiction has been published in 365 Tomorrows, Tweet the Meat, PicFic, and in three issues of the Prism literary journal of Centenary College where he is currently studying toward his Master of Arts degree in English Literature. He has fiction forthcoming in Thaumatrope, Off The Rocks, and Everyday Weirdness. Please visit his website http://josephpascale.pyraliss.com for additional information.
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