Six Themes: One Dispersed Exhibition
This is only one of many sites/portal/exhibition spaces that will appear in relation to the ELO2021 Conference.
Exhibitions for ELO 2021 will unfold on an extended time scale from March-May 2021. All exhibitions will be fully exhibited online, though some will also include local physical exhibitions.
The following exhibitions will be part of the festival:
Posthuman Electronic Literature. An online exhibition with a projection exhibition component focused on electronic literature and media art that addresses posthumanism. To be featured during European SLSA conference at the University of Bergen. Curated by Joseph Tabbi, Scott Rettberg, Jason Nelson, Eamon O’Kane. MARCH 4-7, 2021.
COVID E-Lit. An online exhibition of works that respond thematically to the pandemic and/or are produced within the specific context of platform culture during the pandemic. A library exhibition version of the exhibition will also be produced. Curated by Anna Nacher, Søren Pold, and Scott Rettberg. APRIL 2021.
Flashback: A special celebration of Flash and Shockwave e-lit held in the Electronic Literature Repository with artists on hand to talk about their work. Curated by Dene Grigar at Washington State University Vancouver’s Electronic Literature Lab. MAY 24-28, 2021.
Platforming Utopias (and Platformed Dystopias): This will be the largest open submission exhibition, responding to the conference theme. MAY 24-28 2021.
Platform as a place of study - E-lit as already decolonised: A series of exhibitions, workshops and activities focused on Indian and Asian E-Lit that will unfold through Spring 2021. MARCH-MAY 2021. Call will be announced separately. Curated by dra.ft
The dra.ft team from their ==> WEBSITE
agat - Theatre Maker. Educator. Designer.
nanditi - Technical Program Manager turned Arts Professional. Classical Musician. Live Coder. Co-founder, Ajaibghar.
ambika - Museum Professional. Creative Coder. Certified Project Manager. Computational_Mama. Co-founder, Ajaibghar.
Kid E-Lit: An online exhibition of electronic literature for young audiences, and work work by young authors. Curated by Mark Marino and Maria Goicoechea. MAY 24-28, 2021.
ELO2021 Exhibitions committee:
Søren Bro Pold,
Samya Brata Roy,
Download ==> Print Version
Posthuman is both an exhibition and a state of being, a condition that 23 years ago, when N. Katherine Hayles wrote How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics may have seemed somewhat alien to humanists, a strange form of assemblage between humans and machines, a sort of willing melding of body and consciousness with systems beyond our direct control. Posthuman features digital art and electronic literature that engages with the posthuman condition: enactments of complex human-technical assemblages in which cognition and decision-making powers are distributed in both aesthetic and literary systems – what Hayles describes as “cognitive assemblages” and what Laura Shackelford and Louise Economides call “surreal entanglements.”
In the years intervening between the publication of Hayles’s landmark study and the pandemic present, posthumanism has been interpreted in many different ways by various thinkers. One of the many things that posthumanism has in common with electronic literature is that the precise meaning of the term is actively and continuously contested. Some, like Cary Wolfe, yoke the posthuman to a shift away from anthropocentrism as the environmental crises force a raising awareness of the costs that the human animal’s obsession with its own selfish interests have had on the planet and not incidentally its own odds for long-term survival.
Others imagine and celebrate various flavors of transhumanism: imagining a future in which the factors that limit humanity, such as ageing and mortality, are transcended through technology. Rosi Braidotti extrapolates from the posthuman a form of neo-humanism that emerges from post-colonial and race studies, as well as gender studies and environmentalism. For others such as Eugene Thacker and Phil Torres, the concept of posthumanism lends itself to consideration of a foreseeable future without humans, perhaps even a time when the species has gone voluntarily extinct.
During the 2020-2021 pandemic, several of these conceptions of the posthuman have felt particularly material: the co-evolved relationship of humans and technology has perhaps never been so apparent as during long stretches of lockdown time, for many of us technologically mediated human relationships became the only kind we had. As our new University of Bergen Digital Culture colleague Astrid Ensslin notes in her SLSAeu 2021 keynote paper coauthored with Christine Wilks, “Posthuman Healing and Critical Digital Fiction Co-Design,” our “being-in-code” inevitably has ramifications for our “being-in-flesh.”
The fact that we humans exist within a vast cognitive assemblage becomes even more apparent as our lives became subject to rules and bodily restrictions beyond our individual control, which have seemed to change on a weekly basis according to sometimes arbitrary factors, not the least of which is the non-human actor of the mutating virus itself. And the haunting spectre of a future without humans has, of course, been a chilling threat echoed in the wailing of sirens in cities around the world as we continue to tally the dead.
My colleague at the University of Bergen, Professor of English Joseph Tabbi, had been planning the 2021 Society for Science, Literature and the Arts Europe (SLSAeu) conference “Literary and Aesthetic Posthumanism” since well before the pandemic began, but, like many events in our lives, plans for that event had to change radically as it became apparent over time that an in-person conference that entailed international travel would be virtually impossible. Joe and I had already discussed organizing a small art exhibition along with the conference, and our collaborator and colleague in the Department of Fine Arts, Eamon O’Kane, volunteered to help us organize the show, even amidst the uncertainty of the pandemic.
After the 2020 Electronic Literature Organization Conference, I volunteered to co-organize the 2021 ELO Conference and Festival at the University of Bergen along with Søren Pold at Aarhus University: a conference and festival that will also have manifestations in India (organized by dra.ft) and at Washington State University Vancouver organized by Dene Grigar and her team at the Electronic Literature Lab. Part of the reason that I volunteered to chair the arts program for ELO 2021 was that during the ELO 2020 Town Hall session, it was announced that the ELO would be planning for an all-virtual event after the success of the ELO 2020 (un)continuity conference.
While I’m all for the open inclusivity and community spirit of virtual ELO events, I hoped that we could organize an arts program that would have both online and physical manifestations and that would unfold over a longer period of time than a normal ELO conference. When we hosted the ELO 2015: End(s) of Electronic Literature festival, professionally produced art exhibitions were an important part of the program, and one that I feel is important to the authors and artists who show their work, as well as the new audiences who are introduced to e-lit through such events. I think we have all missed these opportunities to share cultural experiences in embodied environments during this brutal past year.
As the plan solidified, I proposed to Joe that we could combine the SLSAeu exhibition with one of the shows of the ELO 2021 Platform (Post?) Pandemic Festival. Associate Professor of Electronic Literature and digital poet extraordinaire Jason Nelson joined our Digital Culture faculty this year (though he is still living in Australia due to pandemic travel restrictions (JN Note: transporting via the wires and waves can be glorious. but we dearly want to be there soon!)). Jason has put together a number of innovative online exhibitions of electronic literature and volunteered to coordinate all of the ELO 2021 online exhibitions.
Like many things in the pandemic, our curatorial team for this exhibition is a kind of ad hoc patchwork assemblage of local talent, built up on an affiliation we call the Digital Narrative Network: Joe has organized the SLSAeu conference and established the conceptual frame for the call for works, Eamon brings the expertise of a professional arts exhibition curator, Jason the experience of producing innovative online exhibitions, and I have been coordinating with the artists and staff and gluing the various pieces together. We have had to do all of this on an accelerated schedule, putting together an exhibition that is taking place both online and physically on the University of Bergen campus. Our top priority was to move quickly with a cross-faculty group of University of Bergen faculty with specific skills and roles that would enable us to produce this show efficiently, fairly, and well, under unprecedented circumstances.
The adherence to the Posthuman theme, quality and professionalism of the submission, and logistical viability of showing each given work were our primary considerations as curators. Diversity was also a key factor in our consideration of the submissions. I’m proud of the fact that the show features voices new to the ELO community, such as Kat Mustatea and Santiago Canek Zapata Paniagua, and compelling work by younger innovators such as Winnie Soon, alongside the work of well-established artists and authors. The logistics of producing this show are complex — even as I write we are still working out the specific conditions of showing the work in the physical exhibition under Coronavirus restrictions (Is that 2 or 4 people allowed in the gallery at a time? Where should we put the hand sanitizer?), but I am very proud that this will be perhaps the most significant exhibition to open on the University of Bergen campus, simultaneously at the Humanities Library and the Art Academy, since the pandemic began.
We have been supported in this work by a seemingly tireless production team of women and men including graduate researchers, artists, and librarians who I would like to acknowledge and thank here for their dedicated work on this show. See the PostHuman Team Tile in the main interface for bios of the team!
The works in Posthuman showcase a variety of different media formats and types of artistic interventions interpreting the posthuman condition: (in no particular order)
Winnie Soon’s Unerasable Characters II is a conceptual and software work that mediates algorithmic censorship. The application pulls in erased text from microbloggers in China on a daily basis whose writings are frequently censored and displays the characters of the messages in a way that is visible but unreadable, demonstrating the effects of mediated and automated authoritarianism in silencing voices online.
Simon Biggs’s Autography is an interactive artwork that automatically generates evolving 3D graphic characters resembling human handwriting: algorithmically generating near-letterforms that manipulate, adjust, and reshape themselves on the fly. This has the seeming effect of watching something like near-language produced by an alien life form we cannot quite understand; or watching a machine in the paradoxical process of unconsciously trying to produce something resembling an expression of human thought.
Karen Ann Donnachie and Andy Simionato’s A.I. seems to be a verb is a coded interactive human-machine collaborative system which explores the uncanny affect of combining the embodiment of written language (the word as thing) with the intrinsic entropy of speech (the word as process). The work identifies and maps spoken word, not only for linguistic function but also across a spectrum of sentiment, in order to generate a complex array of paratextual supports (page-design, rules, and symbolic elements) used in the display. As the process happens in real-time, it creates a ‘mise-en-abyme’, incorporating on-the-fly semantic ‘slippages’ of auto-correct grammar and ill-recognised speech and suggesting rhyming prompts for the user. At times the system generates minimal snippets of words mixed with graphic symbols and animations, only to suddenly transform into highly complex assemblages of text and image, before returning to a staccato rhythm of the speaker(s).
Will Luers’s Distant Affinities is a work of recombinant cinema about machine intelligence attempting to process, narrate, and mimic sentient being. Through subtitles, the omniscient AI narrator cycles through media that has been captured from the network and attempts to narratively interpret the patterns of human behavior. Gaps between the text and video fragments suggest what remains outside the domains of surveillance and narrative.
Roderick Coover’s Meet Me at the Station represents mediated consciousness through a surreal, lyrical VR experience about a scientist trapped in the future due to a time-traveling accident. His only hope is to travel through dreams, but dreams can also turn into nightmares.
Mark Marino and John Murray’s The Hollow Reach is a choice-based, interactive VR puzzle game built on becoming a posthuman cyborg to overcome the trauma of emotional and physical loss. In this painful but healing journey, the player character must learn to navigate new physical and emotional realities and find novel ways of relating to the world and to others.
Johannah Rodgers’s Not a Book: Locating Material Traces of Collaborative Print and Digital Technologies in the Archive is a project concerned with the histories, presents, and futures of books and the technologies of reproduction and replication used to make them. It is created from digital images of the traces left from the original copper engraved botanical prints on the interleaved blank pages of a digitized edition of one printed copy of an 1844 issue of “Flora Batava” magazine.
Eamon O’Kane’s Low Prophet is a short video filmed in New York in 2000 wherein a plastic owl reads Bill Joy's text, “Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us,” published in Wired magazine. The text outlines a dystopian future where humans are rendered obsolete and replaced by the sentient beings they have created. In the video, the pigeons that the plastic owl is meant to scare away simply continue going about their business.
Kyle Booten’s To Pray Without Ceasing is a web app that autonomously prays for people by searching Twitter for expressions of need. Visitors to the site may mindfully light a virtual candle and, in so doing, delegate the work of praying to the machine while still feeling vaguely responsible for whatever good it does.
René Bauer and Beat Suter’s Turing’s Assembly Line is a cross between an art game and an e-learning project that reverses the role between human and machine. As a player, you become Alan Turing’s universal machine yourself. You will receive task after task. Will you be fast enough? How long can you keep up the assembly line?
Santiago Canek Zapata Paniagua’s Li Po :: 8888 is an unreadable/readable text generator paired with a surreal film. “8888” is a part of “Li Po :: Rice for the People 米為人民.” On an Earth without humans, an old Chinese poet still fights against the alien occupation and extraction of the planet. An ambassador from the year 8888 time-travels to 4444 to hear the poems of Li Po. Then, the antidote to capitalism within Li Po’s poems is sent back to our time to be sold as rice to prevent the alien occupation.
Brad Gallagher’s Gnarly Posthuman Conversations: John Ashbery, W. H. Auden, Wallace Stevens, and GPT-2 is a cutting-edge machine learning-based poetry generator. The project uses OpenAI’s GPT-2 and traditional recurrent neural networks to develop a generative poetry pipeline exploring the interconnections between Auden, Ashbery, and Stevens.
Nick Montfort's Book Post is an installation featuring computer generated books by Montfort, Lillian-Yvonne Bertram, Milton Läufer, and Allison Parrish, which are chained to a table, while a slide projector shows images from inside the books on a screen. The functioning “obsolete” slide projector, and the establishment of an “obsolete” chained library within the Humanities Library may suggest that the book is also obsolete — although all of these are perfectly functional technologies.
David Jhave Johnston’s ReRites is a limited-edition boxset of 12 poetry books written in one year by digital poet David Jhave Johnston with neural net augmentation. The video shown in Posthuman showcases the cyborg writing process of a human editing machine generated poetry.
Kat Mustatea’s Voidopolis is a digital performance about loss and memory currently unfolding over Instagram. It is a loose retelling of Dante’s Inferno, informed by the grim experience of wandering through NYC during a pandemic. It uses synthetic language, generated in this instance without the letter ‘e.’ The images are created by “wiping” humans from stock photography. The piece is meant to culminate in loss and will eventually be deleted.
David Thomas Henry Wright’s Most Powerful Words is a digital literary work comprised of 54 poetry generators. 6 themes each contain 9 poems. Click a theme, then a panel of the theme’s carousel to generate a unique, infinite, recombinant poem. This collection presents all language on the same playing field, allowing readers to lightly, quickly, precisely, visibly, and consistently traverse the infinite use and misuse of these charged forms of past and present language.
Together this group of artworks comprise a posthuman portrait – a snapshot of our present moment situated between human subjectivity and whatever comes afterwards. I hope that you will enjoy reading and experiencing these compelling works of electronic literature as much as we have in the process of assembling them for this show. Thanks to everyone who has worked on this first exhibition of the ELO 2021 festival, and thanks to all of the authors and artists for sharing your work.
—Scott Rettberg, ELO 2021 Arts Program Chair, 27.02.2021, Bergen
We have collaborated on the PostHuman exhibition with a seemingly tireless team of women and men including writers, scholars, graduate researchers, artists, and librarians who we would like to acknowledge and thank here for their dedicated work on this show:
Samuel Brezki (artist, designer, text-creator, documentation capturer) is a Senior Adviser at The Art Academy – Department of Contemporary Art, at the University of Bergen. He is London born artist, writer and researcher. His practice explores spaces of discomfort and latent panic within digital culture, and seeks an emotional, feeling response to issues of time scarcity, displaced presence, increasing speed and fragmented attention.
His work often explores negative states, detailing how the emotional impacts of digital culture are manifested through language. Working across video installation, sound, writing and performance, the work elaborates on the effect that 'The Digital' has on human rhythms and attentions. Underlying this is a critique of neoliberal narratives of productivity and self-improvement.
The works are predominantly text-based, focusing upon the act of reading itself. Everyday poetics are explored through a polyphony of voices divulging divergent narratives, whilst shifting perceptions of time are communicated through fluctuations in the speed of information transfer. Textual information overload is a recurrent methodology, as well as the use of reconfigured texts and narratives. Alongside his practice, Samuel co-run the Bergen based publishing press TEXST, who publish conceptual writing and poetic texts. SB's Web World
Irene Fabbri (online exhibition developer, artist, programmer, designer) was born and raised in Italy. In 2016 she graduated in Physics at the University of Milano Bicocca. In 2020 she obtained a Master in Science Communication and Journalism at the University of Ferrara. Her master's thesis “Narrative experiments around Fermat's principle. The spread of scientific content through different genres and literary languages” focused on writing literary stories in order to promulgate scientific concepts and explore the relationship between science and literature.
She worked for a few years in a software house and she followed projects in the field of Digital Humanities and Academic Publishing.
Irene currently collaborates with the Research Laboratory of science history and communication "Design of Science - DOS
She is involved in this exhibition thanks to the Erasmus Traineeship she is doing at the Bergen Electronic Literature Research Group
Aud Gjersdal (scholar, researcher, logistics, advisor, keeper of knowledge) University librarian at Humanities Library with the responsibility of Digital Culture and Library and information science. My main professional interest is communication. Writing journalistic articles about libraries. Member of the Communication group at the University Library, UiB. Member of research group Digital Culture and Electronic Literature at UiB. Also involved in ELMCIP work. Responsible on the library side of the Poster Collection "Electronic Literature - posters and other historical documents ", in cooperation with Digital Culture
AG's UiB World
Cecilie Thale Klingenberg (scholar, thinker, writer, documentation creator, database wanderer) is an student at the University of Bergen, studying/researching/writing-about and creating Digital Culture, Digital Tests and Digital Worlds. She's contributing towards the building of the ELMCIP database documentation for the exhibitions.
Olaf Knarvik (keeper of records, creator of knowledge interfaces and installer of wonders) is a Senior Executive Officer
University of Bergen Library, the Department of Special Collections Resources at the University of Bergen. His library work and research explores: Popular scientific lectures, Academic lectures and presentations, Popular scientific articles, Interview, Museum exhibition and other interesting tendrils.
He is also a highly regarded photographer and published a collection entitled "Iranian Tales".
Lucila Mayol (artist, creator of wondrous digital and visual worlds, design guru, builder of ideas so grand) was born in Paraná, Argentina. Currently lives in Helsinki (FI) and works between Helsinki and Bergen (NO).
Graduated in 2018 from the Masters in Arts at Faculty for Kunst Musikk Design, University of Bergen, in 2011 from Bachelors in Fine Arts at Universidad Nacional de Artes (AR) and in 20114 from Direction of Photography studies at Universidad Nacional de Artes and Escuela Nacional de Experimentación y Realización Cinematográfica (AR).
At the moment, Lucila explores the relation within memory and spaces through archival material, drawing, writing, printing, and programming Interactive Fiction. Storytelling acts as a frame from which one has to experiment the available world, where everything turns out to be structured around one question: Which are those stories in which reality proves to be even more unbelievable than fiction?
In addition, she is part of Turbida Lux an art duo working with text, found footage, video and media art with an interest in the poetics that appear when unveiling other interpretations of archival material. Dealing with the history of the physical thing, we reflect about its past lives and interpret the absence present in the ruins to fill it with a fictional composition.
Lucila is a founder member of TEXST a platform for testing text as an art form and an independent publishing initiative based in Bergen. Her work has been part of solo and collective exhibitions in Norway, Finland, Germany, Russia, and Argentina. She has taken part in the residencies: HIAP (FI), Bergen Center for Electronic Arts (NO), Vorkwerk-Stift (DE), Serlachius (FI), Filmverkstaden (FI), amongst others.
Carlota Salvador Megias (writer, scholar, artist interaction and communications, concept development) Carlota Salvador Megias recently graduated with an MA in philosophy from the University of Bergen, Norway. She has earned a BA in political science from the University of California at Berkeley; taught high school English in Kyoto, Japan, on the JET Program; and coordinated a number of graduate writing workshops as part of the Bergen Network for Women in Philosophy.
She is interested in the philosophy of friendship; alternative forms of philosophical presentation to the now-standard academic journal article; and the ins and outs of teaching students how to read, write, and ask more genuinely engaged and engaging questions about their passions and curiosities. Currently, she is working on three major projects: A monograph arguing for a new analysis of Camus' L'étranger with consequences for neo-Wittgensteinian conceptions of personhood and value pluralism; what she calls a "counter-archive" to Kierkegaard's Either/Or; and, of course, PhD applications.
This spring, she is a research assistant at UiB and a TA for courses in the music therapy and philosophy programs at UiB. Her work will soon be available at csm-portfolio.carrd.co. Feel free to reach out at carlota.salvador.megias [at] gmail [dot] com.
Anthony Morton (artist, world traveler, invigilator.) was born in Durban, South Africa in 1992: surfing, curries and caves. Morton has had his studio in Grahamstown, Shanghai, Durban and Cape Town. He lives and works in Bergen.
From Anthony's website: "I make art that tells stories with philosophical underpinnings. My works tend to beg questions, I look to understand what ‘they’ are trying to tell me. Currently, my experience of making art is like collecting washed up driftwood along the shore. Consequentially, I am invested in the idea that my art comes from a conceptual, idealistic, creative space called Fook Island.
My practice is a matter of applied aesthetic thought experimentation. Although it can be contextualised under the discursive umbrellas of object autonomy, speculative realism, geographical imagination and the narrative of contemporary African diasporic art, it need not to. At once visually abstract and representational, my works are conceptually specific and open to interpretation. They take form in a merger of painting, sculpture, installation, performance, writing, film and photography.
My process exercises an exploration of formal languages and mediums concurrent with conceptual and autobiographical considerations. I think a lot about travel, family, sports and mass extinction.
Ronny Nordvik (technical wizardry, logistics, advisor) works at the University of Bergen, IT-department, main responsible for the Scala Digital Signage System at campus. He also works with databases, system development, IoT Sensors, apps, photos, films/movies (Timefilms), folklore.no, e-ink paoer screens, touch screens, digital signs etc. Student Admittance System at University of Bergen
( https://twitter.com/ronnygeorg )
( https://www.facebook.com/ironclub.club )
Eamon O’Kane (artist, curator, mult-discliplinary and multi-dimensional being) is a Northern Irish artist who lives and works in Norway and Denmark. Since 2011, he has been a professor of Visual Art and Painting at The Art Academy, University of Bergen, Norway. O’Kane’s multi-disciplinary practice has consistently been drawn to architectural contexts, whether in his Froebel Studio installation works that explore environments of play, or else in works such as Glass House that presented a scaled model of Philip Johnson’s iconic Glass House which was exhibited at California 101 in San Francisco and then at his first museum solo exhibition to mark the 50th anniversary of the Sheldon Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska.
He has completed numerous public art commissions including the Imagine Belfast Panorama commission for Waterfront Hall (Belfast City Council), Hillsborough Castle, portrait commission of Lord Erskine and the Bicycle Tunnel Commission, Odense City Council, Odense, Denmark. O’Kane has exhibited widely in exhibitions curated by Dan Cameron, Lynne Cooke, Klaus Ottman, Salah M.Hassan, Jeremy Millar, Angelike Nollert, Yilmaz Dziewior, and others. He has been a recipient of the Taylor Art Award, the Tony O’Malley Award, a Fulbright Award, an EV+A open award (Dan Cameron), the IMMA residency in Dublin, the BSR Scholarship in Rome, the CCI residency in Paris, and a Pollock Krasner Foundation grant.
He has been short-listed for the AIB Prize, the PS1 studio fellowship in New York, and the Jerwood Drawing Prize in London. He has had over 80 solo exhibitions internationally, including in New York, London, Berlin, Frankfurt, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Paris, Copenhagen, Oslo, Bergen, Dublin, Belfast, and Cork. He has participated in numerous biennales including EVA, Limerick (seven times), Luleå Biennal, Norwegian Sculpture Biennal, Florence Biennal and Dublin Contemporary.
Joe Tabbi (scholar, thinker, writer, curator and adventurer into lands of thought and theory) is the author of Cognitive Fictions (University of Minnesota Press) and Postmodern Sublime (Cornell University Press). His biography of William Gaddis, Nobody Grew but the Business, received an award from the Chicago Society of Midland Authors. His Handbook of Electronic Literature received the 2018 N. Katherine Hayles Award
Scott Rettberg (artist, digital writer, a founder of the Electronic Literature Organization, and forest forager and garden grower) is Professor of Digital Culture in the department of linguistic, literary, and aesthetic studies at the University of Bergen, Norway. Rettberg is the author or coauthor of novel-length works of electronic literature, films, and new media art projects including The Unknown, Kind of Blue, Implementation, Toxi•City, Hearts and Minds: The Interrogations Project and others. His creative work has been exhibited online and at international art venues, including the Venice Bienalle, Centre d'Art Santa Mònica, oBeall Center, Slought Foundation, Krannert Art Museum, the Chemical Heritage Foundation and others. Rettberg is the co-founder and served as the first executive director of the nonprofit Electronic Literature Organization. Rettberg is the Arts program chair of ELO 2021: Platform (Post?) Pandemic.
Jason Nelson (partner of the artist Alinta Krauth and creator of bits and things and frankencoder/compiler of this exhibition website) is digital poet and art-game maker. He is also an Associate Professor at the University of Bergen, but remains in Australia because 20/21 are the years of closed (physical) borders.
One day he would like to be a third as talented as anyone and everyone involved in any of the ELO2021 Exhibitions.
Special Thanks go to
Kat Mustatea. Images from her work Voidopolis are used in posters for Posthuman.
We would also like to thank the
SPIRE fund, the University of Bergen Library, the Art Academy, English, and Digital Culture programs for their support of this exhibition.
Unerasable Characters II
Connection to Theme:
Unerasable Characters II raises questions regarding not only data capture from a corporational perspective, but also the matters of who might be the readers in digital platforms like Weibo, and even the wider influential audio and web conference platform like Zoom, where online events were being censored globally.
The project further points to the operations of censorship that requires different levels of collaboration between corporations, states, human labours, the intelligence of machines and algorithms, but more importantly is to examine the contested notions of "violation of policies" (rule of law) as the seemingly common argument of corporations, as well as wider issues of censorship and the threats to free speech and academic freedom.
The project explores the politics of erasure and the temporality of voices within the context of digital authoritarianism. Unerasable Characters II presents the sheer scale of unheard voices by technically examining and culturally reflecting the endlessness, and its wider consequences, of censorship that is implemented through technological platforms and infrastructure.
The project collects unheard voices in the form of censored/erased (permission denied status via the official API) text, including emojis, symbols, English and Chinese characters, which is based on one of the biggest social media platform in China called Weibo.
A daily scraping script is used to fetch those text via Weiboscope, a data collection and visualization project, developed by Dr. Fu King Wa from Hong Kong University, in which the system has been regularly sampling timelines of a set of selected Chinese microbloggers who have more than 1,000 followers or whose posts are frequently censored. Consisting of a custom-software (written in Python and p5.js) that scrapes the erased “tweets” from Weiboscope on a daily basis, the project, as a web-based art, presents the archives in a grid format.
Each tweet is deconstructed into a character-by-character display that occupies a flashing unit for a limited period. The duration of each ‘tweet’ is computed from the actual visible time on Weibo, and the web page will transform from a busy canvas to an empty one with all the text is fully disappeared. The program will then fetch a new set of archives and the cycle will repeat endlessly. It takes an average of 4 hours per cycle to empty the screen.
Born and raised in Hong Kong, Winnie Soon is an artist-researcher interested in queering the intersections of technical and artistic practices as a critical/feminist/queer praxis, with works appearing in museums, galleries, festivals, distributed networks, papers and books.
Researching in the areas of software studies and computational practices, she/they is currently based in Denmark and working as Associate Professor at Aarhus University.
Connection to Theme:
This work explores the posthumanist potential for machines to create automatic writing, raising the question of whether a machine might have an unconscious, whilst at the same time critiquing the idea that humans may.
Autography is an interactive artwork, in the form of a software application, that automatically generates evolving 3D graphic characters that resemble human hand-writing. The intention is to create a form of automatic writing made by a machine (instead of by a human).
Automatic writing is commonly understood to be a form of unconscious expression, where a human in a fugue or similar state writes automatically. The writing often resembles hand-writing but tends to look more like scribble. The perceived value of automatic writing is dependent on the apprehension that human beings possess a subconscious (or unconscious) that can be interpreted through the act of automatic writing.
Autography functions as an interactive 3D application. Once downloaded you can navigate its 3D space, within which the automatic writing evolves, using your mouse/trackpad and keyboard. You can use your mouse/trackpad to pan around the 3D space. Holding the 'shift' key on your keyboard, whilst holding down your mouse-button and moving the mouse up/down, allows you to zoom in and out of the 3D scene. You can mix these mouse and keyboard actions to gain more control of the navigation and explore the evolving writing, from a distance or close-up.
Passing through the textual plane of the writing reveals a "dark mode". Pressing the key 'b' on your keyboard returns the scene's camera to its original location and orientation, restoring the original view of the scene.
Simon Biggs (born Adelaide, Australia 1957) is a media artist, writer and curator with interests in digital poetics, auto-generative and interactive systems and interdisciplinary research.
His work has been widely presented, including at Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool, Tate Britain, Institute of Contemporary Arts London, Centre for Contemporary Arts Glasgow, Kettles Yard Cambridge, Centre Georges Pompidou Paris, Academy de Kunste Berlin, Berlin Kulturforum, Rijksmuseum Twenthe, Kunsthalle Bergen, Maxxi Rome, Palazzo della Arti Naples, Macau Arts Museum, Oi Futuro Rio de Janeiro, Arizona State Art Museum, San Francisco Cameraworks, Walker Art Center Minneapolis, Queensland Art Gallery, Art Gallery of South Australia and the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
He has presented at numerous international conferences, including the International Symposium on Electronic Arts, ePoetry, Society for Literature, Science and the Arts, Electronic Literature Organization and FILE Sao Paulo and guest lectured at Cambridge, Newcastle UK, Cornell, UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara, Ohio State, Paris 8, Sorbonne and Bergen Universities, amongst others.
Publications include Remediating the Social (2012, editor), Autopoeisis (with James Leach, 2004), Great Wall of China (1999), Halo (1998), Magnet (1997) and Book of Shadows (1996). He has been principal investigator on a number of significant international research projects and has supervised and examined PhD students in the UK and Australia. He has previously held lecturing posts at Middlesex University and Academy Minerva Groningen, a Research Fellowship at Cambridge University and Professorships at Sheffield Hallam University and the University of Edinburgh.
He is currently Professor of Art at the University of South Australia.
Beat Suter + René Bauer
Turing's Assembly Line
Connection to Theme:
Turing created a slave, that works without thinking, without argueing and without any motivational design - the universal machine is just a bookkeeper with pencil and paper.
Therefore Turing serialized everything to simple tasks in a line. He mechanized logic thinking to an assembly line job. And today almost everything is based on this universal (bookkeeping) slave from cars and excel sheets to servers, computers, smartphones and AI.
But more and more this universal serf or slave is somehow pushing us to the edge and turns us into “fun slaves” of computers and processes.
Turing‘s assembly line is a cross between a gameart/artgame and an elearning (automatic learning) project.
It was simultaneously developed for the amazing plato systems (automatic learning, 1960+) and for the web. It has been created by the Swiss artgroup AND-OR.ch (René Bauer and Beat Suter) in 2020.
As player you are not a user of the universal machine, you are Alan Turing‘s universal machine yourself. Please, sit down and begin to work! You will receive task after task. You have to decide if you want to execute a task or if you don‘t.
Of course you will also encounter some errors among the tasks. No program and no coder is perfect! You may even be confronted with exceptions, forkbombs...and more. Will you be fast enough? How many operations are you able to execute per minute? How long can you keep up the assembly line?
Beat Suter is founding member of the artgroup AND-OR. He is senior lecturer for Game Design at Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) in Switzerland, specializing in concepts, storytelling, mechanics and the history of games.
He manages the GameLab (gamelab.zhdk.ch) together with René Bauer. He holds a doctorate in literature from the University of Zurich, with a focus on digital literature.
For some years Suter has worked as lecturer for the Merz Academy Stuttgart, as project manager for a communications agency and as publisher of books and electronic literature (edition cyberfiction and netzliteratur.net). He also works as an independent scholar and curator, and as editor and author (cybersuter.ch).
René Bauer is founding member of the artgroup AND-OR. He has an M.A. degree in German philology and literary studies, biology and computer linguistics from the University of Zurich.
Presently, he works at the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) in Switzerland as lecturer, researcher and head of Master’s education in the subject area of Game Design. He also manages the GameLab together with Beat Suter.
His interests encompass coding, game mechanics, game studies, art in/with games (www.and-or.ch) and social media/knowledge systems (www.ixistenz.ch).
Meet Me At The Station
Connection to Theme:
Meet Me At The Station is a surreal and lyrical 10 minute experience for for 360 cinemas, domes, virtual reality headsets. A scientist is trapped in the future due to a time-travel accident. His only hope is to travel through dreams, but dreams can also turn into nightmares.
This 10 minute short is extracted from the award-winning, 40 minute work The Key To Time, which is designed for 360 degree and 180 degree environments like CAVEs and Domes.
Meet Me At The Station is made possible with the support of an award from the Adam Mickiewicz Institute (IAM) as part of POLSKA 100, the international cultural program accompanying the centenary of Poland regaining independence.
The cast for Meet Me At The Station features award-winning vocalists and actors including Emily Albrink, Katherine Calcamuggio, Chad Sloan, Jesse Donner, Natalia Kalita and Paweł Smagała. Sponsors include the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, Chouette Collective, Audio Visual Technology Center (CeTA), Temple University, Louisville University, TR Theater.
Roderick Coover is the creator or co-creator of works of interactive, experimental and emergent cinema, virtual reality and digital arts such as The Key To Time, The Altering Shores, Hearts and Minds: The Interrogations Project, and Toxi•City: A Climate Change Narrative. He is also the maker of documentary films and interactive, documentary research projects such as The Unknown Territories Project, From Verite to Virtual: Conversations On The Frontiers Of Anthropology And Documentary Film and Cultures In Webs: Working In Hypermedia With The Documentary Image.
His works are designed for the screen, interactive media, database cinema, photographic installation, online multimedia publication, CAVE environments and head-mounted displays, and he has been a pioneering creator of some of the earliest forms of interactive cinema and digital, ethnographic arts.
His work is internationally exhibited in art venues and public spaces such as the Venice Biennale, The Nobel Peace Prize Forum, Bibliotheque Nationale de France, and Documenta Madrid and he has received Fulbright, Mellon, Whiting, Spire and LEF awards, among others.
His publications of research, conversations and artist papers include, among others, the books The Digital Imaginary: Literature And Cinema Of The Database and, with Thomas Bartscherer, Switching Codes: Thinking Through Digital Technology In The Humanities And Arts. Professor of Film and Media Arts at Temple University, Philadelphia, he holds degrees from the University of Chicago (PhD 1999), Brown University (MA 1994) and Cornell University (1989). He lives in the USA and France.
Connection to Theme:
Distant Affinities is a work of recombinant cinema about machine intelligence attempting to process, narrate and mimic sentient being. Through subtitles, the omniscient AI narrator cycles through media that has been captured from the network and attempts a narrative interpretation of the patterns of human behavior.
Disparate data points and discontinuous video loops resist being systematized or narrativized. The distances or gaps between the text and video fragments suggest what remains outside the domains of surveillance and narrative.
An allegory of the vagaries of networked life existing within larger webs of living and non-living systems, the work shows a world coming apart, but also transforming into a more spacious mode of being made of errant language, creaturely life, isolated gestures and mutating interfaces.
Distant Affinities is programmed to oscillate between a probabilistic distribution of media elements and controlled narrative sequencing; between poetic montage and spatio-temporal continuity. Video, audio and text fragments appear on the screen in semi-indeterminate arrangements, depicting the chaotic flux of a technological world endlessly changing and repeating itself with each user click.
Clicking on certain fragments “zooms in” voyeuristically on moments of individual lives, full of their own complex cycles of sensation, memory, thought, embodied and disembodied living. Loops, nested and at various scales, are employed to convey a fractal temporality.
The intention of the work is to create an ambient and fluid experience, at times adrift in indeterminate structures and processes and at other times stimulating in the viewer a search for meaningful patterns.
Will Luers is digital media artist and writer living in Portland,Oregon. In the Creative Media & Digital Culture program at Washington State University Vancouver, he teaches multimedia authoring, creative programming, digital storytelling and digital cinema.
His art has been exhibited internationally and selected for various festivals and conferences, including the Electronic Literature Organization, FILE(Brazil) and ISEA. The generative e-lit work novelling, a collaboration with Hazel Smith and Roger Dean, won the 2018 Robert Coover Award for Electronic Literature.
Karen Ann Donnachie
A.I seems to be a verb
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A.I. seems to be a verb, (2021) is a coded interactive human-machine collaborative system which explores the uncanny affect of combining the embodiment of written language (the word as thing) with the intrinsic entropy of speech (the word as process). The work identifies and maps spoken word, not only for linguistic function but also across a spectrum of sentiment, in order to generate a complex array of paratextual supports (page-design, rules, and symbolic elements) used in the display.
As the process happens in real-time, it creates a ‘mise-en-abyme’, incorporating on-the-fly semantic ‘slippages’ of auto-correct grammar and ill-recognised speech and suggesting rhyming prompts for the user. At times the system generates minimal snippets of words mixed with graphic symbols and animations, only to suddenly transform into highly complex assemblages of text and image, before returning to a staccato rhythm of the speaker(s),
“I live on Earth at the present, and I don't know what I am. I know that I am not a category. I am not a thing –a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process– an integral function of the universe.”
Buckminster Fuller, from I Seem to be a Verb, 1970 ‘Bucky’
Fuller’s well-known quote, originally published in his book I seem to be a verb, (1970) contrasts human participation in the material world (which Fuller suggests can be described with nouns) and the ongoing evolutionary processes which influence and shape that world (which Fuller suggests can be described with verbs).
The web-based A.I. seems to be a verb (2021), automatically identifies and maps speech, not only as linguistic functions (e.g. nouns, verbs, adjectives, pronouns, etc.) but also across a spectrum of sentiment from negative to positive, in order to generate a complex array of paratextual supports (typeface, page-design, rules and symbolic elements and word-prompts) used in the visual representation of the text to the screen.
The entire process happens in real-time, providing an uncanny ‘mise-en-abyme’ experience which contemporaneously engages the participant’s auditory and visual responses to language construction.
Donnachie and Simionato are an artist duo working in the expanded fields of computational art and design since the 1990s.
Their artworks and designs have won the highest international awards and critical recognition in their fields, and have been featured in a number of major publications and international press. They received the Tokyo Type Directors Club Award in 2019 for a robotic-scribe that writes every tweet by Donald Trump and again in 2020 for their AI generated books.
One of these books, generated after an AI reading of M.D.Vernon’s Psychology of Perception, received the Cornish Family Prize for Art and Design Book Publishing, the most significant award of its kind. In 2020, they were awarded the Robert Coover Award for Electronic Literature, by the ELO for The Library of Nonhuman Books. Their most recent research focuses on new practices in reading and writing made possible by robotics, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.
These autonomous-art-systems can generate new works in the mediums of experimental publication, typographic design and photography.
Connection to Theme:
The presence of a functioning “obsolete” slide projector, and the establishment of an “obsolete” chained library within the Humanities library, suggests to visitors that the book is also obsolete — while it is, at the same time, a perfectly functional technology.
The dissonance of presenting computer-generated text via film slides and analog projection resonates with the decision that this group of five author/programmers has made: to present our computational writing in codex form. The chained library is both practical and symbolic. Given that this is a library exhibit, the cables prevent people from relocating the books as one typically does in a library.
They also emphasize that while we value ubiquity and portability in the digital age, at the same time we want things tethered, grounded, and available at the expected location. This suggestion will be strengthened by the similarity between the way these books are tethered and the way computer equipment is secured to a desk.
The projection of course alerts visitors to the availability of the books. Even if visitors do not choose to sit and peruse these books, the projected texts allow them to see and read computer-generated writing from recent years.
Those who only view the projections nevertheless get a sense of the wide variety of approaches and the many textures of language that are seen in this sort of experimental digital writing.
A book post is placed in the UiB Humanities Library during March 2021, consisting of a table/desk with two stools by it, near a wall.
Four books are on the table/desk (left to right, in alphabetical order by title): Articulations (Allison Parrish), Golem (Nick Montfort), A Noise Such as a Man Might Make: A Novel (Milton Läufer), and Travesty Generator (Lillian-Yvonne Bertram). Each has a hole drilled through it in the upper left and is secured to the table with a cable, creating a chained library.
The books represent the work of four participants in an SLSAeu panel about computer-generated literature. A Kodak carousel slide projector is in the middle of the table/desk, projecting small, bright images and texts onto the wall. Slides presenting covers and contents of the five books are shown continually during the exhibition. The selections will be made in consultation with all author/programmers and with their approval.
The stools allow two readers to sit and peruse the books. The table is wide enough to allow readers to do so while socially distanced.
Nick Montfort's computer-generated books of poetry include Golem, The Truelist, Autopia, the collaboration 2×6, and #! Among his more than fifty digital projects are the collaborations The Deletionist, Sea and Spar Between, and Renderings.
He has six books out from the MIT Press, most recently The Future. He is professor of digital media at MIT, where he directs The Trope Tank, and lives in New York.
Allison Parrish is a computer programmer, poet, educator and game designer whose teaching and practice address the unusual phenomena that blossom when language and computers meet. She is an Assistant Arts Professor at NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program, where she earned her master's degree in 2008.
Named "Best Maker of Poetry Bots" by the Village Voice in 2016, Allison's computer-generated poetry has recently been published in Ninth Letter and Vetch. She is the author of "@Everyword: The Book" (Instar, 2015), which collects the output of her popular long-term automated writing project that tweeted every word in the English language. The word game "Rewordable," designed by Allison in collaboration with Adam Simon and Tim Szetela, was published by Penguin Random House in August 2017 after a successful round of Kickstarter funding. Her first full-length book of computer-generated poetry, "Articulations," was published by Counterpath in 2018.
Milton Läufer is an Argentinian writer, journalist and teacher. He has published articles and short stories in Esquire, Vice, Guernica, CIA Revista, and Otra Parte, among other publication. He earned an Creative Writing MFA at New York University, where he is currently a PhD candidate, focusing on digital literature in Latin America. He was the 2016-2017 writer-in-residence of The Trope Tank, MIT.
In 2015 he published Lagunas, a partially algorithmic-generated novel, which—as most of his work—is available online at http://www.miltonlaufer.com.ar. His second computer generated novel, A Sound Such as a Man Might Make, was published in 2018 by Counterpath.
Lillian-Yvonne Bertram is the author of the poetry collections Travesty Generator (Noemi Press, 2019), winner of the 2018 Noemi Press Poetry Prize and finalist for the National Poetry Series. Travesty Generator received the 2020 Poetry Society of America Anna Rabinowitz Prize for interdisciplinary and venturesome work. They are also the author of Personal Science (Tupelo Press, 2017); a slice from the cake made of air (Red Hen Press 2016); and But a Storm is Blowing From Paradise (Red Hen Press, 2012), chosen by Claudia Rankine as the winner of the 2010 Benjamin Saltman Award.
Bertram’s other publications include the chapbook cutthroat glamours (Phantom Books, 2012), winner of the Phantom Books chapbook award; the artist book Grand Dessein (commissioned by Container Press), a mixed media artifact that meditates on the work and writing of the artist Paul Klee and was recently acquired by the Special Collections library at St. Lawrence University; and Tierra Fisurada, a Spanish poetry chapbook published in Argentina (Editoriales del Duende, 2002). They collaborated with the artist Laylah Ali for the exhibition booklet of her 2017 art show The Acephalous Series.
David Thomas Henry Wright
Most Powerful Words
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By creating multiple works in multiple categories using the same code, the larger work upholds Italo Calvino’s values depicted in Six Memos for the Next Millennium: lightness, quickness, exactitude, visibility, multiplicity and consistency.
The code facilitates a posthuman way of broaching the enormity of archival and contemporary language. I argue that in doing so all language is treated equally, allowing contemporary readers to lightly, quickly, precisely, visibly, and consistently traverse the infinite use and misuse of past and present language.
As political poems these digital creations literally ‘speak as’ by using the subject’s own words. Most Powerful Words also draws into question whether such digital ‘found’ works can even be classified as ‘literature’ or ‘poetry’ and, if so, what this means for poetry in the 21st Century.
Most Powerful Words (2020) is a digital literary work comprised of 54 computer-generated poems or Taroko Gorge remixes (ELC, 2016).
Using Nick Montfort’s source code (2009), this collection repurposes political language into poetry (e.g. Xi Jinping’s 2020 New Year Speech is used to create an infinite, recombinant poem).
Speeches of the first nine Australian prime ministers; speeches by the nine most powerful according to Forbes; vocabulary from texts written by those on Australian currency; historical documents that have impacted Indigenous Australians; concession speeches by nine Queensland Premiers; and the first pages of nine notable Queensland books are all treated as ‘found’.
Just as conceptual artists use found objects, this poetry operates the same way. When situated through Montfort’s code, the ‘found’ text takes on poetic meaning, transforming/revealing the source text.
David Thomas Henry Wright won the 2018 Queensland Literary Awards’ QUT Digital Literature Prize and 2019 Robert Coover Award for a work of Electronic Literature (2nd prize).
He has been shortlisted for multiple national and international literary prizes, and published in various journals. He has a PhD (English and Comparative Literature) from Murdoch University and a Masters (Creative Writing) from The University of Edinburgh, and taught Creative Writing at China’s top university, Tsinghua.
He is currently co-editor of The Digital Review, an international consultant for the forthcoming Electronic Literature Collection, and Associate Professor at Nagoya University.
Not a Book:
Locating Material Traces of Collaborative Print
and Digital Technologies in the Archive
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As a project that is situated between “the print” and “the digital” and as one that places print-based artifacts in conversation with digital artifacts, not a book is a project concerned with the histories, presents, and futures of books and the technologies of reproduction and replication used to make them.
Created from digital images of the traces left from the original copper engraved botanical prints on the interleaved blank pages of a digitized edition of one printed copy of an 1844 issue of "Flora Batava" magazine, the project reflects on and raises questions regarding just what a book is and was by delving into the history of “the” book as a collection of historically contingent technologies and social processes.
Seeking to document and understand how the material traces of bookmaking become legible in new ways once they are reframed and accessed in the context of new technologies of replication and reproduction, this is fundamentally a somewhat "heady" project about a very beautiful book.
Johannah Rodgers is a writer, artist, and educator whose work explores issues related to representation and communication practices across media.
She is the author of 52WordDrawings (mimeograph, 2017), At, Or To Take Regret: Some Reflections on Grammars (2016), Technology: A Reader for Writers (Oxford University Press, 2014), and the digital fiction project DNA (mimeograph/The Brooklyn Rail).
Her digital projects, word drawings, essays, and book reviews have been published in Nat.Brut, Fence, Bookforum, and The Brooklyn Rail, where she is a contributing editor. Her visual works include What My Computer “Sees”, the Excel Drawing Series, which was featured in the The Drawing Center Viewing Program, and The How Much Project, which explores the intersection of aesthetics, civic literacy, and social action in relation to income inequality in the United States via digital and analog visualization tools.
The editor of the open access educational web site www.digitalcomposition.org, she thinks, teaches, and writes about the social and economic histories of verbal languages and their relationships with both print and digital technologies of inscription and reproduction. :: @what_is_writing
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The project was part of Ars Electronica Festival in 2020 because of the computational techniques employed in its making. It was ‘exhibited’ in the form of an Instagram takeover of one of their partner organizations, Codame Art + Tech, based in San Francisco. It received a Literature prize from the Cafe Royal Cultural Foundation and was featured in Dovetail Magazine.
True to its hybrid status across literature, technology, and social media, Voidopolis won the 2020 Arts and Letters Prize For Literature, given to works that “blur, bend, blend, erase, or obliterate genre and other labels.” Judge Michael Martone noted: "[VOIDOPOLIS] takes to heart and exploits the reality that a writer today is not simply a “writer” who writes, creating a text, but a media artist not using a 19th century typewriter but an extremely powerful typesetting machine now connected to the internet.
I was also attracted to the ephemeral nature of the piece, its temporary-ness. A piece about the virus infects itself with its own digital virus that rewrites and then erases the living codes.”
After Voidopolis (which corresponds roughly to Dante’s ‘Inferno’) I will be writing two more parts, corresponding roughly to Dante’s ‘Purgatorio’ and ‘Paradiso.’ Each of the subsequent two parts will have their own distinct language constraint and visual style, establishing each its own mood of increasing hope as we emerge from pandemic (aka, return to an uneasy kind of Paradise/normalcy).
Voidopolis is a digital performance about loss and memory that is currently unfolding over 40-ish posts on my Instagram feed (@kmustatea).
It is a loose retelling of Dante’s Inferno, informed by the grim experience of wandering through NYC during a pandemic. Instead of the poet Virgil, my guide is a caustic hobo named Nikita.
Voidopolis makes use of synthetic language, generated in this instance without the letter ‘e’ and the images are created by “wiping” humans from stock photography. The piece is meant to culminate in loss, so will eventually be deleted from my feed once the narrative is completed. By ultimately disappearing, this work makes a case for a collective amnesia that follows cataclysm.
Kat Mustatea is playwright and technologist whose tech-native storytelling stretches theater into the digital age. She has written plays in which people turn into lizards, a woman has a sexual relationship with a swan, and a one-eyed cyclops tries to fit into Manhattan society by getting a second eye surgically implanted in his head.
She is a co-curator of EdgeCut, a live performance series that explores our complex relationship to the digital, and a member of NEW INC, the art and tech incubator at The New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City. Her TED talk is about algorithms and puppets, and she speaks frequently about the intersection of cutting edge technology and art (most recently at SXSW, The Pompidou Center, Ars Electronica).
John Murray + Mark Marino
The Hollow Reach
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Over the course of the entire VR work, the player uncovers the trauma -- a catastrophic event in which the main character lost their arms, profoundly wounding their sense of self as well as their relationships with others.
Gradually, it is revealed that the player character is using a VR system to learn to manipulate new prosthetic limbs, moving from their old sense of their humanity to a new experience of the world through and with mechanical and computational extensions. In this painful but healing journey, the player character must overcome trauma by learning new ways of navigating a new physical and emotional reality, finding new ways of relating to the world and others.
The Hollow Reach is a meditation on all we can change, all we cannot, and all that changes in spite of us. It is the experience of learning coming to grips with what is beyond your grasp, a phrase which nods to Serge Bouchardon’s classic work of digital literature.
The Hollow Reach is a choice-based virtual reality (vr) experience built on becoming posthuman to overcome the trauma of emotional and physical loss. What at first appears to be an adventure game turns out to be an exploration of psychological and physical recovery, not a retreat from reality but a coming to terms with it.
In this interactive puzzle game, virtual reality offers a space of recuperation through adaptation and prostheses. In this piece, the player progresses from the human to the post-human only by letting go of their notions of what is and is not under their control to encounter a life augmented and transformed by the digital.
In this 10-minute sequence, the player is at first confronted with one of the virtual worlds, a spacefleet starship at red alert. The first officer reports that an enemy ship has trained its weapons on the ship.
The player must navigate this crisis with the help of the crew. But this sci-fi world turns out to be merely an entry point. As the action-packed world of the starship dissolves, the player character takes off their in-game headset to find themselves in their dreary apartment, drenched in a wash of failure and self-pity.
Curtains let in only enough light to illuminate the many motes of dust. A photograph of a love partner, cracked. Empty bottles. Expelled e-cigarette cartridges. Letters started, crumpled. Missed texts. This is an apartment bathed in depression. And on top of that, the player can’t seem to hold on to anything in it. Everything slips from their grip.
Mark C. Marino is an author and scholar of digital literature. His works include Salt Immortal Sea (with John Murray, Joellyn Rock, and Ken Joseph), “Marginalia in the Library of Babel,” “a show of hands,” “Living Will,” and a collection of interactive children’s stories called “Mrs. Wobbles and the Tangerine House.”
He is an Associate Professor (Teaching) of Writing at the University of Southern California where he directs the Humanities and Critical Code Studies (HaCCS) Lab, a research group dedicated to humanities approaches to the exploration of computer source code.
He is also the Director of Communication of the Electronic Literature Organization.
John T. Murray is an Assistant Professor of Games and
Interactive Media at the University of Central Florida, USA. He is
co-author of Flash: Building the Interactive Web (MIT Press, 2014) and
Adventure Games: Playing the Outsider (Bloomsbury, 2020). His research
focuses on interactive narratives and reality media (augmented, virtual and
His investigation includes both existing and future computational media platforms, focusing on both authoring and evaluating experiences. His project involves broadening participation in authoring of AR and VR through a collaborative authoring system called RealityFlow. He is also an editor of the Electronic Literature Collection Volume 4.
John Ashbery, W. H. Auden, Wallace Stevens,
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In a 1980 interview with David Remnick, John Ashbery describes the formative impact that the poetry of W. H. Auden had on his writing:
“I am usually linked to Wallace Stevens, but it seems to me Auden played a greater role. He was the first modern poet I was able to read with pleasure…”
In another interview Ashbery identifies Auden as “one of the writers who most formed my language as a poet.”
For Auden’s part there was a mutual yet mysterious appreciation for the younger poet’s work; Auden awarded Ashbery the Younger Yale Poets prize for his collection “Some Trees”, with the caveat:
“...that he had not understood a word of it.”
This web based exhibition presents a creative experiment using OpenAI’s GPT-2 and traditional recurrent neural networks to develop a generative poetry pipeline loosely modeled after this short narrative describing the dynamic between Ashbery, Auden, and Stevens. While this modeling is subjective and playful it aims to map the relationships between the three poets appropriately into different aspects of a machine learning framework.
By exploring the potential of using social and personal relationships and the narratives they imply as inspirational structure for designing generative text pipelines and creating “Transformative Reading Interfaces” that explicate the relationships between the training corpora, the machine generated text, and the conceptualization of the artist.
The generative text pipeline begins with two fine-tuned GPT-2 models: one trained on the poetry of John Ashbery, and one trained on the poetry W. H Auden. These two fine-tuned GPT-2 models are then put into “conversation” with one another; each model’s output is used as input to the next in a feedback loop.
The resultant generated text is then classified using traditional recurrent neural networks trained on the corpora of Auden, Ashbery, and Stevens. These classification scores can then be used to filter and organize the generated text in various ways.
The output of this pipeline is presented in two forms. The first is a user-driven web interface that traverses the GPT-2 generated “conversations” between John Ashbery and W.H. Auden. The second is a “Transformative Reading Interface” that illustrates how the generated texts are related to their original corpora.
In both cases generated text is color coded according to RNN scores, displaying Ashbery classified texts as green, Auden as blue, and Stevens as red. The “Transformative Reading Interfaces” show how the original poems map into the much larger generated text space, revealing both the generative power and limitations of the posthuman collaboration.or a collective amnesia that follows cataclysm.
Brad Gallagher's practice revolves around writing, coding, sound and new media with a focus on how computation intersects these different mediums.
He has had a lifelong interest in how simple rules give rise to complex behavior, how order arises from chaos and how systems with many interacting parts exhibit self-organization. As an artist he draws inspiration from and directly leverages these principles to create interactive, dynamic, and emergent content.
He reflects these practices back into traditional writing, creating a feedback loop of influence amongst the mediums of his work. He graduated with a BFAW from the School of The Art Institute of Chicago in May 2019.
He has most recently performed sound-triggered, generative, text pieces at the Electronic Literature Organization event hosted by the School of The Art Institute of Chicago in conjunction with the 2019 MLA conference, the Red Rover Reading Series in Chicago, and the 2019 &Now Festival at the University of Washington at Bothell.
To Pray Without Ceasing
Connection to Theme:
This piece relates to the exhibition theme of posthumanism in three ways. First, To Pray Without Ceasing explores the ways that algorithmic systems can *care* in ways that humans cannot. Only a machine has the capacity to relentlessly pay attention to the needs of others---to, as St. Paul exhorts the Thessalonians, "pray without ceasing."
Its ministrations controlled by the perfect clock of cron, an algorithmic system can manifest the virtue of *constancy*, never becoming distracted or caught up in its own problems. Second, the system is a kind of "prayer multiplier" that takes prayers that I have written and, using techniques of neural information retrieval, matches them to statements of needs; thus To Pray Without Ceasing is "post-human" in the sense that it is (temporally) "post-*me*"---i.e. it is conceivable that it will continue to pray on my behalf long after I am gone.
Third, To Pray Without Ceasing could be an example of a post-human religious culture. A double bind: fewer and fewer people feel connected to any kind of religious tradition, yet many people also suspect that this alienation leaves their lives dangerously nihilistic, atomized, and more easily captured by the cruel logics of the market. Perhaps delegating religious practice to machines is one small way of escaping this double bind, or at least of signaling a desire to escape it.
To Pray Without Ceasing is a web app that autonomously prays for people. It searches Twitter for expressions of need (e.g. "I need somebody to hug me right now" or "I need more money in my bank acct wtf"), especially those tweeted by users who have few followers and who are perhaps in need of solicitude. It then issues prayers for them using a variety of NLP techniques.
Visitors to To Pray Without Ceasing must activate the system's prayers in a simple but symbolically significant way: they must light a candle (while making sure not to move the cursor too fast; one must proceed mindfully in sacred space). The action of lighting a candle is designed to make the system not "interactive" but rather what Robert Pfaller would call "interpassive"; the visitor delegates the work of praying---the practice of religion itself---to the machine, yet she still can feel vaguely responsible for whatever good work it does, whatever good words it utters.
The system prays in different ways over the course of 24 hours, evoking the "Liturgy of the Hours" ("Horae Canonicae"). After 24 hours the sequence begins again, praying for a new batch of needs discovered on Twitter from the previous day. Thus the humble and pious work of paying attention to the needs of strangers is never finished.
Kyle Booten is an assistant professor of English at the University of Connecticut, Storrs. In the fall of 2020 he was Nokturno’s Digital-Poet-in-Residence. His computer-mediated verse has appeared in venues such as Lana Turner, Fence, Boston Review, Datableed, and Denver Quarterly. His work has appeared in several previous ELO conferences and events.
This short video work was filmed in New York in 2000 and involves a plastic owl reading Bill Joy's text Why the future doesn’t need us, published in Wired magazine in 2000. The text outlines a dystopian future where humans a rendered obsolete and are replaced by the sentient beings they created.
The plastic owl hose sole purpose is to scare pigeons from the rooftop of the house in the west village spins whilst the words are whispered and the pigeons continue to go about their business paying no regard to it.
BIOGRAPHY:Eamon O'Kane has exhibited widely and is the recipient of many awards and scholarships including the Taylor Art Award, The Tony O'Malley Award and a Fulbright Award. He has shown in exhibitions curated by Dan Cameron, Lynne Cooke, Klaus Ottman, Salah M. Hassan, Jeremy Millar, Mike Fitzpatrick, Sarah Pierce, Jeanne Greenberg-Rohatyn, Angelika Nollert, Yilmaz Dziewior and Apinan Poshyananda. He has taken part in EV+A, Limerick, Ireland seven times including 2005 when he received an EV+A open award from Dan Cameron.
In 2006 he was short-listed for the AIB Prize and received a Pollock Krasner foundation grant. O'Kane has had over forty solo exhibitions including shows in Berlin, Frankfurt, Dublin, Zurich, New York, London and Copenhagen. He was short-listed for the Jerwood Drawing Prize in London in 2007. His artwork is in numerous public and private collections worldwide including Deutsche Bank; Burda Museum, Baden Baden, Germany; Sammlung Südhausbau, Munich; Limerick City Gallery; FORTIS; DUBLIN 98FM Radio Station; Microsoft; Bank of Ireland Collection; Irish Contemporary Arts Society; Country Bank, New York; Office of Public Works; P.M.P.A. and Guardian Insurance; Donegal County Library; UNIBANK, Denmark; NKT Denmark; HK, Denmark; Den Danske Bank, Denmark; Sammlung Strack, Cologne, Germany; Letterkenny Institute of Technology; University Of Ulster, Belfast; Sammlung Winzer, Coburg, Germany; British American Tobacco, Bayreuth, Germany; Aspen RE, London; Rugby Art Gallery and Museum Collection.
Eamon completed a three month residency at Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris in 2008. O'Kane is Professor of Visual Art at The Art Academy, Faculty of Fine Art, Music and Design, University of Bergen, Norway
David Jhave Johnston
Human + A.I. poetry.
Generated by a computer. Edited by a human.
05.2017 - 05.2018. One book a month.
A limited edition boxset of 12 poetry books (over 4500 poems) written in one year by digital poet David Jhave Johnston with neural net augmentation ( https://www.anteism.com/shop/rerites-david-jhave-johnston ).
ReRites is accompanied by a book of 8 essays written about the project. Published by Anteism Books, Montreal (2019). ( https://www.anteism.com/shop/rerites-raw-output-responses-david-jhave-johnston )
ReRites exhibit format also includes over 120 hours of neural-net text-generation videos, 15 hours of editing videos, and often includes a participatory performance component called ReadingRites.
BIOGRAPHY:David Jhave Johnston is a digital-poet writing in emergent domains: AI, 3D, VR, and code. Author of ReRites (Anteism Books, 2019) and Aesthetic Animism (MIT Press, 2016).
Li Po :: 8888
8888 is a part of Li Po :: Rice for the People 米為人民. Li Po :: Rice for the People is a antidote to capitalism: in a planet earth with out humans a old chinese poet is still alive a fight vs the alien occupation and extraction of earth. Is the battle of the carbon based life in planet earth.
So a ambassador from the year 8888 came to 4444 to hear the poems of Li Po. Then, the antidote to capitalism that we know thanks to Li Po poems is send to our times for sell as Rice to prevent the alien occupation. 8888 is the code that the future send with the antidote.
Digital art and writer. Editor and internet artist, focusing on exploring automated writing models, visual internet languages, and net art.
He studied Classical Studies at UNAM and had a fellowship at Fundación para las Letras Mexicana to write poetry. He is member of the Seminario de Producción Fotográfica of the Centro de la Imagen 2016. His work range about hypertext, glitch aesthetics, media archeology and poetry. The net essay En defensa del usuario (in defense of the user https://canekzapata.net/eddu ) was exhibited in the Centro de la Imagen. Selected in newhive.com selection for Future Art Fair 2015.
(Apartment 3B, 2020)
This is a web-based audio experience documenting our troubled times. Here, routines and intimate space-time proximities are tested.
Constructed as a web-based interface, but with no identifiable graphics, other than a black square, the eavesdropper wears headphones (and ideally a face mask and blindfold) and may only move a computer mouse blindly across the flat surface of a desk in front of the blackened computer monitor. Hidden sound files, which also move and shift, must be discovered by the eavesdropper-user, who accesses them through a further limited sense of human touch, mediated through the technology of the mouse, a necessary prosthetic arbitrating social intimacy. The sound files shift and are layered to create the manifold and multiplicitous spaces of Apartment 3B. A restriction of visual stimulus gives the ear space to paint its own pictures, to distort, illuminate, and amplify. Paranoia and the imagination creep forward into daily life as the usually ignored sounds of our two-metre sphere become ever alive, deeply present in new configurations, patterns of recognition.
BIOGRAPHY:Lissa Holloway-Attaway is an Associate Professor at the University of Skövde, Sweden. Her current research is focused on emergent media (AR/VR/MR) and experimental narrative.
Jamie Fawcus is a composer, sound designer and performer. Jamie is currently Senior Lecturer in electronic music and sound design/production in the Division of Game Development at the University of Skövde, Sweden.
Refreshing to come across an audio-only piece, which shows that creators do not always need to showcase the latest and flashiest technologies to produce strong works that resonate with audiences.
"How I learned to cherish life after a trip to hell"
When I was in the islands nearly a generation ago, I was acquainted with a young American couple who had among their belongings an attractive little son of the age of seven—attractive but not practicably companionable with me, because he knew no English. He had played from his birth with the little Kanakas on his father’s plantation, and had preferred their language and would learn no other. The family removed to America a month after I arrived in the islands, and straightway the boy began to lose his Kanaka and pick up English. By the time he was twelve he hadn’t a word of Kanaka left; the language had wholly departed from his tongue and from his comprehension. Nine years later, when he was twenty-one, I came upon the family in one of the lake towns of New York, and the mother told me about an adventure which her son had been having. By trade he was now a professional diver. A passenger boat had been caught in a storm on the lake, and had gone down, carrying her people with her. A few days later the young diver descended, with his armor on, and entered the berth-saloon of the boat, and stood at the foot of the companionway, with his hand on the rail, peering through the dim water. Presently something touched him on the shoulder, and he turned and found a dead man swaying and bobbing about him and seemingly inspecting him inquiringly. He was paralyzed with fright.
His entry had disturbed the water, and now he discerned a number of dim corpses making for him and wagging their heads and swaying their bodies like sleepy people trying to dance. His senses forsook him, and in that condition he was drawn to the surface. He was put to bed at home, and was soon very ill. During some days he had seasons of delirium which lasted several hours at a time; and while they lasted he talked Kanaka incessantly and glibly; and Kanaka only. He was still very ill, and he talked to me in that tongue; but I did not understand it, of course. The doctor-books tell us that cases like this are not uncommon. Then the doctors ought to study the cases and find out how to multiply them. Many languages and things get mislaid in a person’s head, and stay mislaid for lack of this remedy.
Several of our passengers belonged in Honolulu, and these were sent ashore; but nobody could go ashore and return. There were people on shore who were booked to go with us to Australia, but we could not receive them; to do it would cost us a quarantine-term in Sydney. They could have escaped the day before, by ship to San Francisco; but the bars had been put up, now, and they might have to wait weeks before any ship could venture to give them a passage any whither. And there were hardships for others. An elderly lady and her son, recreation-seekers from Massachusetts, had wandered westward, further and further from home, always intending to take the return track, but always concluding to go still a little further; and now here they were at anchor before Honolulu positively their last westward-bound indulgence—they had made up their minds to that—but where is the use in making up your mind in this world? It is usually a waste of time to do it. These two would have to stay with us as far as Australia. Then they could go on around the world, or go back the way they had come; the distance and the accommodations and outlay of time would be just the same, whichever of the two routes they might elect to take. Think of it: a projected excursion of five hundred miles gradually enlarged, without any elaborate degree of intention, to a possible twenty-four thousand. However, they were used to extensions by this time, and did not mind this new one much.