Electronic Literature

From Clockworks2
Jump to navigationJump to search

Burgess, Helen J. "Electronic Literature." Review of Electronic Literature Collection Volume One. 2007. N. Katherine Hayles, Nick Montfort, Scott Rettberg, Stephanie Strickland, editors. CD-ROM Mac/Win. Also available at http:// collection.eliterature.org. In SFRA Review #283 (Winter 2008): pp. 15-16.[1]

See for what may be the birth of a new and persisting genre highly decorous for SF, perhaps especially SF poetry.

While our usual view of electronic literature[2] may have been shaped by the advent of hypertext and MUDs[3] and MOOs,[4] though, there exist many other literary forerunners to this rich genre—and it is these that are most often referenced in the Electronic Literature Collection. One of the closest analogs (both in the sense of analogy and of nondigital technologies) is the work of the 1960s Oulipo movement, for whom poems and other literary artefacts contained a specific set of computational “rules” — for example, the N+9 method, in which each noun is replaced by the noun seven entries after it in a dictionary. In Electronic Literature Collection Volume One, the legacy of Oulipo is continued by outsourcing the computation to the machine, in works such as Niss/Deed’s “Oulipoems” and Natette Wylde’s “Storyland.” On a more strictly visual level, works such as Robert Kendall’s “Faith” and Brian Kim Stephans’s “The Dreamlife of Letters” reference or resemble 50s concrete poetry, making use of typography and shape and adding in digital animation. (p. 15) [* * *]

The most ambitious works in this collection are those that carry computation beyond substitution or combination, such as Dan Shiovitz’s “Bad Machine,” a world-building machine simi- lar to a MUD but written in a pseudo-machine language which gradually becomes clear as one “plays” the game and interacts with machines using coded instructions. (p. 16) [...]

On first review, it is easy to dismiss electronic literature as a kind of formal experimentation, with an emphasis on appearance and structure. But really e-lit is more fundamentally about the way we interact with our machines. (p. 16, our emphasis)

RDE, finishing, 4Jan21