ELO Awards: Call for Nominations

Thursday 24 April 2014, 7:29 pm   //////  

The Electronic Literature Organization is delighted to announce two awards to be given this summer; nominations are open now.

The ELO is proud to announce the ”The N. Katherine Hayles Award for Criticism of Electronic Literature” and “The Robert Coover Award for a Work of Electronic Literature.” Below is information including guidelines for submissions for each.

http://eliterature.org/2014/04/announcing-elo-prizes-for-best-literary-and-critical-works/

“The N. Katherine Hayles Award for Criticism of Electronic Literature”

“The N. Katherine Hayles Award for Criticism of Electronic Literature” is an award given for the best work of criticism, of any length, on the topic of electronic literature. Bestowed by the Electronic Literature Organization and funded through a generous donation from N. Katherine Hayles and others, this $1000 annual prize aims to recognize excellence in the field. The prize comes with a plaque showing the name of the winner and an acknowledgement of the achievement, and a one-year membership in the Electronic Literature Organization at the Associate Level.

We invite critical works of any length. Submissions must follow these guidelines:

  1. This is an open submission. Self nominations and nominations are both welcome. Membership in the Electronic Literature Organization is not required.

  2. There is no cost involved in nominations. This is a free and open award aimed at rewarding excellence.

  3. ELO Board Members serving their term of office on the Board are ineligible for nomination for the award. Members of the Jury are also not allowed to be nominated for the award.

  4. Three finalists for the award will be selected by a jury of specialists in electronic literature; N. Katherine Hayles will choose the winner from among the finalists.

  5. Because of the nature of online publishing, it is not possible to conduct a blind review of the submissions; the jury will be responsible for fair assessment of the work.

  6. Those nominated may only have one work considered for the prize. In the event that several works are identified for a nominee, the nominee will choose the work that he or she wishes to be juried.

  7. All works must have already been published or made available to the public within 18 months, no earlier than December 2012.

  8. All print articles must be submitted in .pdf format. Books can be sent either in .pdf format or in print format. Online articles should be submitted as a link to an online site.

  9. Nominations by self or others must include a 250-word explanation of the work’s impact in the field. The winner selected for the prize must also include a professional bio and a headshot or avatar.

  10. All digital materials should be emailed to elo.hayles.award@gmail.com by May 15, 2014; three copies of the book should be mailed to Dr. Dene Grigar, Creative Media & Digital Culture, Washington State University Vancouver, 14204 NE Salmon Creek Ave., Vancouver, WA 98686 by May 15, 2014. Those making the nomination or the nominees themselves are responsible for mailing materials for jurying. Print materials will be returned via a self-addressed mailer.

  11. Nominees and the winner retain all rights to their works. If copyright allows, ELO will be given permission to share the work or portions of it on the award webpage. Journals and presses that have published the winning work will be acknowledged on the award webpage.

  12. The winner is not expected to attend the ELO conference banquet. The award will be mailed to the winner.

Timeline

Call for Nominations: April 15-May 10

Jury Deliberations: May 15-June 10

Award Announcement: ELO Conference Banquet

For more information, contact Dr. Dene Grigar, President, Electronic Literature Organization: “dgrigar” at mac.com.

“The Robert Coover Award for a Work of Electronic Literature”

“The Robert Coover Award for a Work of Electronic Literature” is an award given for the best work of electronic literature of any length or genre. Bestowed by the Electronic Literature Organization and funded through a generous donation from supporters and members of the ELO, this $1000 annual prize aims to recognize creative excellence. The prize comes with a plaque showing the name of the winner and an acknowledgement of the achievement, and a one-year membership in the Electronic Literature Organization at the Associate Level.

We invite critical works of any length and genre. Submissions must follow these guidelines:

  1. This is an open submission. Self nominations and nominations are both welcome. Membership in the Electronic Literature Organization is not required.

  2. There is no cost involved in nominations. This is a free and open award aimed at rewarding excellence.

  3. ELO Board Members serving their term of office on the Board are ineligible for nomination for the award. Members of the Jury are also not allowed to be nominated for the award.

  4. Three finalists for the award will be selected by a jury of specialists in electronic literature; Robert Coover or a representative of his will choose the winner from among the finalists.

  5. Because of the nature of online publishing, it is not possible to conduct a blind review of the submissions; the jury will be responsible for fair assessment of the work.

  6. Those nominated may only have one work considered for the prize. In the event that several works are identified for a nominee, the nominee will choose the work that he or she wishes to be juried.

  7. All works must have already been published or made available to the public within 18 months, no earlier than December 2012.

  8. Works should be submitted either as a link to an online site or in the case of non-web work, available via Dropbox or sent as a CD/DVD or flash drive.

  9. Nominations by self or others must include a 250-word explanation of the work’s impact in the field. The winner selected for the prize must also include a professional bio and a headshot or avatar.

  10. Links to the digital materials or to Dropbox should be emailed to elo.coover.award@gmail.com by May 15, 2014; three copies of the CD/DVDs and flash drives should be mailed to Dr. Dene Grigar, Creative Media & Digital Culture, Washington State University Vancouver, 14204 NE Salmon Creek Ave., Vancouver, WA 98686 by May 15, 2014. Those making the nomination or the nominees themselves are responsible for mailing materials for jurying. Physical materials will be returned via a self-addressed mailer.

  11. Nominees and the winner retain all rights to their works. If copyright allows, ELO will be given permission to share the work or portions of it on the award webpage. Journals and presses that have published the winning work will be acknowledged on the award webpage.

  12. The winner is not expected to attend the ELO conference banquet. The award will be mailed to the winner.

Timeline

Call for Nominations: April 19-May 10

Jury Deliberations: May 15-June 10

Award Announcement: ELO Conference Banquet

For more information, contact Dr. Dene Grigar, President, Electronic Literature Organization: “dgrigar” at mac.com.

Bitcoin for your Warhol!

Thursday 24 April 2014, 12:59 pm   ////////  

Thanks to Golan Levin’s “atypical, anti-disciplinary and inter-institutional” FRSCI lab, the CMU Computer Club, and ROM hacking bit-boy Cory Archangel, several instances of previously unknown visual artwork, done by Andy Warhol on the Amiga 1000 in 1985, have been recovered.

CA$H for your WARHOL sign

Warhol’s use of this classic multimedia system is but one of the many surprising, rich aspects of Amiga history that are carefully detailed by Jimmy Maher in The Future Was Here: The Commodore Amiga. An early topic is the launch of the first Amiga computer at the Lincoln Center, with Andy Warhol and Debbie Harry in attendance and with Warhol producing a portrait of her on the machine during the festivities. Maher also writes about how Warhol’s attitude toward the computer was actually a bit retrograde in some ways: Rather than thinking of the screen as a first-class medium for visual art, he wanted better printers that could produce work in a more conventional medium. The discussion of Warhol’s involvement is but one chapter (actually, less than one chapter) in a book that covers the Amiga’s hardware development, technical advances, relationship to image editing and video processing work, and lively demos — from the early, famous “Boing Ball” demo to the productions of the demoscene. The Future Was Here is the latest book in the Platform Studies series, which I edit with Ian Bogost.

The Future Was Here cover

With these images surfacing now, after almost 30 years, the age-old question “soup or art?” is awakened in us once again. Do we need to print these out to enjoy them? To sell them for cash? Did Warhol invent what is now thought of as the “MS Paint” style, back on the Amiga 1000 in 1985?

Amiga soup can

Note, finally, that there is a detailed report on the recovery project provided in PDF form.

A Superreboot

Tuesday 22 April 2014, 9:52 pm   ///  

There’s a remake (or maybe a reboot?) of superbad.com, the classic, off-kilter, uncanny art website that was employed back in 2008 in a Grand Text Auto April Fool’s joke.

It’s www.orworse.net.

I guess they made it worse by adding a “www.”

Console Yourself In Flight

Monday 14 April 2014, 4:43 pm   ///  

If you, like Ian Bogost, manage to attain Titanium Medallion status on Delta, you too can influence the content of the company’s safety videos.

Transcendance

Friday 11 April 2014, 3:18 pm   ////  

The premiere of the film Transcendance, directed by Wally Pfister and starring Johnny Depp as AI researcher Dr. Will Caster, was last night in Westwood. I got to go since my spouse produced and co-wrote the iOS and Android game that accompanies this movie. Johnny Depp and other cast members were there, but, alas, I did not get to hang with them; there were many interesting conversations nevertheless and I was glad to get to see the film for the first time. (Those involved with it had often seen very many cuts already, of course.) The general theatrical release of the film is April 18.

It’s an idea-packed film with a good bit of action, explosions, and so on, as well as innumerable nanites. Much can and will be said of it. One thing I was pleasantly surprised to note, though, was that the film expressed a bit how AI researchers (and by extension academic researchers more generally) have different motivations for what they do. Some are mainly interested in the challenges that problems present, because those problems are beautiful or inherently interesting. Some want to learn and understand things about the world. Some want to produce benefits in the world. And (although this group is not represented among the top researchers in the world) for some it’s just a job to make a living. It was nice to see the nuance of these different motivations in the way AI research was portrayed in Transcendance.

Microcodes and more Non-Object Art

Wednesday 9 April 2014, 8:40 am   //////  

In NOO ART, The Journal of Objectless Art, there’s a conversation between Páll Thayer and Daniel Temkin that was just posted. (Thayer recently collaborated with me to put up “Programs at an Exhibition,” the first software art show at the Boston Cyberarts Gallery.) The conversation covers Thayer’s code art, including his Perl Microcodes and antecedents, but also touches on free software, Windows, various esoteric languages by Temkin and others, painting and drawing, Christiane Paul’s CodeDOC project at the Whitney, “expert cultures,” and the future of code-based art.

It’s great reading, and objectless art might be just the thing to go with your object-oriented ontology.

Those Persistent Mainframes

Monday 7 April 2014, 12:11 pm   ///////  

Mickey Rooney is no longer with us, but the mainframe computer is. The Register writes up the 50th anniversary of IBM’s System 360, finishing by describing the current zEnterprise line of IBM mainframes. The line was updated just last year.

If this anniversary encourages you to hit the books about the System 360, I suggest IBM’s 360 and Early 370 Systems by Emerson W. Pugh, Lyle R. Johnson and John H. Palmer.

Lance Olsen in Purple Blurb, Mon 5:30pm

Sunday 6 April 2014, 12:36 pm   //////  

“Lance Olsen is at the center of every discussion I have about the contemporary landscape of innovative and experimental writing.”

-Bookslut

Lance Olsen

Lance Olsen

April 7, 5:30pm

MIT’s Room 14E-310

Experimental writing & video

Including a reading from his recent book [[ there. ]] and video from his Theories of Forgetting project.

Lance Olsen is author of more than 20 books of and about innovative writing, including two appearing this spring: the novel based on Robert Smithson’s earthwork the Spiral Jetty, Theories of Forgetting (accompanied by a short experimental film made by one of its characters), and [[ there. ]], a trash-diary meditation on the confluence of travel, curiosity, and experimental writing practices. His short stories, essays, and reviews have appeared in hundreds of journals and anthologies. A Guggenheim, Berlin Prize, N.E.A. Fellowship, and Pushcart Prize recipient, as well as a Fulbright Scholar, he teaches experimental theory and practice at the University of Utah.

Read the Bookslut interview about Lance Olsen’s [[ there. ]].

More on the Purple Blurb series.

Purple Blurb takes place on MIT’s main campus in Building 14, the same building that is the home of the Hayden Library. 14E-310 in in the East Wing, third floor, across the courtyard from the library entrance (do not enter the library to get to 14E-310).

Purple Blurb is free and open to the public, no reservation required.

Kevin Brooks

Thursday 3 April 2014, 11:54 pm   //  

Kevin Brooks, a storyteller who worked with technology in many contexts, died last Friday of cancer. Kevin was finishing his PhD at the MIT Media Lab when I was there as a masters student. Although he was farther along in his studies and working on a different floor with Glorianna Davenport’s research group, he helped me with my thinking and became a real friend, discussing his work (from Tired of Giving In to his Agent Stories project for his dissertation, “Metalinear Cinematic Narrative: Theory, Process, and Tool”) and how to develop other sorts of interactive narratives. Kevin also introduced me to the storytelling of Brother Blue and the rest of the Cambridge storytelling community. Kevin was at Apple before coming to MIT and went on to work at Motorola and, later, Hallmark. When I came to MIT, I was interested in inquiring about narrative and poetics in the system-building work that I did, and I was lucky to encounter Kevin, who had been looking at the forms and structures of storytelling as well as its ability to treat themes, to change people, and to change the world.

There is a very nice profile of Kevin in the MIT News section Technology Review, from 2011.

Advanced Bitcoin Simulator

Thursday 3 April 2014, 3:51 pm   /////  

If you felt like you missed your chance to … profit! … from the ascendance of Bitcoin, try the new, shiny Advanced Bitcoin Simulator, an interactive fiction by a sekrit author. It’s built with yui3, Inform 7, and parchment, but also builds on the simulation of online forums found in Judith Pintar’s CosmoServe, incorporates some of the audacity of several recent Twine games, and offers a bit (no pun intended) of the Ayn Rand pillory found in Bioshock.

E.T.‘s Material Mess

Wednesday 26 March 2014, 2:20 pm   ////  

My comments were part of a brief piece on NPR’s All Things Considered yesterday. NPR only turns to me when there’s a very serious issue at stake; this time, some documentary filmmakers were thwarted, at least for the moment, in their quest to visit an Alamogordo, New Mexico landfill and dig up the large number of E.T.: The Extraterrestial Atari 2600 cartridges that, according to reports, are buried there.

Lots of people read the story of E.T. (the video game) as one of monumental punishment for a media company’s disrespect for users/players. To me, there are at least two other important points.

One is that digital media is material. As much as we love to speak of “the Cloud,” “Steam,” and even “the Web” with its gossamer immateriality, the computers that we use are matter, they are physical stuff, and all of so so-called software is ultimately inscribed materially. Digital media is part of our world, capable of being buried and dug up, part of our environment and able to influence its quality.

Another is that when you’re innovating and creating work in a truly new form, it card be easy to cross the line between success and failure. Howard Scott Warshaw takes the rap for creating, under tremendous deadline pressure, the difficult-to-play, difficult-to-enjoy E.T. Before that, he created a hit game, a similar style of adventure, that was also based on a movie: Raiders of the Lost Ark. And, before that, he created a game with a compelling appearance and complex but engaging gameplay: Yar’s Revenge. Ian Bogost and I wrote a chapter about this Atari VCS game in Racing the Beam; it was Atari’s best-selling “original” game for the system. Last year, Yar’s Revenge was added to the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, becoming one of only twenty videogames in their collection.

We might need tales of corporate hubris and downfall to remind us not to invest our money, or all of our lives, in today’s digital media companies. But it’s worth noting, too, that media we think of as insubstantial can sometimes be inconveniently material, and that poor work is sometimes not just the result of scorn – it can also happen when a great artist tries to do too much too quickly.

Fox Harrell on Digital Soul

Monday 24 March 2014, 6:09 pm   ////  

Check out my colleague Fox Harrell’s article “Digital Soul: The Computer, Imagination and Social Change, just posted at The Root. It’s a very nice, concise statement of Harrell’s vision of the computer as an imaginative force.

A Book on the Song “Hallelujah”

Saturday 22 March 2014, 8:08 pm   /////  

Acting on a tip from The Kelly Writers House at my alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, I recently learned about, and then read, Alan Light’s book The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley & the Unlikely Ascent of “Hallelujah.” This intrigued me as an admirer of this song in particular, Leonard Cohen’s songwriting and singing generally, and other aspects of his literary art (particularly the incredible novel Beautiful Losers). It also appealed to me as an entire book written about a single, short work. In this case, the work isn’t a Commodore 64 BASIC program – as in the book collaborators and I wrote, 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1));: GOTO 10 – but a popular song with many lines and many covers, one that has been used in a wide variety of contexts.

The author discusses those many contexts well, covering the original release, the famous Jeff Buckley cover, and many other versions. There’s discussion of Shrek, the VH1 9/11 memorial video, manifestations on Idol and X Factor TV shows, and uses in religious ceremonies. The book is not really a deep dive into the music or the lyrics, although the etymology of the world “Hallelujah” and the differences in how the term is used in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles are discussed. Cohen declined to be interviewed, so the book also doesn’t spend too much time on origin myths, just recounting a bit from previous interviews. The book works to tease out the many things the song has meant to people and how it has managed to have all of these meanings.

It’s quite a different book from 10 PRINT, both in methodology and because the BASIC program is quite a bit different, culturally, than the song. I found it a quite enjoyable read.

Mourn Google’s Departed

Friday 21 March 2014, 5:40 pm   ///  

You may have noticed that “corpse” and “corporate” are lexically quite similar, and seem even more so when it comes to technology. Slate’s Google Graveyard lets visitors leave a virtual flower in memory of their favorite dead Google product. Seeking to be ever ready, they have dug a hole for Google Glass.

“Envisioning the Future of Computational Media”

Thursday 20 March 2014, 3:55 pm   ////////  

The final report of the Media Systems workshop has just been released:

“Envisioning the Future of Computational Media.”

You can download either the executive summary alone or the whole report.

I took part in the Media Systems workshop in 2012 with about 40 others from across the country. The workshop was sponsored by the National Science Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Endowment for the Arts, Microsoft Studios, and Microsoft Research. As Noah Wardrip-Fruin, co-author and co-organizer of the workshop, writes on the HASTAC site:

Our report, “Envisioning the Future of Computational Media,” starts with the fact that the future of media is increasingly computational — video games, smartphone apps, ebooks, social media, and more.

As media evolve and change, the stakes are high, on many fronts — from culture and the economy to education and health.

To create media capable of continuing the expansion of computational media’s impact, we need to combine technical research that develops media possibilities with innovations in the creation and interpretation of media projects and forms.

Instead, today, we generally separate these activities. Technology research organizations generally don’t have disciplinary, funding, or organizational support for making or interpreting media. Media making and interpretation organizations generally lack support for long-term technology research.

Our report is focused on recommendations for how to fix this.

Although I see the success of people who have integrated technical and humanistic viewpoints all the time – in my colleagues and collaborators, to be sure, but also in MIT students who bring together technical depth and with humanistic inquiry and artistic creation – I realize that there is still a gap between computation and media. I hope this report, which offers a dozen recommendations to address this disconnect, will be helpful as we try to improve our own skills and those of our students.

A “Programs” Writeup

Wednesday 19 March 2014, 11:37 pm   ///////  

Matthew Battles has a nice post about the “Programs at an Exhibition” show, up now on the metaLAB blog.

Happy Pi Day: Round

Friday 14 March 2014, 5:15 pm   ///  

My poem Round computes the digits of pi (in your browser, for as long as you like) and represents them as strings of text. It’s published by New Binary Press. Enjoy it on this 3/14.

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