Illya Szilak interviews Nick Montfort in the article “The Death of the Novel: How E-Lit Revolutionizes Fiction,” the first of a series of posts on electronic literature.
Here at the ELMCIP “Remediating the Social” conference, literature professor Yra van Dijk was added to the program and presented, today, on a topic of special interest to me – the interactive fiction community.
She has been examining the 2001-2004 exchanges on the IF newsgroups (rec.arts.int-fiction and rec.games.int-fiction) with a focus on the online exchanges and the community’s archiving of them. Self-reflexivity and longevity makes this community particularly interesting to her. She sees a blending of roles: Practicioners, reviewers, and consumers are different roles but not different people. Her study uses literary sociology and literary theory, mainly Latour. She mentioned the “Interesting discussions” available on the Wiki; one does not have to join a mailing list to read them.
Technical issues, theory and self-reflection are discussed – many things that would be taken up by institutions in other contexts. She noted that actors on the newsgroups do not behave as if anonymous, but behave as they might in person. She noted as well that some in-person meetups now happen, that people often reflect on how to raise the profile of IF, and that awards and prizes imitate hierarchies of print literature, play a part in canonizing and archiving. She studied the consideration of IF as art – and found that most of the discussion is about craftsmanship, not poetics. Exchanges of code happen, and people discussed questions about how to write, not what we write.
She found that a well-defined genre is being redefined through discussion. Taste is being developed and discussed; intelligent readership is supported. An archive of knowledge about these works has been produced, along with an institutional network. So, the seemingly peripheral IF community has many interesting things happening. It resembles (to her surprise, she said) the 19th century literary communities with their emphasis on craftsmanship and criticism.
I regret that I didn’t get to speak with van Dijk, but it was great to hear her discussion of the IF community … and I have now something to report on at the next People’s Republic of Interactive Fiction meeting.
Alternate (actually, rejected) titles for the famous journal L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, recently revealed in Jacket2.
I don’t know about you, but Charles Bernstein and Bruce Andrews’s cutting room floor is often better than what ends up stuffed into my projector.
For instance, I see that Rhizome, which wound up being used, is on the list.
Maybe the next interactive fiction journal could be called Inventory.
And, I think Salad is still a great title – maybe even a better one today. It’s a dish best served cold.
In the “Michelangelo” room of the Portofino Bay hotel, at Ascendio (the latest and last in a long series of Harry Potter fan conferences), just down the lagoon from The Islands of Adventure and the Harry Potter area of that theme park, Flourish Klink presented her interactive fiction, “Muggle Studies.”
(In Michelangelo the women come and go, talking of rooms…)
We had a reading/playing of the game, to start, in the People’s Republic of Interactive Fiction public reading style. It worked well; another option would have been to “demo” the game using the successful format we tried out at the New School, Penn, and some Purple Blurb IF readings. The audience was game to try commands, though, and a volunteer read the game’s text aloud.
Then, Flourish provided some context, describing a bit about IF and Inform 7.
Given the vigorousness of fandom and the way interactive fiction production continues apace, it’s particularly good to see a demonstration of and call for more crossover work.
What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?
A technical report is to arrive today.
No need to worry about what will become of you without a technical report! The report, the fourth “Trope Report” in the Trope Tank series that started this year, is here:
In “Carrying across Language and Code,” Natalia and I discuss issues of translation and computational writing. With reference to electronic literature translation projects in which we have been involved as translators or as authors of the source work, we argue that the process of translation can expose how language and computation interrelate in electronic literature. Various small poetry generators, a cybertext poem, and two works of interactive fiction are discussed in this report.
Share and enjoy…
Although a recent IF tribute to a They Might Be Giants album might help to delude some people about this, interactive fiction these days is not about fandom and is unusually not made in reference to and transformation of previous popular works.
An intriguing exception, however, can be found in the just-released Muggle Studies, a game by Flourish Klink that takes place in the wonderful wizarding world of Harry Potter. The player character is of the non-magical persuasion, but gets to wander, wand-free, at Hogwarts, solve puzzles, and discover things that bear on her relationship with her ex-girlfriend. You can play and download the game at the Muggle Studies site.
The organizer of the People’s Republic of Interactive Fiction, Kevin Jackson-Mead, has organized and co-written a tribute to the 1992 They Might Be Giants Album, Apollo 18. At the PR-IF site, you can play and download 38 short games corresponding to every song (including the “Fingertips” songs) on the album. With its retro cachet, it may be today’s version of Dial-a-Song:
We have an amazing Spring 2012 Purple Blurb lineup, thanks to this academic year’s organizer, Amaranth Borsuk, and featuring two special events and readings by two leading Canadian poets who work in sound, concrete, and conceptual poetry. The Purple Blurb series is supported by the Angus N. MacDonald fund and MIT’s Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies. All events are at MIT and are free and open to the public.
Monday, March 19
Author of Carnival, The Black Debt, Seven Pages Missing
Professor and David Gray Chair of Poetry and Letters, SUNY Buffalo
A central figure in Canadian avant-garde writing, Steve McCaffery’s work spans sound poetry, generative and iterative text, experimental prose, performance art, literary criticism, and visual poetics. A member of the Four Horsemen sound poetry ensemble and a professor of English at SUNY Buffalo, he is the author of over a dozen influential books of poetry, twenty chapbooks and four volumes of critical writing. His works include CARNIVAL panels 1 and 2, Panopticon, The Black Debt, North of Intention and Rational Geomancy: Kids of the Book-Machine (with bpNichol). With Jed Rasula, McCaffery edited Imagining Language, an anthology for MIT Press.
Monday, April 9
Open Mouse / Open Mic
Featuring Alexandra Chasin, Ari Kalinowski, and YOU
Please join us for an open mic featuring D1G1T4L WR1T1NG for a variety of platforms, from immersive projections by Ari Kalinowski to generative fiction for the iPad by Alexandra Chasin.
Bring video art, interactive fiction, SMS poems, hypertext fiction and poetry, text generators, and any form of electronic literature you’ve got up your sleeve! This event is co-sponsored by the Electronic Literature Organization.
Alexandra Chasin is the author of Kissed By (FC2), and Selling Out: The Gay and Lesbian Movement Goes to Market (St. Martin’s). She teaches Writing at Lang College, The New School. Ari Kalinowski runs the Intermedia Poetry Project.
Thursday, May 3
Professor of English, University of Calgary
Co-sponsored by the Visiting Artist Series and WHS
Author of Crystallography, Eunoia and The Xenotext.
Christian Bök is the author of Crystallography (Coach House Press, 1994), nominated for the Gerald Lampert Award for Best Poetic Debut, and Eunoia, a lipogram that uses only one vowel in each chapter, which won the 2002 Griffin Poetry Prize and is the best-selling Canadian poetry book of all time. He is also author of Pataphysics: The Poetics of an Imaginary Science (2001). His latest project, The Xenotext, encodes a poetic text into bacterial DNA that will produce proteins in response—yielding another poetic text. Bök has created artificial languages for Gene Roddenberry’s Earth: Final Conflict and Peter Benchley’s Amazon.
1:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Friday, May 4
Co-sponsored by the Mellon Foundation, SHASS, WHS, the Arts at MIT Visiting Artist Program, and the MIT Communications Forum
An afternoon of discussion with theorists and practitioners from MIT and beyond who are concerned with the shape of books to come.
Christian Bök (University of Calgary)
Katherine Hayles (Duke University)
Bonnie Mak (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
Rita Raley (UC Santa Barbara)
James Reid-Cunningham (Boston Athenaeum)
Bob Stein (Institute for the Future of the Book)
In the Boston area? Please join us for a talk by
Creator of Wishbringer, Trinity, Loom, and other interactive fiction and graphic adventure titles
and professor of practice, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
“Beyond Zork: Games & Interactive Fiction”
Monday, November 28, 5:30 pm
MIT’s room 6-120
Brian Moriarty built his first computer in the fifth grade. He began publishing games in the early 1980s and in 1984 joined legendary text adventure company Infocom, where he authored three award-winning interactive fiction titles, Wishbringer (1985), Trinity (1986) and Beyond Zork (1987). His first graphic adventure game, Loom, was published in 1990 by Lucasfilm Games to wide critical acclaim.
Sponsored by the Angus N. MacDonald Fund
As always, this Purple Blurb event is free and open to the public.
An exhortation for those creating or researching electronic literature to please submit to Electrifying Literature: Affordances and Constraints, the 2012 Electronic Literature Organization conference. The gathering will take place June 20-23, 2012 in Morgantown, West Virginia. A juried Media Arts Gallery Exhibit will be held from Wednesday, June 13 through Saturday, June 23, 2012 at The Monongalia Arts Center. Registration costs have been kept down to make it easier for writers and artists who don’t have institutional travel support to be part of the event.
The deadline for abstracts & proposals is November 30, by the way.
Normally I only mention events that I’m attending or organizing, but I want to announce this Boston-area event even though I’ll be in Chicago and won’t be able to attend.
It’s called Dangerous Readings, and is sponsored by Eastgate Systems. Check out the page to see how you can participate.
The 2011 Interactive Fiction Competition games! They’re out. Go get ‘em.
At MIT TechTV, there’s a new 5-minute video about me and my work, featuring Ad Verbum, Curveship, Taroko Gorge, the ppg256 series and (as examples of really cool things that have been done with computers and that are worth our attention) some productions by others from the demoscene.
Also see the excellent video covering the work of my colleague Fox Harrell and his Imagination, Computation, and Expression Lab. Harrell describes his projects, reads from one of them, and discusses his concept of “phantasmal media.” That term provides the title for a book he’s completing for the MIT Press.
Here’s another article about my talk today in Passo Fundo. It’s in Brazilian Portuguese, and has a less maniacal photo accompanying it than did the last article I mentioned. The Babelfish provides this translation into English.
Like my collaborator Noah Wardrip-Fruin, I have come to Brazil for the winter. But not to a nice warm part of Brazil — I’m in Passo Fundo, in the far South, at the 14th Jornada Nacional de Literatura. Here, it has been cold outside, but there has been great excitement about writing and literary art.
I have been correctly identified as a space man as I’ve shown and discussed interactive fiction, poetry generation, and other forms of electronic literature.
I gave a longer talk this morning about these topics, which was translated into Brazilian Portuguese as I spoke. Tomorrow, I will speak on a panel in the main tent to about 5000 people about certain types of “convergence” in writing and literature. The type I will address is a convergence between authors – collaboration.