Jason Huff and Mimi Cabell did an excellent conceptual writing project, just presented at ELMCIP in Edinburgh.
Congratulations to the MIT Press on 50 years, and on their new website.
The new site includes a new and improved system for ordering books directly from the press. If you want to try it out, allow me to recommend Twisty Little Passages, The New Media Reader, Racing the Beam, and/or the forthcoming (in just a few weeks) 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10.
Our first event for 10 PRINT is scheduled for:
November 12, 2012
Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave.
This means, of course, that the book will be printed and available for sale by then, which is less than a month from now.
The Harvard Book Store is an independent book store in Harvard Square, founded in 1932.
Of the ten authors of 10 PRINT, we’re planning to have at least me (Nick Montfort), Patsy Baudoin, and Noah Vawter there for some reading from the book, comments on the titular program and the writing of the book, and discussion. The reading is free and takes place at the bookstore itself, as the page on the event explains.
I discuss the history and context of electronic literature in this article about the new digital novel The Silent History. The article, by Eugenia Williamson, appears in Saturday’s print edition of the Boston Globe.
The Silent History certainly looks like a compelling project.
Another just-released digital novel which is also quite compelling, although it doesn’t have the same PR apparatus behind it, is Queerskins by Illya Szilak, designed by Cyril Tsiboulski. Although I’ve not read a great deal of this new novel yet, I’m impressed by its multimedia and literary engagement with a difficult aspect of recent American experience.
Queerskins explores the nature of love and justice through the story of a young gay physician from a rural Midwestern Catholic family who dies of AIDS at the start of the epidemic. Queerskins’ interface consists of layers of sound, text, and image that users can navigate at random or experience as a series of multimedia collages. Images of the mythic and the everyday, the sacred and the profane, from banal vacation footage to vintage burlesque, interact rhizomatically with text and audio monologues to subvert preconceived notions of gender, sexuality, and morality.
Queerskins can be read online for free, and it can be reading using free software; an iPad is not required. Although I’m a fan of location-based and other innovation and respect those working on all sorts of platforms, what I’d like for the future of literature is for it to be like this – fully accessible on even a public library computer and Internet-connected laptops throughout the world.
Games by the Book
Videogame Adaptations of Literary Works in the Hayden Library
The Hayden Library (in MIT’s Building 14) is hosting an interactive exhibition starting on September 7th. Visitors to the second floor will be able to play four videogames that are adapted from literary works, from Sophocles and Shakespeare to F. Scott Fitzgerald and Douglas Adams. The exhibit explores the range of approaches taken to create video games of literary works, The result is often whimsical, turning the worlds of these stories into spaces to be explored, often transforming them according video game conventions.
The games featured in the exhibit invite players to become Nick Carraway, the narrator of The Great Gatsby, dodging drunken partygoers in his way to meet Gatsby; explore the world of Shakespeare’s plays; carry out an exercise of introspection based on Sophocles’ Oedipus at Colonus; or revisit the events of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Games by the Book, curated by Clara Fernández-Vara and Nick Montfort, will be open to the public until October 8th, in the Humanities library, on the 2nd floor of the Hayden Library. Further details can be found at:
The exhibit is sponsored by the De Florez Fund for Humor, the MIT Council of the Arts, the MIT Game Lab, the Electronic Literature Organization, and Comparative Media Studies.
Among several notable new articles in ebr (electronic book review), please find “Shuffle Literature and the Hand of Fate” by Zuzana Husárová and Nick Montfort:
Zuzana Husárová and Nick Montfort up the ante for experimental writing by examining the category of “shuffle literature.” What is shuffle literature? Simply put: books that are meant to be shuffled. Using formal reading of narrative and themes, but also a material reading of construction and production, Husárová and Montfort show that there are many writing practices and readerly strategies associated with this diverse category of literature.
Mark Sample has posted five basic statements, ahem, I mean 5 BASIC statements, on computational literacy.
I must point out that while they are all programs, the third and fifth ones actually include multiple statements. And, the program that number 4 is referring to is:
10 PRINT "GOODBYE CRUEL WORLD"
Very much worth a read – from the standpoint of understanding programming and its cultural intersections generally, not *only* because Mark is promoting the book that he, I, and eight others wrote, which will be published in November.
Update: Thanks to Francisco Ricardo, a video of some of Christian’s Purple Blurb reading is now online.
The Spring 2012 Purple Blurb series comes to an end this week, not with a whimper, but with Christian Bök!
Thursday May 3
Christian Bök is the author of Crystallography (Coach House Press, 1994),
a pataphysical encyclopedia nominated for the Gerald Lampert Memorial
Award, and of Eunoia (Coach House Books, 2001), a bestselling work of
experimental literature, which has gone on to win the Griffin Prize for
Poetic Excellence. Bök has created artificial languages for two
television shows: Gene Roddenberry’s Earth: Final Conflict and Peter
Benchley’s Amazon. Bök has also earned many accolades for his virtuoso
performances of sound poetry (particularly the Ursonate by Kurt
Schwitters). His conceptual artworks (which include books built out of
Rubik’s cubes and Lego bricks) have appeared at the Marianne Boesky
Gallery in New York City as part of the exhibit Poetry Plastique. Bök is
currently a Professor of English at the University of Calgary.
If you’re in the Boston area, and interested in radical play with language (why else would you have found this blog?) please come by.
Congratulations to Jimmy Maher on his just-published book, The Future Was Here: The Commodore Amiga. As you might expect, Amazon has a page on it; so does Powell’s Books, for instance.
This MIT Press title is the third book in the Platform Studies series. Jimmy Maher has done an excellent job of detailing the nuts and bolts of the first multimedia computer that was available to consumers, and connecting the lowest levels of this platform’s function to cultural questions, types of software produced, and the place of this system in history. The book considers gaming uses (which many used to brand the Amiga as nothing but a toy) but also media production applications and even, in one chapter, the famous Boing Ball demo.
The Platform Studies series (which also has a page at The MIT Press) is edited by Ian Bogost and yours truly, Nick Montfort, and now has three titles, one about an early videogame console, one about a console still in the current generation and on the market, and this latest title about an influential home computer, the Amiga. We have a collaboration between two digital media scholars and practitioners of computational media; a collaboration between an English professor and a computer science professor; and this latest very well-researched and well-written contribution from an independent scholar who has, for a while, been avidly blogging about many aspects of the history of gaming and creative computing.
Jimmy Maher, not content with his book-writing and voracious, loquacious blogging, has created a website for The Future is Here which is worth checking out. If you were an Amiga owner or are otherwise an Amiga fan, there’s no need to say that you should run, not walk, to obtain and read this book. But it will be of broader interest to all of those concerned with the multimedia capabilities of the computer. Really, even if you had an Atari ST – do give it a read, as it explains a great deal about the relationship between computer technology and creativity, exploring issues relevant to the mid-to-late 1980s and also on up through today.