[-empyre-] picking up on some themes


Hazel mentions:

>Wardrip Fruin  is also developing a project which involves a textual
>instrument for textual performance, which acts algorithmically on text and
>can be tuned in different ways.

I am currently trying to do my own n-gram a la Shannon (in director); it's a
way of making a generative poem, although I apply so many rules that the
content is greatly constrained to a particular vocabulary and grammar . . .
I'm playing a game in which the stakes are how much control I (pretend to)
surrender as to the final outcome . .

I feel we've moved away from the extreme OuLiPo principles, to something
that represents a synthesis of machine-made and human-made significance (but
of course ultimately human-made; the machine is just a way of creating the
illusion that humans are surrendering control)

>..the new directions in new media writing may
>be  more likely to  come from people with considerable technical
>sophistication or from writers who collaborate with such people!

It is certainly the case that I find an increasing impetus to  program; that
is because  I want to create experiences that are not only unpredicatble
because of different interpretations, but are also unpredictable because the
text is materially different each time a user 'plays' (to steal Noah's term)
it. This seems to require programming, unless you are performing your texts
live. (I guess that hypertext does this, but it's no longer enough for me,
and I find it's a bit, hrrmmm - messy - it's the aesthetics of control /
surrender again -) 

On the other hand, Jim says:

> We have all seen work that is strong technically but does not seem
consequential as art.

yes, it is a continual struggle to find the balance / one's niche. I think
that if the tech is driven by an idea to explore rather than just parading
tech skills, then you're probably OK.

Back to Hazel:

>But I suppose using the word poetry is a
>> way of addressing the issue of how poetry is changing and not letting print
>> writers off the hook. It's a kind of political gesture which in some ways
>> is quite useful.

I guess I find myself more at home in visual art now, although the
engagement with text is still the strongest part of my creative endeavours.
In visual art, some people know what an algorithm is... they may not write
my poems, but they speak my language. I guess I have let print writers off
the hook; I don't know how to engage with them.

Jim said:

>speaking of noah wardrip fruin, check out http://www.newmediareader.com/ which
>he edited. don't know if it's in the bookstores yet. looks pretty exciting.

(co-edited by Nick Montfort) it should be available, I've got a review copy,
and i think it is fantastic, in particular the CD, which includes things
like the first space invaders game from 1961; a lot of the things on the CD
come with emulators, so you can play atari games and Apple II stuff. Well
recommended, but I don't know how much it costs, I assume quite a lot...

>collaboration is sometimes a beautiful thing, yeah vowel. when
>both of the artists
>are, for whatever reason, drawn to it. hard to arrange this,
>unfortunately. and they probably
>need to have equal status artistically for it really to go.

Yes, I've done some successful writing/programming collaborations now, and I
would say that equal status / experience is just about the most important
thing . . that and complementary skills ...

Lucy said:

>working with visual art media such as installation,
>photography, video the context in which the work is
>displayed impacts upon its reading by the viewer.
>Could such a thing be possible in literature?

I have just had an interesting experience of reading a book that mainly
consisted of transcribed email posts, with little or no editing. I found it
extremely hard-going because the expectations I have for email posts are not
the same as the expectations I have for texts in (semi-academic) books. The
chapters of the book seemed to consist of poorly structured rhetorical raves
... this seems Ok on a list ... so context is important in my experience


by way of talking about my own recent work, I thought I would mention one
paper at DAC that Hazel didn't mention: Nick Montfort's paper on Cadre's
Varicella, which he uses to talk about intersections between narrative and
computer games (my words not his). (The possibility that a computer game can
also be a narrative is of course, very controversial, and the 'colours' in
this dispute tend to reflect a geographical divide.)

Anyway, the work I have just finished with Deena Larsen explores the
supposed tensions between narrative and role-playing games; my feeling is
that the divides between computer games and narratives depend on whether you
have very strict definitions of what these things are; if your definitions
are too strict they will end up impeding new and evolving ideas.

of course, this work required a great deal of programming; I could not have
explored my area of interest if I didn't have that skill.

cheers geni
cv and links available at http://hypertext.rmit.edu.au/~jenny

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