[-empyre-] Liquid Narratives: opening and guest's bios

The topic of June at the - empyre - mailing list will be Liquid
Narratives. The concept of 'liquid narrative' is interesting in that
it allows to think about the unfoldings of contemporary languages
beyond tech achievements, by relating user controlled applications
with formats such as the essay (as described by Adorno in "Der  Essay
als Form", The essay as a form) and procedures related to the figure
of the narrator (as described by Benjamin in his writings about
Nikolai Leskov).

Both authors are accute critics of modern culture, but a lot of his
ideas can be expanded towards contemporary culture. As a matter of
fact, one of the main concerns in Benjamin's essay is a description of
how the rise of modernism happens on account of an increasing
privilege of information over knowledge, which is even more intense
nowadays. To understand this proposal, it is important to remember how
Benjamin distinguishes between an oral oriented knowledge, that
results from 'an experience that goes from person to person' and is
sometimes anonymous, from the information and authoritative oriented
print culture.

One of the aspects of this discussion is how contemporary networked
culture rescues this 'person to person' dimension, given the
distributed and non-authoritative procedures that technologies such as
the GPS, mobile phones and others stimulate. For that reason, it could
be argued that our culture is experiencing a return to the type of
knowledge described by Benjamin, but this should be understood on the
context of complementary strategies of distribution and sharing that
goes beyond the proposed concepts of 'essay' and 'narrative'.

McLuhan also describes portions of this process, when he writes about
'the reconfigured galaxy' that results from the impact of mass media
on a culture previously dominated by books, in which he implies, among
other things, that our cultural rescues orality as a form of knowledge
circulation. This is precise when we think about electronic media.
Digital technologies are more and more oriented into collaborative and
programable processes, wich allow collective and recombinant
procedures that are very different from those described by McLuhan,
but curiosly related to the procedures of Benjamin's Narrator.

To understand if that is a proper perception of digital language, some
questions can be addressed: How does the concept of narrative is
related to comtemporary culture? Can we really describe nowadays
fragmentary and user related procedures of organizing data as
narratives? Should they be considered liquid, since they are fluid,
reshapable, pliable? How does devices such as the GPS and mobile
phones change narrative? How technologies broadband internet and DVD
allow other modes of organizing them?

To debate this topic, this month, we welcome Dene Grigar, LÃcia
Santaella, James Barret and SÃrgio Basbaum. They will discuss how
their projects and ideas can be related to the notion of 'liquid
narratives', or explain how they have been thinking about connected

+ Dene Grigar is an Associate Professor of English at Texas Woman's
University and specializes in new media, interactive arts, electronic
literature, rhetoric, and Greek literature and culture. Her book New
Worlds, New Words: Exploring Pathways In and About Electronic
Environments (with John Barber, Hampton Press, 2001) speculates about
the ways in which writing and thinking change when moved to electronic
environments, such as the World Wide Web, MOOs, and email. She is
Associate Editor of Leonardo Reviews and International Editor for
Computers and Composition. Her second book, Defiance and Decorum:
Women, Public Rhetoric, and Activism (with Laura Gray and Kay
Robinson) looks at the way women have used Rhetoric to achieve social
and political goals. Her specific focus in this book is to examine new
media artists and their particular methods of activism. Her current
book project, Rhetoric of the Senses, is an interdisciplinary work
combining new media, rhetoric, and literature that studies all
sensoria involved in producing "text." In 2001 she attended a National
Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar at UCLA led by N.
Katherine Hayles, an experience that led her to undertake, from
2002-4, a post-doctoral study with the Planetary Collegium (formerly
the Center of Advanced Inquiry in the Interactive Arts-Science
Technology and Art Research, CAiiA-STAR) located at the University of
Plymouth, in the UK. Her current new media project, "When Ghosts Will
Die," is a narrative performance-installation created with multimedia
artist, Steve Gibson.

+ James 'Jim' Barrett (http://www.soulsphincter.blogspot.com/) is a
PhD candidate with the Department of Modern Languages and HUMlab at
Umeà University in the north of Sweden. Of Australian origin he has
lived internationally since 1996. His Masters thesis (2003) carried
the title Chronotope and Cybertexts: Bakhtinian Theory for Tracing
Sources of Narrative in Interactive Virtual Environments: From 'Naked
Lunch' to Fast
City. He continues working with M. M. Bakhtin's concepts of chronotope
(time space) and dialogics in the study of digital texts. James is a
poet, sound artist and installation performer. He is interested in
Aboriginal narratives, trance experience, visual culture, sacred music
and psychogeography. He plays didgeridoo (Yidaki), several other
instruments and is one of the founders of the net label Music Your
Mind Will Love You.

+ LÃcia Santaella (http://www.pucsp.br/~lbraga) is full professor at
SÃo Paulo Catholic University (PUCSP), PhD in Literary Theory
(1973-PUCSP) and Livre-docente in Communication Studies
(1993-ECA/USP). She is the director of CIMID, Center of Research in
Digital Media, PUCSP, and also the director of the Center for Peirce
Studies. She directed the Brazilian side of a PROBRAL research project
(Brasil-Germany/Capes-DAAD) on word and image relations in the media,
from 2000 to 2003. She was also the director of other collective
research projects: "Technical Images: from the industrial mechanical
to the electronic post industrial world ", PUC/SP-FINEP, 1989-1991; a
thematic research project on "The advent of new technologies and the
new sound grammars", financed by FAPESP, 1992-1995; the collective
project, "Production and diffusion of scientific research in the
digital era", financed by FAPESP, 1999-2002. She is one of the
honorary Presidents of the Latin-American Federation of Semiotics and
a correspondent member of the Argentinian Academy of Arts, since 2002.
She is also one of the Vice-President of the AssociaciÃn Mundial de
SemiÃtica MassmediÃtica y ComunicaciÃn Global, Mexico, since 2004. She
is a member of the Advisory Board of the Peirce Edition Project in
Indianapolis, USA. In 1987 , she was guest professor at the Freie
UniversitÃt, Berlin (DAAD). She was also associate researcher at the
Research Center for Language and Semiotic Studies, Bloomington,
Indiana University, where a number of post-doctoral research projects
were accomplished, from 1988 to 1994. Several research projects were
also developed in Germany (Kassel, Berlin, Dagstuhl/sponsored by
Fapesp-DAAD) from 1995 on. She is presently an associate member of the
InterdisziplinÃre Arbeitsgruppe fÃr Kulturforschung, UniversitÃt
Kassel. From 1982 to 1990, Lucia Santaella was the President of the
Brazilian Semiotic Association. From 1991-93, she was the Secretary of
the National Association of Graduate Programs in Communication
(COMPÃS, Brasil). In 1988, she was elected member of the Council of
the Semiotic International Institute (Finland). In 1989, she was
elected Vice-president of the International Semiotic Association. She
was re-elected for this position in 1994-1999. In 1993, she was
elected member of the Executive Council of the Latin American
Federation of Aesthetics. In 1996, she was elected Vice-president of
the Latin American Federation of Semiotics. From 1999 to 2002, she was
the President of the Latin American Federation of Semiotics.

+ Sergio Roclaw Basbaum (http://www.globalstrike.net) was born in 1964
in SÃo Paulo, Brazil, where he still lives and teaches. He has studied
music, and graduated in Cinema at USP (Universidade de SÃo Paulo).
While studying cinema, he started to melt his interests on sounds and
images in a research on synesthesia in the arts, which eventually has
led to a master dissertation and a book ï "Syneathesia, art and
technology  - the foundings of Chromossonia"ï, released in 2002. In
his recent PhD thesis, presented in 2005 at the Comunication and
Semiothics program at the Catholic University of SÃo Paulo (PUC-SP),
he has expanded this discussion for questions of perception and art in
a broader sense, bringing Maurice Meleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of
Perception into a dialogue with contemporary technological culture,ï
giving that well known authors such as Walter Benjamin and Marshall
McLuhan give emphasis to the perceptual impact of technology but do
not make clear what they mean by "perception". This conversation has
been enriched with some of Martin Heidegger's and VilÃm Flusser's
thinking abouth technology, as also as with some anthropology of the
senses, by Constance Classen and David Howes. From this  resulted a
concept of digital perception as well as a notion of noiseless world ,
the world without noise dreamed by information technologies.  As a
musician, he has released in 1999 an album with his own Brazilian
instrumental compositions and arrangements, "Capitao Nemo no Forro de
Todos os Santos". He's married to Tereza. They have one daughter ,
Luiza (six y.o.), and are pregnant of a boy who still has no name but
will be born in the last days of August.
Marcus Bastos

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