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Some Thoughts On Endurance Performance Art

Recently, art critic Jerry Saltz attended a six hour Jay-Z performance art piece cum music video shoot and made the following observation: “Does every celebrity have to turn into a performance-art marathoner?” The move from celebrity to endurance performance artist seems sensible to me. Celebrities (musicians, actors, athletes) are already performing, but mere performance is just entertainment. How to make entertainment into art? Just do the same thing longer.

jayz roselee

“rapper” Jay-Z dancing with performance art historian RoseLee Goldberg for a pop music video

 

Of course, some “entertainers” also have craft skills other than music or acting. David Lynch, for instance, has movie directing skills and painting skills. So what makes Tilda Swinton or Milla Jovovich lying in a box for a day any more or less quality art (or art at all) than authentic performance artist Chris Burden lying in a box for a day? Well, it’s not the professional quality of the box lying. Chris Burden doesn’t lie a better box.

tildaswinton

actress Tilda Swinton lying in a box

 

Quality endurance performance art seems to have to do with (at least) three criteria:

  1. Is the piece part of a larger conceptual trajectory that the artist is pursuing? In other words, does it connect outward into other media or other concepts in the world (concepts other than the concept of a person sitting in a box for a long time).
  2. Does the piece cost the performer something, or is it a relatively facile thing to accomplish? [MTAA's 1 Year Performance Video is an ingenious, media-aware critique of this rule.]
  3. And finally, related to these first two, but least concrete of all, does the piece produce some sort of magic? Does the endurance performance lead to something beyond what it merely is, or is it merely a person lying in a box?

Endurance performance art is to art what poetry is to writing — anybody can do it at all, but it’s tricky to do it in ways that matter. Just because endurance performance art is a cliche ’60s trope doesn’t mean there aren’t still great endurance performances yet to be enacted. Heck, painting is a cliche ’50s trope, and plenty of people still paint.

Regarding criterias #1 [does it have conceptual merit?] and #3 [is it more than a sum of its parts?], it seems celebrities venturing into performance art are hoping that the “magic” of their celebrity aura will be enough to win the day, make the project magical, and tie the project into conceptual topics larger than the project itself. But the munging up of art worlds and fame is a boring conceptual topic to me. Of course a bunch of art world nerds are going to be starstruck by a performer like Jay-Z. It would be like if Brad Pitt got cast to play Wittgenstein in a Hollywood film about Wittgenstein (implausible, but bear with me), and then he came to a graduate philosophy class to give a lecture on the philosophy of Wittgenstein. All the students would think it was real cool, but it probably wouldn’t be the best lecture on Wittgenstein. The difference is, art has no real boundaries, and “celebrity” is a perfectly legitimate conceptual topic for art, and so Jay-Z is not a fake endurance performance artist. He is “legitimate,” but only because anyone is legitimate. The more relevant contemporary question is not, “Is it legitimate art?,” but rather, “How does it matter in the world?”

Regarding criteria #2 [what does it cost the performer?], I don’t think lying in a box all day costs anybody much. I’m not arguing for the re-skilling of artists or that “craft” become the new criteria for what makes something valuable. Indeed, endurance performance art is cool explicitly because it’s this crazy brute force medium where you don’t have to be “good” at something. But you should at least have to be “stupid” or “brutish” or “stubborn” enough at something for it to spark some kind of magic. I am reminded of the words of King David, when one of his subjects offered him a free field in which to sacrifice an offering to God: “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing” (I Chronicles 21:24). So, call me old fashioned, but I think endurance performance art should cost the performer something. My earliest models for endurance performance art were COUM Transmissions (proto-Throbbing Gristle), and the rank outsider GG Allin (whose final performance after-party literally killed him, or so the legend goes). And of course the Viennese Actionists, who weren’t fooling around.

coum

COUM Transmissions (Genesis P-Orridge and Cosey Fanni Tutti) enduring the cost

 

According to criteria #2, Andrew WK’s recent 24-hour drum marathon qualifies as quality endurance performance art. Yes, he is also a musician celebrity, but he was an authentic performance artist before (and during) both of those things. The 24-hour drum-athon is actually MTV pop celebrity getting hijacked by performance art, whereas Jay-Z filming a music video with a bunch of New York art people in a Manhattan gallery is merely performance art getting hijacked by MTV pop celebrity. The former is better.

andrewwk

“musician(?)” Andrew WK having played the drums for almost 24 consecutive hours

 

One of my favorite pieces of endurance performance art ephemera/documentation is an essay that Chicago film critic Roger Ebert wrote about a Chris Burden endurance performance in 1975. If you don’t feel the magic of endurance performance art after reading that article, it’s probably not for you. (No worries; not everybody digs haiku poetry either.)

By way of confession, my own art practice dips into the realms of endurance performance art. Sometimes “new media” is added, so that it’s not “just” endurance performance art ( http://deepyoung.org/current/again/ AND http://deepyoung.org/current/doubleblind/ ). But other times, it’s just plain old endurance performance art ( http://lab404.com/video/pop/ ). As a performer, I am always able to cause myself to have some kind of “magical” experience. It seems the real challenge is enabling others to have that same experience. Perhaps it has to cost them something. I am reminded of the wonderful Lydia Lunch quote: “What could be better than to die for your art… TO DIE FOR MY ART.. Now we’re talking.”

Regarding criteria #3 [the "magic" criteria], the Hollywood comedy The Incredible Burt Wonderstone seems relevant. Jim Carrey plays Steve Gray (known as “The Brain Rapist”), an “extreme” magician whose act is more endurance performance art than magic. The old school magicians in the movie are constantly asking themselves, “where’s the magic” in Gray’s act. In other words, how much of magic is crafted stage theatrics that produce wonder, and how much is un-staged, actual, Houdini-esque athletics (dislocating a shoulder, holding your breath, acrobatic extrication) that produce wonder? The mention of Houdini brings me back to ex-football-player art star Matthew Barney, whose films incorporate a combination of both stage magic (high-gloss production value) and athleticism (Barney himself actually doing physical stuff). Related topics include: the amount of theatrical acting involved in “reality” TV shows, and what percentage of pornographic sex is “real” (they are “actually” doing it) vs. staged (how much are they “actually” enjoying it).

stevegray

Jim Carrey portraying street magician Steve “The Brain Rapist” Gray preparing to spend the night on a bed of hot coals

 

I’m unwilling to dismiss endurance performance art as cliche (although much of it is), because endurance performance art is at least one art medium (along with land art, dance, and certain forms of socially engaged political art) where “stage crafted theatrics” (ARTifice, magic) intersect with “actual athletics” (real things which bodies in the world can actually do). Such “actual athletic” art might also be thought of as magick — “real” spells and curses that pragmatically cause bodies to change (as opposed to stage theatrics that only cause bodies to seem to change). Indeed, the best endurance performance art lies at the intersection of magic and magick.

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Report from the Library of Congress

For three days, on April 3-5 of this year, the Library of Congress in Washington, DC hosted an exhibition, readings, and talks on electronic literature. Electronic literature, according to the Library of Congress website, is something different than traditional print literature:

More than a computer screen and different from an ebook or a digitized text. It is hypertext narrative, literary games, interactive fiction, kinetic poetry. Not just a new way to display the written word, electronic literature exploits the digital world’s capacity for multiplicity and interactivity to create new forms of literary expression that can’t be fully replicated in print. Like all literature, it explores the human condition—but as “born digital” content it

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is now mediated by underlying computer code, often combining the written word with sound, images, animation, and video.

The event, “Electronic Literature & Its Emerging Forms,” created by guest curators Dene Grigar and Kathi Inman Berens, was a milestone for the electronic literature community, and a philosophical leap forward for the Library of Congress. Sure, the LOC has all of the 400 million tweets sent by Americans each day, so they’re not hurting for new media, but judging by the reactions of librarians at the event, electronic literature is alternately something they had originated themselves, or a first glimpse at a brave new world unimagined by Thomas Jefferson.

Either way, electronic literature is here to stay. Over the three days of the event, approximately seven hundred people wandered, nudged, and jostled their way through the Whittall Pavilion. They played, studied, and explored “twenty-seven works of electronic literature by American authors, relevant printed works from the Library of Congress collections, readings by select authors featured in

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the exhibit, and hands-on creation stations.” They watched elit authors do live performances of their work. They saw an exhibit of rare books, heard a keynote address, and listened in on a panel discussion about electronic literature. In the event’s most retro moment, young children discovering a manual typewriter for the first time were puzzled by the unresponsiveness of the keys. Why don’t they work? they asked, and upon being told to push them harder, learned that typing is still possible without a computer. At the end of it all, the question in the air wasn’t “What is electronic literature” but “Where can we find more?”

The answer is everywhere. Not just in Facebook posts (where people use multimedia all the time to tell their stories). Not just at the Webby awards, where a work of electronic literature won in the Net Art category in 2011, and another was an honoree this year. And not just in museums, galleries, festivals, online journals, and college classrooms around the world, where elit is no longer an emerging form, but a full-blown phenomena.

But

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for the purists, there are a number of databases on the web where you can familiarize yourself with the form. One is the Electronic Literature Organization’s and there’s the database for Electronic Literature as a Model of Creativity and Innovation in Practice (ELMCIP).

To learn more about the event at the Library of Congress, go here.

 

On Lying

 

A while back I wrote a book on how to be creative (download the free, illegal pdf here). It was bound to fail because creativity doesn’t really break down into easy modernist steps like a recipe you can follow. Indeed, something like “individual human creativity” arguably doesn’t even really exist. It’s just an idea humans invented at a particular time in history to make them feel good about being humans at that particular time in history. Even so, great artistic chefs do use recipes, and failure sometimes leads to fruitful art, so it wasn’t such a bad idea to write a book like that after all. The book was like a way for me to exhaust all the “best practice” advice on how to be creative, compile it in a single text, get it out of my system, and then whatever was left after that might actually have something to do with creativity.

hotwiring

how to be creative as crap

 

So I researched all sorts of methods for being creative, and distilled them into a long list. Here are a bunch of those methods:

repeat, combine, add, transfer, empathize, animate, superimpose, change scale, fragment, isolate, distort, disguise, contradict, parody, analogize, hybridize, metamorphose, substitute, simplify, adapt, modify, rearrange, reverse, symbolize, mythologize, fantasize.

Finally, my favorite method is “prevaricate,” which simply means “lie.” I love the prevaricate method and find it woefully under-used by artists (although politicians use it all the time). I’m not sure why artists’ don’t lie more in their work. If you make art involving networks, then the medium more or less forces your work to lie, whether you want it to or not. Even if you don’t have a Facebook pseudonym or an opposite-gender avatar in Second Life, you are more or less lying every time you say “I” online — because your Facebook actions are always meant to have some kind of limited effect within the context of Facebook, because the formal constraints of the medium and the network greatly limit the “amount” and “quality” of “self” “you” are able to “put” online.  Indeed, media have always modulated the “self” of the “artist/author” — painters, writers, dancers, sculptors (cf: Barthes’ “The Death of the Author“). Even more radically, philosopher Alfred Korzybski says to use the word “is” at all is a kind of lying, since no single subject could ever be adequately equated to a single predicate. Even more radically, philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari famously undermine the use of the pronoun “I” at all. In the beginning of their seminal A Thousand Plateaus they explain:

The two of us wrote Anti-Oedipus together. Since each of us was several, there was already quite a crowd. Here we have made use of everything that came within range, what was closest as well as farthest away. We have assigned clever pseudonyms to prevent recognition. Why have we kept our own names? Out of habit, purely out of habit. To make ourselves unrecognizable in turn. To render imperceptible, not ourselves, but what makes us act, feel, and think. Also because it’s nice to talk like everybody else, to say the sun rises, when everybody knows it’s only a manner of speaking. To reach, not the point where one no longer says I, but the point where it is no longer of any importance whether one says I. We are no longer ourselves. Each will know his own. We have been aided, inspired, multiplied.

 

Obviously, there are some ethical problems with lying. If I am a different “I” from one moment to the next, then the “I” of today no longer need take responsibility for the actions of the “I” of yesterday. If the “I” of a conglomerate corporation is protected by certain rights that leave the individual members of that corporation unaccountable for their actions, then we have some problems. But art is not individual citizenship or corporate citizenship. Art is the province of the trickster. Art is always already lying. Ai Weiwei is a trickster artist because the Chinese government is a shifty, lying entity. Even if you’re not making overtly political art, materials and media (particularly new media) are lying all the time. Materials aren’t even “lying,” because that would imply that somehow they were aware of the truth. Materials and media are simply indifferent to our human notions of truth. As anyone who has used or studied color can tell you, colors shift subjectively depending on their context. They fail to remain “true” to their mathematical properties. Art has always already been more about “seems” than “is.” Even in the province of science (a famously “is”-y province), “is” can get slippery at very small and very large scales.

Josef Albers proves that colors are full of crap

 

Here is a famous picture of Yves Klein leaping into the void. A leap of faith.

famous lying art

 

Here is a less famous picture of Yves Klein leaping into the void. The fact that the famous picture is a lie doesn’t really matter. It serves its historical purpose.

unfamous true non-art

 

The best art liar is David Wilson of the Museum of Jurassic Technology. He is great because he is not really lying. Or better yet, he makes the issue of whether he is or isn’t lying less relevant than what he is actually doing, which is something like awaking wonder. And sometimes, in order to do this, he lies.

Mary Davis’s horn at The Museum of Jurassic Technology

 

Recently I got an email from someone who was lying. His fake name is Sebastian Elk. He is trying to find a replacement for himself so he can stop doing whatever it is he is doing. My guess is that he is the webmaster of a wonderful online repository of 20th Century manifestos and periodicals (in the spirit of the original Dada periodical 391), and he wants someone else to take over his job. Whatever the case, he has now issued two abstract/surreal surveys (text based and video based) to help him select his successors. The surveys themselves are wonderful works of lying art.

 

On the topic of surreal/abstract surveys, here are some more that I really like:

Jane Dark’s Emotion Criteria Exam (Marcus)
NODATA (Donwood/ Radiohead)
The Will Power Clinic (Szyhalski)
starfish exams (Stanton)

 

I run a website that may not be lying: http://deepyoung.org . My wife runs a similarly named school that may not be lying: http://deepyoung.com . My uncle has my same name and he may not be lying: http://curtcloninger.com . Some corny people are fond of saying, “Fiction is a lie that tells the truth.” A lie that tells the truth! What a colossal waste of a lie! Why not just tell a lie that tells a lie? Or better yet, why not tell a lie that tells of a speculative future that is not yet and may never become true (cf: this lie and the lie below)?

Arakawa & Gins have decided not to die. Arakawa is dead. Long live Arakawa.

 

An insane person is not really lying; she just thinks of the truth differently. Maybe artists are insane. If you are an artist on the internet and you aren’t intentionally lying, you are really wasting  a great opportunity.

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How To Be a Digital Writer & Write Electronic Literature

(1) Are there any prerequisites to being a digital writer?

To be a digital writer, it’s probably best if you like to write, or at least not hate it.

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Then, if you can pull as many muses into your corner as you can, that might help: history, music, dance, astronomy, and art….

Patience is a virtue with digital writers, as you will have to explain what you do to a great many people who have never heard of it….

Having a thick skin and (again) more patience will help protect you from the slings and arrows of outrageous critics. Critics love to criticize, and when it is something new and without precedent, they will laugh and grind it under their heels….

(2) Do I need to take a class in digital writing to be a digital writer?

Most of the digital writers working today teach courses they never took when they first started out. A truism of the avant-garde: there are no teachers in your field, so you have to teach yourself, so you can become a teacher.

(3) Is it true that digital stories were on the web back in prehistoric times, when humans lived in caves?

This is totally true. Plato writes about it in his “Allegory of the Cave.” Caves were a perfect place for projecting digital works, and cave dwellers were among the first to recognize this (before them, it was nomadic tribes, who used deer hide tents).

The web back then was less sophisticated than it is now–being constructed of stone, goat’s intestines, elk horns, and camel hair–but its reach was global, with fewer system outages and faster download times.

In the Middle Ages, this technology was lost, and only recently reconfigured through electronics.

(4) Are digital writers flesh and blood people, or are they virtual, like their stories.

It depends where you meet them. If you meet them online, they are virtual, and their primary substance is electrons and code…

If you meet them in the flesh, their virtuality plays second fiddle to the fact that, at any moment, they could spill coffee all over your favorite carpet.

(5) Is it easy to be a digital writer?

If answers were songs, try this (sung to the tune of “Yesterday,” by the Beatles):

Digital

All it takes is
lots of time

and what you make

may be fine
if going digital

is on your mind.

(And so on, with feeling…)

(6) Does it cost a lot of money to be a digital writer?

After you have made the initial investment in a good computer, some software, a sound recording device, and whatever other tools you need to make multimedia works of literature, the overhead is remarkable low. It would be best (to build branding and reader loyalty) to have your own website, so add about $10 a year for the registration of a domain name. Then add another $10 a month for server costs (provided you don’t go viral, in which case you’ll need a bit more than that). Finally, if you use them, there’s the periodic cost for royalty-free images or audio files purchased online–most

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of the code you’ll need will be free–so tack on another $200 a year. At these rates, your total for a year of publishing digital literature is approximately $330, which is cheap compared to most other businesses.

Since you won’t make much (or any) income, it’s money down the drain, but don’t worry: you can list it as a business expense on your income tax (I’d love to hear your conversation with the IRS agent).

(7) Can I make any money being a digital writer?

Let’s do the math:

Expenses a year (see #6 above): $330
Income publications: $0
Income readings: $0
Income exhibitions:

$0
Work sold: $0
––––––
TOTAL: -$330

Your talent and self-satisfaction? Priceless.

(8) Is there a website where I can find links to digital literature, and learn more about new media?

Do a Google search on “Electronic Literature” or “E-Lit” or “Hypermedia” or “Digital Literature,” and here are some links (a very few of many!):

Atticus Review: http://atticusreview.org/

Born Magazine: http://www.bornmagazine.com

Counterpath Press: http://counterpathpress.org

Dreaming Methods: http://www.DreamingMethods.com

Drunken Boat: http://www.DrunkenBoat.com

Electronic Literature Directory: http://directory.eliterature.org/

Electronic Poetry Center: http://epc.buffalo.edu/e-poetry/

Electronic Literature as a Model of Creativity and Innovation in Practice: http://elmcip.net/

FILE (Electronic Language International Festival): http://www.file.org

Grand Text Auto: http://www.grandtextauto.org/

Hyperrhiz: http://www.hyperrhiz.net

I ♥ E-Poetry: http://leonardoflores.net/

netpoetic.com: http://www.netpoetic.com/

New River Journal: http://www.TheNewRiver.us

nt2: http://www.labo-nt2.uqam.ca/

Rhizome.org: http://www.rhizome.org

SpringGun Press: http://www.springgunpress.com/

Turbulence.org: http://www.turbulence.org

Unlikely Stories: http://www.unlikelystories.org/

Vispo: http://www.vispo.com

Word Circuits: http://www.wordcircuits.com/index.html

WRT: Writer Response Theory: http://www.writerresponsetheory.org/wordpress/

And the list goes on…

(9) Are digital writers happy people?

You can’t get much happier than a digital writer. Because they practice in an emerging form, they have nothing to lose. This makes them reckless, and beyond sadness.

(10) If I wanted to be a digital writer, how would I begin?

Read the FAQs above. If you have any questions, make up your answers.

Winners of the 13 – 14 Terminal Awards

Juror Greg J. Smith  has selected proposals from four artists for the 2013 – 2014 Terminal Awards. Projects by Gottfried Haider, Josh Hite, Frederick Witold Ostrenko, and Atif Akin were selected.

 

Juror Statement

In selecting the 2013 Terminal Awards recipients, proposals were evaluated based on the provocativeness and clarity of project outlines, the strength of related past work and the manner in which proposals directly engaged the internet, as a medium. The four selected proposals are listed below.

Gottfried Haider’s “Drawing Circuits” playfully proposes a rudimentary browser to 3D milling machine workflow through which visitors to a website can draw electronic circuits and then manufacture them. In conflating the sketchpad and the electronic enthusiast’s workbench this project promises to create both a social space and an educational tool.

Frederick Witold Ostrenko’s “Conglomeration” is a sharp critique of the carnivorous capitalism of Silicon Valley that will transform the logic of a crude game prototype into a First-person shooter (FPS). Ostrenko’s proposed game riffs on the informatics of gaming and the ubiquitous data streams and visualizations of financial markets.

Rather than plug work into the tedious trappings of stock web portfolio templates, Atif Akin’s “The Mutant Space” proposes a sincere rethinking of online photo archives. Utilizing Processing.js and experimenting with the capabilities of modern web browsers, this work promises to construct a dynamic space to exhibit the eerie non-place qualities of a collection of photographs documenting urban environments, frozen in time by the Chernobyl meltdown.

Delving into the world of vernacular video, Josh Hite promises to stitch together a video comprised of footage of ‘trundling’ – the rolling of rocks and boulders down hillsides. Curating a meditation on the essential qualities of landscape through YouTube footage might seem counterintuitive, but Hite’s past work demonstrates his capacity to identify and foreground strange idiosyncrasies and patterns, culled from the natural world.

Greg J. Smith February 2013

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The Alchemists of Sound

If you are not familiar with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop but have even a small interest in Musique Concrète, Sound Art, electronic music or even Dr. Who, you’re in for a treat. Predating the advent of the analog synthesizer by almost 8 years, the Radiophonic Workshop created innovative music, sound tracks and treatments for BBC radio and later television programming. Armed with little besides numerous tape machines and microphones, Dick Mills, Daphne Oram, Roger Limb, Paddy Kingsland and later others, created some of the most innovative and memorable sounds and electronic music in the second part of the 20th century.

Below is an amazing 60 minute documentary (well worth your time) called The Alchemists of Sound. It focuses on the history, development and the ultimate closing of the workshop along with the disposal of much of their audio archive. UGGGGH!!!!!!!

Enjoy!

Boom! Live Video Performances 2.1.13 at 6 pm

Terminal - Boom!

 

On February 1st at 6 pm, Terminal presents “Boom!” a live video performance event at the Coup in Clarksville, TN. Boom! will feature Charles Woodman, Morgan Higby-Flowers, Aaron Hutcheson, and Barry Jones.

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Ten (Or More) Misconceptions About Electronic Literature

Electronic literature (or digital literature, as it is sometimes called) is difficult to define. It is described by Kathi Inman Berens and Dene Grigar, co-curators of a recent exhibition of electronic literature at MLA 2013 in Boston, as “literary works involving various forms and combinations of digital media, such as video, animation, sound, virtual environments, and multimedia installations, for desktop computers, mobile devices, and live performance.” This definition seems a concise and useful one, and among the best of the many circulating online and in conferences, festivals, galleries, and classrooms around the world.

One result of its slippery nature is that electronic literature, when it is recognized as such, is often misunderstood. So here are

Ten (Or More) Misconceptions About Electronic Literature

that you might hear while out and about:

(1) Digital literature is dead.

I was at the eNarrative5 Conference at MIT in 2003, and a Canadian critic claimed to a packed conference room that electronic literature was dead. He said it like the corpse was lying at his feet, and if we only looked down, we would see it.

He was wrong, of course. But even today, the claim still surfaces despite new generations of digital writers, the increasing number of online (and offline) venues for digital literature, demands for digital writers and theoreticians in colleges and universities, and international media notices.

So is electronic literature dead? If so, then the world missed its funeral.

(2) Electronic literature may not be dead, but what’s the difference if no one reads it?

Chances are, if you went to your local pub, or a gallery opening, or a church social, and asked how many people read digital literature, the answer would be few, or none. Most would not even know what digital literature is.

But if you are wondering who reads digital literature, maybe the answer is found in the virtual world, not your neighbor’s backyard. Loosely speaking, if you are on Facebook, you are reading a form of electronic literature every day. People are sharing their stories with images, video, text, and audio. They are using multimedia to tell their tales. This is digital literature, of a sort, and most of us are reading it.

A related question is, What about the digital writers, not the ones who are solely on Facebook, but the ones who have higher pretensions for the world of online electronic literature? How do these web-based writers compare in terms of readership to the average writer in traditional print format?

Let’s say you are a digital writer on the web (which means you might actually write for the web, or your work appears in another medium but is available on the web). Let’s say you get twenty visitors a day—that’s visitors, not hits. Let’s remove the visitors who made it to your website by mistake, and the ones who took one look and fled in horror (or confusion), and the ones who read a bit and didn’t like it. Then let’s get rid of the multiple visits from a single reader—we’ll only count him or her once.

That leaves, say, five readers a day, which equates to 1,825 readers a year. I personally know a dozen traditional print writers who would kill for that kind of readership.

So is anyone reading digital literature? Don’t ask at the nearest art opening; check Facebook or the number of your web visitors.

(3) Digital literature is all about hypertext, and nothing else.

Anyone who knows digital literature knows that—with new developments in HTML5, more sophisticated web browsers, interactive video, and enhanced technologies for new media installations and performances—digital literature now finds outlets in many related forms, and in diverse venues.

To say digital literature finds its voice just in hypertext is like scanning your radio and expecting to hear the same station every time. Why would you want to?

(4) If you read digital literature, you are at a higher risk for strokes, brain tumors, car accidents, or insomnia.

Well, insomnia, maybe. Once you start to read it, you can’t stop.

(5) If you write digital literature, you are at a higher risk for strokes, brain tumors, car accidents, or insomnia.

This is undoubtedly true. Most writers, in any form, are driven. Unfortunately, digital writers are no different—they are doing the driving, and it’s at breakneck speeds on roads that are off the map.

(6) The next generation(s) of digital writers, and readers, are few or non-existent.

Let’s try a syllogism:

Antoine Anyone is on Facebook;

All users on Facebook use text, images, audio, or

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video in their posts;

Therefore, Antoine Anyone reads, or writes, with multimedia.

(7) You can take a book to the beach, but what about digital literature?

Rowling, Collins, Robbins, King, L’Amour… Add sand, surf, a Kindle, and a beach chair, and you’re at home with approximately two billion other people who have read these authors.

Mix in an iPhone or Droid, and soon, if not already, you’ve got all the digital literature you need, for free.

(8) But I like the feel of turning pages in a book. How can digital literature beat that?

Imagine a book that feels like a book, looks like a book, and has pages that turn like a book. But all the pages are browser-enabled, online, and infinitely refillable with any content you want.

This technology is already here.

(9) Digital Literature is a

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flash in the pan.

Flintlock muskets used

to have small pans to hold charges of gunpowder. A “flash in the pan” was when, upon firing the musket, the gunpowder flared up without firing a bullet.

The metaphor endures today, even though the technology does not. Which is to say, bullets are still fired, but from different guns, and for a digital purpose.

(10) Digital Literature is the death of the book.

The book isn’t dead—books will always be around. Now, they must share the stage with other ways of reading a poem or a story.

(11) Add your misconception here…

Reblog: Web Design Trends in 2013

From Smashing Hub:

Six Expected Web Design Trends in 2013

As a net artist and educator it’s important for me to stay somewhat current with all that is new on the web. I certainly would not classify myself as a programmer, and I also wouldn’t really say I’m a web designer, either. But, I do teach students the basics of what they think of as “web design” (and what I think of as a craft that drives experimentation on the web), so these types of articles appeal to my inner geek.

responsive web design

Some “trends” have been in the making for a while. For instance, check out Josh Emerson’s responsive dog or the gigantic buttons fit for touch pads and mobile screens I advised for our CSUF Communications web page two summers ago. (Aside: no, the page that is currently there was not designed by me, but the big buttons—at least upon first implementation—were).

big buttons on the csuf comm website.

Big buttons circa 2011.

I’m always happy to see typography land on any type of “what’s in” list. Even in introductory courses I teach students to use Google’s web fonts (and in advanced courses Font Squirrel is applicable). Artists are inspired by type as much as designers—see Christopher Clark’s Web Typography for the Lonely.

Punch Out, one of Christopher Clark's typographic plays.

Punch Out, one of Christopher Clark’s typographic plays.

Something that might become a stable, new trend or a fly-by-night artifact of the early twenty-teens (we won’t know until 2014, I suppose): parallax scrolling. This effect has been used successfully on commercial and journalism web pages. I tried to use something like it a year ago in a net art work, Waiting for You at the Mystery Spot, though I think my interpretation is lacking compared to the excellent visuals created by commercial teams or at least someone who can call herself a programmer.

Snow Fall Screen Shot

Snow Fall:
The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek by John Branch

Programmer, developer, designer, artist, craftsperson…however you identify yourself in relation to making stuff for the web, these types of articles can be handy for their inspiration and many links to more information. Ask not what the web can do for you, but…well, you get the idea.

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Terminal Welcomes New Site Contributors

Alan Bigelow, xtine burrough, Channel TWo, Curt Cloninger, Stephen Slappe, Jason Sloan, and Angela Washko (each a former participant in Terminal projects) has agreed to sign on as content contributors to Terminal. They will each be writing about and sharing things that excite them and that will add to the wider discourse surrounding digital art. I look forward to their contributions and to this new chapter in Terminal’s history.

 

 

Alan Bigelow writes digital stories for the web that use images, text, audio, video, and other components. These stories are created for viewing on the web, although they can be (and have been) shown as gallery installations.

Alan Bigelow was the 2011 winner of the BIPVAL international Prix de Poésie Média. His work, installations, and conversations concerning digital fiction and poetry have appeared in Turbulence.org, Rhizome.org, SFMOMA, Los Angeles Center for Digital Arts, 14th Japan Media Arts Festival (The National Art Center, Tokyo), FAD, VAD, FreeWaves.org, The Museum of New Art (MONA, Detroit), Art Tech Media 2010, FILE 2007-2012, Blackbird, Drunken Boat, IDEAS, New River Journal, Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, and elsewhere.

Recently, in addition to teaching full-time at Medaille College, he was a visiting online lecturer in Creative Writing and New Media at De Montfort University, UK.


xtine burrough is a media artist and educator. She is the editor of Net Works: Case Studies in Web Art and Design (Routledge 2011) and co-author of Digital Foundations (New Riders/AIGA 2009).

Informed by the history of conceptual art, she uses social networking, databases, search engines, blogs, and applications in combination with popular sites like Facebook, YouTube, or Mechanical Turk, to create web communities promoting interpretation and autonomy.

xtine believes art shapes social experiences by mediating consumer culture with rebellious practices. As an associate professor of communication at CSUF, she bridges the gap between histories, theories, and production in design and new media education.


Channel TWo (CH2) involves Adam Trowbridge, Jessica Westbrook, and Oskar Westbridge. CH2 focuses on mixed reality, media, research, design, development, and distribution… authorized formats + unauthorized ideas… systems of control + radical togetherness. CH2 was awarded a Rhizome Commission in 2012, a Turbulence Commission in 2011, and a Terminal Commission in 2010.

Trowbridge and Westbrook have been collaborating since 1990, and have contributed to a number of publications, platforms, and programs including: reviews for furtherfield.org (2012); the GLI.TC/H READER[ROR] (http://gli.tc/h/) (2011); Media-N, Journal of the New Media Caucus (2010); Plausible Artworlds, a project to collect and share knowledge about alternative models of creative practice (2010-2011); Art Work, A National Conversation About Art, Labor, and Economics, Ed. Temporary Services (2009).


Curt Cloninger is an artist, writer, and designer living in western North Carolina. His art undermines language as a system of meaning in order to reveal it as an embodied force in the world. Cloninger is an Assistant Professor of Multimedia Arts & Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. His work has been featured in I.D. Magazine, The New York Times, ABC World News, and at festivals and galleries from Korea to Brazil. Exhibition venues include Digital Art Museum [DAM] Berlin, L’Instituto de México à Paris, and The Art Gallery of Knoxville. Cloninger also maintains http://lab404.com , http://playdamage.org , and http://deepyoung.org in order to facilitate a more lively remote dialogue with the Sundry Essences of Wonder.


Stephen Slappe (b. Charleston, WV) is an artist based in Portland, Oregon. Slappe’s work has exhibited and screened internationally in venues such as Centre Pompidou-Metz (France), Portland Institute for Contemporary Art’s TBA Festival, The Horse Hospital (London), The Sarai Media Lab (New Delhi), Consolidated Works (Seattle), Centre for Contemporary Art (Glasgow), and Artists’ Television Access (San Francisco). His projects have been funded by multiple grants from the Regional Arts and Culture Council of Portland and an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Oregon Arts Commission.

Slappe is an Assistant Professor and Chair of Video & Sound at Pacific Northwest College of Art.


Jason Sloan is a new media & sound artist, electronic musician, composer and professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland. Sloan received his BFA from Edinboro University and his MFA from Towson University.  In addition to being the recipient of multiple Maryland State Arts Council’s Individual Artist Awards, Sloan’s performances, installations, net.art and video works have been exhibited internationally including Berlin, Copenhagen, Edinburgh, Kiev, Nagoya, Saint-Petersburg, Toulouse, Lisbon, Uden and Vienna. In addition to releasing over a dozen studio albums and E.P.’s over the last decade on various record labels, Sloan has played live all over the US, Canada and Europe including the influential Live Constructions radio program at Columbia University, STEIM in Amsterdam and Philadelphia’s The Gatheringsconcert series, one of the country’s oldest continuing ambient and electronic music series.


Angela Washko is a New York based artist and facilitator devoted to mobilizing communities and creating new forums for discussions of feminism where they do not exist. These forums are created through actions, interventions, videos, and performances- sometimes in video games! She recently founded the Council on Gender Sensitivity and Behavioral Awareness in World of Warcraft. Fond of creating institutions with long names and lofty goals, she also founded The World of Warcraft Psychogeographical Association, another in-game organization which she plans to expand into an artist residency program inside the video game.

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