Book Post

Creative Work
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2021
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A “book post” is placed in the UiB Humanities Library during March 2021, consisting of a table/desk with two stools by it, near a wall.

Four books are on the table/desk (left to right, in alphabetical order by title): Articulations (Allison Parrish), Golem (Nick Montfort), A Noise Such as a Man Might Make: A Novel (Milton Läufer), and Travesty Generator (Lillian-Yvonne Bertram). Each has a hole drilled through it in the upper left and is secured to the table with a cable, creating a chained library. The books represent the work of four participants in an SLSAeu panel about computer-generated literature.

A Kodak carousel slide projector is in the middle of the table/desk, projecting small, bright images and texts onto the wall. Slides presenting covers and contents of the five books are shown continually during the exhibition. The selections will be made in consultation with all author/programmers and with their approval.

The stools allow two readers to sit and peruse the books. The table is wide enough to allow readers to do so while socially distanced.

The presence of a functioning “obsolete” slide projector, and the establishment of an “obsolete” chained library within the Humanities library, suggests to visitors that the book is also obsolete — while it is, at the same time, a perfectly functional technology. The dissonance of presenting computer-generated text via film slides and analog projection resonates with the decision that this group of five author/programmers has made: to present our computational writing in codex form.

The chained library is both practical and symbolic. Given that this is a library exhibit, the cables prevent people from relocating the books as one typically does in a library. They also emphasize that while we value ubiquity and portability in the digital age, at the same time we want things tethered, grounded, and available at the expected location. This suggestion will be strengthened by the similarity between the way these books are tethered and the way computer equipment is secured to a desk.

The projection of course alerts visitors to the availability of the books. Even if visitors do not choose to sit and peruse these books, the projected texts allow them to see and read computer-generated writing from recent years. Those who only view the projections nevertheless get a sense of the wide variety of approaches and the many textures of language that are seen in this sort of experimental digital writing.

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Cecilie Klingenberg