Can We Define Electronic Literature Such as Authoring Tool Literature?

Abstract (in English): 

In this presentation, we will see how the authoring tool impacts on the thinking of electronic literature. If we consider that electronic literature cannot exist without digital tools, and digital writing requires tool, software and technologies, we can easily imagine how huge the role of the authoring tool is for the authors and how their imaginary can be challenged. Tools propose and impose choices and directions that ask the creative act in electronic literature.

Then, in our research, we define the concept of the “rhetoric for creative authoring” that will be focusing on power relations between the authoring tool and the author. And what does it mean in electronic literature to use such a tool? Is electronic literature producing works depending on the software the author uses? It means that the software tool, as the edge of the electronic work itself, could be considered as part of the electronic work. In other hands, this approach could help to define electronic literature.

Also, the notion of “cultural software” by Lev Manovich that we develop in this paper could be followed by another concept as a “societal theory of tool” which could be the challenge of the future of electronic literature. If we consider software tool as a support of ideological way of thinking, the consequences on electronic literature need to be analyzed.

Where and when does electronic literature start and stop? At the border of literature, art and computing, electronic literature is characterized by three basic forms that are animation, interactivity and multimedia, and sometimes mobilizes programming skills. Regarding this last point, the question would be to evaluate whether the creator should be a programmer to practice electronic literature? In our research work, we interviewed authors of electronic literature who have expressed different visions regarding this crucial question.

Software formats are, more than ever before, at the center of creation. Does the creative act ask for the intent of the author, when starting from prefabricated element? With the examples of the three softwares, frequently used in electronic literature, we will talk about the concept of remediation, and will show how structure influences the imaginary work of the authors and how they live the tension between the tool and the creation in their electronic literary works. May we still define electronic literature as a confidential and experimental literature thought for and through the digital? Will the power of the tool define electronic literature, such as authoring tool literature? When we define electronic literature we also say something about the authors and their imaginary work. Writing experimental digital works of literature involves various figures of an author, usually producing his work by his/her own. The author often combines multiple functions (academic, researcher, programmer and artist) that require the production of an electronic work, from critical posture to computer skills. In our paper, we will question this approach and, at the end, will be proposing a classification of postures of authors, based on the interviews we have had with a panel of sixteen authors, which can help define the boundaries of electronic literature.

(source: ELO 2015 Conference Catalog)

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Hannah Ackermans