Finding No Object: A Traversal through Processes in Digital Poetry

Critical Writing
CC Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike
Record Status: 
Abstract (in English): 

Although Mieke Bal’s “travelling concepts” (2002) framework is widely used, even if not always acknowledged, as a migration function within the humanities, arts and architecture, there is still a prevalence of researching a unique and unchangeable object. Thus, even if Bal calls for a critical object, which ought to be analyzed, meaning that a “theoretical object” entails different views on what a text or a work of art might signify, these approaches do not accurately perform when dealing with digital artworks. In fact, if one undertakes a critical position towards generative, time-based or distributed media artworks, one needs to adopt a reading and analytical perspective that disregards objects, but considers data, process(es), instantiations and manifestations. As Philippe Bootz et al. (2009) assert, our reception of digital literary works cannot comply with an objectual view, as the work/artifact is no longer a consistent and identifiable element, since it is constituted by several process(es) and variables, e.g. code, network, surface, text, image, sound, input, output, that can operate on different levels of performative presentation and, being machine-dependent, behave differently over time. Moreover, if one considers generative works, the on-screen output might be always different from view to view. In time-based works, the output varies according to time parameters, as studying Philippe Castellin’s çacocophonie (2013), as a time-lapse experience, shows.
Therefore, the emphasis cannot be placed so much in a sole output as a unique object, but more in the underlying processes that create diverse output instantiations. As such, the term object becomes as obsolete as the affected and unstable character of any given text, sound or image in a precise spatio-temporal instance.

(Source: Author's Abstract)

Pull Quotes: 

To be sure, we went from work to text, from text to object and, now, we need to go back to the idea of work and rethink it as process, as neither text nor object account for this recent paradigm of unclosed or unfinished pieces. This explains why the terms process, practice and artifact are being used by authors to describe one’s creative piece or one’s critical writing focus. If not, how can text be merely associated with the main digital object, when digital poems are constituted not only by text, but also by sound, and image, and code, and text as code, and code as text, and text fed by different databases, and different users? Shall we speak of authorship? If not, where and how is the stable nature of digital poems?

Events referenced:

Titlesort descending Date Location
Electronic Literature Organization 2013: Chercher le texte 23.09.2013
Centre Pompidou
19 Rue Beaubourg
75004 Paris
École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs
31 Rue Ulm
75005 Paris
Bibliothèque nationale de France
Quai François Mauriac
Le Cube
20 Cours Saint-Vincent
The permanent URL of this page: 
Record posted by: 
Alvaro Seica