Hyperstitial Poetics of Network Media

Abstract (in English): 

A chapter on the process of curating an electronic literature exhibition and the content of the Remediating the Social exhibition at Inspace in Edinburgh, November 2012.

Remediating the Social was a conference and exhibition, with a focus on creative works and activities, developed within the domain of new media arts that feature a particular engagement with literary form-an area often known as electronic literature or digital poetics. This text will treat these terms interchangeably and will focus on the exhibition component of the project. Remediating the Social engaged creativity as a property emergent from a multi-modal social apparatus rather than, as is often assumed, an attribute of individual or group human agency. The event sought, as many artists who work with digital media do, to problematize conventional notions of authorship. The key proposition was formulated within the context of an expanded understanding of individual and collective ontology that regards selfhood, in large part, as a socially contingent construct and, in this sense, a creation of the social space from which it emerges and is sustained within. Here, creativity is apprehended as a reflexive property of the inter-agency of social interactions, rather than as an activity concerned with the origination of novel things or a capability invested in an individual or group of individuals.

In this context, it is recognized that social agents might not be people, whether individual or collective, but also systems, devices, media, and artifacts. In this respect the role of technology is considered of particular import, especially the computer which, with a measure of autonomy, is a technology with a particularly distinct social agency. Further to this, as a linguistic device, the computer can also be considered part of, indeed a form of, language and thus implicated not only in communication but also social formation; if we are to accept that social formation is driven, in large part, by linguistic parameters, as has been argued by numerous linguists, cognitive scientists, and philosophers as diverse as Noam Chomsky, Daniel Dennett, Marshall MacLuhan, and Michel Foucault.

Remediating the Social sought to explore this proposition by considering instances of creative practice that employ digital and networked systems, in their structure and function, and that evidence these emergent characteristics in the processes involved in their making. This is how we apprehend creative works that are critically reflexive concerning their “born digital” status. The focus of the exhibition was social media—but not social media in the sense of media that are concerned with enabling social interactions (e.g.: Facebook or Twitter, although these might have been within the remit of the event and incorporated into specific artworks) but media that are part of the apparatus we identify as the social in action. The most fundamental medium that exhibits this property is language itself.

(Source: Hyperstitial Poetics of Network Media by Simon Biggs)

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Scott Rettberg