Live/Archive: Occupy MLA

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

More than other netprovs, Occupy MLA [OMLA] lays bare the ethical and performative capacities of the genre. Both a live performance and an enduring if volatile media artifact, OMLA leaves "data contrails": digital traces of real-time reader participation that slowly decay and become less coherent over time. This decay creates an enduring performance record that distorts the live experience of it. In this essay, the shareable, spreadable and appropriative aspects of netprov as a "born digital" live reading/writing interface are considered. The sheer volume of OMLA's tweets and its installation as time-based art create a primary text whose "primacy" is functionally impossible. Part one of the essay examines how and why OMLA's 3000-tweet archive, #OMLA hashtag, and abundant paraphrastic materials actually take readers further from the live experience rather than closer in. Part two delves into two specific instances of OMLA's signature gesture: its ability to "pivot" or change narrative course in real time, a key aspect of the genre that is neither fully visible nor recoverable in the enduring records of the art.

(Source: Author's abstract at Hyperrhiz)

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Kathi Inman Berens