Mapping the Convergence of Networked Digital Literature and Net Art onto the Modes of Production

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

In this paper I argue that the restrictions imposed by technological barriers within select forms of digital literature and net art are cause for the success of these works from the early internet to the present—the technological restrictions themselves guided their formulation. Arguably, the
constraints create the aesthetic context in which the works thrive, while the artist figure
transforms into mechanical producer.
I ground my research in earlier studies I have engaged in, tracing the creation of digital literature and net art around the network itself. I build upon these theories and engage in media theory analyses of the networked communication systems from which these works were created. I observe how works of digital literature and net art are specifically inhibited by the technology on which they were created for: Apple BASIC restricts bpNichols works from using lowercase lettering; the Apple Lisa (1983) integrates the mouse but the Apple Inc (1984) removes most of this accessibility from the user and restricts interactive fiction; the Apple Macintosh, less adaptable to change, experiences (relatively) widespread adoption as the DIY spirit from the Apple I series and its digital literature works quickly fade. Hardt and Negri describe how labor transforms the organization of production—linear relationships of the assembly line transform into indeterminate relationships of distributed networks. I evidence how these basic moves within these distributed networks of digital literature and net art production embrace the restriction of the medium, depend on it, and in fact integrate these formal elements into the early digital literature aesthetic. Such identifiable elements, visible in contemporary works, are in fact traceable to the early occurences in the mid-1980s as I demonstrate.

(Source: Author's Abstract)

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Magnus Lindstrøm