Mining the Arteroids Development Folder

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

In September 2008 Jim Andrews shared with me the “Arteroids Development Folder:” a collection of drafts, versions, source files, and other materials that document the work that led to the publication of his “poetic shoot 'em up" Arteroids (

Jim Andrews is a programmer, poet, and musician who explores the poetic potential of language in the computer by programming elaborate behaviors to transform linguistic texts. Arteroids creates an interface based on the classic 1970s arcade video game Asteroids, where the player/reader controls the motion of the word “poetry” on the screen and fires at other words floating on the screen. The reader can change or add words to the game, personalizing its lexicon, and modifying the conditions by which they interact with the text. Arteroids is a milestone in Andrews’ artistic development because of its ambition and complexity both as a work of electronic poetry and as a work of programming. More than any of his works to date, Arteroids brings it all together—vispo (visual poetry), vismu (visual music), and interactivity—in a work that references the most native genre in computerized entertainment: the videogame.

Jim Andrews started working on his literary computer game Arteroids in 2001 when his work on Nio helped him receive funding from the Canada Council for the Arts. The earliest versions were titled "Webarteroids", preparing him to publish Arteroids 1.0 in The Remedi Project in 2002. He published version 2.02 to participate in the Augustart show in New York City (August 24 to September 2, 2002) and published version 2.5 in the Fall of 2003 issue of the electronic poetry magazine Poems that Go. The most recent version (3.11) was published in in August of 2006

The three versions currently available online—1.0, 2.5, and 3.11—are merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg for an editorial study, because the Arteroids Development Folder contains over fifty different versions of the work in Director MX2004 files, Shockwave movies, HTML publication pages for these files, at least one commented version of Arteroids 1.0 prepared for submission to the Canada Council, Microsoft Word files with drafts of essays written to accompany the e-poem, the documented source code for Arteroids 1.0, sound files, images, Flash animations, letters, and much more. These materials are a gold mine of information for a scholar interested in studying Arteroids in depth as a work of e-literature, as a first generation electronic object, as a computer game, and as a record of an artist’s work with programmable media.

(Soruce: Author's abstract for ELO_AI)

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Audun Andreassen