Post-digital Books and Disruptive Literary Machines

Critical Writing
Record Status: 
Abstract (in English): 

The e-book has been launched several times during the last decades and the book’s demise has often been predicted. Furthermore networked and electronic literature has already established a long history. However, currently we witness several interesting artistic and literary experiments exploring the current changes in literary culture – including the media changes brought about by the current popular break-through of the e-book and the changes in book trading such as represented by e.g. Amazon’s Kindle and Apple’s iBooks – changes that have been described with the concept of controlled consumption (Striphas, 2011, Andersen & Pold, 2012). In our paper we want to focus on how artistic, e-literary experiments explore this new literary culture through formal experiments with expanded books and/or artistic experiments with the post-print literary economy. Examples of the first are Konrad Korabiewski and Litten’s multimedia art book Affected as Only a Human Can Be (Danish version, 2010, English version forthcoming) and our own collaborative installation Coincidentally the Screen has turned to Ink (presented at the Remediating the Social conference, Edinburgh 2012). Examples of the second are Ubermorgen’s The Project Formerly Known as Kindle Forkbomb which will be released in January 2013 and is an intervention into the Amazon Kindle book production and distribution platform with a new form of literature generated from YouTube comments. The paper will discuss how such projects explore how literature currently becomes part of a post-capitalistic production process through controlled consumption platforms. If the printing press was the first conveyor belt and thus an integral part of developing industrial capitalism (such as famously argued by Elizabeth Eisenstein and Walter J. Ong), then this paper will aim to sketch out how contemporary literary technologies is integral to develop and reflect critically on post- or semio-capitalism, and furthermore we will discuss how literature functions in a post-industrial software culture such as the one presented by Apple, Amazon and Google.

Pull Quotes: 

As a cultural phenomenon, the book is caught in between being, on the one hand, an
endless maze and a ‘garden of forking paths’ (as Jorge Louis Borges reminds us), and on
the other, singular objects with clear and copyrighted authority. The digitisation of text
has often been associated with the maze, and a networked, hypertextual infrastructure.

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Record posted by: 
Fredrik Sten