Reading Digits – Haptic Reading Processes in the Experience of Digital Literary Works

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Abstract (in English): 

The intensification of tactile/haptic research by academia and the digital technology industry, has given rise to several instrumentalizations of the adjective haptic, often contradicting an entire philosophical haptological tradition, going back to Aristotle and allowing us to think of the haptic from a multisensory perspective capable of destabilizing the idea of pure sensory modalities. On the one hand, such intensification is evidenced by the ubiquity of digital technological devices that call for interaction through touch and gesture as tactile/haptic functions necessary for experiencing digital content. On the other hand, it may be seen in the increasing demand for tangibility between human and machine, particularly through sensory experiences made possible by virtual/augmented reality, as well as, mixed reality/virtuality platforms. Such intense literalization of the haptic also, paradoxically, ends up reinforcing the existence and primacy of a visual culture inherent to an ocularcentric society. It is in line with this haptological tradition, as well as through the recovery of a multisensory perspective explored by a series of avant-garde artistic practices that permeate the history of twentieth-century art, that I propose to (re)think digital literary works via means of an alternative and operative redefinition of haptic drawn from the metamedial and intermedial specificities of current digital poetic practices. Based on the mapping and analysis of carefully selected digital literary works, this research intends to understand how digital poetic practices make use of certain processes of haptic reading enabled by current digital technology, in order to explore and question the processes of writing and reading in media. In order to validate an argument largely based on the examination of ambiguities and tensions highlighted by the literary exploration of interface functionalities in arts and literature, this thesis will attempt to analyze the referred ambiguity, by showing a parallel between an inherent circularity of (multi)sensory perception and the way certain circular, or rather, spiral-like, trajectories, are able to be identified across multiple arts, artists and movements. All of this, of course, is put together via a process of dialectic subversion/disruption that characterizes multiple variants of experimentalism across the centuries. Moreover, doing so is a way of finding possible answers, or perhaps, raising new questions, regarding longstanding problematics pertaining to the relationship between tradition and innovation, from which the digital era is not exempt.

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Critical writing referenced:

Titlesort descending Author Year
Analyzing Digital Fiction 2014
At the Time of Writing: Digital Media, Gesture and Handwriting Anna Gibbs, Maria Angel 2011
Avatars of Story Marie-Laure Ryan 2006
Beyond the Screen: Transformations of Literary Structures, Interfaces and Genres 2010
Bodies in Code Mark B. N. Hansen 2006
Convergent Devices, Dissonant Genres: Tracking the “Future” of Electronic Literature on the iPad Anastasia Salter 2015
Cybertext Poetics: The Critical Landscape of New Media Literary Theory Markku Eskelinen 2012
Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature Espen Aarseth 1997
Digital Gestures Carrie J. Noland 2006
Digital Manipulability and Digital Literature Serge Bouchardon, Davin Heckman 2012
Digital Modernism: Making it New in New Media Jessica Pressman 2014
Electronic Literature: New Horizons for the Literary N. Katherine Hayles 2008
Ex-foliations: Reading Machines and the Upgrade Path Terry Harpold 2008
Grasp All, Lose All: Loss of Grasp and Non-Functional Digital Interfaces in Electronic Literature Diogo Marques 2016
How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics N. Katherine Hayles 1999
Interface Criticism : Aesthetics Beyond Buttons. Søren Bro Pold, Christian Ulrik Andersen 2011
List(en)ing Post Rita Raley 2009
Literary Gaming Astrid Ensslin 2014
Literary Machines Made in Germany. German Proto-Cybertexts from the Baroque Era to the Present Jörgen Schäfer 2006
Making Sense of the Digital as Embodied Experience Serge Bouchardon, Asunción López-Varela Azcárate 2011

Organizations referenced:

Databases/Archives referenced:

Titlesort descending Organization responsible
Electronic Literature Directory Electronic Literature Organization
PO-EX.net: Arquivo Digital da Literatura Experimental Portuguesa University Fernando Pessoa

Events referenced:

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Diogo Marques