Rethinking Contemporaneity: incoherent, uncertain and speculating about Electronic Literature

Critical Writing
All Rights reserved
Record Status: 
Abstract (in English): 

The paradigm of the contemporary has become a vertebral concept to understand what is happening with the relationships between sound/image/text in space/time of emerging contemporary artistic practices like Electronic Literature. It is important to ask the question; why within these practices such concepts can coexist without any problem; and because when they are theorized, they have to be fragmented? 

This is the origin of a whole series of transformations in the ways of production and how the knowledge given to explain contemporaneity is questioned. Questioning what has been given us includes a complex, non-linear, chaotic, uncertain and, above all, speculative web. 

The objective of this paper is to find arguments that allow us to understand why artistic practices like Electronic Literature accepts coexistence of concepts like sound/image/text; while theorization is a battlefield that defends the interests of its object of study as a paranoid legitimizing state that decides what we should think as contemporary and what is not. 

We start with Barthes' statement: "the contemporary is the untimely" (Barthes in Agamben, 2011. p. 17) as a definition of the simultaneous, which is reproduced in the linear discourse of the everyday. It is cited without rhyme or reason, but above all without questioning it. The point is how Barthes arrives at such a definition to achieve an appropriation of it through a breakdown and how it is linked to the proposal of the limits and horizons of what is currently thought, and if what is thought as contemporary there is a simultaneity. 

The contemporary from its quality: "untimely", contains the tempus (time) and the prefix in (inside), the contemporary happens within time. The question is, what time? Especially since the history corresponds to the linearity of the historical method. This is worse, in everyday life, in a chaotic, fractal, catastrophic, diffuse way that leads us to think about it beyond its qualitative aspects. Time and event are not distinguished from each other because they do not run linearly and, much less, coherently. Hence, the contemporary is something sudden that happens without warning, within the chaos and the uncertainty. 

Barthes places the contemporary within the storm. Within the catastrophic time/space where doing and thinking are an undifferentiated act. This perspective not only highlights the transformations that dislocate the productive processes that happens with a continuous movement that we cannot stop. They also alter the concepts of those relational processes by deactivating and activating the language. For example, platforms on the Internet where the contemporary piece of Electronic Literature no longer has an autonomous meaning.

(Source: Author's description from ELO 2018 site:

The permanent URL of this page: 
Record posted by: 
Linn Heidi Stokkedal