What We Offer You Is More or Less The Sum of Its Parts : The Human in the In My Computer Book Series.

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

From 2011 to 2016, under the guise of editor Domenico Quaranta, small-house publisher Link Edition published the series In My Computer. The premises is self-explanatory; each author has to amalgamate the contents of what will eventually become a material book (printed through the self-printing service Lulu) using contents gleaned and selected from the artists' personal computers. The results are varied and confounding; from Miltos Manetas' haphazardly garnered manifestos and musings to Martin Howse's mammoth-sized compendium of code lines compiling every operation processed by his computer in the span of the month of June 2011, to the screen-grabs of Ubermorgen and the quotidian color-coding of every Web page accessed by Greg Leuch for months, to mention a few examples, every entry in the In My Computer series attempts to radicalize what it means to reify a computer in book form. 

The deliberate action of encapsulating parts of a computer's data and/or contents in a book form (and the choices pertaining to that process) can be understood as a backwards step – or is it? What is implied by the decision of creating a book – even more so, having a book created through an automated process – using digital files as a raw material? Aren't all books nowadays following roughly the same process? Can we still consider the artistic intent at the heart of the project of the In My Computer Series, what one could call a "technotextual operation" (Hayles, 2001), as a form of "radical mediation" (Gursin, 2016), or has the digital apparatus so completely swallowed the book production that such an endeavour has rendered all but obsolete what would once had been the ragged edges of its willingly opaque remediation? Furthermore, the apparent insistence on publishing "raw" books, in the sense that typos, poor graphic design and other visible flaws obstinately remain in the final product, attests to the many vagaries displayed as proofs of mistake-prone human beings at the heart of these projects. But is an obvious flaw in a book the vestige of the affirmation of a human presence in an otherwise automated digital process? Or does it attest to the indifference of a machine ordered to accomplish an operation notwithstanding the end result? 

This paper wished to address these questions, among others, in order to understand the quickly-receding gap separating the book culture from the screen culture, starting from the hypothesis that what can be said to constitute a book has by now bypassed considerations of its materiality. I will posit that the endeavors of the authors who contributed to the In My Computer series can be best described using the concept of transwriting (Gaudreault and Groensteen, 1991; Tremblay-Gaudette and La Manna, 2016)

(Source: Author's description from ELO 2018 site: https://sites.grenadine.uqam.ca/sites/nt2/en/elo2018/schedule/1229/What+We+Offer+You+Is+More+or+Less+The+Sum+of+Its+Parts+%3A+The+Human+in+the+In+My+Computer+Book+Series_)

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Linn Heidi Stokkedal