Would you let Mikhail Bakhtin smoke your text? : Dialogism and the Participative Rhetoric of Computer-mediated textual art

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

In Stewart's presentation he will set out his theoretical understanding of computer-mediated textuality (an understanding that is derived from the dialogic philosophy of language described by Mikhail Bakhtin and others).

In particular, he will report on how his research has identified a number of different rhetorical practices used by contemporary author-participants of computer-mediated textual art that focus on making readers actively aware of their participation in the work. He has classified these forms of rhetoric in the following ways:- 
1. Active Participation of the Reader-Participant through Selection; 
2. Active Participation of the Reader-Participant through Contribution; and
3. Participation of the Reader-Participant by their Presence;

Stewart will illustrate these three types of rhetoric, by drawing examples in the recent work of Simon Biggs, Talan Memmott, and Alan Sondheim, as well as from his own work 'gas' (developed at Textlab 2003).

He will conclude by noting that a dialogic understanding of computer-mediated textuality flags up the significant cultural value of these works.

To summarise, Stewart will first argue that these works are valuable because they encourage their reader-participant's to become aware of their contribution to the work being read. He will then argue that this participative aesthetic has wider cultural value because it encourages the reader-participant to become more aware of their participation in every aspect of their world.

(Source: Author's abstract, Incubation3 conference site, trAce archive)

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Scott Rettberg