Narrating (Through) Space: Implementation as a Diffractive Reading Between Text and Context

Critical Writing
Record Status: 
Abstract (in English): 

This paper explores the concept of narrativity throughout space by analyzing the distributed novel Implementation (Rettberg and Montfort 2012). Distributed narratives are literary texts that are distributed across different spaces and times to create divergence rather than unity (Walker 1). Implementation consists of 240 stickers with text fragments and people are invited to put up stickers in a place of their choice on public surfaces. The stickers could then be photographed and added to the project website.

The practice of putting up the stickers highly influences the way in which the actor views the space, connecting elements in the text fragment to elements in their surroundings. The actor who places the sticker might not have noticed certain elements if it hadn't been for the text on the sticker. Once the sticker is placed in its context, the opposite occurs: the surroundings influences the reading of the narrative.

This diffraction between narrative and space is highlighted by the act of photography and online collection, as the digital interface shows the immediate context of the sticker but makes the city as a whole invisible. For the 'analog' reader, however, the context of the whole city is highly visible as the sticker has to be found inside the city.  The combination of analog and digital practices of Implementation thus highlights the representation of the city as a visual practice. In this way, the city becomes part of the work and vice versa in both physical and digital settings.

This paper analyses the work by means of a new materialist "diffractive reading" (Barad and Haraway) between the narrative and its urban context. I propose to regard the urban space as a ‘text’ and read how this (con)text interacts with the narrative stickers. My paper will also outline future plans for empirical experiments Implementation.

Works referenced:

The permanent URL of this page: 
Record posted by: 
Hannah Ackermans