Abstract (in English): 

In tandem with this installation, we propose to present an approximately ten-minute-long collaborative theoretical paper entitled ‘ə-măn’yoo-ĕn’sĭs.’ BRIEF DESCRIPTION āmanuēnsis is a Latin word derived from ab + manus, or “by hand.” Originally used to refer to slaves, the word was later applied specifically to personal secretaries. We (Claire Donato and Timothy Terhaar) work as freelance amanuenses in Brooklyn, NY.
Our presentation will be twofold, taking on the form of both a scholarly presentation and an onsite installation. Throughout the conference, we will set up and run an on-site transcription booth.
Conference attendees will be invited to sit for exactly five minutes at the booth, to be monitored
by a timer. Each participant will be expected to assume the position of the Source in producing
dictation. At the end of the five-minute session, the participant will receive a hard copy of his or her document.

In addition to the on-site transcription booth, we plan to present a theoretical paper composed
using two compositional processes, which we are calling bimanuensis and anuensis. Via
bimanuensis, each of us will try to verbally articulate a theory of the process of transcription while
the other takes dictation. Via anuensis, we will directly appropriate language from documents
we’ve been paid to transcribe. Responding to the material and immaterial demands of transcription
processes, our presentation will alternately mimic and comment upon the cybernetic relationship
between the transcriptionist, the medium, and the Source (the employer, either embodied or
represented by a recording). We will argue that the position of transcriptionist exemplifies a
teleological form of becoming-machine that all laborers are imagined to aspire toward within
capitalist ideology. The transcriber, we will posit, inhabits a digital body that exists on a continuum
between pure receptivity, or total constraint (vis-à-vis the ‘exact’ reproduction of text), and
flexibility (vis-à-vis some notion of ‘accurate’ reproduction of text). Ultimately, we hope to build
upon existing theories of virtual bodies (N. Katherine Hayles), fractalized labor (Franco “Bifo”
Berardi), and feedback (Friedrich Kittler, Lawrence Weiner) while employing a non-traditional
presentation format that speaks directly to the conference theme of ‘affordances and constraints.

(Source: Author's abstract, 2012 ELO Conference site)

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Eric Dean Rasmussen