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Electronic Literature with/in Performance

Abstract (in English): 


The Context of the Research and the Seminar at Arnolfini Bristol hosted by Falmouth University within the ELMCIP research project, May 3rd/4th 2012

A significant element of electronic literature as a field of practice and inquiry has been its relationship to liveness and the body. This has taken a number of forms, ranging from embodied gestures required to access a digital text; to public readings of digital text from the interface or projected into a specific space; to live performances involving one or many performers in concert with, or in response to, a computer-generated text. Some of these performance modes have links to recognizable practices such as theater or, within the literary world, the live reading. Others are more specific to e-literature such as the mouse gesture, the haptic gesture of the touch screen, the embodied interaction with motion capture, etc. Initially, this delimited the area of digital text practice interrogatedby the Falmouth University (UCF) project. However, the course of the project broadened the area of interrogation to open up new questions about the relationship between performance and electronic literature.

While retaining the focus on the embodied, live performance, a wider conception of the notion of performativity was developed during the course of the research and applied to works of e-literature. This wider concept sought to give an account of performativity across the whole range of the digital device. Another way of looking at this is that the word “performance” can be applied to the hardware (the computer as machine), the software (the operating system, the programmable codes), as well as direct human interaction at the interface and beyond. For this reason the Falmouth seminar sought to attract not just academics but engineers, coders, and programmers as well.

(Source: Electronic Literature with/in Performance by Jerome Fletchter)

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Scott Rettberg