CALL FOR FEEDBACK ON THE ELMCIP ELECTRONIC LITERATURE KNOWLEDGE BASE

Authorship and agency in networked environments

Critical Writing
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2010
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This text discusses how our understanding of authorship has evolved over the past few decades and how this process is now being effected by developments in network and communications technologies. Situating the discussion in relation to post-structuralist theory, Actor Network Theory and the anthropological work of James Leach the impact of network technologies are considered, with particular attention to the emergence of distributed forms of authorship and models of expanded agency. The work of two artists who engage network and communications technologies in distinct ways is discussed in order to evoke perspectives on emergent forms of authorship and agency. The work of Mez Breeze is considered as evidencing a shift in authorship from the human author to an agency of computability embedded in the formal structures of the language employed in the work, suggesting that the text operates as an automatic generative system that constructs the reader as computational interpreter. The Megafone mobile communications project by Antonio Abad and Eugenio Tisselli is discussed as an activity where authorship is distributed across a population of people connected to and mediated by mobile network technologies. The existence of a networked community operating as an automatic generative system is considered as a form of expanded agency where subject, agency and community are evoked as an autopoietic apparatus. The text concludes by identifying the argument as a set of complex interactions that can be seen not only as agents of creation but also as a creative outcome. It is suggested that the outcome of a creative act is not necessarily the primary expression of creativity but rather incidental to a process that is itself creative agency.

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Simon Biggs