Archive for October, 2010

Shoes red as wounds

Performing at Inspace and my Underbelly Cabinet of Curios

For my performance of Underbelly in Edinburgh, UK, on Halloween at Inspace no one can hear you scream I intend to wear shoes as red as wounds. Why? Because Underbelly, my work of playable media fiction, is an exploration of women’s bodies in relation to the land – past and present, inside and outside, above and below ground – and shoes, especially red ones, are loaded with associations.

I’m tempted to say more but instead, it might be more fun to point you to my Underbelly Cabinet of Curios. It’s a digital collection of some of the sources, influences and catalysts that gave rise to Underbelly, and a peek at one stage of the process of writing and structuring the piece. Within the cabinet, you’ll also find some connections and contextual curios, creative works by others in other media that struck a chord with me in relation to the themes I explore in Underbelly… and, if you follow the merry dance, the significance of red shoes.

Since I spend so much of my time stuck at my desk in front of a computer, I’m really looking forward to stepping out and into performer’s shoes – not least because there’s such a fantastic line-up of other artist-performers at Inspace on Halloween:

48 hours | Inspace no one can hear you scream

Sunday 31st October 2010, 7.30 for 8pm.
Inspace, 1 Crichton Street, Edinburgh EH8 9AB

As part of the third International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling, we present an evening of language in digital performance with works by Martin John Callanan, JR Carpenter & Jerome Fletcher, Donna Leishman, Maria Mencia, Netwurker Mez, Stanza and Christine Wilks.

Issue on digital poetry from Journal of Electronic Publishing

Aaron McCollough is guest-editing an issue of The Journal of Electronic Publishing on digital poetry. Below is the email he sent to the Poetics list requesting submissions for that issue.

From: Aaron McCollough
To: Poetics List
Sent: Tuesday, September 21, 2010 7:56 AM
Subject: CFP: Journal of Electronic Publishing (Digital Poetics/Poetries)

I’m writing today in my capacity as guest editor for The Journal of Electronic Publishing, which has been a pioneer in responding critically to digital technologies’ impact on “publishing” as both a notion and a semiotic distribution system since 1995 (before there was even a google to google-sculpt with!).

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News from the Sahrawi refugee camps in southern Algeria

Since 2003, Catalan artist Antoni Abad and I have been working on a series of projects dealing with overlooked communities around the world expressing and sharing their views and opinions the Web. So far, we have worked with taxi drivers in Mexico City, young gypsies in Lleida and León (Spain), street prostitutes in Madrid, people with reduced mobility in Barcelona and Geneva, Nicaraguan immigrants in Costa Rica, motorcycle couriers in Sao Paulo, displaced and demobilized people in Colombia and, more recently, young women living in the Sahrawi refugee camps in southern Algeria. In these projects, the participants are able to upload images and sounds directly from a mobile phone to a web page, allowing them to publish all sorts of stories on-the-fly.

The young women living in southern Algeria, who come from different camps, get together periodically and discuss the topics they would like to publish on the page. So far, their interests have concentrated on subjects such as children, women, work, health or education. They are aware of the power of sharing their views on the Internet, and see it as a way of raising awareness about their current situation: even if the pictures do not depict the conflict directly, every image refers to it implicitly. Each of the images they publish is tagged using an appropriate word, creating thus a folksonomy that reveals which are the most interesting topics for the group.

Participants of canal*SAHARAUI

Participants of canal*SAHARAUI

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Canadian Psycho

Colonel Russell Williams

During the third week of October, 2010, the Canadian media covered the case of Russell Williams like no other news story. Williams, prior to his February 7, 2010 confession of murders, rapes, and scores of panty burglaries, was a colonel and decorated pilot in command of the Canadian military air base in Trenton, Ontario, the country’s largest and busiest military airbase. The case of this sado sexual serial killer with transvestic fetishism on the side is unusual in the annals of crime for three reasons: he was a very successful man, even a prominent authority figure; and he started his crime spree relatively late in life, breaking bad at the age of 44. But perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this otherwise dark, twisted and sad tale is his confession: the confident, powerful colonel goes into the interview with the investigator on a Sunday afternoon voluntarily, not in the least suspecting that he will be talked into confessing his depravities four hours later. The police work to catch Williams and get a confession out of him is a hard-boiled egg of Canadian heroism, really.

Not one person has indicated even the slightest suspicion of “the colonel” prior to his arrest. Not his wife, not his best friend, none of his colleagues or people of lower military rank who served him—no one. He was, by all accounts, simply an exemplary officer. Impeccable. Admirable. Diligent. Fair-minded. Active in community matters. A good liaison between the surrounding community and the air-base. His best friend, who has known him since the early eighties when they were undergraduates in University together, paints a picture of a long-time close friend with nothing more dangerous than the prankster in him. He was even an animal-lover and was observed checking his lawn for frogs before mowing it to ensure he slew no frogs.

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Gregory Chatonsky’s Generative Narratives

Gregory Chatonsky is a French/Canadian artist who has created a significant body of net art. Here are a couple of pieces of his I found that still work and are compelling:

The Revolution Took Place in New York (2002)

The Revolution Took Place in New York is a fictional story generated in real time from an internet source. A text generator gives shape to an infinite novel bearing close resemblance to the work “Projet pour une révolution à New York” written by Robbe-Grillet in 1970: Ben Saïd walks on the streets of the American metropolis and plots something. Some words are associated to video fragments, others to sounds gleaned on the network and others are automatically translated into images using Google. The structured association of these heterogeneous elements generates a narrative flow simultaneous with the network flow.”

Each time I’ve opened this piece, it’s been different. What surprised and charmed me most about this piece was how the narrative made sense, often, and kept me interested in where it was going. That is very unusual indeed in generative works. I’m referring to the text itself. But, also, the way the text goes with the images was also, often, quite interesting.

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New Media Writing Prize Shortlist

The shortlist for the Poole New Media Writing Prize includes Christine Wilks (who is on netartery), Katharine Norman (whom I invited to be on netartery), Alan Bigelow (whom I should invite to be on netartery), and myself. That’s because one of the judges is Andy Campbell, who is on netartery!

Seriously, though, it’s nice to see this competition up and happening. Competitions in art are highly problematical, of course, but one thing they are good at is getting some attention to the work itself. So thanks, Andy, and everyone involved in it.

Typing the Dancing Signifier: Jim Andrews’ (Vis)Poetics

Greetings Netartery,

When Jim invited me to join the group back in May, I had just successfully defended my dissertation. I decided that I didn’t want to jump into the conversation until it was available online, so I could share my research freely. In the meantime, I’ve enjoyed the postings and am thrilled and honored to be a part of this group blog.

My dissertation is titled “Typing the Dancing Signifier: Jim Andrews’ (Vis)Poetics” and is now available for free download at the Digital Repository at the University of Maryland: If you’d like to know more about me and my work, here’s a link to my blog:

What is my dissertation about? The title should be enough of a hint, but here’s the abstract.

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Text Generators

Beach boy poetry engine

Edde Addad put together an interesting post concerning poetical text generators on The post describes and links to quite a few online resources including ePoGeeS by Addad. Additionally, it describes and links to historical systems such as Christopher Stratchey’s Love Letter generator from the early 50’s. Stratchey and Turing were students together, and Turing wrote the manual of the Manchester computer that Stratchey used to create what some see as the Ur program of digital poetry.

Chris Funkhouser didn’t include Stratchey’s work in Funkhouser’s book on the history of digital poetry, though. Probably because Stratchey doesn’t call his work poetry. Funkhouser’s study starts with the work of Theo Lutz (1959). In any case, David Link seems to be covering Stratchey’s work adequately.

Addad is a doctoral student in Computer Science who did undergrad work in Creative Writing.