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<nettime> Cordite Edition #36: Tiny Steps: the Electr(on)ification of Co
mez breeze on Thu, 1 Dec 2011 09:37:25 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Cordite Edition #36: Tiny Steps: the Electr(on)ification of Cordite

"Cordite 36: Electronica <http://cordite.org.au/electronica> has been a
fascinating and challenging issue to put together. It contains forty new
poems, fifteen spoken word tracks, a dozen features and, for the first
time, a selection of multimedia or ‘e-lit’ works. Bringing together these
disparate types of content raises an interesting question for Cordite as an
online journal. Have we finally broken through that invisible barrier
between ‘text-based journal’ and ‘online journal of electronic literature’?

In her editorial
<http://cordite.org.au/poetry/electronica/electronica/>introducing the
issue, Jill Jones rightly points to the issue’s presumptive
focus on electronica and electronic music, specifically “the ways musicians
in various modes and guises have used electric technologies to generate
sound.” The poetry in this issue runs the gamut from highly experimental
works to extended meditations on musical memories and forms. It’s
absorbing, intriguing and puzzling – and this is just as it should be.

The spoken word tracks selected by our audio editor Emilie Zoey Baker are
similarly pre-occupied with the bleeps, hisses and clicks we associate
nowadays with electronic music. From Philip Norton’s bizarro Yes I Dream of
Electric Sheep<http://cordite.org.au/media/audio/yes-i-dream-of-electric-sheep/>to
Sean M. Whelan and Isnod’s Dream
Machines <http://cordite.org.au/media/audio/dream-machines/>, the works
selected here paint an aural kaleidoscope that fizzes and pops, echoing
electronic art from the works of Phillip K. Dick through to Kraftwerk.
Check out the individual tracks or stream the hour-plus mix of electronica
as one <http://cordite.org.au/media/audio/electronica-spoken-word-mix/>.
Headphones highly recommended!

When it comes to the selected works of multimedia or ‘electronic
literature’, however, we are faced with a series of disruptions that more
often than not question rather than reflect the theme of the issue.
Benjamin Laird’s
left in <http://cordite.org.au/media/nothing-left-in/>, for example,
present the reader (viewer? player?) with opportunities for interaction but
remain stubbornly mute, like a silent rave. Joshua Mei Ling Dubrau’s
Et Tu<http://cordite.org.au/media/video/et-tu/>demonstrates the
jump-cut nature of screen-capture technology when applied
to text, while Konrad McCarthy’s TV
Life<http://cordite.org.au/media/video/tv-life/>strips bare the
artifice of the audio-visual in a montage of movements.

The publication of these pieces – some HTML-based, others video –
inevitably raises the question of genre and form. Is this literature? Is it
even e-literature? As Tim Wrights asks in his review of the Electronic
Literature Collection Volume
‘What literature today isn’t electronic?’ I’d like to think, instead, of
overlapping spaces – some of which may be electronic, others organic.
Beverliey Braune’s Supra-text
offers one glimpse into such a world.

When it comes to the work of Jason Nelson, one might instead ask where the
electronic world actually stops. I’m really excited to be able to publish
three of Jason’s work in this issue, because in many respects his work
attempts to break through the imposition imposed by the computer screen to
offer a neural landscape that is deeply textured and interactive. Depth:
Text and Playthings
<http://cordite.org.au/media/depth-text-and-playthings/>addresses this
tension directly, by stating bluntly ‘Your screen is
horribly flat’.

Elsewhere, Nelson’s work is playful and self-referential. Branching: branch
branch <http://cordite.org.au/media/branching-branch-branch/> is a work
where the traditional branching structure of file folders clashes comically
with a goofy soundtrack that is perhaps more amenable to a 1980s computer
game. Meanwhile, With love, from a failed
a phantasmagoria of late-capitalist logos. In addition to these
pieces, I’m pleased to present an interview with
which he reflects on his creative practices as an electronic

Nelson’s work offers one possible ‘entry-point’ into the world of e-lit.
The work of Mez Breeze offers another. Sally Evans’ essay entitled ‘The
Anti-Logos Weapon’: Excesses of Meaning and Subjectivity in Mezangelle
that electronic literature can be just as much about ‘texts’
as traditional literature. Mez’s work is justifiably renowned in e-lit
circles as innovative and highly complex. In an online world where more and
more of us are exposed to the vagaries of computer code, Mezangelle chews
up that code, parses it with human language and spits out art. Adam
Fieled’s essay on Gertrude Stein’s Tender
work that is itself highly amenable to remediation as a hypertext)
that the worlds of literary practise and literary criticism remain
inextricably entwined.

In terms of my own personal experience of electronic literature, Mez’s work
was amongst the first that I viewed (scanned? played?). Over the course of
this year, working as a post-doctoral researcher on the ELMCIP project,
I’ve also been met a wide range of scholars and practitioners working in
the field of e-lit. For this reason, I’ve included in this issue two
interviews with my colleagues at Blekinge Tekniska Högskola in Karlskrona,
Sweden. Both Talan
Engberg <http://cordite.org.au/features/an-interview-with-maria-engberg>have
inspired me to re-think my attitudes to the digital realm.

This brings me back to the question of Cordite’s place within that realm.
As Benjamin Laird demonstrates in his overview entitled Australian Literary
Journals: Virtual and
Cordite is by no means alone in its attempts to engage with online
communities. In fact, pretty much every Australian literature journal is
undergoing a process of morphing and reinvention. I’d like to think that,
in the future, Cordite will evolve to include more works of electronic
literature that actually engage with the medium in which the journal

This is not to suggest that the thousand-odd poems we have published on the
site over the past decade or not ‘alive’, or that text-based works are
somehow inferior to HTML, Flash-based or interactive works. Nevertheless, I
hope that these tiny steps we have taken towards the electr(on)ification of
Cordite will inspire others to create engaging, accessible art that takes
advantage of the multitude of possibilities made available when viewing
(reading? parsing?) information using a networked computer."

*- David Prater, Cordite's Managing Editor*

Reality Engineer>
Synthetic Environment Strategist>
Game[r + ] Theorist.
::http://unhub.com/netwurker ::

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