Interactive Futures - 2007

Interactive Futures 2007 ( November 15 - 17 ) Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

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Dene Grigar

The Present [Future] of Electronic Literature

During her panel discussion, entitled Electronic Literature in the 21st Century, given at the Electronic Literature Organization’s The Future of Electronic Literature, N. Katherine Hayles asked the audience “where e-lit is going when it moves out of the computer?”

For a lot of us working in new media performance or creating art installations for black box environments or CAVEs, producing narratives with GPS technology, or poetry for cell phones and other hand-held devices, this question seems odd, but it is, indeed, a provocative one for folks who have staked careers on hypertext, flash, interactive, and adaptive fiction and poetry (to name just a few forms of electronic literature) created for display on the computer screen.

This paper outlines several such examples of electronic literary works that have been produced for non-screen environments. In doing so, it suggests that the question is not where the field is headed but rather if it can catch up to the art that is already being produced. Additionally, it discusses the practical problem of how non-screen environments trouble the already complex issue of accessing and preserving such works––not to mention defining them and identifying genre.


Dene Grigar is an Associate Professor and Director of the Digital Media & Culture program at Washington State University Vancouver. Her research focuses in the areas of Emergent Technologies & Cognition, Electronic Literature, and Ephemera. Her book New Worlds, New Words: Exploring Pathways In and About Electronic Environments (with John Barber, Hampton Press, 2001) speculates about the ways in which writing and thinking change when moved to electronic environments, such as the World Wide Web, MOOs, and email. She is Associate Editor of Leonardo Reviews and International Editor for Computers and Composition. Her second book, Defiance and Decorum: Women, Public Rhetoric, and Activism (with Laura Gray and Kay Robinson) looks at the way women have used Rhetoric to achieve social and political goals. Her specific focus in this book is to examine new media artists and their particular methods of activism. Her current book project, Rhetoric of the Senses, is an interdisciplinary work that studies the sensoria involved in producing text.

In 2001 she attended a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar at UCLA led by N. Katherine Hayles, an experience that led her to undertake, from 2002-4, a post-doctoral study with the Planetary Collegium (formerly the Center of Advanced Inquiry in the Interactive Arts-Science Technology and Art Research, CAiiA-STAR) located at the University of Plymouth, in the UK. Current new media projects include the MINDful Play Environment, an interactive, live game environment that she is creating with Canadian multimedia artist Steve Gibson in partnership with the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) and When Ghosts Will Die, a narrative performance-installation created also with Gibson.



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