eLiterature & Electronic Literature

Dan Waber

CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
Fabio De Vivo

INTERVIEW

with

DAN WABER

Digital Writing and Writing 3d

a cura di

Fabio De Vivo


1. What are the effects of Digital Media on literature? And what is the main challenge for literature in this epoch?

I don’t think anyone can fully answer the first part of this question, it’s all being negotiated on an ongoing basis. The effects are massive, and widespread. The effects are obvious and subtle. The effects range from the difference in how the human perceptual system processes reflected versus projected light to making it extremely difficult to say what constitutes being “published” (or, even more difficult, being “well-published”). It’s like asking “What are the effects of electricity on culture?” It’s too large of a question to give any kind of meaningful answer.

The main challenge of literature in this epoch is to stay relevant. Words are slow compared to cinema or video games or even speech. Text messaging trades off convenience for speed, Twitter reduces the packet size of the information to simulate speed. eLiterature attempts to bootstrap itself into relevancy by utilizing the tools which threaten to make it obsolete.

2. What is the electronic literature for you? And what are its main peculiarities?

Electronic literature to me is any literature which requires a digital presentation. A Kindle version of a print book doesn’t qualify as electronic literature to me, because to experience it as the author intended does not require the electronic device. I wouldn’t call most of what is published on blogs electronic literature, either. The hypertext transfer protocol facilitates the creation of links, certainly, but the fundamental reading experience doesn’t require the links. There are exceptions to this, but, I’d be hard pressed to find any that are exceptional for literary reasons.

3. What are pros and cons of digital writing in comparison with traditional writing?

Digital writing allows for motion, branching, looping, morphing, indeterminacy, dynamism, affordable delivery of color content and massive potential distribution. Traditional writing allows for fixity, a physical object, and the only actual avenues of wide distribution.

4. You have created several works that can be defined eLiterature works, among these I, You, We and five by five are considered 3D Literature. Do you consider them poetry or narrative? And mostly, are they more literary practices or technological efforts?

I consider both of those pieces to be poetry. Whether they are more literary or technological is a determination of their success or failure. For me, it is always about finding the form of expression that best fuses with the content in an augmentative fashion. It’s a clever trick if the expression adds nothing to the content, it’s a clever trick if the content adds nothing to the form of the expression. Ideally they should work together to create something in which the literary practice and the technological effort are inseparable.

5. Can 3D digital writing offer something more to the writer and the reader in comparison with traditional digital writing?

Can 3D printing offer something more than 2D printing? Clearly. In fact, “more” may be a bad way to describe the difference, since “more” is a quantitative measure when the difference is really qualitative. It offer a fundamentally different experience that is as much richer in dimensionality as a sculpture is compared to a drawing.

6. In five by five you can chose five “modalities” of the text: spin me, sun blinks, lust-filled, yes love, laughing girls. What is their aim?

They are five different texts which operate within the five by five cube. Their aim is to entertain. I hope they also illustrate something interesting about the underlying grammar that makes their construction possible.

7. Why do you use so much word repetitions in works like I, You, We and five by five? Is it an aesthetical choice?

It’s funny you would speak of repetition with regards to I, You, We, because that is a piece which truly never repeats. What you see on the screen at any given moment has never been seen before and will never be seen again. The words “I” is fixed in the center, and only “you” and “we” repeat in an outward fashion, but they are intermixed with thousands of present-tense verbs which populate the layers between those words randomly. When any given sub-cube rotates off the screen it is de-populated and then re-populated at random when it re-appears. This a piece with a very low level of repetition.

A couple of the pieces in five by five make use of repetition for effect, but, a couple have almost no repetition.

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THE FULL INTERVIEW:

Eliterature & NetArt Forum

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