Electronic Literature @ Wheaton

Student selections for the Final Discussion

From Brian:
To start us off, I submit, for the perusal and ‘what even /is/ this, Brian’ of the class, On Lionel Kearns. Lionel Kearns was a computer poet back in the early days (using the 60’s-style bpNichols definition and genre of “computer poetry”) who also used traditional forms and is a very cool guy.
He was the one who wrote this little supplmenetal essay when we worked through Computer Poems: http://www.vispo.com/bp/lionel.htm
More on Lionel before you dig into On Lionel Kearns: http://library.utoronto.ca/canpoetry/kearns/index.htm
Now to the piece itself, a 2004 piece of relatively old-school computer poetry (using much more impactful and high-speed techniques than the old-timers) that uses Lionel’s correspondence and poetry and puts it back into cyberspace to re-contextualize it and return it to its own kind, so to speak. It needs Flash and Quicktime, so make sure those are working or else this will end up being doofy and nonfunctional.
From Geoffrey:
My submissions are two very bizarre ones, and kind of on the edge of what’s relevant to the class.
The first is a man who writes poems (mostly prose poems) about videogames, videogame design, and videogame experiences. Trust me, the contents of these poems are bizarre and obscure even to those of us who game, so please don’t hate me for linking something “about videogames”… I have a good reason for bringing it up. This is something where you could read one or two of the poems to get an idea of what he’s doing.
The second is equally bizarre and obscure. It’s an article, technically, published on a games-journalism website. But it’s an article about interactive fiction, and so it is, itself, a piece of interactive fiction. Fair warning, it’s likely profane and crass at various points throughout, so explore at your own caution… again, I have a reason for bringing it up.
The reason I bring up both of these is not just to cement your perception of me as pretentious and unusual but also to ask: what’s going on with criticism and metatexts? The prose essay has long been the standard form for critique of just about everything created on this earth. What other options are there and what do they provide? Specifically, as this is an e-lit course, these two examples are digitally enabled. The first depends on digital distribution (blogs), which we haven’t really talked much about, but which is essential to finding an audience for this kind of niche work. The second requires digital mechanics to function as intended. Are there valuable affordances to these kinds of experiments? Are they just passing oddities?

From Tory:

Something I feel like English majors will all enjoy or have thought about at some point: Spine Sonnets by Jody Zellan




Marina Abramović is a performance artist. In one of her most famous pieces, “The Artist is Present,” she sat at a table and allowed guests to sit across from her and stare at her while she stared back emotionlessly and silently. (take whatever meaning from this you will)

Here is a famous and touching example of the piece. Her former lover of 12 years and fellow performance artist, Ulay, sat across from her after being separated for 22 years. (Marina and Ulay did some very interesting and beautiful projects together such as Breathing In/Breathing Out where they locked mouths and breathed each others air, filling each others lungs with carbon monoxide and eventually passing out.) Here is Marina and Ulay during The Artist is Present:

Now, Pippin Barr, a man who makes art games and lots of other interesting things, made a game called The Artist is Present where you can go to the MoMA and ‘walk’ through her exhibit. This game is kind of annoying in a funny way because sometimes the museum isn’t open and then when it is you actually have to stand in line for a realistic amount of time. It takes way too long so I will also link a video run through of the game where you can fast forward.


Here is another work based on The Marina Abramovic Institute where you can experience more of her work:


On his website Pippin Barr says, “Are games art?! This one definitely is! The Artist is Present is a Sierra-style recreation of the famed performance piece of the same name by artist Marina Abramovic at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Have the experience only a lucky few have ever had! Stare into Marina Abramovic’s eyes! Make of it what you will! Just like art!”

So is this performance art? E-literature? Just a dumb annoying game?

From Gloria:

I found a piece that I thought was super interesting (well, obviously, or else I probably wouldn’t be sharing it…) http://collection.eliterature.org/2/works/strickland_vniverse/Vniverse/index.html
If you click on one of the stars, they form a constellation of sorts. Each constellation has a piece of a poem and the whole piece can be navigated using a mouse or by entering a number into the circle on the upper-right.
What are your thoughts on this piece? What “genre” would you categorize this as? What I’m most curious about is, how would each of you read this?

From Grace:

Here’s my favorite IF, Galatea. I mentioned it that week, but don’t know if y’all got a chance to really plumb the depths of this piece. It’s just a conversation, but what makes it really fun is the NPC has a lot of personality- she changes her responses based on what you’ve said in the past. There are several possible endings, including one where you get the statue come to life to run away with you. Try it out!
http://ifdb.tads.org/viewgame?id=urxrv27t7qtu52lb (click “play online”) Also, googling IF Galatea will get you there.

TIPS: use “t subject” to talk to galatea, as in “t childhood” and “a subject” to ask galatea for her opinions about something, like “a sculptor.”

That’s the main one, but this one (http://adamcadre.ac/if/photopia.html) photopia is an interesting one. To be honest I wasn’t able to finish it, but it plays with color in an interesting way.

Also, by a very weird coincidence, I found an article that critiques both these works together ( I came across them entirely separately) and tells you more about photopia (and galatea) than short playthroughs can. Apparently there’s more to the photophia narrative structure that I might try to explore more. Anyway, the piece is enlightening, especially in its discussion of Galatea’s theses on art and criticism.

Here is something not necessarily classified as E-literature, but it should be in my opinion. The fun part: there’s no text!


It is a video of a roleplaying game in which three comic book writers and one epic fantasy writer create a story live, on stage, in front of their fans. I thought it’d be interesting to check out, seeing as it’s basically a hybrid of “choose your own adventure” and “networking novel” in auditory form.

(Yes, I did watch the whole thing. I’m a nerd.)