New Art Exhibition Showcases Literature in the Digital Age

By Tom McLaughlin

Highlighting the evolving capabilities and influence of technology, the Digital Studies Center at Rutgers University–Camden will showcase works of art with significant, digitally created literary aspects, as it presents the exhibition “E-Lit: A Matter of Bits.”

Enterin’ Wodies 002-featureThe exhibition, featuring an array of interactive installations, will run from Jan. 19 to April 21 in the Stedman Gallery, located in the Fine Arts Complex on the Rutgers–Camden campus. Hours are Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Thursdays until 8 p.m.

“The field of electronic literature is an evolving one,” says Jim Brown, director of the Digital Studies Center and co-curator of the exhibition. “Literature today not only migrates from print to electronic media. Increasingly, ‘born digital’ works are created explicitly for the networked computer.”

“E-Lit: A Matter of Bits” presents work by more than 50 artists demonstrating how electronic literature relies on any number of materialities for its existence.

“Thinking of electronic literature as a ‘matter of bits’ raises interesting questions about how we create, critique, and archive electronic literature,” notes Robert Emmons, associate director of the Digital Studies Center and co-curator of the exhibition.

The exhibition includes the Typomatic, an innovative, literary installation that cuts words horizontally and pieces the halves together with new words, revealing previously undetected relationships between them. Guillaume Jacquemin and Hélène Caubel of the French performance art group ALIS, which co-created the first Typomatic, visited the Rutgers–Camden campus in early December to help the Digital Studies Center construct and install its own machine.

The Digital Studies Center will host a series of engaging, free events in conjunction with the exhibition.

“A Matter of Bits” Opening Reception and Curators’ Talk
Thursday, Jan. 21
5 to 8 p.m.
Curators’ Talk
6 p.m.
Stedman Gallery

Join curators Brown and Emmons for an opening reception and get a first look at the “Matter of Bits” exhibition.

Vinicius Marquet’s “Tell Me a Secret” Workshop
Thursday, Jan. 21
Noon to 2 p.m.
Digital Studies Center’s ModLab, located in room 215 of the Fine Arts Building

Vinicius Marquet, author of Anacrón: hipótesis de un producto todo, on display in the Stedman Gallery, will lead this workshop as part of an experience-sharing project between communities. Participants will graphically depict secrets shared by people in the Netherlands. At the end of the workshop, participants will be invited to anonymously share their own secrets in order to feed future versions of the project.

Launch of Electronic Literature Collection
Thursday, Feb. 18
Time TBA
Stedman Gallery

Uncle Buddy's Phantom FunhouseGuests are invited to the official launch of the Electronic Literature Collection, Volume 3. Published by the Electronic Literature Organization, this collection gathers together historical and contemporary works of electronic literature from around the world. “A Matter of Bits” features a number of works from this brand-new collection.

Samantha Gorman and Danny Cannizzaro present PRY
Friday, March 11
Time TBA
Campus Center, Multi-Purpose Room

Samantha Gorman and Danny Cannizzaro, creators of the award-winning novella PRY, will read from and discuss their work. PRY, which is available in the Apple App Store, is on display in the “Matter of Bits” exhibition. Gorman and Cannizzaro’s lecture will be the keynote for the Rutgers–Camden English Graduate Student Association’s conference, “Beyond Boundaries: New Spaces for Constructing, Creating, and Composing.”

Jason Lewis Reading and Lecture
Wednesday, April 6
7 p.m.
Stedman Gallery

Jason Lewis, author and creator of “Poetry for Excitable Mobile Media (PoEMM),” a series of poems created for Apple’s iOS platform, which enables readers to interact and touch poems, will read from his work and describe his creative process.

Rutgers-Camden Archive of Digital Ephemera (R-CADE) Symposium
Thursday, April 21
4:30 p.m.
Stedman Gallery

The Rutgers–Camden Archive of Digital Ephemera (R-CADE) is a collection of hardware and software made available to scholars for research purposes, and each year the Digital Studies Center hosts an R-CADE Symposium. This year’s event will focus on John McDaid’s Uncle Buddy’s Phantom Funhouse, a work of electronic literature published in 1992. Four scholars and artists will meet to study, remix, take apart, or repurpose McDaid’s seminal work of electronic literature. The symposium participants are McDaid; Emmons; Steph Ceraso, assistant professor of English at the University of Maryland–Baltimore County; Stuart Moulthrop, professor of English at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee; and Darius Kazemi, co-founder of Feel Train, a creative technology cooperative.

“Rise of the Twitter Bots” Lecture and Demonstration
Date and Time TBA
Stedman Gallery

Computer programmer and artist Allison Parrish demonstrates Twitter bots, pieces of software that generate text in the form of 140 characters, which draw on a long literary tradition of conceptual and procedural writing. In rEnterin’ Wodies 001ecent years, the social networking platform Twitter has become a space for programmers and writers to experiment with making bots. Attendees will learn the basics of creating a Twitter bot.

“Poetry in (Digital) Translation”
Date and Time TBA
Stedman Gallery

Guests will translate print-based works into works of electronic literature. The workshop, led by Nick Montfort, an associate professor of digital media at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will address the technical details of translating a print work into an electronic one, and will also ask participants to consider how the content of a work might shift as it moves from one medium to another.

“Kids E-Lit”
Date and Time TBA
Stedman Gallery

Families are invited to learn how to explore and collaborate on works of electronic literature in this lecture demonstration workshop, led by electronic literature author/critic Mark Marino. The workshop will introduce families to free and user-friendly tools such as Twine and Undum and will allow deeper interaction with the literature through discussion of interactive children’s stories.

“A Matter of Bits” Teacher Open House and Workshop
Date and Time TBA
Stedman Gallery

This event will feature an interactive museum tour and a hands-on workshop for local and regional teachers. Participants will explore the exhibition, learn more about electronic literature, discuss topics with colleagues, and have an opportunity to schedule their classes for the Rutgers–Camden Center for the Arts Museum Education Program.

For further information regarding the exhibition or affiliated events, contact Brown at jim.brown@rutgers.edu or visit digitalstudies.camden.rutgers.edu.

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