Frankenstein’s Monster Comes Home: Digital Remix and the Ends of Origin
labours of men of genius, however erroneously directed, scarcely ever
fail in ultimately turning to the solid advantage of mankind. ”
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus.
text that shows the disaster of the divorce between science and poetry
would be the one by Mary Shelley whose name is Frankenstein.”
Avital Ronell, Body/No Body (in conversation with Werner Herzog)
by Mary Shelley (published 1818) represents a historical and literary
divergence between the poetic and the technical, and is a significant
reaction against this split as part of English Romanticism. It is the
contention of my presentation that in contemporary digital works of art
and narrative we are witnessing a re-marriage of science and poetry.
However, this union should be no automatic cause for romantic joy, as
the present situation in the education sector of most Western
democracies indicates. Today, the natural sciences are separated from
and weighted favorably in relation to the production and analysis of
culture. There is little to indicate that this is an effective strategy
in light of present global ‘network culture’ initiatives. Today, the
union of science and poetry in digital media is felt most acutely in
reading, or the performative interpretation of imaginative works.
Computer games, websites, digital works of literature, apps, virtual
worlds, interactive art, and spatial media (GIS, Kinnect, GPS, Wii) are
interpreted as they are performed and often require some knowledge of
the medium by the user in order for the work to function. This situation
represents a form of reading that has not been practiced widely in
Western academic and literate circles for several centuries. We are not
witnessing a return to what Walter J. Ong famously terms a “secondary
orality” (10-11), but rather we are seeing a form of inscription rapidly
emerge that is spatial, multi-temporal, performed, place-bound, visual,
sonic, and navigated. Two central concepts are important for
understanding how digital works are generally interpreted, and these are
simulation and remix. Representation has become the domain of mediating
objects, both virtual and physical, while reading is as much about
arranging and appropriating as it is about reference, symbolism,
iconography and interpretation. Based on a relatively small selection of
digital works this presentation examines reception practices involving
digital media, which suggest an expanded concept of reading where the
material technology of a work determines meaning as much as its
representative elements do. In this examination I demonstrate how
performance, participation, co-authoring, and remix make the reading of
the digital works. These works are
Patchwork Girl by Shelley Jackson (1995)
Last Meal Requested by Sachiko Hayashi (2004)
Façade By Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern (2006)
Second Life http://youtu.be/9g-kYvK3P-Q
CONSTRUCT by salevy_oh (2011)
The Celebration by Iris Piers (2011)
Patchwork Girl is a work of electronic literature by American author
Shelley Jackson. It was written in Storyspace and published by Eastgate
Systems in 1995. It is often discussed along with Michael Joyce's
'Afternoon, a story' as an important work of hypertext fiction.
"Shelley Jackson's brilliantly realized hypertext Patchwork Girl is an
electronic fiction that manages to be at once highly original and
intensely parasitic on its print predecessors."
The actions of the avatar, which is the identity of its operator in SL,
conform to the traditions of Varjrayana Buddhism. The combination of the
actions of the avatar and the audio is a two fold signifying structure,
with the operator of the avatar at the center. In a simulative sense
the operator of the avatar is enacting a practice that is firmly
contextualized in religious and social contexts.
Last Meal Requested is an interactive net art work by Japanese/Swedish
artist Sachiko Hayashi. It deals with themes of gender, state power,
violence and the rhetoric of the image. The original work can be
accessed at http://www.e-garde.net/lmr/lmr2.html
Selavy: What happens when you write in a diary? Of course, some people
write down “got up at 7am, drank a coffee, had lunch with Jim, went to
bed early”, but that’s not the type of diary I’m referring to. It is
rather the idea of keeping a record of selected thoughts, feelings,
moods, ideas, etc. The important part is, of course, that you do that
regularly. And that is exactly what I did in CONSTRUCT: I added one room
each day. Every one of the 75 days of the residency has its own room,
often relating to the topic of the residency itself, a time capsule of
ideas, artifacts, or reference to other work. If you read a diary, you
may get an idea about the writer and her life. If you visit CONSTRUCT,
you may get an idea about Selavy Oh and her residency.
The Celebration "combines a circular display of flatscreens, reminiscent
of a giant zoetrope, containing amateur film footage from the
1910's-1940's with different soundscapes that can be manipulated by the
How the audience manipulates the various audio and images, and how they
combine to create an interactive and immersive space, makes The
Celebration an engaging work of interactive digital art.
The visitor enters a darkened space, where the only available light
comes from the 10 screens showing the films of The Celebration. By
moving around the space and judging their own distance, speed of
movement, posture and height in relation to the (largely invisible)
Arduino trackers, a dance begins with the audio and the cracked black
and white images from almost a century ago.
Each of the screens that make up The Celebration has an Arduino tracking
sensor attached, which maps the movements of the body of a visitor, and
implements pre-programmed changes in the presentation of images and
Unknown faces stare out from the screens, mostly laughing, talking
(unheard) and often looking straight at the camera, and at the audience.
As these faces watch, the visitor dodges and weaves, hops and slides,
while the images and sounds change. At the same time the visitor is
watching the faces, along with their bodies, their families and friends,
competitors at sports events and classmates, neighbors and colleagues.
It is according to this arrangement that a circuit of movement and gaze
is achieved by the programming of The Celebration.
Façade is a prototype of interactive drama, a new genre of character and
story-intensive interactive entertainment. Façade is freely
downloadable at interactivestory.net. In Façade, you, the player, using
your own name and gender, play the character of a longtime friend of
Grace and Trip, an attractive and materially successful couple in their
early thirties. During an evening get-together at their apartment that
quickly turns ugly, you become entangled in the high-conflict
dissolution of Grace and Trip’s marriage. No one is safe as the
accusations fly, sides are taken and irreversible decisions are forced
to be made. By the end of this intense one-act play you will have
changed the course of Grace and Trip’s lives – motivating you to re-play
the drama to find out how your interaction could make things turn out
differently the next time.
In this video Facade is used to promote an abstinence program.