are two essential elements to the nomadic world: mobility and impermanence.
see, like tides advancing, nomadic ways of life and of thinking
to be overtaking the contemporary world.
old caravans, which went from Egypt to the Atlantic through the
Saharan Deserts, or Eastward to China and Mongolia, were not wanderers
or camel herds in search of water, but genuine commercial lines
of communication. These caravans carried goods the way trucks and
cargoes do nowadays, but more importantly they carried ideas. Goods,
in and of themselves, already can imply ideas. They can carry cultural
ideas or ideology. For example, the spread of Islamic Revelation
in desert regions cannot be explained otherwise, as it involved
an area ranging from the Hejaz to Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan,
Central Asiaall being essentially nomadic lands, tribal populations.
crucial role of nomadism in the spreading of communications (before
the advent of the printing press) is duplicated today with the invention
and the use of electronic networks. The computer has turned the
world into the sustainer of myriads of communication lines where
thinking can spread out beyond the old system of printing and diffusing
ideas through books which are material objects, heavy and space
consuming. We have entered an era where things (meaning messages
and thoughts) move instantly, with no visible traces, thus fitting
a nomadic society which is more of a servicing society than an object
producing one. You cant carry libraries and files on camelback.
emphasis, for ancient culture, was on memorization. Tribal societies
developed poetry at the expense of novels because the former was
easier to memorize, and because poetry is a more economical way
of thinking than other forms of literature. And the contemporary
world is moving in that same direction: the emphasis is made possible,
or facilitated, by computers. As the nomad carried his whole culture
in his head (usually a basic religious/legal "book" like
the Koran, the Bible, Asiatic wisdom books etc.), we are already
carrying in a small computer "all the data we need," and
pretty soon "all the literature or the knowledge we will want."
societies nowadays are on the move in massive human tides. The panic
created in European countries in the face of immigration calls for
attention. The influx of refugees and job seekers represents something
more than just an economic phenomenon. It is a deeper stirring,
the kind of tidal waves that the Crusades were, or other great invasions
of the past. But this time there are no generals leading these migrations;
these are spontaneous, probably irrational, instinctive movements
of populations. Of course there are economic and political factors
concerning these migrations, but I think of deeper forces: the human
animal is both nomadic and sedentary, but technology, scientific
advances, explorations of outer space, have created an environment,
both psychic and intellectual, which stimulates, favors, the nomadic,
over the conservative, sedentary instincts of humans.
electronic age is about movement: the simultaneous transmission
of (written) thought through e-mail, following the transmission
of the spoken through radio and telephone, has loosened the maximum
boundaries of the book. Objects containing thoughts, such as books,
documents, letters, etc., see their role minimized in this new context.
The audience is not limited anymore; thinking is, so to speak, thrown
to the winds. This globalization of ones audience reminds us, strangely,
of the great imperial periods of History.
this worldwide feeling of uncertainty some things are certain: on
the one hand the mobility of goods and capital is pushed to its
extremes, meanwhile the mobility of people is seen as a threat and
is being contained (as much as possible). Traditional cultures are
breaking down under globalization of objects and ideas, ideas
represented not only in books but also through all the arts and
architecture, under the power of the web which is a real web. It
is as if the world has become a huge spider whose head is nowhere
to be seen and its threads create a mesh, which encompasses the
whole of the planet.
mondialisation of practically everything creates its antidote:
we cannot go back to the tightly closed nation-states, but are heading
towards a new kind of tribalism: the world is breaking down (in
a most fluid way), into "groups," "cultural organizations,"
"communities," which are not linked by cultural space
but by a common "network." All of this is made possible
by the computer age. In that sense our real neighbor does not inhabit
the same street, but rather a similar electronic address. Our audience
is not in the same room, but in front of the same electronic page,
so that all the groups, some of them overlapping, the societies,
the leagues, the networks and associations, organizations, political
parties, to which we increasingly belong, become tribes of a new
kind which gather periodically and disperse, each member joining
other tribes, and this ad infinitum.
to How2, one of your tribes!
Etel Adnan came to this country to do a masters in Philosophy
at Berkeley, then moved on to Harvard. She taught Philosophy and
Philosophy of Art at Dominican College in San Rafael, where she
also started painting. She is the author of 8 books of poetry, a
novel about the Civil War in Lebanon, a book on Paris, a volume
of letters and the essay "Journey to Mount Tamalpais"
on the relationship between nature and art, as well as her theory
and practice as a painter.
New Arcades: A Pocket Guide"
another killer app
whose clear purpose was to break the tyranny ofthe perimeter
as like a striking clock
Drem praesentem motion added, poised
"intervals," we are the shape memory alloy, ultra-resilient,
available and lit up
our outlooks shape what we see and what we can know
but when science and culture conflict, culture always wins
room for difficulty, complexity, resistance, as in "please
let me be misunderstood"
in terms of the generation of a new systems generations of
"And theyre at the gate!"
the glass roofs suspension of disbelief
miniaturization and shapeshifting covers for shyness and a
MElizabeth Carter 17171806 Translator, linguist, poet. Latin,
Greek, Hebrew, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and
Arabic. Wrote Poems Upon Particular Occasions and Poems
Upon Several Occasions. Wrote for Johnsons Rambler.
They were friends for fifty years. She is occasionally an index
entry in biographies of Johnson. Current editions of Richardsons
Clarissa credit her poem he used in his text, although he
did not in the first edition. He later apologized. Find her spectacular
translation of Epictetus, [freed slave and Stoic philosopher whose
discourses were written down by Arrian, his pupil].
brave new superior user existence
escaping this flatland is the essential task of envisioning information
to teach the reader to think recursively
the angle of the reader permits the next layer of data to be read
books are a social product as are the libraries that hold them
Hey sis, is freedom from memory freedom from sociality?
in the psychotropics the means of production are
the sublime has been defined by philosophers in terms of formlessness
and experience at the limit of what can be apprehended
at what point does reading become bedroom painting?
most evolutionary novelty arose and still arises from symbiosis
as in acid heat lover + swimmer + oxygen breather --> the subtle
swimmer, causer and target, unable to swim and to divide at the
by readers standards
within the retinal frame
note: cf. Walter Benjamin, Norma Cole, Arthur Danto, Bei Dao,
Ray Jackendorff, Christopher Kool-Want, R.C.Lewontin, Lynn Margulis,
Bonnie McDougal, Frank Stella, Edward R. Tufte
Norma Coles recent volumes of poetry include MOIRA,
Contrafact and Desire & Its Double. A slide-text
piece, "SCOUT," is forthcoming from Krupskaya Press in CD ROM format.
Her translation of Anne Portugals Nude is forthcoming from
Green Integer, and Crosscut Universe:Writing on Writing
from France, selected
and translated by Cole is forthcoming from Burning Deck.
Makes No Noise
the first half of the Twentieth Century, sound has played an increasingly
important role in the crafting of narratives and the transmission
of information. Sound's role in media-like radio and cinema not
only caused shifts in oral communication and methods of montage,
but came to play an important role in the ways that these media
reconfigured spatial representation and perception. As the global
communications network becomes an increasingly online flow, the
internet inherits a rhetoric of remote communication and spatial
contamination first nourished by early radio work. And as digitized
images, both still and moving, proliferate in the visual frame of
the browser, we might begin to wonder how cinema's model of audio-vision
can be understood in its relationship to the online experience.
As readers of hypertext, the principle structuring and orientating
motor in cyberspace, how can we understand the relevance of sound
to the predominantly silent online digital space that harbors both
rhetorical and formal elements of radio and film?
makes no noise. Whatever spatial imaginary it is that hypertext
activates, urban or otherwise, it excludes the acoustic dimension.
The silence online resembles nothing more than the outer-spatial
silence of a vacuum. There is no murmur in the distance to suggest
isolation; there is no room-tone as in film; there is no sonic signal
interference--cosmic or terrestrial--as in radio. In fact, the bleeps
and escalating rush of static accompanying log-on have an opposite
meaning to similar noises in radio. What once characterized the
informational informe has now become a sign of connectivity
and access. The log-on noise is a rush of bits, an accelerating
flow immersing the user in a new data-sphere, and resembles nothing
so much as a space shuttle's noisy departure from the atmosphere
and entry into the silence of a vacuum.
media like radio, film, and television all had specific acoustic
characters owing to their accommodation of noise as a data-background.
The impurity of sound in these media and the distinction between
synchronous and asynchronous sound allowed for a figure-ground relationship
where the sonic content of a broadcast, program, or montage leapt
forward against a backdrop of interference or ambience, performing
as a powerful organizer of the spatial imaginary.
can sound resonate in the transphysical city of language? At this
point, it is difficult to imagine navigation by sonar online. Hyper-sound
is still a slippery and dissonant concept. The streaming sound currently
available online has a compressed and fractured character. Audio
streams and net radio are tapped much as faucets are opened. Real-time
online audio continues to remind us of the hard-wires piping information
to any online terminal. That is precisely why the term "net.radio"
always rings with a note of irony: the airwaves have been brought
back down to earth.
and streaming sound are configuring cyber-space in almost opposite
ways. While hypertext mobilizes the spatial imaginary into a sense
of virtual urbanism, streaming sound, crushed into a low-resolution
format and grounded to the physical network of telephony, returns
the user to a base-physicality. Online sound does not yet inscribe
virtual space but is itself inscribed by the technological conditions
of that space. Cyber-space has already developed as a predominantly
visual lattice of text and image, and will continue to do so for
some time before acquiring an integrated acoustic dimension. It
remains to be seen what artifacts the current infancy of online
sound will bring to the expanding optical landscape already online.
Floyd graduated from Princeton University in 1999. His thesis, "Asynchronous
Space-Dub City: the acoustics of a mediated environment," was written
on sound and urban space. Currently, he lives and works as a musician
and a sound engineer in New York City.
</hyper>: branching and relational
Bym. mara ann
interesting discussion secondary to the emergence of the Web and
hypertext media is one of likeness and difference. Since its debut
over five years ago, there has been a consistent and ongoing attempt
to define the Web and hypertext media as likened to something that
we already understand and with which we feel safe, like print media.
In parallel, there is the related challenge of reconciling hypertext
media with the tangibility of print because of its inability to
exist outside of the box; questioning our relationship to the physical
and the placement of value on the material. At the center of these
dialogues is a knowledge that the Web is both of these: similar
to print publishing mediums in its presentation of information,
but vastly different in its seemingly indefinable and intangible
limitlessness of dimensionality.
of the most satisfying hypertext experiences for me occurred while
I was an undergraduate, before any commercialization of the Web,
in a course dedicated to the plays of William Shakespeare. Each
evening as I poured through the pages of another tragedy, comedy,
or history, in my "Complete Penguin Shakespeare," my left index
finder navigating the body text and my right index finger at the
bottom of the page navigating the corresponding footnotes, I reveled
in the immediacy of related texts, relational topics, and literary
dimensionality. Now, almost fifteen years later and as the publisher
of an online poetry journal, I find that the hypertext medium offers
an even greater opportunity in demonstrated correspondence including
visual, audio, and heightened textual dimensionality. Within this
capacity, ideas may locate themselves within a spatial atmosphere
defying the physical laws of place and thus opening to the possibility
for expanded and enhanced articulations. This is not to say that
print medium does not offer an equally engaging forum for invention
and discovery, but I would posit that hypertext provides a new and
different lattice for expression where the text is fused with an
infinite capacity for branching and relational spatiality.
within this discourse of print and online media, difference and
devaluation are surprising companions where prejudice for the tangible
in print publishing tends toward marginalization of the Web as a
viable publishing medium. That despite the innovations of relational
correspondence, because online publication is often perceived as
simply a digital translation of print publication and devoid of
the material value of a physical thing, that it is less real,
and thus, less important. Difficulty arises in the effort to define
by association and a consequent devaluation in comparison. Thus,
in this like comparison, what becomes fundamentally at stake is
our general location of value on the material. Its not surprising
that in an attempt to understand the Web and hypertext media, that
one would look to the referential in order to approximate an understanding
of it. However, to accept the Web as a new and different publishing
medium, that does not challenge or devalue the print publishing
medium, but instead enhances it through qualities of likeness and
difference, is to open literary discourse to yet unarticulated possibilities
for dimensionally correspondent literary expression and understanding.
Raised in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, m. mara-ann is a San
Francisco based poet, Web developer, and publisher of http://www.medusa.org/wood/WOOD, an online journal published quarterly featuring collaborations
between poets and visual artists. She is currently working on lighthouse,
forthcoming from Atelos press and has recently completed an album
length collaborative project with composer Sean Abreu entitled Water
Rights. Her work has most recently appeared in Chain 5
, Prosodia 7 & 8 and Debt.
Painting = Image = [n].
Painting in Cyberspace = [n], if and only if "Image" is not "A Painting".
are not necessary when learning new languages.
in the system
a painting is.
is a painting.
good for the soul.
Marisol Martinez is a painter who lives and works in New York
a question addressing ephemeral space, Wendys is strikingly physical.
She asks that we accept concrete metaphors of architecture and urban
landscape as starting points for locating ourselves in an abstract
realm. Is this kind of conceptual slippage inherent to the medium
or due to the awkwardness of language that accompanies a new technology?
discussions of hypertext fiction, much is often made of the "active
involvement" of the reader. The making of meaning in cyberspace
rests heavily on this so-called reader, specifically in the relationships
among the texts she chooses -- out of which the she must make her
own particular sense. It is perhaps for this reason that the word
"user" is sometimes substituted for "reader."
may be a more appropriate term for what one does in cyberspace anyway.
One reason is the relative youth of the media itself. As Marshall
McLuhan explains, we have so internalized the apparatus of print
(turning pages; silently reading, line by line, a physically homogenous
text) that the technology has taken on a kind of "transparency,"
whereby we do not "see" a book as a technology per se.
The heterogeneity and visual non-uniformity of some hypertext can
prevent one from achieving the kind of direct, physically dis-associative
communication that print media has come to enable. Michael Joyce
puts it succinctly when he writes, "text on the screen is conspicuously
where one must actively use relatively unfamiliar apparatus
(keyboard, monitor, mouse) to engage with hypertext, "reading"
is again not quite an accurate term. One is reminded, also, that
"user" suggests a very different relationship to text
than does "reader." A relationship, I think, which is
infused with a strong sense of consumerism.
the kind of sense the reader makes in cyberspace may be aggressively
mediated by the literal aspects of the computer terminal, the sources
of the information one reads (or uses) may be less mediated in that
they need not necessarily be processed by publishers, editors, corporate
interests, etc. This is of course untrue of plenty of sites (including
How2), whose hierarchies operate similarly to that of a print publication.
Nonetheless, for those with access to the equipment, self-publishing
and access to self-published work has never been easier, and certain
levels of corporate mediation, at least, may be bypassed.
Meyrowitz has argued (of television) that unprecedented access to
information, the specificities of the world outside, the "private"
lives of other people, has eroded our "sense of place."
seems especially relevant to cyberspace, where the parameters of
social geography are mental (or technological). In a realm where
the idea of place is even less stable than in those of other media,
it becomes tricky to "locate" ourselves in the old sense
of identification with either a physical or an ideological position.
But there may be other possibilities, ways more suited to the medium.
Novak writes, "I combine words and occupy places that are the
consequences of my words." (4)But this is perhaps only fully true if one completely
understands the structures one is working with and within. Once,
information was external to a reader; now, when we use the web,
we say we are "in" the information -- or "on"
it, implying that we can stay afloat on (even surf!) this vast sea
by using our "navigator" to make our chosen connections.
The threat of consumption is palpable, especially to one not trained
in computer science. The temptation to respond reflexively by consuming
can be powerful.
cyberspace, as in real life, one must choose "locations,"
sites for ones selves to reside. But in the context of Wendys
question, we cannot simply locate ourselves "as readers and
writers," because, in a textually based cyberspace, everyone
is a reader, a writer, or both. And we cannot claim to locate ourselves
in identity because the very idea of the unitary self has been weakened
or undermined by postcolonial and feminist theories (among others)
and even by the processes of cyberspace. As Judith Butler and others
have exposed the social construction of gender, post-colonial studies
has insisted upon a notion of "individual subjectivity that
is defined in terms of multiple subject positions" (5)based on experiences of migration, mimicry, and
crises of cultural identity. Both point to a mutable, decentered
subject, one which resembles Donna Harraways well known "cyborg."
that communications and biotechnology reduce bodies (bodies of knowledge
and corporeal bodies) to coding, which are then subject to disassembling,
reconstruction, and transformation. The techno-body brings about
a new subjectivity (the cyborg), which takes for granted the erosion
of boundaries between body and machine. If we accept these ideas
on subjectivity, our means of location must then be flexible, multiple,
and able to simultaneously encompass many variables. I would like
to suggest that we try to "locate" our places on the web
in terms of consumption and production. Not by declaring, "I
am a consumer" or "I am a producer," but in action.
For example, I locate my connection to feminism as a historically
based position from which I act rather than a "natural"
connection to an essential womanhood. Analogously, I hope to locate
myself in cyberspace as one of the producers of its structures.
And in doing so, if I recognize Harraways manifesto, I locate myself
as one of those structures. But unlike in the physical world,
where "structure" implies rigidity, the structural "locations"
I imagine remain in flux. When my piece of the structure disappears,
another takes its place. And in this I can remain always flexible,
and do not recognize inherent hierarchical positions (such as those
associated with print text) because any given location equals any
next step then, it seems, is to locate oneself as a writer. I mean
this not in the "type and click" sense, but as a practical
response to being overwhelmed by a cyber-scape in which one only
visits sites that have already been constructed. This is my response
to Wendys final question about the "trans-physical city of
language." It is a stunningly beautiful idea, but one that
doesnt seem likely as more and more hypertext writings are only
available on CDROM (through such companies as Eastgate), (7)and access to sites is controlled internally by
tagging and meta-tagging; externally, by the threat of censorship,
either legislative or local (e.g. bosses, parents); and economically,
by access to computer knowledge and equipment (not to mention the
"free" [non-earning] time it takes to create).
idea that the audience helps construct the text is not particular
to hypertext (Derrida wrote it; so did Shakespeare). It is the visual
manifestation of collaboration that makes hypertext so exciting.
Electronic texts "expose the patchwork" of our lives,(8)and it is this
very mutability and fragmentation that hypertext readers and writers
seem to find compelling. But the state of fragmentation can be embodied
by print; what is a footnote if not a kind of hypertext?
think if we "as writers" want to locate ourselves in the
way writers generally want to be located, that is to say, in a way
which will be both fresh and noticed, we must open our ideas of
writing to the specific ways hypertext differs from print. Since
I am a newcomer to hypertext, those aspects that interest me are
relatively basic. At the most obvious level, hypertext can engage
multiple senses, allowing image, sound, and even touch to emerge
from or interact with or morph into or from text.
the sense of parallel and perpendicular universes in the vast network
of cyberspace imparts a feeling of profound interconnectedness,
a "holistic" approach to text which might begin to subvert
the Romantic notion of the isolated, subjective artist.
to this, cyberspace may help enable the deconstruction of the authority
of presence, and therefore undermine hierarchies based on body or
location in the physical world. In cyberspace, any presence is potentially
tenuous, prone to (or even dependent upon) trickster shape-changing
and transformation. There can be no claims to "natural"
or even identity-based authority where nothing "is" but
only "seems." This can bring a delightful playfulness
to hypertext writing, even as it may precipitate a serious crisis
in a space of subverted authority and nonlinear time (in that many
worlds [realms - representations] of "time" may run simultaneously
in cyberspace), what is the place of memory? What can we call memory
if seeming is being? Or will we start to think in new ways about
randomness and patterns, in the ways we think long-term about history?
I hope so.
in hypertext I see representation of an almost hyper-realism. Hypertext
can reflect the tension one feels amidst constant adaptation and
change, whereby quotidian shatterings are nonetheless grouped coherently
enough by our brains so that we make peace (however tenuous) with
its pieces and live as we must as "intentional beings."
(9)And, as in any
medium where this tension is realized and reflected, we can find
nature of [hypertext] transforms the meaning of the word 'reader.'
No one has found the right noun yet...some have tried 'wreader,'
many make due with 'user.'" Guyer, Carolyn, in "Page Versus
Pixel." FEED Magazine. <www.feedmag.com/95.05dialog1.html>
(back to text)
"'Sense' referring to both perception and logic and 'place'
meaning both social position and physical location." Meyrowitz,
Joshua. "No Sense of Place: the impact of electronic media
on social behavior", in The Media Reader, eds. MacKay,
Hugh and Tim O'Sullivan. London: Sage, 1999 (100). (back
Novak, Marcus. "Liquid Architectures in Cyberspace", in
Cyberspace: First Steps, ed. Benedikt, Michael. Cambridge,
MIT Press, 1991 (229). (back
Donna Haraway, "A Cyborg Manifest: Science, Technology,
and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century," in Simians,
Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. New York: Routledge,
While I recognize that writers of every media must make a living,
I can't help hoping for a way to distribute hypertext writings that
doesn't mirror the present world of print publishing, in a way that
both respects and protects the writers and allows as many readers
as possible to enjoy their work. (back
Turkle, Sherry, "Identity in the Age of Internet" in The
Media Reader, eds. MacKay, Hugh and Tim O'Sullivan. London:
Sage, 1999 (292). (back
Meghan Quinn graduated from Barnard College in 1998. She now
lives and works in Ishikawa, Japan.
5 Graphic Locations in Movable Text
Vivian Rosenthal-- (click
on images below to see full-size artwork)
Vivian Rosenthal graduated from Brown University in 1998. Currently,
she is pursuing a Masters Degree in Architecture at Columbia University.
thinking of Eduardo Kacs "Genesis" (http://www.ekac.org/geninfo.html),
a "transgenic artwork that explores the intricate relationship
between biology, belief systems, information technology, dialogical
interaction, ethics, and the Internet," presented both online
and at the Ars Electronica 99 at Linz, September 1999, and trying
to connect it to Wendy Tronruds question/statement.
struck with both the multiple locations and the telepresence involved
in the worka distributed system with remote participants and nested
levels of agency. The text here passes from Biblical sentence to
codon to synthetic gene to mutation to decoding of the altered sentence
to "plain English," based on transgenic interbacterial
communication. The fragility of the boundary between carbon-based
life and digital data is demonstrated, as Kac says.
sculptors say that it is compelling to explore the interface between
the virtual and the physical, something I attempt by different means
in "The Ballad of Sand and Harry Soot." Sand, made of
silicon, is the heart of digital lifeand Harry Soot, as his name
reveals, a man of carbon, a part of biochemical life, has fallen
in love with her. The visual and hypertextual form of this "Ballad"
(http://www.wordcircuits.com/gallery/sandsoot/) explores the varying
boundary between them in structural and visual ways that exceed
the line patterning found in the printed text on the Boston Review
habits of reading are more readily accommodated by the "Ballad"
than by "Genesis": it is a person, not a bacterium, doing
"interpretation"; but Im not sure either work writes
"with places," as opposed to "transitions" or,
perhaps, "relationships." Space does open up, perhaps
monstrously, to a world of currents and translations. We dont see
these spaces full so much as feel them fill. We dont watch them
perform; we perform them, in part, in connection with others, in
processes of conjugal transfer that propagate themselves.
Stephanie Stricklands "Ballad of Sand and Harry Soot"
won the 1999 Boston Review prize. Her book of poems, True
North, was chosen by Barbara Guest for the Poetry Society of
Americas Di Castagnola Prize and appeared as the Sandeen Prize
volume from the University of Notre Dame Press in 1997. Electronic
True North, published on disk by Eastgate Systems, won a
1998 Salt Hill Hypertext Prize. Other poetry volumes are
The Red Virgin: A Poem of Simone Weil, awarded the Brittingham
Prize,and Give the Body Back.