Radical Artifice Beyond Radical Artifice

Pamela Margerm and Chris Funkhouser
Department of English
New Jersey Institute of Technology

Beginning with Marjorie Perloff's writings on avant-garde poetry and poetics, co-presenters Chris Funkhouser and Pamela Margerm of the New Jersey Institute of Technology will discuss progressive textonomics of American poetry in the 90s. Margerm will build a base for this presentation through her research and writing on Johanna Drucker. Funkhouser will extend Margerm's observations through his research in cybertext and other dimensions of poetry. Acknowledging the overall visuality of culture, this collaboration aims to further discussion of people and art at the edge of physical textuality.

Waiting for Don Quixote: The Origin and End of the Alphabet and the Search for a New Genre

Virginia Eubanks and David Porush
Department of Language, Literature and Communication
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Here on the verge of a cyborg culture we are finding another way of learning, knowing and communicating, of getting at the truth. The world wide web and its intrinsic technology of hypertext enables a new form of epistemological play that is both quite new and yet echoes a much older style of knowing and truth telling. At this time of cognitive and epistemological reorganization, we too often find ourselves trying to do old things with new media -- installing banisters in elevators -- attempting to force communication genres like the novel or the essay into the new terrains created by hypermedia.

"Waiting for Don Quixote" is an exploration, a retranslation, an adaptation of communication genres and alphabetic consciousness for the hypertextual stage. In this talk we shall make a critical distinction between hypertextual thought, meaning super textual, the reinscription of one-to-one relationships between signifier and signified within the binary Tech Writing Empire; and intertextual thought, an extra textual form devoted to the construction of decentered authority and knowledge, inseparable from the search for transcendent meaning, and reliant on visual cues, historical process, metaphor and (virtual) embodiment. This distinction suggests that conventional literary styles are not viable in this new medium. We cannot rely on previous forms or on nostalgic longing for the natural sign evident in the push for a perfect virtual reality. We are impelled to search for a new genre. Where, then, is hypertext's Don Quixote, the genre-destroying and -creating performance, the hypertextual singularity that will redefine the medium and our cognition in it?

One way to understand our post-alphabetic consciousness is to explore a very old communications technology -- the very first alphabet (proto-Hebrew) -- which emerged among Hebrew slaves working the turquoise mines for Egypt in South Sinai, some time around the 14th century BCE. This primitive Hebrew promoted an alternative culture, a culture of alternatives, with its different style of getting knowledge and constructing authority. In doing so, we attempt to find some philosophical place to stand outside the Empire of The Book and our long Western era of conventional alphabetic literacy. Perhaps by telling ourselves these midrashim (extended commentaries, origin stories) we can discover an anti-book, a typographical experiment that will show us the way to a new genre appropriate for our new communication tools.

Virtual Space and Invisible Structure, or The Revenge of the Medium Upon Everything

Sean Cohen and Stuart Moulthrop
School of Communications Design
Univerity of Baltimore

Jay Bolter once speculated that hypermedia might be "the revenge of the text [i.e. writing] upon television." Taking Bolter's polemic as a starting point, we will examine the articulation of visual simulations ("virtual" spaces rendered as 3-dimensional graphics) with the entirely logocentric programming structures that underlie them. Does the illusion of depth and complexity in simulated spaces foreclose or deny the fundamental dynamism of its underlying "hypotext?" What mechanisms are available to creators of virtual worlds for preserving or recovering a dynamic of interpretation? Can a "world" be read as a "text," and if so, how?

Background image originally created by UbuWeb; modified in Photoshop 4.0

Document URL: http://www.iath.virginia.edu /mgk3k/nemla98.abstracts.html
Last Modified: Thursday, 09-Oct-2008 14:04:00 EDT