Another great week! I look forward to each of our conversations in earnest, and this week you were all very thoughtful in your blogs (and in your grappling with these layered new forms of storytelling we explicated together).
Daniel Klaussen lead us out the gate on Monday morning with an insightful presentation of Hobo Lobo of Hamelin. Thank you for selecting this whimsical and yet profound piece for us to explore and reflect upon together.
This whimsy yet onerous web pop-up comic is more than frivolous fairy-tale (an obvious remix of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Rather, it is a kind of dark satire into the perils of fascism (it also works as a searing critique of current politics, social issues, and mediascape). In a richly illustrated world a wolf character called “Hobo Lobo” agrees to eliminate the rat population which has served as the corrupt mayor’s political scapegoat (a useful distraction from his own will to power and greed). Along the way the “fourth estate” is exposed as a major player in the resulting evil. Meanwhile, the lobo who is a hobo, represents a kind of deeply flawed ethical ambivalence in the midst of a corrupt world. We all spoke about the political dimensions of the work, and Daniel mentioned his appreciation of the art work, and the innovative technical aspect is that uses layers to produce a three dimensional parallax effect. The close reading we pushed as a class really opened up the power of the piece. I especially liked the way we considered the close of the piece, and it ambiguity as a special kind of effectiveness considering the political dimensions addressed in the piece.
On Wednesday Marie followed up with a really smart comparative presentation on two generative bot pieces: @pentametron & @poem.exe. In choosing these pieces, Marie had us collectively consider the notion of machine made poetry, algorithmic writing, and the general #elit genre of generative literature. In looking closely at these pieces together, some basic but important questions came up, including “What acts of writing are included in this kind of literary production?” and also “What role does the reader play in this kind of literary production?”. The tension arising from machine generated text and human cognitive guidance/interpretation is central to the body of work. Marie mentioned important forebears including OuiLiPo, conceptual poetry, found poetry, and flarf poetry. In these forms of poetic expression, emphasis is placed on the production process rather than the text. In a sense, there is no need to really read the work, as much is there is a call to consider the idea of the work. Thank you Marie for a thoughtful engagement of poetry in the digital age.
Finally, Daniel was able to address the second piece that he selected for his particular interest – Dwarf Fortress. This game-come-elit-text is notable for its emergent game play, it’s text based graphics, and it’s essentially open-ended infinite nature (sandbox genre). In thinking about this work, we also considered role-playing influences in storytelling, as well the idea of a cult following for a game, and the active online fan community that emerges to keep the endless possibilities of the text alive.
So…this coming week is the infamous UCI World Championship bike racing week. The rumors have abounded regarding the number of international visitors to our lovely city of Bergen. It will certainly effect our public transportation, so as per collegial advice, there will be no meetings next week.
Your #elit choices for reflection your next blog post include Inanimate Alice or @pentametron & @poem.exe.
Please post that blog by 25/9/17. See you then!
And until then, enjoy the unusual week in our lovely Bergen!