Literary Arts Extravaganza Presentations

Welcome to the program for the Digital Arts and Culture 2009 Literary Arts Extravaganza. For more works, please see the Gallery ! The Extravaganza will also Feature the 3D Musical Stylings of Perry Hoberman and a special honor for M.D. Covereley.

Literary Arts Extravaganza
7:30pm, Monday, May. 29 2011
Winifred Smith Hall

Presented by Jessica Pressman and Mark C. Marino

Travis Alber and William Gillespie,  Morpheus, Biblionaut

 Morpheus, Biblionaut is a work of speculative electronic fiction narrating the distortion experienced by an astronaut-poet who has taken it upon himself, on his solo mission to the nearby star system Alpha Centauri, to read the entire canon. Is it relativistic effects, insanity brought on by total isolation, or a computer error in his database of electronic literature that causes the failure of his literary mission? The work explores Einstein s model of the universe and interrogates the problem of a textual canon in an increasingly networked, unstable, electronic reading sphere. The story also takes deep space as a point of departure to reaffirm human being's dependence on an increasing threatened terrestrial ecology


Travis Alber is President of She has worked as a digital artist for thirteen years, focusing on time, sense of place, and interface experimentation. Her work is published in New River and Drunken Boat, and can be seen at . Travis has an MA in Interactive Multimedia from SIU.

William Gillespie is founder of Spineless Books. Collaborations include 2002: A Palindrome Story in 2002 Words with Nick Montfort, and The Unknown with Scott Rettberg and Dirk Stratton (co-winner of trAce/Alt-X Hypertext Competition, judged by Robert Coover). He holds an MFA in electronic writing from Brown University.

John Cayley and Daniel Howe, from THE READERS PROJECT

'Misspelt Landings'
presented and performed by John Cayley

Words drifting under the moon, on the Sea of Textuality. Letters lacing the surface of its waters, like that light, misspelt landings, tracing hidden texts in other dimensions of language for other islanders.

The Readers Project is a collaboration between John Cayley and Daniel Howe to make systems of quasi-autonomous, digital poetic Readers. These Readers are active, procedural entities with specific reading behaviors and strategies. We release these Readers onto arbitrary inscribed surfaces - be they conventional, complex, or composed - surfaces that may be either explicitly or implicitly, visibly or invisibly, constituted by their inscribed text or texts. The Readers follow traces of linguistic and poetic structure - symbolic idealities - that define their specific focusses of attention. Since the Readers' behaviors are derived from a partial, aesthetically implicated analysis of human reading, they explore and reveal certain contours and outlines of linguistic materiality's 'other dimensions' in work that we propose as both significant and affective. We aim to make our Readers aesthetic, artistic, literary.

The Readers Project will be a long-term collaboration, but it has already, in its early stages, produced process-generated readings that are performable as projected visualizations and as vocalizations - produced by further audio processing and/or live human performative, reiterative reading of the Readers' behaviors.

At the Literary Arts Extravaganza, John Cayley will perform with one or two of the Readers as they explore the short text of his 'Misspelt Landings.' Development permitting, we hope also to allow members of the audience with internet access to subscribe to certain Readers in realtime. This will allow them to see, on their personal device, the representation or trace of the subscribed Readers' behavior (one process of several that will comprise the chief visualization and vocalization during the performance itself).


John Cayley writes digital media, particularly in the domain of poetry and poetics. Recent and ongoing projects include The Readers Project with Daniel Howe, imposition, riverIsland, and what we will ... Information on these and other works may be consulted at . Cayley is a Visiting Professor at Brown University, Literary Arts Program.

Jeremy Douglass, "EJ-ing"

"EJ-ing" and is a short performance of electronic literature done in DJ or VJ club performance style, with projected text, visuals, and music being generated by a laptop and the text being controlled by the EJ using sliders and touch sensors.

The content is a short tutorial / meditation on the act of electronic-lit-jockeying -- how (and why) to live-remix electronic text. In particular, "EJ-ing" explains how to use the tools it is presented with -- the Scratch simple visual programming language and a cheap open hardware interface like the Pico Board or Arduino + Danger Shield. Here is a presentation of 8-bit music and multimedia sample at ETech 2009.


Jeremy Douglass is a postdoctoral researcher in Software Studies, working out of the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts at UC San Diego. He researches critical approaches to software and code using the analytic frameworks of the humanities and social sciences. His Ph.D. dissertation "Command Lines" is freely available online.

Caitlin Fisher, "Circle"

Circle is a short interactive augmented reality piece prose-poem about four generations of women. I wrote an earlier version of the piece as a database narrative film (which, I suppose, I could read from instead ;-) but have recently reworked the piece as an augmented reality work, using custom AR software developed in my lab. Augmented reality technology enables an interplay between the physical and the digital by overlaying digital information (still images, video, audio) on physical objects. In this piece, the power of robust, multiple, simultaneous fiducial recognition with sound activated through proximity has been made easy to work with through the addition of a MAX/MSP interface. It's a unique authoring environment and a wonderful medium for the production of digital literature.


Caitlin Fisher holds a Canada Research Chair in Digital Culture in the Department of Film at York University, Toronto. A co-founder of York s Future Cinema Lab, her research investigates the future of narrative through explorations of interactive storytelling and interactive cinema in Augmented Reality environments. Caitlin completed a hypertextual dissertation in 2000 and her hypermedia novella, These Waves of Girls, won the Electronic Literature Organization's 2001 Award for Fiction. Her augmented reality poem, Andromeda, was co-recipient of the 2008 International Digital literature Award Cuidad de VinarĂ²s Prize for poetry.

Fox Harrell, "Loss, Undersea" Loss, Undersea is a multimedia interactive narrative project in which a character moving through a standard workday encounters a world submerging into the depths. As a user selects emotion-driven actions for the character/avatar to perform, the character transforms  deep sea creature extensions protrude and calcify around him  and poetic text narrating the loss of humanity and the human world undersea. .


Dr. Fox Harrell is a researcher exploring the relationship between imaginative cognition and computation. He is Assistant Professor of Digital Media at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he directs the Imagination, Computation, and Expression [ICE] Lab/Studio. He develops storytelling and identity systems grounded in a synthesis of cognitive science approaches to meaning construction and narrative imagining, computer science approaches to semiotics and semantics, and cross-cultural approaches to interactive and generative narrative. He has presented his work internationally; sites of his publications and presentations include the MIT Press, the University of Toronto Press, the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), the Digital Arts and Culture Conference, CTheory, and other book chapters, journals, and conferences. He earned a Ph.D. in Computer Science and Cognitive Science at the University of California, San Diego. He earned an M.P.S. in Interactive Telecommunications at New York University s Tisch School of the Arts. He also earned a B.S. in Logic and Computation, a B.F.A. in Art, and a minor in Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, each with highest honors. He has worked as an award-winning interactive television producer and as a game designer in New York City.

David Jhave Johnston, "Glia jelly with network sauce"

A selection of web-based language-works (interactive, poetic and stylistically genre-diverse) from rendered at higher resolution and adapted for a performative context. Projections will be accompanied by spoken word (rapid-fire and occasionally laconic) and sporadic commentary by the artist. Focussing (probably) on works from the series:
Soundseeker (2008) : (Flash-based beat-matching word-firing poet tool).
Softies (2009) : (Experiments with custom Mr. Softie typographic manipulation software under development at Concordia Univ. OBX labs -- Mr. Softie software development is initiated by Jason Lewis and implemented by Bruno Nadeau)


William David (Jhave) Johnston is a multimedia-poet currently living in Montreal. Web-curator and independent media-arts practitioner, involved in numerous collaborative and solo digital and in-situ art practises. His focus is language-based online digital art. Combinatorial poetics, multimedia poetry. He is currently developing works that feature typographic experiments built through a synthesis of Flash, Mudbox, Vegas, Ableton Suite and Mr. Softie. His work has been exhibited at 3 new media Biennales: Montreal '09 & '03 & Toronto '04. 2009. He received his doctoral candidate at Concordia University affiliated with OBX. 2007. He co-curates Current home site is

Mark C. Marino, Jeremy Douglass, Juan B. Gutierrez, Lisa Ann Tao, "The L.A. Flood Project"

A locative media narrative centered on a fictional flood that befalls Los Angeles.


The L.A. Flood team have been working on developing the system over the past year. Details to follow...

Nick Montfort, Selections,"Five Uneasy Pieces"

"Five Uneasy Pieces" is a presentation of and reading from digital writing systems of several different sorts:  The Purpling, a poem using only the most basic capabilities of HTML; The Marble Index, an interactive fiction written in Curveship;  Taroko Gorge, a generator of nature poems based on the experience of and written in Taiwan's Taroko National Park; A Python story generator that assembles elements ambiguously and asks the reader to resolve what characters are doing based on syntax, power relations, and assumptions about gender; and ppg256-2, a tiny Perl poetry generation described in detail in Nick Montfort's DAC 09 paper "The ppg256 Series of Minimal Poetry Generators."

All of the author's released/published creative digital work is available on his site:


Nick Montfort is associate professor of digital media in the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His Ph.D. is in computer and information science from the University of Pennsylvania.

Montfort's digital media writing projects include Grand Text Auto, a group blog about computer narrative, poetry, games, and art; the ppg256 series of 256-character poetry generators; Ream, a 500-page poem written on one day; Mystery House Taken Over, a collaborative "occupation" of a classic game; Implementation, a novel on stickers written with Scott Rettberg; The Ed Report, a serialized novel written with William Gillespie; and works of interactive fiction, including Book and Volume, Ad Verbum, and Winchester's Nightmare.

Montfort edited The Electronic Literature Collection Volume 1 (with N. Katherine Hayles, Stephanie Strickland, and Scott Rettberg, ELO, 2006) and The New Media Reader (with Noah Wardrip-Fruin, MIT Press, 2003). He wrote Twisty Little Passages: An Approach to Interactive Fiction (MIT Press, 2003), and, with William Gillespie, 2002: A Palindrome Story (Spineless Books, 2002), which the Oulipo acknowledged as the world's longest literary palindrome. He is now investigating narrative variation in interactive fiction and the role of platforms in creative computing. His latest book, co-authored with Ian Bogost, is Racing the Beam: The Atari Video Computer System (MIT Press, 2009), the first book in the Platform Studies series.

Judd Morrissey,  The Precession

The Precession (work-in-progress) is a data-driven poem, installation, and live performance that makes use of social computing and real-time text collection to create visual-poetic arrangements based on inquiries into architecture and the night sky. The piece mixes original writing, real-time interruptions, and algorithmic composition in an evolving ecology.

The primary poem is composed in Twitter and readers are invited to follow or respond. The poem also dynamically interrupts or enhances itself through the use of three kinds of foreign texts: text from the network that is thematically appropriate (semantic), text that has been recently composed in the vicinity of the site where the poem is being performed (geographic), and machine-composed text that integrates the original and foreign sources in unpredictable ways (algorithmic).

For the performance at DAC, audience members will embody these movements of foreign text by vocalizing realtime interruptions in choral clusters throughout the reading. Audience members with wireless internet will be directed to a url where they will receive instructions to stand and speak at regularly timed intervals.

The Precession considers as a primary generative source the Hoover Dam and its themes of improbable engineering, group labor, and progress. In particular, the work responds to a sculpture conceived by Oskar J.W. Hansen and permanently installed at the site of the Dam. Hansen's 1935 work depicts two towering winged workmen seated within a complex celestial map. The map preserves the visible night sky on the date of the dam's dedication and also contains the data for one to accurately trace the position of the polestar relative to earth over the course of 26,000 years.

The overall project is a collaboration with Mark Jeffery scheduled to premiere as a multi-screen installation and live performance at Chicago's Hyde Park Art Center in November 2010.


Judd Morrissey is a writer and code artist. His works of electronic writing, performance, and installation include The Last Performance [dot org] (2009), The Jew's Daughter (Electronic Literature Collection, 2006) and My Name is Captain, Captain (Eastgate Systems, 2002). Morrissey is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Writing, Art and Technology Studies, and Performance.

Brian Kim Stefans, "Scriptor"

The "Scriptor" series of animated, algorithmically generated poems using hand-built typefaces that, themselves, are animated on a point by point basis; this gives the impression that they are being doodled by a pencil on the screen. While the technology, which I've created entirely in Actionscript 3.0 (the programming language of Flash) is a bit hard to explain, let's just say that the resultant images are somewhere between the scrawl-like paintings of Cy Twombly, the graffiti works of Jean Michel Basquiat, Ramond Pettibon's comics, and the Lettrist designs of Isidore Isou, but animated at 24 frames per second so that, like in Stan Brakhage movie, each frame is its own composition, only viewable for an instant but part of a larger web of designs. Versions of Scriptor have been shown in gallery settings in New York City and Los Angeles, and in conference settings in Vancouver, Redcat (Los Angeles), Barcelona and UC Irvine.


Brian Kim Stefans is Professor of English and Digital Humanities at UCLA. He's published several books of poetry, including What is Said to the Poet Concerning Flowers (Factory School, 2006) and Kluge: A Meditation, and other works (Roof, 2007). His volume on digital poetics was called Fashionable Noise (2003) and his essays and interviews in Before Starting Over (2007). His digital work can be found at and he blogs at Free Space Comix: the Blog. He lives in Los Angeles.

Special Honor to M.D. Covereley