Thank you for the full reply, Christy,
I must qualify this post by saying that a lot of the comments about race and ethnicity pertain particularly to the race and ethnic relations in the United States, though I do think the post speaks to a fundamental challenge to an artform based on expert knowledge.
I take to heart your comments about including other languages. As you propose, we (as a community) will ultimately need to work towards translations of these wonderful elit pieces. That was something we discussed at the ELO/MITH conference. It will go a long way to bridge gaps and expand our understanding of elit just as the international conferences and competitions do. And as you mention, when people turn to visuals as the sole solution, they throw the app out with the operating system. These are valuable pieces that are deeply rooted in language.
But beyond this international, interlingual divide, is the gulf between the privileged insider groups within each nation and those who have been excluded. If we follow the literature model, the solutions require both outreach and inclusion. The argument goes that a broader array of texts will act as an invitation to a broader array of artists. I like that idea of teaming up.
While some institutions act as gatekeepers, everyone who teaches electronic literature to students is a gatekeeper, so too those who blog. ELO probably already functions in the kind of network you are discussing. It is one node among many.
The changes will happen to a degree from the grass roots, or the user-side, as net goers “favorite” and “bookmark” and share that which appeals to them. But the lit side of Elit always seems to benefit from a bit of explication. Perhaps being more open and inclusive in our exemplary objects is a first step.]]>
Good to have provocations Mark. :)
Some quick thoughts –
My experience of the elit scene is mediated — I’m in Australia and those who are in Australia live in different parts. My experience of the ’scene’, therefore, has been almost entirely online and so because I have no intimate knowledge of the culture (scene) on a first-hand (live) level, I cannot comment on any issues to do with that.
My own experience of works that are created in another language are almost entirely through you Mark. You’ve done a great job on raising awareness. That experience, though, is through the English interviews you’ve conducted. I cannot engage directly with the works because I am not (unfortunately) literate in reading another language. If the works did not rely on text, then I could engage with them. I guess that is the (your) point — that as soon as the artform relies on a literacy that is text then it is immediately a cultural language and so is highly specific. I don’t mean to say that non-text works are not culturally grounded. No, but the modes of images and sound have a wider accessibility than text.
As I don’t have an awareness of the issues facing creators I can only posit that the problem is that there are works that are created but they are not acknowledged? Then this means it is an issue of where the eLit hubs are. Are there many eLit bodies that act as cultural gatekeepers or is there just one? And if it is just one (the ELO) then it would seem they would have to make sure there are people on the board or whatever that do speak for and champion the works of non-English typing writers.
My intuitive response is the model I champion in many spaces: that of ‘unity in diversity’. I would like to see many hubs in that sense, that are brought together under a unified theme. In that sense, I do not think that ELO should be THE hub (if that is what is up for discussion here) but one of many. Rather than bring the concerns into a hybrid organisation, that there are many organisations. The issue then may be (I don’t know the circumstances) how other hubs can be encouraged and then how all the hubs come together. But maybe this needs to happen in stages — where their is a diversity agenda in a single hub and then it grows into many…
On the access and technology issue. That is one for those who type in any language. I’ve never created in Storyspace. Although I’ve got lots of ideas for works that require complex systems, in the past I’ve created works which I have been able to figure out by myself — blogs, bots & websites. I am at the stage now though where I keep hitting walls. My works now often require the expertise of a few people, and that requires $$ and time. I guess in the context of what you’re talking about, this is where teaming together artists with different skillsets (programmers, installations creators, software architects etc) can be brought together through specially-funded residencies, mentorships etc. That is another possible avenue.
Off the top of my head. Another possibility is commissioning some works to be translated. Of course one would not be experiencing the original work, but if the translation is seen as a collaboration in some sense it would at least raise awareness.
After all of this, I guess another positive effect would be that artists who currently create in #FFFFFF would then feel that any explorations of other TYPE would be acknowledged.
And then of course…there is always code art — which is a language that seems to unify us all. :)]]>