Electronic literature. Beep squeak boom.

What on earth is electronic literature? It’s literary art created through the use of computer capabilities. This could mean poetry that uses Flash images, literature generated by computers, stories in the form of text messages, art installations with words, etc. And – here’s the big news – some of it is very very cool.

Electronic Literature Collection 1. Hayles Montfort Rettberg Strickland. Found on eliterature.org.
Electronic Literature Collection 1. Hayles Montfort Rettberg Strickland. Found on eliterature.org.

Don’t take my word for it. Check out Alison Clifford’s wonderful The Sweet Old Etcetera. It’s an interactive piece that combines a charming visual motif, a deliciously twangy guitar soundtrack, and the poetry of e.e. cummings. If art could be a summer’s day, it would look like this.

I also enjoyed Ah by K Michel and Dirk Vis. It uses a stream of letters and words that look like the news tickers you see crawling along the bottom of a TV screen. Only this one contains glimpses of Einstein and surprising bursts of poetry.

And I loved David Clark’s 88 Constellations for Wittgenstein (To be Played with the Left Hand). A superbly conceived piece, it skirts the edges of traditional docu-biography and arthouse interactive film. The monochrome graphics and funky soundtrack are a joy in themselves. But then you can also learn about Ludwig Wittgenstein, which is more fun than it sounds.

I thank Professor Sandy Baldwin, Director of the Center for Literary Computing at West Virginia University, for bringing my attention to electronic literature. To find out more, look here and here.

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