Open Mouse

The Electronic Literature Organization celebrated its move to MIT Monday night with its Open Mic/Open Mouse event. Several prominent digital authors turned up to read their work, as well as some very promising student authors. John Cayley demonstrated a version of his speaking clock. Fox Harrell presented his Loss, Undersea project as well as bits from his Living Liberia Fabric project.

Eastgate author Robert Kendall presented his poem Faith, published in the Electronic Literature Collection Volume 1, which features an interesting application of stretchtext using color, animation, and sound. He also premiered a followup work that looks promising but which is only partially completed.

Aimee Harrison presented a a digital poem with audio and video accompaniment. Though I’ve complained in the past about video illustration, this was not the awkward videos of the vook, and the verse itself was good. Starting with hypochondria and dealing with issues of sanity and perceived health, the images of medical tests that look for neurological disorders were creepy and disquieting.

Samantha Gorman—who will be reading at a Purple Blurb event later this fall—read from an interesting poem that explores the idea of the machine as a coauthor. With a methodology reminiscent of John Cayley’s presentation at the Future of Digital Studies conference last year, Gorman translated an original poem from English to Spanish using Google translator, then translated the piece back to English. The resulting poem, though changed in wording and (in many ways) also in meaning, still held a certain metric beauty and metaphorical meaning. It’s an exercise that probably wouldn’t work with prose, but because a reader approaches poetry with the expectation of metaphorical and lyrical language, the result was convincing.

The open mic platform is an interesting idea for digital literature, and it worked well. I wonder if the format would work as well with more game-focused works like Every Day the Same Dream that focus on agency, discovery, and frustration. ’m generally a fan of showcasing IF through readings even though it offers a completely different experience from actually playing the work. Overall, the event went well and I look forward to another season of Purple Blurb events.