I’m new to this
brave new world of digital writing, but not completely new. Digital writing has
long been part of the Blue Metropolis festival. My former colleague
there, Eve Pariseau, is one of the people who introduced me to writing that was
even more avant-garde five or six years ago than it is today. Another
colleague, Alice van der Klei herself – who has a doctorate in hypertext in literature
and was communications director at Blue Metropolis for a spell -- played a big
role in educating me.
I am aware of
the work of Bertrand Gervais, the real name of the gentleman in
the unserious hat who was introduced as Eric Lint at the beginning of the
bleuOrange event link. He is in facta writer and a serious scholar at the real Université du Québec à
Montreal (UQÀM), where he is director of the Laboratoire NT2 (that stands for Nouvelles
technologies, nouvelles textualités) and of Figura,
Centre de recherche sur le texte et l’imaginaire.
The bleuOrange event was organized as part of the9th International
Conference on Word and Image Studies, L'imaginaire
/ The Imaginary. And yes, you read that
right. That is the 9th such conference. And this stuff has a history
that goes back decades, even if it has yet to come to a literary event near
I took advantage of a workshop on digital writing offered during the 2011
Blue Metropolis festival. The workshop leader was Kate Pullinger, the only
winner of a Governor General’s Award (in 2009, for the historical novel The Mistress of Nothing) to be internationally recognized for such digital work as Flight Paths and Inanimate Alice.
(Why should it
be surprising that the digital wonderland is full of Alices?)
There is, in
short, an entire world here, a kind of parallel literary universe, and I have
been aware of it and increasingly interested in its potential ever since I
learned that a work of electronic literature is an entirely different kind of
creation from a short story written on Word or posted on a website.
The bleuOrange event, which concluded the Imaginaire conference, is a superb
showcase for this work. More than that, though, it is a vivid reminder of the
literary sensibility demonstrated by its most talented practitioners.
there’s its popular appeal, especially to young people who seldom attend more
traditional literary events – and who seldom write material that can be
appreciated without an internet connection.
It's fun to feel
the buzz of the bleuOrange crowd, but you don’t have to attend an event in
person, and you may not often have a chance to do so. You do need to be online,
with a screen, a sound card,
speakers, and a keyboard. This is work you won’t find it in a bookcase, and you
may not even find it mentioned in the books section of a printed newspaper.
(Which is just another reason to follow this blog.)
So how to find
out more? Follow the links in this post, for a start. Sign up for one of the
online magazines (like bleuOrange) specializing in this kind of work. There are several terms in current use,
variously defined -- new media writing, transliteracy, hypertext, littérature hypermédiatique, electronic
literature (or e-lit) among them – and a number of research groups as well as a
vast number of websites: Electronic Literature
Organization 1 and 2; Hyperrhiz, the peer-reviewed
online journal specializing in new media criticism and net art;and The New River, a journal of
digital writing and art.
Lots to explore
on the web, in other words; these are, after all, people who are at home
© Linda Leith 2011