On Haylesian Materiality

In an article on her own updated approach to “materiality” that appeared at Digital Humanities Quarterly a few years ago, Johanna Drucker, observes the following about the concept’s varying usage: The history of approaches to materiality is long and complex, with basic discussions of matter and form, substance and essence, traceable to earliest antiquity in many strains of philosophy in the west and the east, and these wait in the wings to be called back onstage in any longer discussion of the topic. I’ve been digging through some of the…

(M)App to Print (Part 2)

In the first post of this two-part reflection, I noted Iain Pears’s remark that in the Arcadia project he sought to “create a narrative that was vastly more complex than anything that could be done in an orthodox book, at the same time as making it far more simple to read.” The result was an app that took the form of a multi-stranded subway-style map–or, as I’ve been calling it, a “(m)app fiction.” Again, as I mentioned in the first post, the Arcadia “(m)app” isn’t the only aspect of this story…

Computer Poems; Or, Back to Applesoft Basic

[Lisa Hemphill’s “Self-Reflexive No. 2” {No. 1 of 2}, see below for the code] As mentioned in earlier post, my recent reading has yielded a fresh understanding of the paper components of bpNichol’s First Screening. My teaching, meanwhile, has given me a delightful opportunity to return to the screenic side of the work. Students in my now-running “Literature of the Digital Age” course read Nichol’s and Geof Huth’s early experiments with what Nichol called “computer poems” alongside examples of print visual poetry from recent decades in order to trace one…

From (M)App to Print (Part 1)

[Featured image: Screenshot of the Amazon UK rendering of the Faber & Faber codex version.] In an earlier post on The Silent History, I discussed the “remediation” of a digital work into print. We are now accustomed to thinking that the traffic always flows in the opposite direction–that the Internet is quickly hoovering up the entirety of our print (and chirographic for that matter) inheritance. Thus, we can easily overlook the opposite scenario: when the “born digital” is “reborn print.”  (I have in mind here digitalia that’s born on software…

From Screen to Page

Reading Matthew Kirschenbaum’s superb Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing recently reminded me of a curious element of bpNichol’s First Screening, one the canonical early works of electronic literature (see Jim Andrews’s website for an emulated version and commentary). First Screening is now often treated–and transmitted–as a batch of twelve kinetic poems (originally programmed in Apple BASIC). In fact, Nichol published it as a little book in an edition of 100 copies, the first imprint of the “Underwhich Software Series.” Readers reached the floppy disk only after gazing…

The Silent History: A Digital Incunable

A little less than a year ago, I was privileged to participate in the Textual Machines symposium cohosted by the Digital Arts Library and the Symposium on the Book at the University of Georgia (yes, Bulldogs, I envy you). My paper considered a curious case of reversal: a novel originally distributed via app that later reappeared in print.  Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin have taught us to talk about how print novels are “remediated” in other media. Garrett Stewart has coined demediation for artistic endeavors that render books unreadable…